SUPERMAN #26 By Michael Moreci, Scott Godlewski, and HI-FI
Plot
Art
Characterization
Summary
This issue does a wonderful job with the relationship between Clark and his son Jon. While the art is a bit weak, this is a great installment depicting a new era of Superman.
81 %
Heartwarming Family Story
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Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Patrick Gleason and the rest of the SUPERMAN team take a break while Michael Moreci takes the lead for SUPERMAN #26 “Brains vs Brawn”. The story in this issue is quite simple. Clark tries to teach Jon how to use his powers in smarter ways while Jon tries to prove that he’s capable to his dad. The focus of this issue is the father and son relationship between Jon (Superboy) and Clark (Superman).

SUPERMAN #26
SUPERMAN #26 page 8. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Moreci succeeds in writing these two characters in a way that feels faithful to Tomasi’s arc. The story is much more about the relationships than the action. In many ways, this issue serves as a great breath of fresh air between the grim “Black Dawn” arc and whatever Tomasi has planned next.

Jon Takes Center Stage

We learned in “Black Dawn” that Jon’s having difficulties controlling his powers and rage. He’s petulant and impatient. Often, he’ll strive for the quickest solution rather than the wisest ones. Manchester Black previously tried to unleash Jon’s powers to help him with his evil machinations, but Superman and Lois calmed him down. Nonetheless, Jon continues to use little brains and finesse with his abilities.

READ: Don’t know how “Black Dawn” ended? You can find our review of SUPERMAN #25 here!

I love this depiction of his character. I think if we were born with Superman’s powers like Jon, we wouldn’t want to hold back either. We’d want to use our powers to help carry heavy objects, speed up chores, and fly from place to place. The problem is that Jon doesn’t think before he uses his abilities, which causes him to make stupid decisions.

SUPERMAN #26 page 20. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Jon is currently 10 years old and if I know anything about 10-year-olds it’s that they feel invincible. They feel like nothing can touch them and that they can take almost anything on. This is how most 10-year-olds feel. Now add this to the fact that your father is Superman and you are nearly invincible. This could definitely make a kid arrogant.

Superman’s Greatest Challenge?

While the name of this comic is SUPERMAN #26, the focus is largely on Jon. That doesn’t mean that the Man of Steel doesn’t have a huge part. His role instead revolves around Jon. Clark continues to struggle to find the best way to balance being Superman and a role model for his son.

Clark has now decided that he cannot shield Jon from the rest of the world. He realizes that threats will come Jon’s way and that when this happens Jon needs to be ready. So, Clark decides that Jon should accompany him on some of his adventures. Yet, Clark quickly realizes that Jon isn’t listening to anything he tells him.

Seeing Superman struggle with fatherhood is easily the best part of this issue. Superman can level buildings and fly faster than sound but here he struggles with some of the same issues that every dad faces. Superman has to learn how to balance his role as an authority figure while giving Jon the ability to figure out his powers for himself.

Fathers Learn From Sons

One of the great themes that this issue continues to build upon is the parallel between Pa Kent raising Clark and Superman raising Superboy. Even though Pa Kent is gone, he remains a very important character.  Pa Kent instilled in the young Clark his morals and sense of justice that would form the backbone of Superman. Clark then named Jon after his late grandfather to remind him of these important morals.

READ: Love the Man of Steel? Here’s a theory about his role in JUSTICE LEAGUE!

Clark is now trying to learn the best way to teach Jon from his late father’s lessons. Even though he’s faced every supernatural threat possible, he doesn’t know how to raise someone with his powerset. Pa Kent, meanwhile, had the unusual predicament as a regular man raising a son who had god-like powers. Both fathers struggled with daunting tasks but they soon learn to have faith in their sons.

The parallels between the two fathers are beautifully captured in SUPERMAN #26. It helps tie a knot in the whole Superman mythology. It’s great to see Superman now have a role as both the father and son to a Jonathan Kent. Just as Jonathan Kent Sr. taught Clark as a boy, now Jonathan Kent Jr. must teach him as a man.

New Team in SUPERMAN #26

I think Michael Moreci was able to weave together a nice story in this issue after a long run of intense trials for the Man of Steel and his son. He understands the relationship between Clark and Jon really well and builds upon Tomasi’s visions of these characters beautifully.

SUPERMAN #26
SUPERMAN #26 page 18. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

On the other hand, I found the transition of artists a bit distracting. I don’t think the art was bad at all, but I didn’t think it followed Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason’s style well enough. Not that the art by Scott Godlewski and HI-FI had to be identical to the dark shades and intense coloring beautifully depicted in SUPERMAN #25. Godlewski and HI-FI focus much more on bright, popping colors. This style can be great but the jolting difference in visuals took me out of the story and I never felt like the art reached the high of Mahnke and Gleason’s.

Also, the way the Godlewski drew Jon was very different than the young, wide-eyed boy we’ve seen in previous issues. He looked like a completely different character here. Given a few more issues, I could probably get used to this new style but, for now, I’m happy to go back to the original artists’ work.

In Conclusion

SUPERMAN #26 is a nice coming-of-age story for both Superboy and his father, Superman.  This arc continues to get the family dynamic completely right. The story takes a backseat to focus on the relationship of the two Supers. The art is a little disappointing but this issue serves as the perfect bridge between intense arcs. My only wish is that this came out in time for Father’s Day.

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