The New Superman Defeated DC’s Worst Villain in a Way His Dad Never Could

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WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from Superman: Son of Kal-El Annual #1, on sale now from DC Comics.

With his father away, Jon Kent has been thinking long and hard about what Superman should represent. He has already started by taking a more active stance against the actual problems in the world, such as corruption in politics and even hinting at a growing interest in helping with environmental issues.

In Superman: Son of Kal-El Annual #1 (by Tom Taylor, Steve Pugh, Clayton Henry, Romulo Fajardo Jr. Steve Buccellato, and Dave Sharpe), Jon managed to do something that his father never could: get Lex Luthor to do something good. He accomplished this through a classic method in the longstanding rivalry between Superman and Lex: by beating him at a game of chess.

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Jon wasn’t drawn towards Lex because he was up to something evil, but because the name on the new Lexcorp building was casting the shadow of Lex’s name onto the Daily Planet. Not willing to let that stand, Jon challenged him to a chess match to get Lex to take down the letters. Luthor underestimated the new Superman, however, giving Jon ten minutes to prepare, time enough for Jon to not only go over every chess book he could find, but also over all of Luthor’s old matches to understand how he played.

The how of it wasn’t as important as the why, though. Unlike his father, Jon wasn’t playing chess with Luthor in an effort to better understand the villain. The new Superman has already accepted that Luthor will always be ambitious and conniving. His goal here wasn’t so much to beat Lex, but rather to try and put all of the villain’s intelligence to good use. Granted, the act of taking down Lex’s name is a small act of good, but Jon isn’t naïve enough to assume that he could make Luthor completely change his ways after a single chess match.

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This is one of the more distinguishing features about Jon. His father tries to see the good in others, but usually only talks to people to try and get it to shine through. The new Man of Steel has been taking a much more active stance from the get-go, learning from his father’s victories and failures to try and be a better Superman. To that end, Jon pushed a little bit. He didn’t force Luthor to do anything, he made a wager, one that his opponent would have to honor.

This is just a small microcosm of the Superman that Jon is becoming. It is not enough for him to simply protect the world, he wants to help make it better. This is something that he knows Luthor can understand and even agree with, shaping the world into something more ideal. Granted, their reasons for doing so are fundamentally different, but ultimately it serves the same purpose. This chess match, in turn, was symbolic of a new shift in the dynamic between Superman and Lex Luthor, giving the hope that rather than fighting each other they may start working together towards a better future.

KEEP READING: Superman’s Powers Have Grown Beyond Kryptonite – But How Is That Possible?

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