Lame Comic Book Stories: “The Saga of the Super Sons”
Of all of the articles I've migrated here from late lamented Echobase, I wanted to do this one the most. Why? Because it was one of the first to use the telltale lame-o-meter created by my friend and talented colleague, Frank Dardzinski.
He does excellent work.
When I talk about lame stories, I'm talking about stories that make a reader doubt his own sanity. These are stories that melt your mind, curve your spine, and put hair on Grandma’s chest. These stories make Batman v Superman and The Suicide Squad look like Masterpiece Theatre. I apologize in advance to readers who have weak stomachs and require a strong antacid after a bad comic book experience.
Today we’ll be examining one of the truly terrible times in World’s Finest history with the adventures of The Super-Sons.
Who are The Super-Sons you might ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
Back in 1973, DC Comics approached Bob Haney and Dick Dillin for something new for the World’s Finest title. World’s Finest ran monthly and featured a Superman and Batman team-up. Occasionally, it was with Superman, Batman, and Robin – but you get the idea. The team-up would incorporate the super detective skills of Batman and the super-braun of the last son of Krypton talents to fight crimes that didn’t merit the attention of the Justice League but were bigger than what either character could do independently.
The Super-Sons were the adventures of Batman Jr. (Bruce Wayne Jr.) and Superman Jr. (Clark Kent Jr.) – two college-aged offsprings of Batman and Superman, respectively. This run of stories is lame on an epic level. Initially introduced as the “Top Secret Stories” of the offspring of the caped crusader and the man of steel, the reader is led to believe that somehow Superman and Batman fathered two boys.
The big question was obvious: Who were the mothers?
In this early version, they were not Lois Lane and Talia Al Ghul, although currently DC, never shying away from a failing idea, decided to bring back the notion of a Jonathan Samuel Kent and Damian Wayne team-up in what was described as “The Best Frenemies Ever”. In this story, ten-year-old Jonathan teamed up with twelve-year-old Damian in new adolescent antics that would make the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew puke.
That's today. In the earlier series, Bob Haney hid the identities of both the mothers so the audience could guess throughout the junior heroes run.
The Saga of the Super Sons
This dark chapter in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity-straining storyline started when Superman was lounging around his house in full costume with his faceless wife and decided to call his son - who was working at a youth center. Here we see how Superman took time out of his day to chastise his son over his sad adult life of working with underprivileged children to push him toward a real job.
Clark Kent Junior, bedecked with his new mod clothes, seventies-style sideburns, and current youth-geared lingo of all things cool and groovy told his old man to figuratively take a long walk off of a short pier. Soon after, Clark Jr. headed off to see his friend Bruce Wayne Junior in Gotham. Clark Jr. got there through the unconventional method of making a one hundred mile super-leap to get there - as he only has half the powers of Superman and can only leap a hundred miles at a time instead of flying like his dad.
Meanwhile, Bruce Jr. was tired of having his father ride him about wasting his life because, for most of his life, his father had always played the playboy and did not teach him any different. In actuality, Bruce Jr. was playing Batman on his own and Bruce Sr. does not approve.
later that night, the two sons meet at a dance club in Gotham. They discuss how much it sucks being the sons of Superman and Batman in their best seventies mod super groovy lingo and make plans to fight crime whether their parents like it or not.
Meanwhile, Superman and Batman are spying on the two sons via bugs in Bruce Wayne Junior’s clothes because the Super-Dads are super dicks. As Superman promised his wife to check up on his son as well, Batman and Superman decide to pawn off a mission for the two Super-Sons so they can test to see if they are up to snuff.
The senior heroes reason that as the mob crimelord is old and dying, he’ll be an easy foe for the two sons. In order to do this Superman decides to make a duplicate city by somehow screwing around with the San Andreas fault and creating some kind of light/time echo of Sparta City in order to make a petri dish version of the city to test the boys (I swear I had no idea what pseudo-science Haney used with this). The two boys are riding their motorcycle when Superman screws with the actual road, making it into an asphalt tidal wave and pushing them to the duplicate city.
Once they get there, the Super-Sons become involved in a high-speed car chase. The two change into costume (while on a motorcycle) as we find out that Clark Junior is not entirely bulletproof as bullets bruise his body. Batman Junior has less trouble as he takes out the other car on his own.
