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The Adventures of Superdad

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  • The Adventures of Superdad


    Superman V4 3After a prologue in Action Comics #1000, we stand here a few weeks before the Brian Michael Bendis era of Superman truly begins. As is to be expected, Bendis and DC have both played details of his story pretty close to the vest, aside from a little playful trolling and a reassurance that Bendis doesn’t want to just blow up what the previous creative teams did as they move on. I’m not here to speculate on what comes next, nor to plead with DC to keep things one way or another, but rather to talk about what those previous teams have done right, and why it has meant so much to me. I’m here to talk about Jon Kent.

    But first, let me backtrack. Although I was, of course, aware of the character as far back as I can remember, the first Superman story I ever bought new off the stands, eagerly awaiting each new chapter, was “Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite.” This 1990 storyline culminated in Superman #50, in which Clark Kent proposed to Lois Lane. So you see, while fifty years of comic book fans before me had grown up with the story of a nosy reporter who kept trying to prove Clark’s double identity or (ah, the casual sexism of the Silver Age) trying to ensnare him into matrimony, to me, the two have pretty much always been Lois and Clark, Super-Couple. I watched as they were wed, I saw their lives together bloom, and I was perplexed by the people who complained that having the two of them married somehow “limited” the stories that could be told with Superman. (My contention then, as now, is that if you can’t think of interesting stories to tell with a married couple, that’s a failure of the writer, not the character.)

    Superman: Lois and Clark 8Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the New 52 happened, then Convergence happened, then DC Rebirth happened, and the long and short of it is that “my” Lois and Clark disappeared from the scene for a few years and returned with a 10-year-old son. I liked this new status quo immediately. Superman has been my favorite character since I was 13 years old, after all, and watching him develop into this new stage of life was interesting to me.

    Then something unexpected changed my life. Well, several unexpected things, actually. The first was on January 13, 2017, when my mother passed away quite without warning. The second was January 23, when my wife Erin told me she was pregnant. And the third was August 30, when -- in the midst of a tropical storm -- my son Eddie was born. In less than a year, to quote Marlon Brando from a somewhat relevant movie, the son had become the father.

    Any parent reading this will probably confirm that nothing changes your life as much as having kids. Getting married, changing jobs, buying a George Foreman grill -- all of these things pale in comparison to finding yourself responsible for the health and happiness of a tiny human being. You worry constantly about whether or not you’re doing the right thing. You’re afraid you’re going to get the wrong food, buy the wrong diapers, drop the baby down the stairs, somehow accidentally sell him to a troll in exchange for spinning straw into gold. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the scenario, as a parent, it will appear in your mind as a real and present danger.

    Jon loses his cool.Of course, as I read the Superman comics, I realized that it could be worse. I didn’t have to worry about Eddie accidentally discovering his heat vision and vaporizing the cat.

    The story of Clark and Jonathan shifted. When the super-family first returned, in the Superman: Lois and Clark miniseries, the story was largely about them living in a strange new world and Jon learning that his parents had kept a secret from him. Now, as of Superman Rebirth #1, it was about a parent trying to help his son come to grips with who he was.


    It might sound silly, but this is actually something that grew to matter to me a lot. Superman has been a man I wish I could have been for most of my life. Now that he and I both became fathers in such a relatively short period of time, I find myself relating to the character in ways I never did before. My own father is wonderful, to be certain, and I've always admired his real-world strength. But there’s something about watching Superman deal with the issues of having a son at the same time as me that makes these stories particularly meaningful. It doesn’t matter if you’re faster than a speeding bullet or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound if the problem at hand is your son being upset over moving to a new town or trying to cope with a mistake he made. And even if I had Superman's power, I'd seriously consider stepping into the molecule chamber at the Fortress of Solitude and giving them up if it would take my boy's pain away now that he's started teething.

    There’s been a lot to enjoy in the post-Rebirth era of DC Comics, but nothing has touched my heart as much as the adventures of Superboy and Superdad.

    I don’t know what Bendis has planned. I suspect Jonathan isn’t going away entirely, as Peter Tomasi has hinted that there are plans in the works for him and Damian Wayne after their Super Sons series wraps up. But whatever the case, what we’ve had so far has been magnificent. And for me, as Superman always does, it arrived just in the nick of time.

    Blake M. Petit, amateur dad, has been pontificating about pop culture online for over a decade. You can follow him online at BlakeMPetit.com and, if you're feeling generous, check out his books on Amazon.
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