Monday, September 14, 2009

Review: Adventure Comics #2


After a number of action-packed comics in my pull list this week (in particular the excellent Green Lantern Corps #40), I reached the bottom of my stack and read Adventure Comics #2. A nearly pure character driven issue of mostly dialogue, it was like a breath of fresh air ... or maybe more like a liqueur after a spicy meal. It really was a great ending to a good week of comics.

The issue focuses almost exclusively on the reintroduction of Superboy and Wonder Girl and Geoff Johns really does a great job in showing us how hopeful, anxious, nervous, and in love the two are.

I mean, I have only collected Teen Titans sporadically but I know that Cassie joined a Kryptonian resurrection cult in 52 to try to raise Conner. And I know she kissed Tim Drake in Titans when they both were coping with the loss of Superboy.

Conner in the meantime continues to try to reconcile the two sides of his genetic make-up and hope that following Clark's road will lead him to similar greatness.

But Luthor still holds an important role in Conner's life and in this comic as well.


The issue opens up showing Brainiac and Luthor escaping from Project 7734, slaughtering troops as they fly off.

The two villains make an interesting pair. They don't exactly act chummy with each other. But they do strike a deal with each other. When Brainiac reclaims Kandor, Luthor gets control of Earth.

As always, the comics medium is at its best when words and images mesh well. Take for example the above panels which drip with irony. I love how Luthor sounds magnanimous in the second panel saying it is Superman who is standing in his way of curing disease and ending disasters. The following panel shows all the death and destruction that Luthor has caused! And Superman isn't anywhere in sight. Luthor is completely deluded.



Luthor did manage to grab one of his experiments from Project:Alien Farm before he escaped. Luthro strokes the containment vessel and states that this experiment was personal ... was family.

Could Luthor have recreated another Conner clone? Does he actually have paternal feelings for Superboy?

We cut to Smallville where Conner is anxiously awaiting Cassie who has been invited over for dinner. It is clear initially that the two are nervous, trying to bridge the time they were apart. Cassie can't help but recall that moment with Tim.



Luckily Ma and Krypto are able to set the mood by turning a Smallville dinner into a romantic moonlit picnic.

I love how Krypto seems to have a fairly prominent role in this book.



Cassie asks Conner why he has decided to restart his life in Smallville rather than living in a big city or in Titans' Tower.

The caption boxes from Conner's Superman and Lex lists are a simple way of getting into Superboy's head a little. Here he realizes he is faced with a tough question and he has to decide to answer with the truth (like Superman) or with a lie (like Luthor).

Perhaps as a subtle way for Johns to show Conner is his own person, Superboy does neither instead avoiding the question.


It doesn't matter that he delays his answer. Cassie has it figured out. The life in Smallville is Conner's way of reliving Superman's life.

I love her response that she doesn't want to become Conner's Lana Lang, the teenage crush eventually left behind. It really crystallizes her fears of losing Conner again.

Of course, it made me wonder just how much of Superman's personal and love life is known to the general superhero community. Would Lana appreciate it that she is used as an example of lost love?


Her voicing her concerns allows Superboy to open up a bit. He has looked back at the mistakes he has made in the past, how he has hurt people he has loved, and how he really wants to become a better person. He thinks this time in Smallville is the best way to do that. And part of the self-improvement is making sure that he is a better partner with Cassie.

She suddenly stops him ...

And now it is time for her to open up.
She divulges the kiss with Robin, something she clearly has regrets about.

Clearly Cassie thinks that kiss was a mistake perhaps realizing that in her state of emotional turmoil she reached out to Tim as an anchor. But she should feel as if it was an act of infidelity. Conner was dead when the kiss happened. It isn't as though she was unfaithful to Conner ... other than his memory.

But I am impressed with Cassie. She didn't need to tell Conner this now. But she should tell him and she does. That is commendable.

As commendable is Conner's response.

I'm sure it isn;t easy to hear that your girlfriend kissed your best friend when you were barely cold in the ground. But rather than perseverate on it (as I think I might), he says that the only thing that matters is that they are now together.

It is a very sweet moment and a wonderful ending to a wonderful scene.


The story ends with a startled Luthor learning that Superboy has returned.

Now I usually don't buy comics to read the romantic conversations between teenagers ... but I have to thank Geoff Johns for this issue.

All too often in comics we wouldn't be privy to this conversation. Instead the characters would just be suddenly shown back together again. By showing us this reintroduction, this reconciliation of the Superboy Wonder Girl relationship, you really get the sense of how strange it must be to have your significant other suddenly reappear in your life. He also shows just how much these two really love each other.

And none of this conversation seemed forced, or overly scripted, or too perfect, or too glib. It read natural and felt natural. And that isn't easy.

Add to that Francis Manapul's art which is perfect for this comic. The line work is great conveying an elegant simplicity, a sort of retro feel which is just right for a comic set in Smallville. Even the muted color pallette adds to this nostalgic feel.

All in all, this was a great story.


Just a quick word on the Legion second feature.

Lightning Lad learns from Lightning Lord that Mekt indeed has a twin. Garth is sent off to Winath to find this person.

