A lone spaceship crash lands carrying a young boy with amazing powers who is adopted by the kindly Kent couple who soon find out he is the last son of a destroyed planet. No, this isn’t Clark I’m talking about: it’s Christopher, the central character of Superman Last Son.
Last Son begins as the aforementioned Christopher lands in central Metropolis. His extraordinary powers cause the government to take an unhealthy interest in him, causing Superman to adopt the boy in order to keep him safe. What the Man of Steel doesn’t know, however, is that there are others with ties to the child, and soon these shadowy figures will cast the entire planet into a War of Supermen. Can Superman save Earth and Christopher or will he be forced to kneel before Zod?
One of my favorite comic book authors, Geoff Johns, co-wrote Last Son with Richard Donner, director of the original Superman movies. As usual, Johns does not disappoint, while Donner’s cinematic creativity also comes to the fore in this work, lending it a larger-than-life feel. The story is well-paced and keeps your focus every moment, mixing equal parts dialogue and action without any aspect of the narrative feeling forced or unnecessary. In fact, the story actually left me wanting more, desiring to continue reading about Superman and his exploits. Kal-El’s struggle against foes of his own race is an interesting choice, and shows a darker side of the Kryptonian race that is almost never touched upon in comics. My only possible complaint about the plot would be my desire to have seen more of the war between the Kryptonians and the people of Earth; we see the very beginning of the attack and the resulting destruction and repulsion of the invaders, but the in-between events are left to our imaginations. Ultimately, however, this dearth doesn’t negatively affect the plot, and the dialogue, pacing, and plot come together to form a masterful story.
The characterization of Last Son is excellent, and every character adds something to the story, even if their appearances are brief. I have to give a special shout out to General Zod; even though he is the villain of the story, he really stole the show and from this comic alone became one of my new favorite characters in the DC Universe. He really stood out as someone with positive goals that turned to evil ends in order to accomplish them, becoming utterly corrupt in the process. I have to say that I will definitely look to read more about General Zod in the future. The appearance of Lex Luthor, and his temporary alliance with Superman, proved to be a creative choice and their relationship developed within the story; I always love stories of foes teaming up to defeat a common enemy, and Last Son plays this plot without feeling forced. Thus, the characters in Last Son all play roles that never feel unnecessary or dull.
Last Son’s artwork is spearheaded by Andy Kubert and, like the plot, astounded me. The style is slightly blocky, with thick borders for all the characters to make them stand out from the background. There also is very little, if any, inking on the panels, giving an awkward feeling of depth to the story’s scenes. While some may find this style of artwork strange or unappealing, I liked it for the simple fact that it is unlike any piece of art I’ve ever seen (I’ve included some pictures as reference, it’s pretty hard to describe exactly what this style looks like). My favorite scenes included the arrival of Zod and his minions, as well as an intense fist-fight between Superman and his strange doppelganger, Bizzaro. Others may dislike the artwork, and I feel styles like this lend themselves to being either loved or hated, with no real gray area. As I said, however, I really liked the look of this work.
Superman Last Son is truly an excellent piece. The story is superb and I think anyone could enjoy it as there’s little need to know any history about Superman or his companions in order to understand the plot. I have to say that the artwork will probably end up being hit or miss for most people, but I’d say keep an open mind about it as the story is really what carries the piece. Thus, I’d say Last Son is definitely worth the buy and is a great addition to any comic collection or start to an entirely new graphic novel library.
Brett Simon is a twenty-one year old recent reconvert to the world of comics. He’s fighting the urge to say “Kneel before Zod!” in everyday conversation.