When I had the opportunity to review the debut book in the DC Zoom graphic novel trilogy by Ridley Pearson (Kingdom Keepers) and Ile Gonzalez, Super Sons: The PolarShield Project, I was impressed by how well they were able to establish a multifaceted look at the personalities of its two young protagonists.
As Super Sons was the first project at DC for both Pearson and Gonzalez, there is always a pressure to start off strong, and Super Sons: The PolarShield Project came though as a bestselling, spirited new take on the sons of Superman, Jon Kent, and Batman, Damian “Ian” Wayne.
The book showed how these two young heroes could step out of the shadow of their fathers to stand on their own in the face of not only a global climate threat and conspiracy, but to issues within their own circle of family and friends. Also in book one is the introduction of new characters, Candace (a girl with a mysterious past) and Tilly, promising the potential of a new young super team.
With the second book released this week, Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission, the question is whether or not this creative team can keep up the momentum of both absorbing storytelling for all ages and believability of its characters.
The Foxglove Mission was able to keep this action moving without missing a beat, as it picks up with Candace in hot pursuit by the Four Fingers, a group of determined young women bent on bringing Candace back to her homeland of Landis as she works follows clues that hold the key to her destiny. This takes her away from the group for a while, but it gives the reader a chance to follow along in a second storyline with new locations and characters. We also get a look into Candace’s past, as well as see some pretty impressive super skills develop.
As for the chance to get a new “super team” together, readers will be happy to see this story setting even more pieces in place to do just that. It also gives Tilly much more purpose and character as well.
Although the book provides a recap of the main players at the beginning of the story, I would have also liked to see a simple map of this alternative world and where the primary locations are in relation to each other. That’s something I always find helpful when diving into new worlds.
I should note the Pearson does one thing I feel is extremely important in creating a story young readers will enjoy as well as anticipate future installments of, and that is the incorporation of humor. You can’t always make a story too heavy and expect enthusiastic return readers. While Super Sons doesn’t have the broad humor of Pearson’s Disney-based fantasies, it comes in play in subtle, creative ways. I particularly enjoy the nomenclature of many characters that give hint to their underlying character or purpose. From the evil “Avryc” and “Dr. Cray Ving” to the good-hearted Para Sol, who is trying to protect the Earth and its inhabitants from future harm. It’s always a fun bonus for young readers when they finally “get” a joke or pun like this on their own.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some heavy elements. Readers get a taste of germ warfare through attempts to poison a population, to extreme weather and climate catastrophes, and the corruption of those in power.
More than anything, I appreciated how The Foxglove Mission demonstrated the importance of teamwork and family.
As The PolarShield Project showed the importance of our young heroes being able to rely on their own abilities and grow as individuals, The Foxglove Mission lets us see the importance of having others in your life you can trust and rely on in times of urgency. It showed the importance of a good relationship with one’s parents, as with Jon and Ian and their respective fathers, Superman and Batman. As both these well-established heroes were away on their own missions, the bonds they have with their sons remain a key factor in the motivation of both Super Sons.
In the case of Jon, whose mother, Lois Lane, is still in a coma from being poisoned, Jon’s determination to find a cure gives him an opportunity to be the protector of a strong person who has raised and protected him his entire life.
By the end of this book, Pearson’s storytelling combined with Gonzalez’s wonderful animated images is the continuation of the youthful energy of John and Ian, which is such a contrast to Superman’s careful watchfulness and Batman’s stoic self-restraint.
As the second book closes, the team—Superboy, Batkid, and Puppet Girl (Tilly)—has banded closer together more than ever, with Bird Girl (Candace) setting out on her own mission. Although there is still much to be resolved both globally and in their own families, they are ready to take them on head-on in the final chapter of this trilogy.
It won’t be easy. As young Ian said, “life is complicated,” but they are “being good sons, super sons.”
Super Sons Book Two: The Foxglove Mission is now available at comic shops, and online.
Lisa received a copy of the novel for review purposes.