Superboy #19 review

The best superhero origins can be expressed in a sentence.

Superman - rocketed to Earth from the exploding planet Krypton.

Spider-Man - teenager bitten by a radioactive spider gains amazing powers.

Superboy - clone created from the genetic material of  the present day Superman, Lois Lane and an unknown donor by a time travelling madman to save the life of the sick superboy he considers his son who is in fact the child of a future Superman and Lois Lane, and take part in his war on 21st-century superhumans in order to prevent the coming of 30th century 'metas' destined to murder millions of ordinary humans, including his true child.

The best superhero origins can be expressed in a sentence that won't require an oxygen tank to complete.

And New 52 Conner Kent has a terrible origin, one laid out in detail in this week's 'surprise gatefold cover' issue. Unfold the enticing cover by Ardian Syaf and Jaime Mendoza and you learn that not only is Superman  the donor of part of Superboy's genetic material, but an equal part comes from Lois. Superman learnt recently that he and Superboy are related, but the Lois bit is new. She certainly doesn't know this, the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil Harvest having purloined DNA from her at some point.

Yes, it's that man again. Harvest, Character Find of Never, is back following the big hit he made with precisely no readers in the Culling crossover with Teen Titans and Legion Lost, and more recently in some comic or other I've managed to forget, thank the stars. Because Harvest really is a terrible character, an ugly git in a shroud who twirls his metaphorical mustache as he talks teen superheroes to death. And hearing his story from the beginning, seeing that he was hit by tragedy while defending his world from evil superbeings, doesn't make him any more palatable - he's at least as bad as anyone who's sinned against him. And he's not stopping a war a thousand years hence, so much as starting it a millennium early.

So yeah, it seems the current Superboy is the son of Lois and Clark, if you interpret 'son' very broadly. I wouldn't, I'd go with 'related' in a purely technical sense. And we still don't know who the third donor is ... previous continuity says Lex Luthor, but this is a comic written by Scott Lobdell, who admits to making his stories up as he goes along. So as I type, it may indeed be Lex, but by the time you read this, it's more likely Super-Turtle.

Sheesh.

The actual storytelling this issue is OK. Pencillers Diogenes Neves and RB Silva, aided by inkers Vicente Cifuentes and Rob Lean, produce engaging art. They, together with colourists Tanya and Richard Horie, bring Lobdell's story to life with clarity and style. There's an Easter eggy nod to the Nineties Superboy with a variation on one of his costumes, reminding us how horrible the present outfit is.
The script takes us from A to B in a pleasantlystraightforward manner. Go with the idea that Harvest is the classic monologuing villain, telling his story to a yet-to-be-revealed listener, and you'll be just fine. There's a sweet moment with slightly future Lex Luthor showing a human side, a bit of a call out to Bronze Age continuity (click on image to enlarge). I simply object to Superboy, a character styled on one of America's icons, having a ridiculously convoluted origin. We already have New 52 Kid Flash with a mysterious origin a thousand years from now, must Superboy go the same route? Will we learn that Red Robin and Wonder Girl were rocketed to the past too, temporal Titans together?

Most of all, I object to Harvest sullying this comic yet again, and just as it was getting to be fun, via last issue's debut of a new Dr Psycho. Oh well, the midget mind mangler is promised for next issue - perhaps he'll do everyone a favour and make us forget Harvest.

Comments

  1. Well, a new writer is coming aboard next issue (Justin Jordan), so there's a chance for huge improvement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes indeed, I'm keen to see what he can do.

      Delete
  2. I'd buy a Super-Turtle comic book, except in the New 52 continuity he'd probably be all grim & gritty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Issue #1, he retreats into his shell ...

      Delete
    2. Didn't Vndktvx kill Super-Turtle?

      Delete
  3. I don't think the origin is as bad as you make it sound. All that's really needed is 'clone of Clark and Lois'. The rest is details like adding the House of El, Kara, Kandor, and his rogues into the Superman sentence and adding Uncle Ben, et al, to the Spider-Man sentence. All a reader needs is the clone part, especially knowing one donor ties Lois to Clark in a way that the Powers That Be don't want her to be. That's as ironic in the New 52 as Lex being Superboy's other father in the old. 'Course, it won't matter whose viewpoint is right if they don't right the path this book has been foundering on. Things like wacky neighbors, inexplicable friendship with Bunker, amateurish art, and no clear direction are going to kill this book long before any single origin issue!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Steve, fair point. But this issue didn't half get my goat. I've always found the classic Krypton backstory enchanting (until the Byrne era) so was always fine with recaps. But this Harvest stuff strikes me as horrible, X-Men villain convolution.

