Review: Superboy #1 by Scott Lobdell and R.B. Silvo

Superboy #1

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Penciled by: R.B. Silvo
Inked by: Rob Leon
Lettering by: Carlos M. Mangual
Colored by: The Hories

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $2.99

Note: This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

Back in the 90’s, I was a huge Superman fan. I loved Superboy when he first appeared in the Reign of the Superman, and I followed not only his series but he was also a major reason that I first picked up Young Justice, which would become one of my all time favorite comics.  I even like the slightly darker version that has shown up in the Young Justice cartoon, which is where this comic seems to get it’s inspiration.

Despite what anyone else says, I consider Lobdell the defining X-Men writer for me. For me, Age of Apocalypse, Fatal Attractions, X-Cutioner’s Song, etc. are much better stories than Dark Phoenix Saga or Inferno. Sorry, I know that’s blasphemy, but I started reading comics in the early 90’s, so that is what appeals to me.

So a Superboy book by Scott Lobdell is a real easy sell for me. But somehow, this book feel a little short of my expectations.

Summary (contains spoilers): This issue starts with Superboy floating in his cloning tank. He’s been alive for three months, locked in this tank observing the lab around him. The scientists seem to think he’s mindless, but one of them (a red headed woman) insists that since he’s the first ever merging of human and Kryptonian DNA, it’s possible that his mind operates in ways they can’t even begin to imagine. In his tank, Superboy silently agrees with her. His consciousness spreads through his entire body, not just his mind. He even speculates that his consciousness might extend beyond his body some day.

The rest of the scientists decide to terminate the project, considering it a failure.. They start to pump cyanide into his system. The red head presses against the tank and whispers for him to fight. Explosions happen around the lab, the scientists think it’s the clone’s “natural defense systems.”  But it’s clear this isn’t just instinct when Superboy emerges from his tank flying. The red head yells “Superboy, you’re flying!” which causes him to lose focus and fall to the ground. He whispers that his name is Superboy.

We cut to a month later. Superboy has been enrolled into a high school in Kansas. Superboy seems to know the answers to even the most complex questions, without knowing how he’s doing this. He is approached by a Rose Wilson after school, who asks him to walk her home. Hopefully dad won’t find out…

On the walk home, they walk past someone trapped in a fire, and Superboy doesn’t seem to notice. We also find out that he believes that he suffered some kind of severe brain trauma so he has no memory of his time in the tanks. Rose comments that his amnesia seems to have made it so he has no perception of right and wrong.

He returns to the farmhouse he’s stay at and goes to bed. We soon find out that this is all just a virtual reality projection the scientists are using to probe his mind, and Superboy is well aware of that fact. The red headed scientist is obsessed with figuring out his mind. We also find out that the real Rose Wilson works for the lab, and is on hand to kill Superboy if he goes rogue. Definitely Daddy’s little girl.

Then we find out that one of the biophyicists is leaking information about this place to Lois Lane. The place is run by a group called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. who seems to have a lot of power and influence, including control of the media.  The man is worried for his safety, but more worried about what will happen if this place succeeds in making Superboy into a weapon.

A man named Zaniel Templar arrives at the facility telling them that he has need to make Superboy active now. He wants him to take down the Teen Titans.

Review: One of the first things that jumped at me about this book is I am glad they went back to the Superboy logo they used in the 90’s.

Something about that logo style has always appealed to me. Superman and Supergirl are also going back to that logo as well, I believe. This actually was my favorite era of Superman books, so I think it’s smart for DC to show that they are returning to that era of storytelling. Superman and his many spinoffs have not exactly been at their best the last few years.

I honestly am not sure how to fairly review this comic. Really there was nothing wrong with it. The characters are all really well laid out, and we get a real good sense of who this Superboy is.  I especially loved how we see the stark difference between what Superboy sees in himself and what N.O.W.H.E.R.E. thinks he knows and is capable of.

The art fit the style of the book perfectly. But at the same time, there just was nothing all that memorable about the issue either. It almost felt like it was just designed to lead in to Teen Titans and later issues of the series. This would have worked much better as a free preview of Superboy than a first issue that the reader paid for.

There does seem to be some drastic changes to Superboy’s backstory.  He seems to have been created much later than he was in the comics if he’s been sent after a Teen Titans team that already contains Tim Drake and Bart Allen.  Also, Cadmus is gone, replaced by this mysterious N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  I am really curious to see how these changes all play out.  As I said earlier, I actually liked most of the stuff with Superboy before Relaunch, but I am okay with them getting rid of it as long as a good story comes from it.

I really loved Rose’s dialouge in the virtual reality sequence. Lobdell has always had a real ear for dialogue, and it worked great here. Granted, I’ve read a lot of characters like this over the year, the cynical female sidekick, but it was still a nice touch. As I said in my Detective Comics review, sometimes things are cliches because they really work.

She’s never named in the book, but the red-headed scientist seems to be Fairchild from Gen 13. Gen 13 has always been a huge guilty pleasure of mine, and I am really glad that the characters will be showing up in the new DC. I am really hoping that Roxy and Grunge make it into Teen Titans.

I am also curious why they put that cover on the book.  It’s not the look he has in the comic or in Teen Titans, and really makes the book look like something it isn’t.  Some kind of weird Matrix meets the Borg type of book.

Like I said, I didn’t not like this book, but it would be hard for me to recommend to other readers right now.  It is very possible this will lead to a major payoff in the next issue or two and change my mind about this issue, but right now there are plenty of better Relaunch books you could be reading over this one.

Final Score: 7.5 – There really was nothing at all wrong with this book, it just felt like too much setup. I would have liked to see something actually happen in this book.

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