Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Children in old comic books either spoke like head-injury victims or debated like United Nations arbiters.

The Super-Sons of Superman and Batman are a much-beloved if inherently daffy artifact of the Silver and Bronze Age which is nonetheless fondly remembered even by fans who weren't around to enjoy it the first time. Bob Haney's and Dick Dillin's slang-slinging, sideburn-sporting, arguably counter-culture teenage Clark Kent Jr and Bruce Wayne Jr were a world of their own, but they also weren't the first Super-Sons with a recurring feature in World's Finest.

Lois is gritting her teeth so hard, dogs can hear it.
Prior to that pair was frequently-grim sci-fi author Edmond Hamilton's take, along with celebrated workhorse Curt Swan, of a pre-teen pair of playsuited do-gooders who debuted almost a decade earlier.

Besides their youth, the other primary distinction between the Silver Age Superman Jr and Batman Jr was that we knew who their mothers were (Lois Lane and Kathy Kane, respectively). In the Seventies' Super-Sons stories, the identities of the mom's were always blanked out. Either they'd had embarrassing plastic surgery or Superman and Batman had remarried much younger wives and the editors at DC are ashamed of them.

This story follows the origin of the Super-Sons, more-or-less. I mean, their origin is "mom and dad fucked" and we won't get to see that until the superhero movie fad becomes such a desperate spectacle that the Teen Titans finally makes it to major release as a soapy-tits Roger Corman B-Movie.

The block party is ruined.
Most of the conflict in the debut of the Super-Sons is a suburban tale of envy and hurt feelings, like the Big Chill, which sure sounds like an exciting comic. The couples are married in a double ceremony (which can't be good for the ol' secret identities), but the wheels fall off almost immediately. Lois is jealous of Bruce and Kathy's whirlwind world tour honeymoon, while she and Clark only go to Niagara Falls. Hey, the guy likes catching people plummeting to their deaths, it's a real blast for him.

Likewise, Lois has never been to the Fortress, never assists her husband on cases, and generally feels ashamed of her middle-income life in the face of their famous friends' wealth. Meanwhile, Kathy Kane is fucking horrible basically and keeps rubbing stuff in Lois' face or criticizing her children or causing wild scenes. Domesticity is dull, Lois, but ain't least you ain't a secret drunk (is my guess).

When Superman Jr is a little too rough with Batman Jr during a game of see-saw, that's all it takes for Kathy Dearest to call their friendship off for all time. Even when little Clark is polite enough to apologize and ask her forgiveness, she basically slams the door shut in his face. Did Batman marry the Joker by accident?

A stunning absence of stranger danger detection.
The boys decide to run away together in order to teach their parents a lesson and, for all I know, try to make it on Broadway. This puts them in the crosshairs of Nappy Klains, a short-statured crook known as the Napoleon of Crime. Finding the boys alone in the woods, he invites them inside his deathtrap-laden secret cave headquarters, wherein he terrifies them with papier-mache murder weapons and then encourages them to take a nap on a pair of army cots. He's got deathtraps but no proper bedding?

While the kids are asleep, Nappy Klains coerces the knowledge of the father's identities out of them, then traps the kids (Superboy in a kryptonite web under a huge sword and Batboy in a bike lock, which seems like an insult) and dresses up as Batman Jr so as to get close enough to dad to murder him.

Turnabout's fair play, tho, so Batman Jr escapes, disguises himself as the Napoleon of Crime, orders Klein's men to assault their boss in the garb of Batboy and then anyway this is genuinely stupid. I mean, charming in its way, but stupid. 

The important thing is that the kids help round up the crooks, prove that teamwork is better than freaking out over every little fucking thing, and therefore their moms unclench and become friends again. In a way, we all have a lesson to learn from this and, if we don't, we can always allow our children to be abducted by menacing dwarves and see if it softens our hearts in some fashion.

I bet it happens again immediately.

1 comment:

Craven Lovelace said...

Loved these stories as a kid. Thanks for this post!

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