Superboy #33 review


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?

Comments

  1. I liked this issue. Yes, it was extremely wordy but at least it's undoing all the horrible things Lobdell put the character through. No more Kon as a Silver Surfer knock-off thankfully. Kuder has done a lot in a few issues. I wish the series wasn't being cancelled so that Kuder could keep writing. Hopefully the final issue will be just as good as this one, though maybe not as dialogue heavy.

    I love Superboy and had such high hopes for this series but DC and Lobdell just screwed the book every which way from Sunday. I didn't mind the living weapon origin to begin with but they just stuck with it way too long. Plus it didn't help that SB's book was so entwined with Teen Titans that most of the time you were only getting half the story especially once the Culling hit. It seemed like the book might stabilize after that once Lobdell left and Tom DeFalco took over. Instead Superboy got swept up in cross-overs with the Ravagers and Legion Lost. Plus the H'El On Earth storyline. Then Lobdell returned to give Kon a horribly convoluted origin story. I had hope that Justin Jordan could turn the book around, even if it meant jettisoning all the stuff that DeFalco had set up and giving Superboy yet another new direction in just 20 issues. I think Jordan delivered even though it seemed like the ideas he had were changed to match up with the Psi-War storyline. He's kicked off the book pretty quickly though and Lobdell kills Kon off in the dreadful Krypton Returns storyline and replaces him with Jon. The stuff with Jon in the future recruiting an army wasn't that interesting. I didn't have any hope for Kuder but in four issues he's made Jon likeable, given him a good supporting cast, and brought Kon back. I really hope the series ends with Kon back as Superboy or at least the promise of that.

    Sorry for the rant but I am a huge Conner Kent fan. Loved his first series back in the day and I hate what has happened to his character. Hopefully DC can fix the mess that they've made and reboot Superboy with a better writer and a clear direction.

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    1. No need to apologise for the 'rant' - it's a nice summation of the twists and turns/directionless rambling of this series. Let's hope for a better future for Superboy. Whoever he is.

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  2. See also: Young Justice. See also: Cassie Cain. See also: Wonder Girl. See also: Wonder Girl II.

    DC flip-flop on their teen books a lot as they try to find something that sticks, something that works, something that breaks the mold, something that will appeal to 40 something dudes*, and then sometime after the books have been published maybe someone thinks "I guess we could maybe make them fun and entertaining, too..."
    For me, the best modern age premise for Superboy was the whole "clone of Superman" angle: it was simple, avoided the limits and pitfalls of a Superboy born of time-travel shenanigans, and had no continuity baggage even though it came about as part of the Death of Superman event. Things since then seem to be little more than writers circling other notions and trying not to do what people expect rather than what will give them a functioning character and property with which to get on with making entertaining stories. 33 issues really is more than enough time time to nail this sucker down.



    * By which I mean something that appeals to men in their 40s, not something that appeals to less than fifty men in total. There is probably a joke in there about DC's obsession with the number 52 stemming from the fact that this is the average age of their readers.

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    1. Fun post, Brigonos, and so true. I liked the originals clone Superboy - 'the Kid' a lot, under Karl Kesel he was a likeable, scrappy type. I'm with Maya, below, though - if DC are aiming for the veteran fans, they're missing the mark by a long way if our golden age of comics was when we we're 12.

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  3. I just have to throw in my two cents and say If they are trying to appeal to the over 45 crowd then they're going about it in a very strange way. We grew up with everything they currently disdain and made irrelevant these last 3 or 4 years.

    I think what we're seeing is reactionary storytelling. It wouldn't surprise me if they're thinking that dark and gritty is in fashion, all the cool kids are doing it on TV and Video Games so why not give it a whirl!

    Except they don't seem to understand moderation or that not *every* single character needs to be Batman lite and miserable. In my opinion at least the current management doesn't understand their characters so they can't world build to their strengths.

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    1. Dead on. We need a DC Universe filled with characters and settings that vary in tone - not just a little something for everybody, more a case of a little something to all our different moods.

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  4. the adventures of superman when he was a boy how innovative next you'll be saying green lantern should be about hal jordan or that spider-man and mj should be married what genius mart what wit

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    1. I'm so old school - though I prefer Kyle to what Hal became.

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  5. Of course Superboy ought to be the adventures of Superman when he was a boy. It's a concept that sold well for decades. Failing that, the Superboy who was a designer clone of Superman worked pretty well, too. The latter required that the clone Superboy receive Superman's endorsement and become his surrogate younger brother, but it worked for over a decade. The recent Nu52 version lacked the clarity of concept we had with either of his predecessors. I think Kuder understood that, although he got the writing assignment too late to save the book. At least it looks like he had some fun with book, and put some of the previous continuity in the context it deserved (i.e.: "That doesn't matter anymore..."). The fact is, Superboy requires some kind of link to Superman to define him. Otherwise, he's just a pretender to the shield. Give any Superboy some context and some history to build on, and he has a good chance to succeed. The Nu52 Superboy had less credibility than the "Superlad" that appeared in an issue of Supergirl in the early '70s - and he was Kara's male clone! And why not? The Y-chromozome can be fun...

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    1. Ha, Superlad, now there's a memory. Next we'll be having Wonder Warrior and those white tights next.

      One thing I liked about this week's Superman/Wonder Woman was Suoerdoom's response on first seeing the Cyborg Superman:

      'You have no right to wear that symbol. That's for me and mind."

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  6. I really enjoyed Conner Kent's run and yes, I even liked when they made him a clone of Superman and Luthor though I didn't think they explored it as well as they could have.

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  7. All they need to do is use the Young Justice tv show superboy,add some Kesel fun and over confidence,plus instead of hearing and sight senses give him the touch recon thing and the super spidey feely senses Lobdell gave him,and the original touch powers Kesel gave him.oh and as a twist don't let him fly,make him wait for that,just like he should wait for heat vison,and the super senses.i know it would be way to easy and DC likes to over complicate everything so it wouldn't work.

    DC now that kon is back howabout you have Jon sacrifice himself to save his new friends,and kon use up a huge portion of his power to stop the evil Jon,or is it the Void that was in the status tube,that way he would have to try to be SUPER,instead of starting out overly powerful.

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    1. Oh Tony, a Jon sacrifice would be wonderful. If we all join hands and wish ...

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  8. Oh and I don't consider teen Clark superboy,I consider him superman as a teen(if you know what I mean).if you want a new superboy bring back lor Zod/Chris kent and keep him young as he was when he first arrived,make him fully powered and have kon jealous (of the kid and Kara).have kon call himself Scion,the name suits him well.

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    1. I'm not a Chris Kent fan, I get so sick of Zod stuff. I'm good with him in limbo!

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  9. Honestly I would like Superboy (Clark Kent) hanging out with the Legion of Super-heroes that's what I would like

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    1. Definitely - better than ruddy Gen13.

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