      I see your pessimism. But still, here comes Mr Jordan.

      Delete
  4. This sounds craptacular. Worse, his future overrun by metahuman killers schtick sounds like it has horrible implications for the Legion. Not to mention sounding like warmed over 90s x-men tosh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What was I saying above, it's the worst kind of X-Mennery! Cheers Ric.

      Delete
  5. Wow, you really don't like Harvest do you Martin. I was waiting for his background to see if he was a hero left with impossible choices or a villain. And now we know, he's a villain (as expected). I wonder why he isn't worried about Superman and Wonder Woman being together (I know it gives him hope since the past changed but since he blames Superman for everything and now Superman might not leave Earth so how is this beneficial). Also what was Lobdell thinking, Superman wouldn't just up and leave (although to be fair we don't know what really happened).

    For some reason I think that Sanctuary has medical equipment from Krypton but I could be wrong or maybe they still couldn't figure out his (Jon) condition. Again to be fair we don't know what happened to Kara and her ship, H'El?, in this timeline.

    @Ric G, Harvests past is in the 30th century and the current issues of the Legion are in the 31st. So whatever happened in that war is already decades past and they were excepted by the UP government.

    Of all the April issues I read so far Stormwatch and Superboy were the only ones truly surprising. I'm eager to read Supergirl (to see if she "dies"), Teen Titans (leaving this one for a surprise, haven't read any solicits or seen the cover, hoping it has Raven) and a few others.

    Martin, since you asked about Constantin. His characterization is consistent with issue #1, we meet another member of the Cold Flame, he (Constantin) bumps in to the Spectre and he's on his way to London, where something horrible is happening. Also we sort of find out why he's living in NYC. I'll be checking out issue #3.

    --Eki

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Constantine

      --Eki

      Delete
    2. Hi Eki, it's brilliant to hear your point of view, and amazing to find someone, implicitly at least, likes Harvest. He must have well-hidden qualities. Ship him over to Constantine, I say. I also say, thank you so much for the opinion on #2, I may pop back for a look sometime.

      I agree, Stormwatch is surprising. In the same way that sudden death is suprising; I detested every page, it feels as if DC has huge contempt for those of us who have been enjoyng - and supporting - that comic. I'm out, let it find a new audience, and let them have their team erased in a year and a half!

      Delete
    3. My exact feelings on the middle finger editorial gave readers of StormWatch. I'm outta there too...

      Delete
    4. Harvest could have been a great moral dilemma but now he isn't, he's a disappointment (to me). Still I can't say that I dislike him, but neither do I like him.

      Yes, Stormwatch is surprising in a bad way. Is it even in the same continuity with the rest of the new 52? Removing Adam would have bigger consequences. I mean he's literally older then dirt. I don't want to rant so I'll just stop here.

      --Eki

      Delete
  6. When I read this book the only thing I took from it was that kon should steal jon's suit. That should be the arc. him trying to replace his tron suit with jon's second superboy esque suit.

    -tony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd rather like our Superboy to get an outfit all his own, something that means something to him.

      Delete
  7. This seemed like another origin upheaval on a book that clearly hasn't found it's way.

    And it is sort of depressing because it felt like the book was going to turn the corner for the better.

    In particular, the Lois/Clark origin takes away the push/pull of the Lex/Superman origin. Depressing in many ways ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's remarkable that a book with so short a life could have gone wrong in so many different ways.

      Delete
  8. Could someone explain this to me:

    -Harvest knows that Jon isn't really dead because he is from the future.
    -If Harvest hadn't thrown Jon in a tank, the child would have died.

    So unless Harvest is from a future he already changed (ow), how does he know something that no one should have known?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think its more of he grasped a better understanding of genetics or biology somehow to know how to rectify what happened to jon. I think what the comics was trying to convey was that with modern medicine and sciene or everything that they knew up until that point, they assume jon is dead. Harvest being from the 1000 years in the future has a much better grasp on the concept allowing him to revive jon. kinda like how in the past if someone got infected or something like that they would just cut off that limb but now we have medicine to treat.

      so it isn't more of a harvest know exactly what will happen as oppose to he has future tech that can properly treat.

