Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Superboy #11 review

Now that's a clever cover for a final issue ... Karl Kerschl repeats Rafael Albuquerque's image from #1, but pulls back the 'camera' to show that Superboy isn't alone in Smallville, as he was when he reluctantly moved there. He's made friends, Lori Luthor and Simon Valentine, alongside the ever-dependable Krypto.

Inside, there's also Psionic Lad, would-be assassin turned pal. Together they help the Phantom Stranger see off black magician Tannarak and his Hollow Men, reuniting the people of Smallville with their souls. That's not bad for 20 pages.

Not that it's easy - Lori and Simon must fight off the Parasite inside the barn while Hollow Men, primitive clones, try to get in from the outside. Superboy can't begin to free Phantom Stranger from a mystic trap until he and Krypto beat off their own batch of Hollow Men. And Psionic Lad is unconscious.

But good overcomes all, and while the immortal Tannarak escapes to spell-cast another day, the Phantom Stranger is in hot pursuit; he'll have him any epoch now. The book ends with an echo of the first issue's opening narration, but rather than yearning for a 'normal' life, Superboy is embracing the extraordinary one he's found - he's a super-powered clone whose best mates are a genius frog wrangler, the slightly psychic niece of his evil half-father and a future boy with massive ESP gifts. Oh, and that dog from Krypton.

While the way Superboy helps Phantom Stranger escape is rather convenient, it's probably fair enough for a super-ghost. And the quibble is made up for by a fighting mad Dog of Steel, the call-out to the Dark Circle of the 31st century and the knowledge that Pete Ross teaches JSA history at Smallville High.

The signs aren't good, but I hope the new Superboy title finds room for the supporting cast writer Jeff Lemire has built up over the past year. They're an interesting bunch and have barely begun to interact with Conner Kent and one another. Plus, Psionic Lad has yet to face up to his murderous handlers, who aren't likely to give up on their plot to kill the Teen of Steel. Superboy doesn't know the reality of his mission into the past. And it's obvious Simon distrusts him.

If we never see Conner's new friends again (it's a pretty safe bet Krypto will be around), at least we've had an engrossing 11-issue story. A full collection would be longer than the average trade, but DC really should print the whole thing in one fat volume so that the bookends are in, you know, a single book.

Also gathered would be the attractive artwork Pier Gallo has provided for the majority of this run. He's been growing, experimenting with layouts and finishes, while keeping the characters consistent. I'll miss seeing his careful, detailed work on this strip, but hope to see him somewhere in the new DC Universe.

I'll also miss the sunshine colours of Jamie Grant and Dom Regan - seldom has comic book Kansas looked so inviting, rampaging husk people and all. And Travis Lanham provides a thoroughly professional lettering job and spooky title font.

Eleven issues. It's not long, but it's long enough for me to feel the loss of this comic. Let's hope that Superboy's new direction, in its own way, proves as enjoyable.

5 comments:

  1. I'm sorry to see this go as well. As you say, Psionic Lad's subplot didn't get a chance to pay off (and yet they're giving extra issues to Krul to finish his Superboy Prime porn story).

    I wish DC had stacked the Relaunches a little more, phasing the new universe in as storylines actually ended. We're unlikely to see any of these characters again. And I count this likable version of Connor!

    ReplyDelete
  2. There you go, speaking sense and logic again!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't mean to.

    I imagine I would be very frustrated working at DC or Marvel these days. Especially in my own area (communications).

    ReplyDelete
  4. I picked up the trade recently. Collects the whole dang run in one book. Very nice. I am a bit sad that a bunch of storylines will never come to an end, but for what has happened, I am satisfied with how it all ended.

    Guess you predicted the future correctly! You got the whole run in one mega volume.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good read! I've just bought the first Golden Age Superboy book (well, only, I think) and it's just wonderful stuff.

      Delete