“As flood waters rise, people flee Metropolis… ancient cities disappear… and dams overflow” — Narration, Super Sons: The PolarShield Project, p. 41.
|Ridley Pearson (author), Ile Gonzalez (artist)
|Superhero, Science Fiction, Fiction
|Environmental Themes and Issues
|Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Flood, Melting Ice Caps, Pollution
|Jon Kent and Damian “Ian” Wayne: White teenage boys
The comic also includes Candace, an African girl
|Protagonist’s Level of Environmental Agency
|Level 2: Low Environmental Agency
|Fictional cities of Metropolis and Wyndemere
Ridley Pearson and Ile Gonzalez’s comic Super Sons: The PolarShield Project centers on teenagers Jon Kent, the son of Superman and Lois Lane, and Damien “Ian” Wayne, the son of Batman. Both families initially reside in Metropolis, a city surrounded by failing levees built by the Wayne family in an attempt to hold back floodwaters that could destroy the city. In this version of the DC universe, climate change serves as the biggest threat faced by the superheroes, not conventional supervillains. As the Governor General informs Superman, “Our world is in trouble. Our farmland is threatened by the superstorms, the result of climate disruption. We are losing both crops and lands. Our coastal cities are ruined. Millions of our citizens have been forced to move inland” (Pearson 19-20). In an attempt to stem these catastrophes, Dr. Para Sol and Bruce Wayne propose a drastic solution: Project PolarShield, a plan to spray a special dust into space to shade the Earth and cool the melting polar ice caps. Superman travels to outer space to acquire the dust from an asteroid near Mars, a journey of several months. During his absence, Jon’s mother announces that she and her son will move to the safer city of Wyndemere. At the same time, the Wayne family increasingly draws public backlash for their failing levees, which, Bruce soon discovers, have been intentionally sabotaged by a mysterious group called Project Noah. He decides that Ian will also move to Wyndemere to keep the boy safe from the rising waters. There, both Jon and Ian face discrimination, with residents disparagingly referring to people who have escaped from Metropolis as “Flood Runners.”
With Superman’s help, the scientists execute Phase One of the PolarShield Project, which initially appears successful. The media celebrates the launch of the project as Stabilization Day, and Ian holds a press conference, declaring, “Today marks the first time in years that the Earth’s temperature is stable!” (Pearson 48). However, Jon remains skeptical about the program, telling Tilly, another student at his new school,” Stabilization sounds good, but if PolarShield can’t reverse temperatures, then Earth is toast! We all die” (Pearson 54). Though Tilly disagrees with Jon’s pessimistic outlook, she helps him investigate his mother’s whereabouts when Lois mysteriously falls ill. The pair also befriends Ian, who provide them with information about Lois, and Candace, a teenager descended from African royalty. Together, Jon and Tilly conduct research and realize that Lois has contracted a strange virus that has also afflicted numerous other residents of Wyndemere. They investigate and trace the source of the illness to the Sage Foods company. Breaking into the corporation, they find that a woman named Avryc and her gang have used Sage Foods to intentionally poison Wyndemere. Even more troublingly, Avryc also has links to the PolarShield Project. The teenagers trace Avryc and her gang to a local train station. They work together to capture the woman and her followers, and the comic concludes with the teenagers handing the villains over to the police.
Climate change and environmental disaster figure prominently in the comic’s plot, driving the actions of many of the characters. The comic also highlights the discrimination faced by people displaced by climate change. However, this volume does not explain Avryc’s apparently sinister involvement in Project PolarShield, and the narrative does not explore the full implications of the scientists’ use of the space dust to shade the Earth.