      Delete
    2. That is a very good question Mac. I have no answer, but I do have speculation. Maybe Kara (if she's around) had a child with a human and they found out, or maybe Jon did wake up, or maybe Harvest had technology that could simulate trans species reproduction and characteristics of resulting offspring to some degree. There are to many variables for us to say that he couldn't have possibly known. That being said I wouldn't be surprised if no one in DC thought about it but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt.

      --Eki

      Delete
    3. Cheers everyone, I have nothing as regards Mac's question!

      Delete
  9. Man comic fans are never happy,like ever.lobdell wrote a good issue,pieces worked together well,and kons origin makes actual sense,it might be more complicated then boy gets but by bug,but im willing to atually read,i dont buy books for cliffnotes only.

    Kon is lois and clarks genetic hybrid cloned offspring,that was easy,the rest is for the read.

    Oh and mac he knew jon died because he came from the future,but he also knew it didt have to go down like that,so he brought him back,kinda like eradicator brought superman back when he fought doomsday to the death,superman needed help,even if his body was in a state of healing,just like jons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comments Tony (is there's problem with the upper case and spacing functions on your keyboard? The run-on effect makes it uninviting to the eye).

      I'm glad you found things to enjoy in Lobdell's story. I don't think it's necessary to take a 'comic fans are never happy' position - it's all just opinion, and I've posted plenty of happy comments this week.

      Delete
    2. Hey martin im on my phone,and i type to fast and to sloppy to look even remotley decent lol.

      I posted this many times already,butbhere goes again:
      SUPERBOY #1Written by SCOTT LOBDELLArt by RB SILVA and ROB LEANCover by ERIC CANETEOn sale SEPTEMBER 14 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED TThey thought he was just an experiment – and a failed one at that! Grown from a combination of Kryptonian and human DNA, the Clone was no more than a set of data to the scientists of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. But when the scope of his stunning powers was revealed, he became a deadly weapon! Now the question is: Can a clone develop a conscience? 
      This issue holds up toissue 1's solicit,not to mention the solicit capsulates what you need to know about kon.

      Delete
    3. Hi Tony, OK, the phrase 'they thought' covers a multitude of nonsense, but how does this take away from my contention that the new origin is awful?

      Rhetorical question! You're happy with this issue, I really didn't. Let's agree to differ, leave it there and see how things shake out.

      Delete
  10. Hey martin next issue is all justin jordan,and ive enjoyed the last couple issues of deathstroke and team 7,hopefully he sees the sky as the limit for possiblities for kon in this book.
    Hopefully next month we will agree on it being a great issue,lets keep our fingers crossed lol.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Poor Harvest. Let me defend him too! I'm that other guy on the internet who enjoyed him, enjoyed The Culling and generally enjoys Scott Lobdell. Perhaps commenter Eki and I should team up.

    By the way, speaking of Lobdell, where are the Red Hood reviews? Didn't you say it was the best team book of the New 52 back at issue #4 or #5? Would love to read from you again about that title...it has changed a little bit for the worse during the DOTF tie-ins but it's still going strong overall...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, hello Harvet fan! It's good to hear not everyone dislikes (to be kind) Harvest.

      And OK, a Red Hood review will follow soon, when the new writer comes on.

      Delete
    2. Well mysterious anon nice to see that there are kindred spirits out there somewhere. Unfortunately Harvest is somewhat ruined for me right now. Also I read The Culling while having a lot of other things on my mind so I never gave it much thought. I'll have to reread one day.

      As for Mr Lobdell, I heard he "makes things up as he goes along" and on one hand being a fan of continuity that doesn't appeal to me, on the other hand writers sometimes seem to change so fast that planing ahead might only invite disappointment (for the writer). I'll give it time and see how I fell in a year or two (if I'm still reading comics that is).

      Martin, I too would like to hear your opinion on Red Hood and the Outlaws.

      --Eki

      Delete
    3. Red Hood and the Outlaws #19 review now up!

      Delete

Post a Comment