But Superboy finds a way to turn the tide, restoring the monsters to human form before setting his super-sniffer dog on the trail of the culprit - a new version of pre-New 52 Superboy clone Match! A fierce fight ensues and - it's not Match, it's Psycho Pirate, who's been messing with Superboy's head all along!
Yep, a villain from the old days makes his New 52 debut, and he's had a makeover - instead of the fascinating comedy/tragedy mask, he's wearing a standard metal number and projecting a headful of snakes in front of it. He looks ridiculous, like the supervillain who conquered the Castro. I know PP always wore the Medusa Mask, but you can be too literal. Still, it's fun to see a version of an old favourite, and I'm looking forward to his tussle with Superboy next time.
It's even more fun to see writer Justin Jordan having fun with Superboy and Krypto. Jordan's Superboy not only approaches tasks seriously, using his noggin alongside his fists and TK, he has a great sense of humour. And Jordan's Krypto, well, he's a revelation. The snarly wolf beast of the New 52 is present at the start of the issue, but once he's been de-possessed by Superboy, we get ... a rather nice dog. And one who not only, as mentioned above, demonstrates one of the traditional Krypto's powers ...
... he has a trick that's new to me. And it's one I love.
I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship for a Superboy and his dog. It's just a bugger that after a handful of issues, Jordan is leaving Superboy, supposedly over creative differences with Editorial - please don't let it be a case of DC not wanting a Krypto who's actually a dog you'd wish to hang out with, rather than a crazed wannabe wolf.
Whatever the case, we're talking There Goes Mr Jordan - if you're reading this, Justin, thanks, and good luck.
On the artistic side, pencillers Robson Rocha and Marcus To share the workload, and their styles mesh rather well. Rocha just has the edge in terms of extra flash, but the art is attractive throughout. Rocha's monster-students are a right laugh, with some looking like the Smooze from My Little Pony, some like melting dinosaurs and the rest delightfully random.
Perhaps if either of them stays on the book they could, issue by issue, cutesify Krypto. With every month he could become less wolf-like, more adorable - heck, if Wally Wood could increase Power Girl's chest size with every appearance, and Jerry Ordway 'cut' Jade's hair, a bit of stealth Superdog grooming shouldn't be out of the question.
To inks his own pencils, and his silky finishes really suit himself, while Marlo Alquiza teams up with Rocha. Pete Pantazis and the Hories add the colours, and you can't see the join. It's good work all round on what I suspect was a deadline crunch issue. Ken Lashley's cover, coloured by Matt Yackey, is a nice representation of the interior scene. It seems to give away the surprise debut of a new Match, but now we know that it most certainly does not. Jordan also teases with the issue's title, 'Match Game' - nice one!
I liked this issue a lot - there's not much of the new, fun Dr Psycho (ignore that imposter in this week's Justice League of America) but we get a Krypto who actually seems like Krypto. Any day now he could be manifesting thought bubbles containing the words 'Arf Master'.
And who wouldn't love that?