Collects ACTION COMICS #844-846, 851, and ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #11
Superman: Last Son, by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Adam Kubert 7.75
After reading ‘Escape from Bizarro World‘, and discovering that Geoff Johns and Richard Donner had written another Superman story together, I just had to get my hands on it. Thankfully, my local library had this one as well.
‘The Last Son’ is collected from ‘Action Comics’ #844-46 and 851, as well as ‘Action Comics Annual’ #11, and, although it’s set before the events of ‘Bizarro World’, for some strange reason, it only finished publication afterwards.
In this story, Superman is faced with the arrival of another metahuman in Metropolis, a young boy who has similar powers to his own. Under threat from the U.S. Department of Metahuman Affairs, Supes decides to become his guardian.
However, Lex Luthor unleashes Bizarro on Metropolis to get the boy. And, after much devastation, Lois, who had thus far been skeptical of their ability to parent, agrees to adopt the boy with Superman, naming him Christopher.
(Given that Richard Donner’s involved, this is no doubt a nod to Christopher Reeve)
But little do Superman and Lois know that Chris is the son of one of the Man of Steel’s greatest foes.
And this foe returns with a vengeance, along with many others – all equal in strength to Superman, vowing to take over Earth. As Superman is banished to the Phantom Zone, the Justice League is overpowered and subdued by this horde.
Who will save Earth? And how does Lex Luthor and his Superman Revenge Squad fit in?
I’ll let you take one wild guess.
I found ‘Last Son’ exciting and certainly surprising in bits. But I felt that it was far too heavy on the action, given all that could have been developed from having a Kryptonian child arrive on Earth and all of its implications.
But I suppose that this is to be expected from a book called ‘Action Comics’. I just wish that there was a way to justify all the damage that’s done to Metropolis; the devastation would take years to repair and it would cost a fortune.
Frankly, it’s a bit too much for my taste (and I haven’t even seen Zack Snyder’s abysmal ‘Man of Steel’).
Plus there were a number of plot details that left me quizzical:
- From the onset, Superman is sure that the boy is from Krypton, because he “feels” it. Um… couldn’t he simply use his x-ray vision to see the kid’s molecular structure? Or is that not possible in this Nth iteration of the character?
- If Supes was going to reveal to Sergeant Steel and the rest of the world that he rescued the boy from them, then why bother with the pretense of wearing a mask and throwing smoke bombs to do the deed, setting everyone on a false trail?
- When Clark consults with his parents, Pa Kent says that they can’t raise the boy because they’re too old, that they aren’t going to be around forever – except that they don’t look that old, sort of late ’50s at the most. So what gives?
- In this iteration, Bizarro is mean-spirited, having been kept contained and brainwashed by Lex Luthor for months on end; he’s not just a dumb misfit – he’s unfortunately a creepy version of Superman. And, for some reason, he can breath fire.
- At the end of Book Three (‘Action Comics’ #846, presumably), Lois gets zapped twice and has her arm broken by Ulsa. But then, in Book Four, and subsequently, she’s totally okay. Admittedly, it was published much later than the others, but what an oversight!
In any event, from an artistic standpoint, ‘Last Son’ is a winner:
The level of detail in this book is stunning. I don’t like all that Kubert does, but the scope of this book wouldn’t have been possible a few decades ago. His attention to the slightest thing is impressive, down to the pagers that Olsen wears on his pants.
Even the layouts are dynamic, exciting, making the book fun to read. However, as playful and creative as it was, I didn’t find it all intuitive; a basic comic goes left to right/up and down, but this one breaks all the rules so it’s not always easy to follow.
Still, having said this, I was quite pleased with ‘Last Son’. It’s quite imperfect, but it’s nonetheless a potent work. I’m very glad that Johns and Donner collaborated to create this story, and that they managed to continue with ‘Bizarro World’.
And, ultimately, ‘Last Son’ takes its leave on the perfect note:
Lois credits Chris for saving Metropolis, even though Luthor was much more instrumental than the boy was. As befits the egomaniac, he’s quite unhappy with that turn of events, having wanted to be Earth’s saviour ever since Superman’s arrival.