“The Odd Couple” pairing of polar opposites to comic effect was a trope long before Neil Simon named it explicitly in his classic play. And Super Sons #2, which continues to build upon the fractious and hilarious pairing of the earnest Superboy with the precociously arrogant Robin, mines the concept to great effect. The issue clicks when it shows the two title characters barely restrained from coming to blows as they irritate each other and try to outwit a nearly as annoyed Lex Luthor.
Just like its debut issue, Super Sons #2 is at its best when it uses Robin and Superboy’s different approaches to super-heroics to throw into sharp relief their personal differences. And by doing so, it also illustrates the differences in the values of their famous fathers as well. Because though Jon Kent and Damian Wayne probably wouldn’t get along on their own, there’s no denying that much of their wariness of each other is instilled in them by the complicated relationship of their dads.
Writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez play this spiky and combative relationship mostly for laughs, and the issue’s best moments come in the two kids trying to outwit an armoured Lex Luthor as they break into Lexcorp. To call it team work overstates things, as Damian uses Jon as a distraction more than as a partner, and Jon is simply not as comfortable with guile or manipulation as is the morally flexible Damian. This results in many charming and funny moments, but the stakes in the story are never played for laughs, and the creative team never forgets that while these may be kids, they are both capable and powerful in their own right. The result is an issue that is both fun and exciting.
Additionally, Super Sons #2 examines the differing motivations between the two title characters. Jon spend much of the issue deeply uncomfortable with what they’re doing, as he doesn’t enjoy being deceptive and is painfully aware of his limitations. On the other hand, Damian doesn’t believe he has or deserves limitations, and sees this mission as much in the light of proving his independence as he does a vital mission of importance. In that sense, the issue excels in showing us, over the course of its story, how two characters can be pushed by different motives to the same ends. For Jon, helping others is what keeps him on the case. For Damian, solving the puzzle is the deciding factor.
Jorge Jimenez delivers some great art for the issue. What stood out to me this time around is how he renders the kids in the issue in a slightly exaggerated way. It’s very subtle and by no means cartoonish, but there’s a slightly different approach he takes to drawing Jon or Damian than he does with Lex or the other adults. The kids are more expressive, their figures more flexible. While the adults look straight out of any other modern super-hero book, even perhaps drawn slightly more imposing and powerful than usual. I’m not saying that Jimenez is going over the top with the kids at all. It’s a very subtle difference, but it really works. There are some genuinely suspenseful and dangerous moments in the story, and the fact that the bickering sidekick elements integrate so seamlessly into to the more serious ones is helped a huge amount by the art and how focused it is on keeping the boys distinct from the world around them.
All in all, Super Sons #2 is an enjoyable and engaging issue, continuing to show how a title with this much heart and with such a strong handle on its leads could easily garner a devoted a following. 8.5/10