DC Comics' Zoom line has been successful in its mission to get youngsters excited about reading and leave 'em wanting more. Coming out this week is the first follow up story to one of their big releases, the second graphic novel in the Super Sons series, The Foxglove Mission, which picks up right after the events of The Polarshield Project. Written by Ridley Pearson (The Kingdom Keepers, The Peter and the Starcatchers) with art by Ile Gonzalez, The Foxglove Mission is an action-packed page-turner for the all-ages reader.
Pearson spoke exclusively to SYFY WIRE about the second installment in the trilogy that follows Jonathan Kent, Damian "Ian" Wayne, and Candace, a mysterious heir to an empress who must travel back to her homeland with a family relic. We've also got an 11-page preview of The Foxglove Mission, which is more of a Super Sons story than The Polarshield Project, since Batman and Superman have less of a presence.
"Polarshield was more about introducing you to characters and a new world, but also engaging you with the problems and villains of that world," Pearson shared. "Foxglove gets us right into this saddle with these characters and we are exposed to their inner uncertainties, their external ambition and goals. There's a lot of action!"
Rather than dealing with the icons of the DCU, the villains are dealing with children still trying to maintain anonymity. Neither is a 100-percent superpowered being, and that allows young readers to further identify with bits and pieces of each main character, struggling with his own idenity crisis.
"Jon's part Lois and part Clark, as expressed in Polarshield, he's someone torn by that because he's never going to live up to dad," Pearson reflected. "He has to be himself. The Foxglove Mission is sort of a road trip gone bad and all the characters are headed into trouble. Physically and emotionally, these characters have flown the nest. It's all terrifying but it's something we all have to go through.
"By the third book they're definitely in a world that they have to man up," continued Pearson. "So Foxglove is a transitional book, it's uncharted territory for our characters and for us, and they're facing these new enemies and internal demons. Meanwhile, Jon is worried that he's going lose his mother, so the stakes are high."
The third character in the Super Sons trinity is Candace, who Pearson created from scratch. With Ian and Jon, there is a certain DC legacy that Pearson was allowed to play with, but Candace gave him a blank slate to create a story for readers to discover something new.
"She becomes this wickedly fascinating and important character to me because she has legacy history but she doesn't know who she is or where she comes from," Pearson said. "Yet by the discovery of a few clues that her mother left behind for her, she is thrown into this mission that involves that family history and surprises her with that history. It's like Dorothy trying to get to Emerald City, and the boys have a fight that coincides with this mission she's on."
If you enjoyed seeing Patience, Bruce Wayne's assistant, and Tilly, Jon Kent's tech-savvy friend in The Polarshield Project, both return with more to do in The Foxglove Mission.
"If you're writing a novel, it's easy to dedicate 30 pages to a supporting character here and there, but it's so different in graphic novels when someone pops out at you and want more ink, Tilly was one of them. I just fell for her early on as did the editors who just kept urging me to add more Tilly," said Pearson.
"I love Patience [too], She has her strengths, she becomes a player in Foxglove, and in book three too. Bruce [Wayne] bounces around and does what he does, but without Patience, I don't think Ian stood a chance of becoming a decent kid."
Writing for kids is a challenge, yet Pearson has done it successfully his entire career and understood that the dynamic between Ian and Jon needed to be authentic, and that's something he continued to explore in Foxglove.
"To have these guys hand in hand is not realistic," Pearson admitted. "The younger readers reading it are less likely to associate and have empathy for two boys getting along as opposed to two boys who are in constant conflict, despite liking each other. My mission along with DC's mission is to entertain young readers, while offering some guidance and everyday problems and concerns that arrive in childhood and they're big. I have a nine-year-old who reads these books before anybody else does and we talk through if he and his friends could relate."
"So my mission is to get kids reading, make them want to keep reading, and hold up a mirror and let them see themselves in these characters. Each character represents a different path we can take and it could be with any of the characters. It's not gender specific, because I see parts of myself in Tilly."
Check out our entire 11-page preview of Super Sons: The Foxglove Mission below, and see the entire graphic novel at a comic shop near you on Oct. 30.