The Senses-Shattering Saga of the Super-Sons

It occurred to me while I was doing this months’ Previews roundup that there may be some of you out there who don’t understand why I’m so excited about DC’s upcoming Saga of the Super-Sons trade paperback. Of course, those of you who have actually read a Bob Haney story will already understand my desire for this thing–especially seeing as it includes a lost story from the pulped Elseworlds 80 Page Giant–but for those of you who haven’t, allow me to explain.

Ladies and gentlemen… I give you the Super-Sons:

 

 

Yes, springing from the pages of Haney and Dick Dillin’s World’s Finest #215 are the college-age sons of Batman and Superman, who take on the imaginative names of Batman Jr. and Superman Jr. and hit the grim and perilous world of 1972 head on, against the wishes of their heroic parents.

Incidentally, despite the fact that being married to perpetually faceless women and having kids in their twenties contradicts just about every story published about these guys since 1940 or so, Haney assures us that the stories of Clark and Bruce Jr. are, and I quote, “not imaginary, not fantasy, but real, the way it happened.”

Then again, Bob Haney said a lot of things. It’s probably best to just move on.

True to form, Haney doesn’t waste any time with the story, and rather than giving us anything other than the basic premise on the first page–specifically Superman and Batman have kids that are exactly like them, right down to their names–he gets right to the action. There are, for the record, exactly four panels of a tense phone call between Clarks Jr. and Sr.–wherein Superman reveals his surprisingly uncharacteristic disapproval of Junior’s job working at a community center where he helps others “struggle agains that octopus of despair, the ghetto”–before we get to the main event: Biker Fights.

 

 

Having apparently lost their battle with the octopus of despair and turned to crime, Satans’s Shockers crash through the walls and start hassling Clark Jr., who, even though he’s been expressly forbidden by his father to fight crime, decides that he’s had all he can stand and he can’t stands no more!

Hey Clark! How aged do you like your Scotch?

 

 

Man, that guy’s a mean drunk.

Needless to say, the bikers–whose names run along the lines of “Big Alice” and “Crumbum”–are no match for Junior, and even though he only has half of Superman’s powers, what with being half-Kryptonian and all, he beats the crap out of them pretty easily. Of course, once the Old Man shows up to chew him out for going banana on those guys, he decides he’s had enough of the older generation and storms out.

And by “storms out,” I mean “punches through a wall.” That’s just how Superman Junior rolls.

Meanwhile, in Gotham City, it turns out that the Waynes have it even worse than the Kents, because their son… is a hippie:

 

 

Or maybe he just talks that way because he’s a Bob Haney character.

Either way, it seems that, much to the dismay of Wayne the Elder, Bruce Jr.’s been dressing up as Batman and punching out criminals at night. It seems things have been pretty rough between father and son, what with the fact that Batman didn’t bother to tell his kid he was Batman until two years previous, a bizarre fact that would stand for all of two stories before Haney contradicted it in a tale where the Super-Sons decided to find out whether man was inherently good or evil by screwing with cavemen in the Arctic.

No, really.

Anyway, Bruce Jr. jumps off the balcony before his ‘rents can revoke his crime-fighting privileges, and once we find out that he is quite possibly the most stylish dude in comics history…

 

 

… the “spiritual brothers” hook up and decide to make a go of crimefighting themselves.

Rather than sending them out untrained, however, the Super-Dads decide that it’d be a better idea to arrange a test for them to see if they can actually cut the mustard as crime-fighters, so they decide to pit them against mob boss Rocco Krugge, who rules the streets of Sparta City with an iron fist.

Yes. Sparta City. Feel free to make your own joke now.

Of course, rather than throw them into the real Sparta City, Superman gets the bright idea to create a duplicate city so that nobody’ll really get hurt when things inevitably go wrong. Seems like a solid plan, but the question here is how he’s going to pull it off.

Now, the record will show that I’ve read a lot of Silver Age comics, and have a passing familiarity with how people get things done in those things, so I assumed that Superman would use his incredible powers to actually build a duplicate city, maybe going so far as to stock it with life-like robots that would mirror the actions of their real-life counterparts.

I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

In actuality, Superman decides it’s a far more expedient idea to grab the San Andreas Fault and crack it like a whip, which causes Sparta City to accelerate to the speed of light, thus creating a duplicate Sparta City that exists one day in the past.

 

 

I have read a story where a man in red pajamas runs through the sun and back while holding his breath and vibrating his molecules. I have read a story where the Atom shrinks down and goes into Batman’s corpse and starts kicking him in the brain to get him to get up and fight crime. I have read a story where a shape-shifter and his caveman sidekick/nemesis team up to play a game of football with an atomic bomb against robots. But that?

That’s the craziest thing I have ever seen.

Needless to say, the rest of issue pales in comparison, but really: What wouldn’t?

