Super Sons: The PolarShield Project Book #1
Ile Gonzalez (artist), Ridley Pearson (writer) and Saida Temofonte (letterer)
DC Zoom (a DC Comics imprint)
April 2, 2019
In March 2015, I hosted a Gotham Academy roundtable featuring five book bloggers. We discussed their limited experience with comics, if the series was great for newbies, and if they would go on to read more comics. The purpose of this exercise was to prove that DC Comics could reach a larger audience by making their comics more accessible. It’s been almost three years since that roundtable, and DC Comics is publishing graphic novels under their new middle grade and young adult imprints: DC Zoom and DC Ink. This ongoing series on WWAC, DC Youth, will follow these fledgling imprints and see how they do with reaching a new group of comic book readers.
Super Sons: The PolarShield Project is the first comic to be published under DC Comics’ middle grade imprint: DC Zoom.* Climate change is wreaking havoc on the Earth, and cities like Metropolis are dealing with rising sea levels. Jon Kent and Damian Wayne are sent to live in Wyndemere while their super powered fathers (Superman and Batman) are off trying to deal with the environmental destruction. The pair eventually team up to figure out who’s trying to sabotage the efforts to cool the polar ice caps, and they’ll do it with the help of their new friends: Candace and Tilly.
This book was very disorienting to read. The first seven pages were good at setting up the mysterious character of Candace and was generally a great start to what you’re hoping is a fun book. Then you have the rest of the story doing a poor job at establishing the world and the characters that live within it. It’s odd that it felt like it took too long to get to the point of Super Sons (Damian and Jon teaming up and figuring things out) while also feeling like 30+ pages didn’t do well in explaining people’s motivations. I know this book is the first in a series, but it never explains why anyone would want to sabotage the PolarShield Project, and it kind of makes the entire reading experience lacklustre.
Despite Candace’s story being the most interesting in the first few pages, the rest of the book doesn’t do a good job at balancing her story with Jon and Damian’s. In fact, there’s a reveal that happens off page with Damian and Candace that would have been better on the page. A lot of this is an issue of pacing and the story that Pearson wants to prioritize in this first book. There were also little distractions that held the story back. For some unclear reason, Damian insists on being called Ian, which doesn’t make sense given that he’s the highly visible son of Bruce Wayne. There’s also a storyline where the kids of Wyndemere are calling new students like Jon and Damian “flood runners” because they fled their homes due to the rising seas levels. I thought that was unnecessary and a topic that needed a lot more attention than it was given. In our real world, refugees are being treated poorly and demonized, and environmental refugees are becoming more of an occurrence with each passing day. (I also think it’s important to note that those most likely forced to move due to environmental factors are communities of colour.)
With that said, I did like the character designs by Ile Gonzalez, especially Candace and the rest of The Five Fingers crew (a mysterious group of Black women who seem to know more about Candace’s past than she does). Bruce Wayne looked like a very rich vampire, and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about that. Damian’s colouring is inconsistent throughout the book. He’s brown in some pages and then really light in others. Overall, I dug the art especially when seeing the many faces of Jon Kent.
Super Sons: The PolarShield Project is definitely not the best outing for the series nor the imprint so far, but I’m optimistic. I’ll also say that this is Ridley Pearson’s first time writing a comic (he’s a bestselling prose author), and I wonder if this is just a matter of practice and getting a feel for the form. A lot of these books under the new imprints are being written by young adult and middle grade prose authors, so we’ll see how they’ll all fair. It’ll be interesting to see how Pearson’s writing improves with book two of the Super Sons series: Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission.