Jonathan Kent may be carrying on his father's work as Superman, but a forgotten legacy character shows that he's not the first young hero to try and fill the Man of Steel's shoes. In fact, he's not even the first Jonathan to try and be Metropolis' new Superman.
Jonathan Kent departed Earth as a young Superboy to train with his grandfather Jor-El and wound up returning several years older after his multiversal excursion left him trapped on Earth 3 for several years. Now on the cusp of manhood, Jon was ready to take on new challenges and greater responsibilities. So when Superman left to liberate Warworld in Action Comics, the hero left Earth in the care of his son. Knowing the weight on his shoulders was immense, Jon stepped up to become Superman, and keep Metropolis and the Earth safe in his father's absence. And yet, as pivotal a moment as it was for Jonathan to take on such a monumental role, his entire story is eerily similar to the tale of another legacy hero that wanted to honor Superman.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Related: Superman Fan Comic Tells The Jon Kent Story That Deserves To Be Told
In Superman #685 by James Robinson and Javier Pina, Clark saves his old friend and longtime associate Mon-El from his deadly allergy to lead. No longer a prisoner of the Phantom Zone, Mon-El can finally make himself a home on Earth. It's quite a fortuitous event because Superman has to leave the planet in order to keep an eye on General Zod on New Krypton. Clark requests that Mon-El take his place keeping Metropolis safe, to which the hero readily agrees to. Before Mon-El officially takes over, he consults Ma Kent on how he can better acclimate to Earth. She believes a good start would be a name and christens him Jonathan after her late husband.
While Mon-El’s identity was just a disguise, it’s interesting at how closely his story mirrors Jon Kent becoming the new Man of Steel. Two young, inexperienced heroes having to fill in for the DCU's greatest protector and they both happen to be namesakes for Clark's beloved Pa Kent? While Mon-El's time guarding Metropolis had nowhere near the attention Superman's son has received, it does raise the question of how little originality Jon Kent has been given.
This isn’t to say that Jon has had nothing original to his name, as much of his time as the Man of Steel has been marked with important milestones in representation. But since he was introduced, the young Superman has essentially been given hand-me-downs. Jon Kent wasn't the first Superboy, he definitely wasn't the first Superman and, as this adventure with Mon-El shows, he wasn't even the first Jonathan to fill in for an off-world Superman. While fans are split on what should be done with Jon, one thing is clear: he needs something that's truly and wholly his. Whether it's a new identity or a dramatic new mission doesn't matter. For a character that's achieved the prominence he has, Superman's son deserves something to his name that no other character can claim.