Superboy #24 review

Psycho Pirate has revealed himself to Superboy as the man behind the weird goings on at a city school. His Medusa Mask gives him enough power to keep Superboy calm while he explains that Kon's new friend, Dr Psycho, has been using him, getting close enough to tap into his psi powers and begin taking them for his own. A haunting mindscape is the venue for a look back at how a tormented, confused kid became Dr Psycho, and back in the real world, Superboy attacks him, enraged at the lies he's been fed. Unleashing his power only succeeds in letting the diminutive devil steal more, putting him on a par with Kon ...

There's an awful lot of exposition this issue, and I couldn't be happier, as writer Justin Jordan elegantly, entertainingly links the cuddly Dr Psycho seen in this book of late with the thoroughly nasty lot shown in the Justice League's Trinity War crossover. He also connects this instalment directly to last week's issue of Action Comics, with the Psycho Pirate revealing that he's fighting Superman at the same time he's confronting Kon. Sharp dialogue and regular bouts of action ensure this isn't just a big old infodump, and there's a new wrinkle added as Superboy learns that Dr Psycho knows more about his clone origins than he was letting on, courtesy of Psycho Pirate ('You're a living organ bank').

It's sad to see Superboy realise that he hasn't yet stopped being everybody's patsy, and then give in to the anger Psycho Pirate is stoking in him, but I'm hoping the unpleasant epiphany will lead to a period of calm. Superboy's been too much the loose cannon in this series, his personality ever changing; it'd be good to see him cast off the shackles others have forged and make his own way in the world, embracing the heroism that seems to break through whatever programming he's been given by the likes of rubbish bad guy Harvest.

Robson Rocha's layouts are terrific, and there's also strong figurework, distinctive characters and compelling settings (just look at Dr Psycho's mindscape, complete with a crooked house). In a single, small panel he shows the state of mind of his three leads - Superboy unnerved; Psycho Pirate, commanding; Dr Psycho, despairing.
Rocha likewise embraces the splashier moments of Jordan's script, letting the displays of power mirror the tumultuous emotions. Helping the young Brazilian look even better is veteran inker Dan Green, a man who truly knows how to lay down the blacks. There's pleasing colourwork, too, from Richard and Tanya Horie, especially in the throwdown between Superboy and Dr Psycho (a top-of-the-spread scene too large for my humble scanner, sadly).

Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse pencil, ink and colour a well-composed cover that shows off the Psycho Pirate's mental strength extremely well. Me though, I'm more excited by the logo colours - purple and white with a green tinge, a very rare combo and an attractive one.

Yeah, I'm sad. And I can't blame the Psycho Pirate.

Comments

  1. This Psycho Pirate's a busy chap, isn't he?

    I don't read Superboy normally, but I will be next month because of the Krypton Returns thing. What do you think of them putting Marv Wolfman on the book after that?

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    1. Oh Thomas, you're not the H'el fan, are you? ;) I'm intrigued to see Marv Wolfman as I enjoyed his recent-ish Night Force lots - I only hope he doesn't come through the usual Superboy scripter revolving door.

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    2. No, I'm a Supergirl reader, so I hate H'el. I have to confess I have completely skipped H'el on Earth because it looks like shite, but based on nearly every reviewer and commentator I've read (especially Anj) I wouldn't have liked it. I thought that one month of crossover isn't too much to handle so I'll give KR a chance, I'm just hoping it's not atrocious. I really hope that Supergirl doesn't end up following Superman and Supeboy through that revolving door too, especially with Nelson only having been on for 6 issues and Bedard indicating he's not permanent (yet)!

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    3. If H'el has a purpose, it's to disprove the notion that there are no bad characters. He's never appeared in a story without making it worse, and this next round also has his creator Scott Lobdell in charge. I'm not optimistic.

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  2. I didn't expect to like this issue that much, but I actually ended up enjoying it. I liked the nods to Superman's part of Psi War (including a little cameo of the HIVE Queen in one of the panels) and I felt really sorry for Dr Psycho upon seeing his origin. HIVE really messed him up. And now we've gotten to that scene at the beginning of issue 20 in which Superboy has lost his powers.

    Well, if everything that's happened in the Superboy books was leading to that scene, then that means that Superboy's story is gonna have to continue in Superman #24. We need to see how Superboy and Krypto get out of this situation and if it's not gonna happen in Superman #24, it's not gonna happen anywhere else. In that case, I can't wait for Superman #24 to come out 'cause if Superboy does show up in that issue, he's gonna be teaming up with his "parents" against Psycho Pirate. That would be so cool.

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    1. I'm glad you liked this too, PRGirl. I still hate this business with the Lane Kent future kid, though ... I'd love it to just go away. I really hope Scott Lobdell was joking at this weekend's New York comic con about him taking over the comic.

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  3. Is Dr. Psycho not a little person in the Nu52? That is rather disappointing because I thought that portrayal of him was one of the better defined characters in the recent, pre-softboot DC universe (especially the treatment of him by Straczynski).

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