This is going to raise some eyebrows to say the least. While ‘Justice League’ and ‘Action Comics’ are set five years ago, most of the other New 52 books set in the present have gone out of their way to maintain most of the events that went on pre-‘Flashpoint.’ Here’s where that all ends. Even though, in ‘Swamp Thing,’ Superman alludes to having once died, according to ‘Superboy’ #1 at least the aftermath of that was changed. Superboy never existed before this issue. So everything you remember about Kon-El a.k.a. Conner Kent is no more. His adventures in Hawaii in his own book, his bromance with Tim Drake, his romance with Cassandra Sandsmark, his entire memberships in both Young Justice and subsequently Teen Titans, heck… even his death and return! It’s all gone! He isn’t even Kon-El or Conner Kent. He is simply “Superboy.”
The book itself is narrated by its star, who otherwise doesn’t actually speak much. Like the previous SB, this one is a clone made up of half human, half Kryptonian DNA. (The Kryptonian portion, obviously contributed by Superman, somehow.) In the old continuity, the human half was Lex Luthor’s, but it’s not stated here, so maybe the creators will go in a different direction. In the beginning, Superboy is in a tube at a facility called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (Project Cadmus was apparently busy getting destroyed over in O.M.A.C.), surveying the scientists studying him. The scientists are frustrated that they can’t get a brain wave reading on him, but as Superboy explains to the reader, “My consciousness is spread equally through my body, to my every atom.” This is actually a very clever play on the old Superboy’s “tactile telekinesis!” Unaware of this, they attempt to kill their creation, autopsy him and try again, until Superboy instinctively lashes out to stop them. The only survivor is a female scientists referred to by everyone as “Red.”
Red then becomes the head of a new group of scientists whose purpose is to make sure Superboy can control himself enough for them to allow him into the real world. Another member of the most recent incarnation of the Teen Titans, Rose Wilson pops up in a supporting role. Initially she is depicted in a manner completely incongruous with her former self, but it is later revealed that she is more like the old Rose than it initially seemed. And another character from the Superverse, Lois Lane factors in as well.
There are actually a lot of twists and turns in this book, so it’s hard to review it without ruining the whole thing. I had to read it twice just to write this because there are so many fake-outs and reveals! But without spoiling too much, the bookends with the stage set for the new ‘Teen Titans’ #1, out September 28th.
I love that they didn’t go the route of this clone being a wide-eyed fish out of water or a complete blank slate. On the contrary, this Superboy knows everything… he just doesn’t know how he knows these things. He’s also likeable. The old one could be overly cocky at times. And Red is nicely introduced and developed. She’s actually the “hook” right now. I want to read the next book, so I know what happens to her! Rose Wilson is more sympathetic than she was before, but still not one to be messed with. And anytime Lois Lane gets to do her thing, I’m on board.
Writer Scott Lobdell has been in the game for quite a while and excels at writing teen characters, as he did in ‘Generation X’ and ‘Gen 13.’ The story takes several twists, but is effective. Although the story was pretty somber overall, there’s this light undertone, thanks to the art by R.B. Silva and Rob Lean and Superboy’s slightly whimsical inner monologue. The artwork is very sleek and clean. The colors by The Hories are vibrant. It’s a serious book, but they kept things from getting too dark. It’s still a bubble book for me, but I’m at least curious to see where this initial storyline goes!
Written by Scott Lobdell
Pencils by R.B. Silva
Inks by Rob Lean
Cover by Eric Canete and Guy Major