The Super-Sons eventually arrive in Sparta City without realizing that they’re actually in an incredible simulation thereof, and promptly get into a running gun battle on their motorcycle. And then they have a pillowfight.

Seriously.

 

 

While all that’s going on, it turns out that the aged Rocco Krugge–who has bullied his son into the “family business” in the most subtle parallel since Hewoes–has made an amazing recovery from being super-old. Thus, with the Super-Sons causing him trouble, Krugge dispatches his kid for a hit on Superman and Batman Junior, which he glumly carries out to its conclusion.

Superman Jr’s buried alive in cement–unable to escape due to his weaker powers–and in a surprisingly violent twist, Batman Jr’s shot in the head execution style at a construction site. So there’s that.

 

 

Incidentally, Dick Dillin goes to great lengths to hide the identity of Superman and Batman’s wives, to the point where poor Mrs. Wayne is made to wear a giant sun hat at breakfast. The overall effect, I’m sure, was intended to convey an air of mystery that allowed the kids to have mothers without “spoiling” the long-term love triangle of Superman, Lois Lane and Lana Lang (or Batman, Catwoman and Talia, I guess), but it comes off as… well, creepy, especially given Haney’s editorial about how this stuff really happened. That’s right, kids of the ’70s: Superman’s got a secret, faceless wife stashed away somewhere in Metropolis that nobody knows about! Enjoy!

Anyway, the rumors of their deaths, et cetera and it all turns out to be a trap to lure Krugge to the graveyard, where it turns out he’s stashed the key evidence that’ll bring down his empire. Then, in yet another example of this story just getting darker and darker, he trips over his own wife’s tombstone, accidentally shoots himself in the gut, and dies.

As it turns out, the events in the ersatz Sparta City seem to reflect those in the genuine article, as demonstrated by Batman, who is incredibly happy that somebody died:

 

 

And that, it seems, is considered a success. Thus everything works out okay, and the Super-Sons are free to ride off on their motorcycle–their one motorcycle–in search of further adventures involving events that not only don’t make sense, but actively seek to destroy it, and Haney is able to once again wrest the Crown of Insanity from the vicelike grip of Bob Kanigher.

But we’ll see what happens when that Metal Men Showcase comes out.

41 thoughts on “The Senses-Shattering Saga of the Super-Sons

  1. I was chuckling through the whole thing (and FREAKING OUT at Superman’s blatant disregard for physics) but for some reason it was the beekeeping line that made me laugh until I couldn’t breathe.

  2. Whoa, whoa… the readers are supposed to buy that a person with half the strength of a man who CAN BEND THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM can’t break out of a cement trap??

    Even as a ruse, that’s dropping the ball pretty bad.

    I never “got” the Super-Sons when I read those issues as a kid… I think I half-consciously assumed they were copies from an alternate Earth, or younger versions transported in time, or sumthin’.

    Hey! Haney!… leave those kids alone!

  3. How can this place keep getting better and better?

    Sims, you are the comedy Super Skrull! We have been invaded and we are dying from your comedy genius ray gun!

  4. Stuart Says:

    Is it just me or are the bikers actually called Satan’s Sockers? WTF is a s socker?

    Sock: (verb) To punch or hit someone
    Socker: (noun) A person or individual who “socks” others.

  5. Yes, Stuart; they are indeed the “sockers”. Satan’s Shocker is somewhat more unpleasant (or so I’ve heard), and this was a family book.

    Sims apparently doesn’t realize that, even for a Bob Haney book, the phrase “…we’ll shock it to ya!” would be just *silly*.

  6. Being a gentleman of a certain age, I can honestly say that not only did I buy these issues new, off the stands but furthermore, I had pants exactly like those.

    And they were, in fact, groovy.

  7. Y’know, Cheapsville gets a bad rap. It’s kinda quiet, but the taxes are low, and they’ve got a Howard Johnson’s.

  8. 1. “.. for LUNCH!” *ominous music*
    2. My theory is that being killed in the ‘day in the past’ city is what caused the heart attack in the ‘present’ version of the city. It’s just plausible enough to be plausible.

  9. It makes perfect since for Batman Jr. to be a hippie since kids always rebel agnist their parents values.

    Which is why Superman Jr. was helping people. . maybe I ought to re think that.

  10. Next month … GAMERA vs. the OCTOPUS OF DESPAIR!

    Not a parallel universe! Not a dream sequence! One will DIE!

  11. “the Super-Sons decided to find out whether man was inherently good or evil by screwing with cavemen in the Arctic.”

    You can’t just drop that in there and not show us more – it’s actually against the rules. Especially with Haney at the helm, doubtless proving that mans fundamental nature is not inherently good or bad, merely awesome.