I don't know if I will be thrilled with this retcon should it be true. The lack of a twin has always been an important part of Mekt's character, explaining a lot about his psyche. I don't know if I like it being changed.

Overall grade (Superboy and Legion): B+

16 comments:

Nikki said...

I wish this book was Legion with super-pets back ups. I know its 'getting to catch up' with connor in this arc but I don't care about his relationship drama

Heath Edwards said...

big yay for this book :)... unlike nikki, i'm all about the connor story, and less than interested in the legion section...
SO, SO glad that we now have connor and cassie back together again. yay, my favourite comics couple after lois & clark...

and that's all... thanks, anj...

TalOs said...

I swear Adventure Comics is turning more and more in to DC Comics take of the Smallville show now, heh.

On another note, I'm also not to sure about Mekt been given a twin of his own and am in agreement with Anj when he says that the lack of a twin has always been an important part of Mekt's character, explaining a lot about his psyche, so I too don't know quite what to think of this recton if it DOES ring true by Geoff in the end. :/

Anyone else wondering if what Luthor is looking at in his lab is an all newly reborn Match (clone of Superboy) instead? :/

Lastly, up at DC's the Source blog DC officially announced that both Geoff and Francis will be leaving this title as of #6 and they will be giving it to Levitz and a yet to be announced artist in turn it seems. :/

Mart said...

And going by the first couple of questions at:

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/090914-didio-20answers.html


it sounds like the Legion are getting the whole book!

ANYway, great review Anj - I missed the Luthor irony bit, wonderful spot.

Yota said...

So, as easily and fleetingly pleased as I am, I was thrilled by the passing mention of Cassie's original "Young Justice" look, and thoroughly entertained by Krypto's antics (the best dog ever).

However, I just feel the need to point out that, if Luthor's making a Bizarro Superboy, I'm going to vomit.

Otherwise, I really dig this book so far, and agree with Heath Edwards regarding the level of interest in Conner relative to the Legion back-up stories.

--Yota.

Heath Edwards said...

having just read dan didio's answers (at newsarama's 20 questions) regarding the future state of connor in 'adventure comics', i'll probably be dropping this title when that happens...

Yota said...

Seconded!

Jason said...

This does seem like it's turning out to be a good book...so far. Then again, we're only two issues in. Since Didio has now stated Superboy will be phased out of the book, I would like Supergirl to be phased in. I've brought this up before, and I think it's only fair. This new version of the book was given to Superboy and the Legion as an homage to the original version. To continue that homage with Supergirl being brought in would only be fair since she also had a starring role in the original version. I doubt that will happen, though, since it also sounded to me like the Legion will simply be given the whole book. Still, I hope someone at DC is at least considering bringing Supergirl into the book.

Mart said...

Eh? Would you not rather Kara had her own book? Or do you mean as well as, at the Legion's expense? Crazy talk!

TalOs said...

I'm so NOT dropping the title after #6 and am awaiting in much anticipation for the Legions rightfully given back ongoing now which I hope and pray will star the Superman family own descendant Laurel Kent as their eras "Supergirl" even if we can't have Kal, Kon or Kara featured in it! BD

Oh and re read what DiDio says about Superboy there because it looks like DC have plans to give him back an ongoing on top of joining a team! ;)

Anj said...

I wish this book was Legion with super-pets back ups. I know its 'getting to catch up' with connor in this arc but I don't care about his relationship drama

I have to say I am surprised with how much I am enjoying the book .. especially since I haven't been a big fan of Superboy since he was hanging out with Knockout in Hawaii.

Anj said...

SO, SO glad that we now have connor and cassie back together again. yay, my favourite comics couple after lois & clark...

I will be interested in seeing how much of a part Cassie plays here ... or if their relationship plays out more in Titans.

Anj said...

On another note, I'm also not to sure about Mekt been given a twin of his own and am in agreement with Anj when he says that the lack of a twin has always been an important part of Mekt's character, explaining a lot about his psyche, so I too don't know quite what to think of this recton if it DOES ring true by Geoff in the end.

I'll say it again ... I hope it isn't true. I liked Mekt as a singlet in a world of twins.

Anj said...

it sounds like the Legion are getting the whole book!

ANYway, great review Anj - I missed the Luthor irony bit, wonderful spot.


Thanks for the post.

As an old Legion man, I am excited to see what Levitz will bring to the table. So I guess I am in for a while here.

Anj said...

I doubt that will happen, though, since it also sounded to me like the Legion will simply be given the whole book. Still, I hope someone at DC is at least considering bringing Supergirl into the book.

I would love to see Supergirl as a part-time member in the LSH in this book. Levitz always had a warm spot in his heart for Kara.

But I think it is too close to the Waid/Kitson version with Supergirl for DC to do that again.

Saranga said...

Just read this and really enjoyed it.
I don't think Luthor has personal feelings as such, more possesive.
Re Luhtor and Braniac temaing up, that felt quite natural to me - but that's a feeling coming from my view of them as big Superman villains, not down to any knowledge of actual comic history.
I too will drop this if The Superboy section is removed.