Jonathan Kent, who goes by Jon, is proving to be a different Superman than his renowned father in a number of ways, including their same-sex partnership. Jon has fought wildfires caused by climate change, stopped a high school massacre, and protested the deportation of immigrants in Metropolis since his new series, Superman: Son of Kal-El premiered in July.
“It felt like a wasted chance to replace Clark Kent with another straight white hero,” Tom Taylor, the series’ writer, said in an interview. “A new Superman has to have fresh conflicts — real-world challenges,” he added, “that he could stand up to as one of the world’s most powerful individuals.”
Even at an age when many comics have embraced diversity and are tackling urgent social concerns, the emergence of Superman, probably the most iconic American superhero, is a significant event. Robin, Batman’s sidekick, recently admitted to having emotions for a male buddy (not Dick Grayson, who has been Batman’s companion for almost four decades, but Tim Drake, a later replacement; there are several Robins, just as there are multiple Supermen). In addition, a new Aquaman comic features a gay Black guy as the title character.
After psychiatrist Fredric Wertham’s 1954 book “Seduction of the Innocent,” which highlighted worries about sex, gore, and violence and indicated a relationship between reading comic books and adolescent delinquency, the industry began to regulate itself in a variety of ways. Wertham characterized Batman and Robin as “a fantasy dream of two homosexuals living together” in one passage.
The book sparked congressional hearings and resulted in the establishment of the Comics Code Authority in 1956, which imposed guidelines for what comics may depict. The character of Batwoman debuted that year as the Caped Crusader’s love interest. She faded into oblivion before being resurrected in 2006. (She leaves the military because she refuses to lie about being a lesbian, according to her new backstory.)
“I think Clark said it best when he left Earth in Jon’s hands. Clark was the Superman of tomorrow. Jon is the Superman for the days after,” Taylor says. “The question for Jon (and for our creative team) is, what should a new Superman fight for today? Can a seventeen-year-old Superman battle giant robots while ignoring the climate crisis? Of course not. Can someone with super sight and super hearing ignore injustices beyond his borders? Can he ignore the plight of asylum seekers?”
Taylor continues, “When asking these questions, it’s important to acknowledge that Jon isn’t just the son of Kal-El, he’s also the son of Lois Lane. Jon is the son of the fiercest, most effective journalist on the planet. With that, comes a strong sense of right and wrong, an instinctive dislike of corruption, and a strong desire for the truth to win over misinformation. But Jon is young and passionate and sometimes how he tackles things will be a bit heavy-handed. And just like we see in our world, when young people speak truth to power, it ruffles the feathers of certain older people who are used to being the loudest voice in the room.”
Superman: Son of Kal-El #5 will release in print and digitally on 9th Nov.
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