Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by R.B. Silva, Rob Lean, and The Hories
I enjoyed the first issue of this book, and while this issue completely changes what I felt I knew about Superboy, that isn’t a bad thing. The first issue did a great job of setting up both Superboy and “Red”, as well as establishing just what N.O.W.H.E.R.E. was, but it ended on a teaser that isn’t met at all in this issue. That being a confrontation with the Teen Titans which just flat out does not happen here. Though this is really for the best, as in that title you’ve got Red Robin assembling his team, so having them already brawling Superboy here would just create the kind of continuity hole that the relaunch is all about getting away from. So while last issue we were introduced to Superboy’s new personality, here we get to see him in action.
I had been holding strong to a comment that Scott had made in an interview a few months back about how this Superboy is the same one from the Death of Superman, the same clone, only with a mindwipe after some sort of abduction. This issue makes it clear what many thought after the other previews and last issue; that Superboy is a creation of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. made from one part Superman and one part human donor. It could still be Lex, it could be someone entirely different, and they could get a good story out of it if handled right. Red and Rose are given more focus here, and Red is name dropped as Caitlin to go along with a display of what could be super strength, which really does solidify the assumption that she’s Caitlin Fairchild integrated in to the DC Universe to go along with the other Wildstorm characters we’ve seen. Rose is…a bitch. Plain and simple. There’s yet to be mention of her being the daughter of Deathstroke, but at the same time, all we’ve really seen out of her is attitude. Lots and lots of attitude. This isn’t a bad thing though, as she plays well off of Superboy when they work together, and there’s an antagonistic relationship that could translate a lot of ways when further developed. The two of them are the core of the supporting cast, and so far I don’t mind them.
Of course, this book is called Superboy, not Fairchild and Ravager. Superboy isn’t the Conner Kent we’ve known for all of these years. He’s a weapon and he’s aware of it, and he’s not exactly that nice of a guy. His tactile telekinesis is fleshed out, and while he doesn’t have new powers in the traditional sense, Scott Lobdell has managed to breathe new life into a power that most writers used as “breaks something to pieces on touch”. The way the power is used in this issue would indicate that everything he touches with these abilities is something he can study, and that just by touching a wall or floor in a room he can generate his own form of x-ray vision and see the entire building. It’s pretty cool, and very original. He’s not quite invincible, though for a while he wasn’t unless he wanted to be, so it’s not that new of a twist. Really, he’s got the perfect mix of old and new to make the character fresh without starting with a blank slate.
The art in the issue sells it. The teens look like teens, the adults look like adults, and the giant shark monsters look like they’re going to eat anyone in sight. The fight, for as brief as it is, looks pretty cool. There’s a splash page of Rose fighting one of the sharks that I absolutely love the layout of. The power effects are nicely rendered and do a great job selling what our main character is now capable of doing. There’s a lot of cool stuff going on visually in this issue, and I especially like the red wash any time he fully unloads his abilities. I also like his costume a whole lot more in action than I did just seeing it on the covers.
The fight makes up the end of the issue, and while it’s not very long, it does directly set up not only the next issue but what seems to be the status quo for the title..as least for the first half of a year to a year. But really the story of this issue to me is that despite what could easily be a full reboot here, of a character I like, I’m not bothered by it. Not unlike what’s happening in Supergirl, I don’t find myself lamenting the loss of a character I’d grown fond of (and in Superboy’s case, the Death of Superman was my gateway comic, I have all of Superboy’s earliest appearances and fond memories of them), instead I find myself intrigued by this new direction. Sure, there’s no more Wonder Girl relationship, or friendship with Tim Drake, hell, there’s no leather jacket! But what we do have is essentially the same character with a blank slate and a new introduction to the universe. He’s not trying to be Superman, he’s trying to be himself…it’s just the only thing he knows is that he was made to be a weapon.
This could make for some very cool and interesting stuff.
Tags: DC Comics Relaunch, New 52 (DC Comics), R.B. Silva, Reviews, Scott Lobdell, Superboy, Superman