Apparently tasked with closing out this Superboy run by cleaning up the mess made by following a rotten concept (Superboy as conflicted living weapon) with a worse one (a replacement Superboy who's an out and out killer), Aaron Kuder has fun. In short, killer Superboy Jon has been confronted by conflicted Superboy Kon at NOWHERE, the evil factory that created Kon from Jon, alternate future world son of Superman and Lois Lane Kent. Kon has been in Jon's head, even as a day's contact with the thoroughly decent scientist kids of STAR Labs and resident hero the Guardian made him a much nicer chap. Now the time travelling of Jon has converted him into a tachyon being, and he and Kon have been kicked out of the regular universe by the universe itself, then accidentally made their own reality, and an army of alternate Superboys has appeared, and the metahuman teens of NOWHERE are involved and ...
... seriously, given how nonsensically complicated this book has been, my precis is award-winningly concise.
It's all silly, and can't really be made to make satisfying sense. At one point the super-scientific 'explanation' from Kon to Jon is so wordy it's as if Kuder is challenging his excellent artist, Jorge Jimenez, to make the pages work despite the Attack of the 130-Word Panel. Imagine Chris Claremont lampooning himself - I bet letterer Carlos M Mangual is still clutching his cold compress.
This could, though, be a case of a tyro scripter who's not quite nailed how to pace a comic - Kuder begins this issue with three pages of nobody villains yammering on - entertainingly, I admit - to establish that a barrier has popped up over NOWHERE HQ. Then there's a page of plot business with the Star kids, then two splash pages, one of which is a lot of fun, but terrible for the book's effectiveness.
Superboy #33 is actually full of big artistic flourishes, with blazing colours courtesy of the Hories. It's a great-looking book, bigger than it's daft, and it's very, very daft. It's as if Kuder simply decided to have a laugh with what could be a thankless task as - like Charles Soule in this week's Superman/Wonder Woman - he brushes away recently departed Superman scripter Scott Lobdell's sloppy plotting. Here Kuder does sterling service by having Kon note that he's no longer serving as time and space-spanning herald to the big, cosmic Oracle fella who hung around Superman for about a year without ever doing anything. That was Kon's lonely fate forever more back in Teen Titans Annual #3, oh, a whole two months ago. Now? Not so much. There's not even a one-panel 'flashback' to some unseen story, it's just brought up and dismissed by Kon with the shrug it deserves.
Aaron Kuder, I want to shake your hand.
The rest of the issue features explosive action with the Legion of Superboys, changes for the Star kids and a rather ominous ending. I enjoyed this instalment lots, once the synapse-slaughtering 'explanations' were done. I'd happily have settled for a wholesale 'but that's not important right now'.
What I'd like to see now is Kuder and Jimenez invited to create a book of their own, one where they can put their talents to better use, one which sees them given the lead time to work out their characters and plot beats without having to worry about tidying up someone else's rubbish. Kuder is a promising writer - imaginative with a real knack for character dialogue - while Jimenez can go from goofy to apocalyptic with his art in the space of a couple of panels. They deserve a clean break, a better showcase for their talents.
As for the New 52 Superboy, it looks as if we're going to wind up with some unified version, Kon the clone and Jon the original, nice as pie. Or we could get newly kind-hearted Jon sacrificing himself for the Star kids and Kon. Or maybe we'll see Bizarro-Boy inherit the crown. Or a passing donkey. In the New 52, you never know who Superboy is going to be in any given week. You just know it's going to be awful. Mismanagement has made a once popular property radioactive - see also Allen, Bart. The best thing DC can do now is rest the Superboy name for awhile, remember what once worked about Kon and give readers that guy.
If you ask me, though, I could tell DC what a Superboy series is. It's
I think the concept could fly. Anyone else like to see that?