The local mobster, Rocco Kruge, of the duplicate city is actually in better health than his original counterpart. Due to the crazy Bob Haney pseudo-science and an earthquake, new Rocco is tougher and smarter. He sets up a bomb on the sons’ bike which serves to again show that Superman Junior is not as invulnerable as his father as it stuns him.
The Super-Sons shake down the city and cause trouble for Rocco. Rocco sends his son to kill Batman Junior and traps Superman Junior with another explosion that knocks him out. From there, Rocco Kruge buries Superman Junior in concrete and leaves his son to shoot Batman Junior.
Superman Senior realizes that his super pseudo-science has gone kablooey when he realizes that the old Rocco in the original city is still old and senile and the duplicate is smart and deadly. He blames himself and Batman for the deaths of their sons and goes to the sons’ wake. That night Rocco sees a vision of the two sons and goes out to the graveyard to find open coffins and the Super-Sons waiting for him.
Superman Junior tells him that he put himself in suspended animation and that he could do it for two days until the engineers could drill him out of the concrete. Batman Junior was never killed because Rocco’s son thought the two of them had courage and friendship and felt that he couldn’t do it. Superman Junior used his X-ray vision to find the evidence to convict Rocco. Rocco trips over his wife’s gravestone as he makes his escape and dies – to the approval of his own son.
The Super-Sons are reunited with the Super-Dads as the duplicate city disappears and the original Rocco dies of natural causes. The fathers realize that the sons can indeed fight crime because the test they actually did was harder than they intended.
Not that any of it mattered anyway as the city was fake and disappeared as if none of this had ever happened.
Did you think the idea of the "Super Sons" was a good one?
Why the Super-Sons are Completely Stupid
Oh, my head.
I hope you could follow that story because I had a hard time. I really wished this was an exceptionally bad story for Bob Haney, but it’s pretty much par for the course.
Bob Haney did not do serious stories. His were usually incredibly implausible and stupid (I really wish there was a better word). His big claims to fame in the comic book world were The Teen Titans, this World’s Finest arc, and early Metamorpho stories. He created the character.
Some people are blessed with luck.
Making second generation character stories seemed to be his niche. You could probably see where he was going with the Super-Sons. This was a variation on a theme using younger reflections of older heroes and the theme of those characters proving their worth.
What Haney is infamous for is disregarding continuity. A lot of what he wrote were stories where traditional characters did not act in character. This is bad, especially if you’re a comic book fan trying to make sense out of a story with a character you’re following.
But I digress.
This story is stupid.
This story is stupid because the Super-Sons weren’t EVER supposed to exist in the DC Universe continuity. Beginning in World’s Finest #263, "Final Secret of the Super-Sons", written by Denny O'Neil, we discovered that the Super-Sons are stories based on a computer simulation run in the Fortress of Solitude. Batman and Superman used to run these stories for their own amusement. In "Final Secret of the Super-Sons", a freak accident with an energy source within Superman’s disintegration pit in his Fortress of Solitude gives the simulations new life. The unfortunate side effect is that anything they touch eventually breaks down and becomes unstable – much like Bob Haney’s story continuity.
Batman and Superman discover the sons and tell them to destroy themselves in the disintegration pit when they couldn’t answer the question “Who are your mothers?”
The sons couldn’t answer the question because when Superman and Batman were coding the simulation the question of their mothers weren’t deemed as essential data.
So they had no mothers.
Haney’s story is stupid because it relies on scientific theory that is just confusing and bad. It’s also terrible writing where Superman Junior and Batman Junior are Clark Kent, Jr. and Bruce Wayne, Jr. Did Haney even think to give the sons some kind of uniqueness or did he want to wallow in the lameness of his own lack of imagination?
Having Superman be so cavalier about creating an entire duplicate city based on manipulating the time/space continuum just to use it as a testing playground for their sons is just crazy dangerous. He is a living example of the rule “just because you can do something doesn’t me you should do something.” Having the super fathers eavesdrop on their sons by using bugs that are naturally sewn into Bruce Wayne Juniors clothes is just plain creepy.
What’s more, Bruce Wayne Sr. didn’t even know that the two sons were going to go out on their own. This implies that he does this ALL THE TIME.
Finding lame stories in DC’s pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity is really, really easy. Why? Because the stories are terrible. As bad as I bust on many of the early Stan Lee stories with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, they are nothing compared to the works of writers like Gardner Fox and Bob Haney who make my eyes bleed every time I read one of their comic book stories.
© 2017 Christopher Peruzzi