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Son of Kal-El: The Story of Jon Kent

Son of Kal-El: The Story of Jon Kent

By Joshua Lapin-Bertone Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Jon Kent takes on his father's heroic mantle in the new series, Superman: Son of Kal-El. But how much do you know about this super son?

What do you do when your father is the world’s greatest superhero, your mother is a hard-hitting journalist with a nose for trouble, and your best friend is a bite-sized assassin with a chip on his shoulder? Welcome to the life of Jonathan Kent, the son of Superman. Jon has come a long way, and now he’s taking the next step of his heroic journey in a new series called Superman: Son of Kal-El.  As we prepare for the next phase of Jon’s life to begin, let’s recap everything that led the son of Superman to this moment.

A Surprising Start

Jon first appeared in Convergence: Superman #2, which is a surprising beginning for a character who’s become such a big part of the DC Universe. Convergence was a month-long comic book event comprised of short, two-issue limited titles focusing on seemingly destroyed timelines. The Lois and Clark we saw in Convergence: Superman were presented as their pre-Flashpoint incarnations, but not everything was as it seemed. During the events of Convergence: Superman, Clark was temporarily depowered and Lois became pregnant. Their baby boy was named Jonathan Samuel Kent after both of his Earth grandfathers.

The thing that makes Jon’s debut remarkable is how little the events of Convergence seemed to matter outside of him. A largely forgotten event today, most of the multiverse variants who played a part in it returned to their worlds after Convergence ended, never to be seen again—except for Superman, Lois and baby Jon. They found themselves transplanted to the main DC Universe and decided to lay low. After all, the New 52 versions of Superman and Lois were still very much active, so their presence would’ve raised some uncomfortable questions.

The limited series Superman: Lois and Clark followed their life as multiverse refugees. While Lois published novels, Clark fought crime from the shadows and the now ten-year-old Jon remained unaware of his parents true nature. Of course, it was hard to hide the truth from Jon when his powers began kicking in and he found his father’s old Superman uniform.

Becoming Superboy

Jon was initially upset that his parents had kept the truth from him, but after he calmed down he realized how cool everything was. His father was Superman, and he was beginning to develop powers of his own. What kid wouldn’t be excited about that? Clark began training his son to use his powers properly, but the early attempts didn’t always go well. In 2016’s Superman #1, Jon accidentally killed a cat while testing out his heat vision. This traumatized Jon, as he began to realize that if he wasn’t careful his powers could hurt others.

He idolized his father and he wanted to be the next Superboy, but Jon was scared. Luckily his parents were able to help him focus and Jon soon got a handle on his powers. And then things got strange. (Even for comic books!)

The 5th Dimensional imp Mr. Mxyzptlk kidnapped Jon and as Superman battled to save his son, he learned the shocking truth about the true nature of his family. The Kents weren’t multiverse refugees, as they originally believed. They were pieces of the original Kal-El and Lois Lane that had been split off and separated. During the confrontation with Mxy, Superman and Lois combined with the energy signatures of their New 52 counterparts, merging the timeline and changing their histories.

If that seems complicated…well, imagine how it felt for Superman! All you really need to know is that in the new version of the timeline, the Kents were always natives to this world and Clark was the one true Superman. Action Comics #977-978 presented a new version of the Kent family history and the birth of Jon.

In 2016’s Superman #10, Jon met Damian Wayne for the first time…and immediately hated him. Robin had kidnapped the new Superboy because he thought Jon’s lack of control and immaturity made him a threat. Naturally Superman was furious that Robin had kidnapped his son, confronting the young Boy Wonder and his father, Batman.

Ultimately, Superman and Batman realized that Damian and Jon might benefit from each other’s influence. Jon needed to learn from someone closer to his age and Damian needed social interaction, period. The boys were initially apprehensive about these mandated superhero playdates, but they soon became the best of friends, even if Damian won’t always admit it aloud. Check out the 2017 series Super Sons to see their partnership play out like a fun buddy cop comic for kids.

Kids…They Grow Up So Fast

Like plenty of children, Jon took a summer trip with his grandfather, but unlike most kids, his grandfather was the believed-dead Jor-El and the vacation was a journey across the cosmos. In a surprising revelation, Superman’s space dad had survived the destruction of Krypton and he wanted to make up for lost time. Jor-El offered to take Jon with him into space to show him the universe and help train him, and the young boy agreed. Lois initially accompanied them, but it got a bit weird for her infringing on all the grandfather/grandson bonding, so she returned home. It would wind up being a mistake she’d regret for the rest of her life.

In 2018’s Superman #6, Jon returned from space a changed man. Really changed! Although Jon had only been gone a few weeks, his parents were shocked to see that their cherubic preteen boy was now a 17-year-old young man. During his cosmic road trip, Jon wound up stranded on the frightening Earth-3, a prisoner of the notorious Crime Syndicate. It took him seven years to find his way back home, but due to the interdimensional travel only a few weeks had passed for his parents. Clark and Lois were heartbroken and angry that they had been robbed of years of their son’s childhood, but they were proud to see the man that Jon had grown into and the hero he had become. For his part, Damian was furious that Jon had gone through puberty before him. Tough luck, Boy Wonder.

Jon’s new maturity came in handy as he fought by his father’s side in a series of battles. It was Jon’s idea to form the United Planets, an intergalactic governing body that still exists in the DC Universe’s 30th Century. Speaking of the 30th Century, Jon’s heroic glow-up led to him joining the Legion of Super-Heroes, an important rite of passage for everyone that has been called Superboy. Jor-El’s training methods might have been odd, and although the summer road trip cost Jon his childhood, it’s hard to argue with the results. Jon Kent is a hero who is going places and as unthinkable as it may feel, he truly has the potential to surpass his father.

Superman: Son of Kal-El will continue Jon’s heroic journey as he navigates that difficult moment between adolescence and adulthood. The son of Superman and Lois Lane has two important legacies to live up to, but if his career so far has been any indication, we know that Jon will grow into a true Man of Steel.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 by Tom Taylor, John Timms and Gabe Eltaeb is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.