The Brainiac-Luthor team dominate the first few pages of this issue, attacking grunts, making deals . . . you know, the whole baddies bit. But once we leave West Virginia ('mountain momma') and join Conner and Martha Kent in Smallville, that stuff just fades into memory. For the Johns-Manapul team is far more persuasive than Baldies Inc, gently drawing us into a place where it's forever summer. The heart of the issue is a conversation between Conner and a visiting Cassie Sandsmark, Wonder Girl - the love of Superboy's life before his death.
Conner and Cassie talk through their feelings, truths are shared and their relationship begins anew. And all the while Krypto is on hand, ever the supportive Superdog. I love Krypto. As for Ma, let's just say the story's penultimate page had me weeping - and I'd only just got the lump out of my throat from the previous scene.
This is fine work from Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul, who prove masters of mood. Colourist Brian Buccellato matches tone to emotion, and letterer Steve Wands ensures the script is never noisier than it needs to be. This series feels like no other DC title, a refreshing spa break from the grubbiness that pervades much of the line these days. I just hope the Superboy series remains a haven of Americana before writer and artist leave this book to reteam on The Flash.
Johns joins Michael Shoemaker to co-write the Legion short, which focuses on Lightning Lad and estranged/strange brother Mekt, Lightning Lord. I enjoyed it until we came to a 'revelation' which shatters even my tolerance of corn. Where the story works is in establishing Lightning Lad's current hothead personality. I also liked that it never ventures from the 31st century - we see enough of today's world and heroes in other series, the LSH should stick to its prime setting.
A 7ft Saturn Girl apart, Clayton Henry's art suits this strip well. It's just a shame he has to use Gary Frank's dowdy Legion costumes. Poor old Lightning Lad, for instance . . . doesn't his bum look big in this?