  12. Wow, does Clark Jr. lean into a punch or what?

    Sims, you should really get a percentage of the upcoming trade of this thing, because you’ve officially sold it to me. I HAVE to buy it now to find out what happened to the extra city. Did Superman erase it from existence at the end, killing everyone in it, or did he leave it be, so now there’s this extra city full of duplicate people right next to the real Sparta City?

  13. TangoBaker Says:
    Being a gentleman of a certain age, I can honestly say that not only did I buy these issues new, off the stands but furthermore, I had pants exactly like those.
    And they were, in fact, groovy.

    Same here. And the hippie chicks dug ‘em.

  14. NOW I KNOW that Haney made with the “breaking-the-laws-of-nature” with this story…
    for who is shown appearing in that club scene (in the immediate foreground)? But Mr. Stan (the man) Lee.

    Look. The comb-over/toup’ and everything.
    He’s even squinting, because he’s not wearing his trademark eyeglasses/shades (he’s incognito in the DCU).
    What a hipster!

    ~P~
    P-TOR

  15. But look, aren’t those people in fake Gay (“Sparta”) City as real and deserving of life as their real-time counterparts? It seems like Superman’s pretty callous about the sanctity of life there.

  16. for who is shown appearing in that club scene (in the immediate foreground)? But Mr. Stan (the man) Lee.

    I thought that was Alfred in a toupee and hip clothing, trolling for impressionable young flower children. Kids dug guys British accents back then.

    “Have some madeirea, m’dear?”

  17. Guy bursting through wall on motorcycle, with helmet, goggles, heavy leather jacket, and both hands on the handlebars = lame villian.

    Guy bursting through wall on ROCKET motorcycle with LIT CIGAR, eyepatch, NO shirt (much less a jacket), with both hands SHOOTING GUNS = frickin’ AWESOME.

    There is a clear choice before us, friends, and that choice is FURY.

  18. Mutt, TangoBaker: Me too. Bought the issue off the drugstore rack. Wore groovy flared pants, and waited for the day a cute blonde would cozy up to me and say “Lover, why so down? Come dance with Debbie…I thought I was your chick this week.”

    Still waiting.

    Just seeing that cover made hear Three Dog Night in my head–help!

    Kanighrian physics aside, what made these seem “realistic” was the teen rebellion aspect, as opposed to earlier World’s Finest imaginary stories, with younger super sons, like the one where superjunior, even with his powers, is outshined by batjunior, who zips to crime scenes on a nifty Bat Bike. That’s an image that stays with you.

    Thanks, Chris. And how cool is it that these will be collected in a trade?!

  19. Albert Einstein is currently spinning in his grave STILL because of the Sparta City thing. And if it approached the speed of light, then HOW THE HELL IS IT STILL IN PLACE and…ow.

    Okay, Sims, you convinced me, I’m getting this just for actually owning that one scene.

  20. Since I’m in England, I was able to pay cost price for that Elseworlds Giant upon release, and believe me – the Super-Sons story isn’t remotely the oddest tale in the book, what with Chase’s D Curtis Johnson combining a Lovecraftian cult with DC’s stretching characters, and a really weird piece transposing DC super-heroes to rock stars…

  21. So Superman, how do you like your Scotch?

    “I like my Scotch like I like my women.”

    Yeah, how’s that?

    “Sixteen years old, mixed up, with a little Coke”.

    I thank yew.

  22. This issue is FANTASTIC. Thank goodness the story is real, as it actually happened. I would hate for any of the details to be missed because the story was made up.

  23. @comment #22

    this was the Silver Age. Superman routinely killed entire countries every other week at that time.

  24. “Have some madeirea, m’dear?”

    Not sure what ‘madeirea’ is. Is it supposed to be madeira (as in the cake)?

    “WTF is a socker?”

    Well, here over the Pond, we call it football. ;-)

    And surely killing someone one day in the past just means that they died one day ago. Huh??????

  25. This whole story (and the Batman stuff with the melting face and the huge, cheese-eating grin over the death of the old crime boss) SO belong on Superdickery.

  26. “Superman decides it’s a far more expedient idea to grab the San Andreas Fault and crack it like a whip, which causes Sparta City to accelerate to the speed of light, thus creating a duplicate Sparta City that exists one day in the past.”

    Bob Haney Physics has just made my mind EXPLODE.

  27. Ironically, I remember the explanation given behind the Super-Sons: that their adventures take place on Superman’s Fortress of Solitude’s supercomputer after Superman programmed it to show him and Bats what things would be like if they had both had teenage sons.

    So Superman Junior and Batman Junior are just computer simulations.

    Or SIMS, if you will.

  28. I love how when Superman calls up Superman Jr at the start of the comic, he’s wearing his outfit at the breakfast table.

  29. I received this in the mail today, and it is fantastic. It is just one ridiculous story after another. Thank you for pointing this out to all of us.