When Superman came out as bisexual, the news was everywhere, and it’s been reported that Superman: Son of Kal-El #5 has had sales to back the spike in interest. Now that the issue is out, it’s canon: Jon Kent, son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, smooches boys, specifically Jay Nakamura, the pink-haired news broadcaster that combines the superpowered heroics of Jon’s father with the journalistic integrity of his mother to create one of comics’ most talked about new characters in recent history.
DC Comics announced that Jon and Jay would be locking lips in October, to a great deal of typically positive and negative responses. “I’ve always said everyone needs heroes and everyone deserves to see themselves in their heroes and I’m very grateful DC and Warner Bros. share this idea,” Son of Kal-El writer Tom Taylor shared in the company’s news release. “Superman’s symbol has always stood for hope, for truth and for justice. Today, that symbol represents something more. Today, more people can see themselves in the most powerful superhero in comics.”
Jonathan Kent first debuted back in 2015’s Convergence: Superman #2. He made his first continuous appearances in the main DCU timeline as a plucky tween, buddying up with Batman’s son Damian Wayne — despite some initial personality clashes — to become the junior superhero duo the Super Sons. Following that, Jon did a stint in the far-flung future with the Legion of Superheroes and was lost in time and space for a while, allowing him to age up to a teenager in only two weeks of real time, but there hasn’t been a lot of room to develop him outside of a few key arcs.
That is, until now, and Son of Kal-El. The first issue features a gorgeous cover that calls back to Action Comics #1, the much-homaged first appearance of Superman back in 1938. Being the son of two of fiction’s most famous figures is everything it’s cracked up to be, but that Jon has likewise been dealing with the incredible pressure of the rest of the world’s expectations that he become “the greatest hero the world has ever known.” With his dad off-planet, he was urged by his parents to step into the role of Superman.
Time has passed, and Jon has matured necessarily fast, but he’s still only 17 and most of his friend group consists of his parents. Early in Son of Kal-El, he reaches out to his Super Sons costar Damian Wayne, who lightly chides him for not having anyone close that he isn’t related to. As much fun as Jon’s character arc has been, he has lived a life surrounded by legends, leaving precious little space for him to get to know himself. Damian asks Jon, “What do you want that symbol to stand for?” and that has become the central question of the story.
Jon and Jay first met when the former was trying to have a secret identity — another way of following in his dad’s footsteps — for about five seconds. Jay was a masked reporter representing the underground news site the Truth, but revealed himself to be pink-haired teen, Jay Nakamura. An interest in daredevil reporters seems to run in the family, and the two immediately hit it off.
A refugee of the fictional totalitarian state of Gamorra Island, Jay is currently a student of Metropolis University. He’s a “post-human,” created via experimentation by the old school Wildstorm villain Henry Bendix, along with his friends Wink and The Aerie (characters Taylor created for his run on Suicide Squad). This has granted Jay the ability to become intangible. Besides that, his resemblance to Lois Lane is noted in-story, as we see that he absolutely idolizes her and is basing his career on hers in many ways. Besides, they both really go for boy scouts in blue, and Jon and Jay share a kiss at the end of #5.
Series creators Tom Taylor and John Timms have spoken publicly about their excitement around the introduction of Jay, and despite some not-insignificant hostility, the series reads very much like a labor of love. Standard knee-jerk reactions from fandom accusing DC and Warner Bros. of making a cash grab with the introduction of a bisexual Superboy aside, Jon desperately needed someone to flesh out his character like this if he was going to keep appearing in the funnybooks.
Placed in a unique position of being someone who was quite literally born to be a superhero, the struggle with Jon from a creative standpoint was always going to be making him relatable to readers. As a character who has only been around for six short years, the space to create a fuller personality was very much there, and Taylor and Timms rose to the challenge.
Over the last 80-plus years of comic book history, Superman’s heroism has seldom, if ever, been in question, and so each generation of creators has to find a new way of making the perfect man relatable to readers. Superman: Son of Kal-El is walking the tightrope of calling back to classic Superman while breaking new ground, and readers are picking up the book.
Taylor and Timms began the series by telling us that Superman can’t fix every problem. Even with all his power, the best he can do is try to set an example that we can follow. Yet, with a new love interest, an increasingly emotionally rich relationship with his parents, and plenty of superhero cameos along the way, Jon Kent’s future is looking bright.