Christopher Kent: Last Son, Later On

Many things have changed since the dawn of the New 52. Some have changed for the better and some for the worse. Those are matters of opinion. But for better or for worse, they have changed nonetheless. Oftentimes, I find myself frustrated by those parts of DC stories that have affected the continuity of the past. The soft reboot of the DC Universe meant that they were not starting over, but were adapting and shifting what already existed.

Clark Kent and Lois Lane are no longer married. But in a different timeline, they were, and they loved each other very deeply. Those of us that are familiar with Superman's history (despite a lapse in judgment of the writers of Superman Returns,) know that they are a couple cursed with the knowledge that they are of different worlds, and different species. They love deeply but can never create life out of that love. Yet, despite vastly different physiology and genetic material, for a brief period of time, Superman and Lois Lane had a son.

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In Superman: Last Son, a young boy was mysteriously released from the Phantom Zone. As the story would unfold, he was revealed to be the son of General Zod, born and raised in the Zone, and part of a plot for his father's escape. He was, however, just a boy, and succumbed very easily to the love and support of his temporary adoptive family.

The beauty of this story is that we find a Superman that finally has something he has always wanted. He is able to have a family with the love of his life, something that he assumed was impossible. It becomes only more powerful as the young boy he comes to see as his son sacrifices his own liberty and happiness in order to close a door to the Phantom Zone, and save the world from the tyranny and violence of his biological father.

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Superman loves...and loses.

Loss seems to be a recurring theme in Superman's life, but the growth that this story shows is of an adult Superman, expressing adult feelings including the desire to settle down, marry and raise a child.

A common complaint of the post-Flashpoint DCU is the compression of the old timeline of stories into five years, the years between the formation of the Justice League and the present. Many people debate the prospect that these characters' entire histories could possibly fit into just five years. I thought today of Christopher Kent, the youngest Kryptonian, and the effect that he had on Superman (a man in his mid-thirties) during his short time on Earth. I considered what Superman felt after the loss of his adoptive son, and concluded that this story could not have happened in the five years since he stepped out of the shadows and alleyways to fight the likes of Brainiac and Darkseid. Ignoring the obvious contradictions such as his marriage, Superman has simply not been ready for this story up to this point in his life, having been changed to a young adult.

It's an odd concept to mix the comic world and ours, but this story cannot have existed, not because it wouldn't fit into the five year history, but because the thematic elements we see don't fit into Superman's life stage. As a young man in his twenties, he would not have felt the longing, bliss and then the total loss present in this story about a "son figure." At best, it is a possible future event in Superman's life. At worst, it is the terrible loss of a beautiful story, about the son that Superman will never have.