Contains spoilers for Superman: Son of Kal-El #2.
The new Superman has been repaired by the writers at DC by removing a single word from his vocabulary. The ever-respectful Midwestern superhero (Jonathan Kent, the son of the original Superman) has had a change of terminology when it comes to referring to his parents in the latest issue of Superman: Son of Kal-El, no longer calling them “sir” or “ma’am” in conversation, instead opting for a more casual “Mom” or “Dad.”
Superman: Son of Kal-El follows Jonathan Kent as he grows into his role as a protector of Earth. Written by Tom Taylor, with art by John Timms, colors by Gabe Eltaeb, and letters by Dave Sharpe, Superman: Son of Kal-El shows a different take on Jonathan Kent as he attempts to have as much of a normal life as possible while balancing the abnormalities that come with being the son of Superman himself. Jonathan Kent wants to go to college and cooks up a brand new secret identity to do so. And, while Superman is far from the best diplomat in the DC universe, he certainly shows himself to be a good father in the story told within these pages.
However, while Superman: Son of Kal-El offers an interesting take on Jonathan Kent, one detail stands out by far: Jonathan has dropped the “sir” and “ma’am” that Brian Michael Bendis originally wrote for him. When Jon was depicted as a child, he often called his parents by these honorifics, which was a clear reflection of his father’s Midwestern values and respectful nature. However, the “sirs” and “ma’ams” are absent in this latest comic, with Jonathan opting to call his parents a more casual “mom” and “dad” when they make requests of him or he responds to their questions. These changes do not seem to have deterred readers, as the first Superman: Son of Kal-El issue sold out and went into a second printing. While Jonathan is still respectful of his parents, the change from “sir” and “ma’am” to “mom” and “dad” serves to make him a more casual, but still polite, character.
Having Jonathan refer to his parents without saying “sir” or “ma’am” not only proves he has grown up from being a child but also shows readers how Clark Kent and Lois Lane parent. Superman is no one’s superior, and Lois Lane often stood up to her army general father, so it rang untrue that this pair would raise their son to refer to them so formally. So much of Superman: Son of Kal-El is about Jonathan striking out on his own and even reversing one of Superman’s most controversial decisions. The comic takes this even further when Jon questions his father, demanding to know why Superman hasn’t done more to help everyone who is suffering in the world (and even going so far as to call Superman’s reasoning “idiotic“).
The comic series has been so well-received that it’s heading for a second printing with one of the best covers DC has put out this year. The depiction of a more grown-up and respectful Jonathan – while not being so respectful he comes off as stiff or untrue to his Superman character – is a welcome change. The minor adjustment of “sir and “ma’am” to “mom” and “dad” makes him a more relatable, human character.