At the Fortress of Solitude, Superman and his son, Jon, are working on a science project the boy needs to complete this week for school. Jon is working on a tiny flying saucer, when suddenly; it takes off and heads towards the Fortress’ crystal font. Superman orders Krypto to stop the device from interacting with the Fortress, but it is too late. Krypto, Superman, and Superboy are all transported to an unknown location.
Before they can get their bearings, a huge fish leaps out of the waters and swallows Superman whole. Inside the fish, Kal-El is quick to find the beasts heart, and uses that to force the fish to spit our hero out. Relived, Jon and his father begin to survey their new surroundings. The island features destroyed military ships, planes, and tanks, all from World War II. Clark suspects they have somehow been taken to a small Pacific Island where such vehicles have been stranded for some time. He takes his son and with Krypto they take off to find a mainland where they can get their bearings.
In the sky, Clark is disturbed when he fails to see any civilization for miles around them. The cloud bank seems to somehow never end, going as far as Superman can see. Suddenly, the family is attacked by a pack of pterodactyls. One of them manages to grab Jon, so Superman orders Krypto to save his son while he keeps the other dinosaurs busy. With some effort, the family is successful, but Krypto is eaten by one of the beasts. Agitated, Jon attacks, only to plummet out of the sky when he forgets he still can’t fly yet.
Superman is able to save his son, and together, they find Krypto, who emerges from one of the downed pterodactyls alive and well. On the ground, and now knowing that flying away won’t work, Superman decides their only hope is to find the device that brought them here. The come upon the skeletal remains of a T-Rex… with the bones of an American solider inside of it. They also find some military graves, and it’s clear that some American survivors made their final stand on this island.
Confused by all this craziness, Superman takes them to higher ground. There, they encounter the bones of a dog, likely the pet of one of the soldiers. This leaves Krypto feeling uneasy. Nearby, Clark finds a wooden leg, with a navy issued boot, and, not long after that, the family stumbles upon a fortified station surrounding a cave. Inside, they see a message written on the cave wall. It seems one of the soldiers had a story to tell…
Yes, it’s time we take another look at this Superman run. I already had a pleasant encounter with the Rebirth issue and that got a lot of attention, but by the time I had made that review, DC had already published a few issues into the series. So I waited until the next story arc to roll out and, with a corresponding open spot in my schedule, here we are.
This was a nice jumping on point. You know, when I saw the Fortress of Solitude at the beginning, I thought, “hey, that no longer really is a suitable name, is it?” Not that I think they should change it or anything, but we truly are living in a new era of Superman. He’s not alone anymore. This is no longer a place of solitude. Superman has a family. A son that he raised and loves. It’s a wonderful change of pace and really gives the series something to frame itself around. We need more of this. We need more family men and women as superheroes. To some, that might seem silly, but it’s a recurring problem in comics. Some people really think the only way you can relate to superheroes is if they are single and childless.
Yet it’s far from the case. For one thing, most humans have empathy and can relate to things they are not. Even kids can appreciate the lives and stories of grown-ups, because that’s kind of what they want to do to begin with. But there are also a lot of parents who read these comics that might appreciate a bit of representation, and, more importantly, it’s realistic. People are known to occasionally spawn other people. And this is a new and fun direction for Superman that I think was kind of needed. I hope this is a long term change that sticks. Even if Superboy isn’t in every Superman comic, as that would be silly, it adds something that wasn’t there before.
So I’m pretty on board with this as a concept. Superman #8 not only relishes in this new dynamic, but it also is telling a great story. Superman, his child, and his dog are all taken to a mysterious Dinosaur Island. That’s a perfect Superman story, right there. Now a good story for Superman can come in many forms, mind you, but this is the sort of thing that I tend to like the most. Fun adventures! Exciting locations! A kind of goofy premise! This is the sort of thing that takes the best out of Golden and Silver Age stories and brings it into the modern era.
Also, I love Krypto. That’s more of a general statement than something specific to here, but I feel it’s worth mentioning. He’s great in this comic, but I’m kind of a dog person to begin with, so the idea of a dog, just, like, a regular dog, with all the behaviour, mannerisms, and sense of loyalty that you see in these animals, having the powers of Superman is one of the best ideas for a character in all of DC comics. This is still one of my favourites, just because he’s everything great about dogs, plus all the fun of a superhero. It’s hard to go wrong with him. So between Krypto and his owners, both of whom give perfect father and son vibes, this comic is an easy and fun read.
I like that Jon is a realistic kid, he’s intimidated by some of this stuff, but also clearly likes the adventure and has a natural curiosity to him. Superman feels like what he should as a father – concerned for his son but largely resolute and taking time to teach the boy how to deal with all these crazy things. This situation is borderline normal for Superman, but it’s not for his son. He’s never really taken aback by any of this, instead focusing on guided Jon through it. He tries to not let his son look at the dead bodies too much but goes out of his way to show the need to give the remains a proper level of respect – an easy way to show the need for any hero to respect the sanctity of life. He walks his son through solving this problem – first, they scout the area out, then they try to leave, and then, when that fails, they find another solution. There’s no time for despair, only tackling the problem and work shopping solutions. Even little things like how he escapes out of the fish without hurting it are ways to show his son how to be a real hero and to protect innocent life, even when it tries to kill you. Superman could have easily killed that fish… but he didn’t have to. And again, it’s an important lesson for Jon not to be cruel or callous. You can tell Superman not only cares about his son, but also is raising him by the values he himself strives for. I also like how they handled the pterodactyls – Jon’s inexperience shows, while Superman puts faith in Krypto so he can hold off the other beasts. Also it was fun: Superman versus dinosaurs. Hard to go wrong with that!
On that note, it is worth saying this comic featuring two aliens probably travelling through time with their super powered dog isn’t terribly realistic – it might have funny ideas about fish physiology and Superman is probably more than strong enough to solve most of these problems instantly, but you shouldn’t be fretting such things. This isn’t the sort of story that invites that sort of scrutiny, and is just made worse when you apply it. It’s not a story about physics, but punching dinosaurs. So have fun with it! I certainly did, and, keep in mind, that realism isn’t important for the comic to have depth to it. There’s a lot you can take away from the characters, as you can see by me spending so much time on them.
This comic gets an easy recommendation. I can’t speak for the last seven issues of this series but I’ve heard good things and if they are anything like this, Superman is probably worth catching up on. I feel no such need, personally. I understood the basics going on here – you really only have to know Superman has a son, and the comic will take care of the rest. So it’s a good jumping on point. I’m looking forward to next issue, and hopefully, if there’s enough interest, we can keep going on this series. It seems fun. It’s remarkable to find a polished, mainstream Superman story, let alone something current and ongoing like this. Kudos to DC and the Superman creative team on that one. It says a lot that not only are a lot of their stories doing well, but it’s also top shelf stuff like this, that are kind of the best right now. You’d think that Superman would be like that all the time, but he’s a notoriously tough character to write for. That’s why Superboy is such a valuable addition to these comics. As I said when I opened this review, I really hope he’s here to stay, because all of this, right now, it’s all working for me. So seeing it here and now is just excellent.