Superboy #15 review

Superboy is dying after being assaulted by supposed Kryptonian H'el. Superman takes him to the Fortress of Solitude where scientific advisors Cyborg and Dr Veritas puzzle over Superboy's three strands of DNA. They're breaking down, leading Superman to suppose that his Kryptonian armour might boost Superboy's healing the way it did his own, years ago.

And it does. Superboy is soon back on his feet, but the armour is affecting his tactile telekinesis, diverting it to make his muscles stronger than ever.

Meanwhile, In Supergirl's undersea Sanctuary, H'el is poisoning her mind against Kal-El. And in New York, Jimmy Olsen discusses the apparent links between Superman, Supergirl, Superboy and H'el over the phone with Lois Lane, before running into rubbish supervillains Bonesmasher and Streak.

Back at the Fortress, a panicking Superboy pulls off the armour, causing him to collapse. Superman persuades him to put it back on for his own good, just as the antagonist H'el reappears and blasts them right out into the icy wastes.

There's not much advancement on the crossover front here, but H'el on Earth has brought Superman and Superboy closer to an understanding. Superman gets an indication that the kid is his clone, at least partly; and Superboy learns that unlike Supergirl, Superman only wants to help him. I won't be satisfied until all three characters are getting along famously, but this is a step forward. While Supergirl gets just one line of dialogue, the look on her face after H'el disappears on her hints that she's becoming less naive by the minute.

While I like that Superman consults with Cyborg and Veritas, I'm not impressed by how suddenly he dismisses them when he has the armour idea - he comes across as the arrogant type Superboy prejudged him to be. (And poor Cyborg: since being 'promoted' to the Justice League, he's become less and less interesting as a character - DC writers seem content to treat him like an all-purpose AI, rather than a battle-hardened science hero.)

Writer Tom DeFalco's script is a model of efficiency, telling a satisfying chapter in the life of Superboy, deepening the mystery of his donors while showing that he's his own person. And the presence of old Marvel sparring partner Ron Frenz means big, bombastic breakdowns for penciller Roger Robinson to work from. The finishes on the few pages by Iban Coello and Amilcar Pinna are poles apart, but I love both - one sharp and cartoony, the other silky smooth. Most of the book is left to Robinson himself, giving us a grainier look that's rather fascinating (click on images to enlarge, and pray Superman has his red undies on in that first page). And as coloured by Richard & Tanya Horie, and Jeromy Cox, the pages pop. Excellent cover, too, from Tyler Kirkham, Batt and Jason Wright.

Frenz and Robinson

Frenz, Robinson & Pinna
Frenz, Robinson & Coello
All this, and proper use of editorial notes from editor Chris Conroy, make for one of the better issues of Superboy. The only sadness is DeFalco's obvious refusal to reimagine his seminal Seventies creation the Human Cannonball for the New 52. I may just have to start a proper campaign ...


  1. Unlike a lot of people who read this issue, I kind of enjoyed it. It was kind of a B- in my gradebook. I liked how Superman was so desperate to help Superboy and how he asked Cyborg and Dr. Veritas for help. With this kind of science, I was expecting Dr. Veritas to be involved.

    A lot of readers were complaining how Superboy was all whiney and wanted Superman to leave him alone, but I kind of understood the reasons for that. I mean, he's been constantly hounded and manipulated all of his life. Of course he's not gonna immediately trust Superman. By the end of the issue, it looks like he's starting to. And I'm pretty sure that he'll start to trust Superman even more after he finds out that Superman is his Kryptonian donor (which I'm pretty sure that he hasn't realized yet). I'm really hoping that they'll go with a "father/son" angle with this, considering that this is so much like how it is between Batman and his son, Damian. I'm pretty sure that when the rest of the Justice League shows up and Superman explains to them his relation to Superboy and how they met, Batman will be like, "Welcome to my world".

    Speaking of donors, it looks like they remembered the 3rd donor that they'd announced earlier, which is good because I was really intrigued by that enigma. I really hope that the 3rd donor is female because it would be cool for Superboy to have a "mother".

    Overall, I agree that this was one of the better issues of Superboy. I am really looking forward to seeing Superman and Superboy grow closer to each other and becoming family. To that end, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the crossover.

    1. Hi PRgirl, glad you enjoyed the issue too. I can see how people might see Superboy as whiny, and I've certainly had problems with him in the past. But I have to admit, he really has had a time of it, what with the constant mind control. It's getting to the point where I think he needs some kind of counselling, or rebirth or better still, just a long, long break somewhere he can make friends and be given a reason to trust people.

      I wonder who the third donor might be, especially if a woman - there's no reason it should be, but imagine a Superboy who's the child of Lex Luthor, Superman ... and Lois Lane.

  2. You knowif it was actually lex behind the cloning i would absolutely believe lois would be the mother,but think it was more Harvest grabbing the dna of a super intelligent successful human,and dont forget the third donor is beyond classification,something unspeakable,something that can make someone comatose,and maybe,just maybe from the future,with all the hints from jocelyn lure and inside the legion lost book

    1. I'll laugh if it turns out to be DNA from Proty 2, or someone similarly left of centre, Tony.

  3. This issue felt like Superboy might have a direction to it for the first time in a year...

    1. It does ... what''s the betting next issue is awful?

    2. I doubt that the next issue will be awful. Especially since the Justice League will be in it.

      Speaking of which, I'm hoping that after meeting the League, Superboy mentions Kid Flash or Wonder Girl to them and that this somehow leads to a Teen Titans/Justice League crossover. This would be cool, as Kid Flash and Wonder Girl are supposed to be connected to the Flash and Wonder Girl respectively, especially if their pre-New 52 heritages are still intact (that is Bart being descended from the Flash and Wonder Girl being a daughter of Zeus).

    3. Hi PRgirl1294, excellent idea about setting up some cross-connections with the Justice League, I do hope we see that.


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