Just when I thought my monthly pull list couldn't be more bloated, DC announced that there will be an ongoing Superboy monthly, written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Pier Gallo. Here is a link to the DC Source blog announcement and one quick quote from Lemire from that post: http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/2010/05/14/jeff-lemire-takes-on-superboy-ongoing-series/ “The book will combine many of the classic touchstones of the Superboy mythos along with new supporting characters, new villains and new ideas, building a strong foundation that can support the Boy of Steel for years to come. I really want to work with our amazing artist Pier Gallo to combine a classic storytelling feel with a thoroughly modern sensibility and explore what it would really be like to be a super powered teenager, in the heart of rural America.”
I have to say that this is one of those times that I feel like I may have missed the boat with Lemire. His Vertigo book Sweet Tooth has been getting very good reviews and I just haven't had a chance to pick it up. So I don't know much about him or his style.
Still, I like the idea of a Superboy book set in the idyllic Smallville. While I think it might be tough to maintain stories there (won't everyone figure out that Conner is Superboy? How many big stories are going to make their way through Smallville), it is fresh. I suppose there could be a David Lynch-y Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet vibe to the book, that small town USA is a thin veneer hiding something more sinister or quirky.
I chose a couple of interesting bits to comment on.
Newsarama: Jeff, how did you hear about the opportunity to write Superboy? Jeff Lemire: I was doing the Atom co-feature in Adventure Comics, after Geoff Johns just called me out of the blue one day and asked if I'd be interested in writing more DCU stuff. I grew up reading mostly DC stuff. I wasn't a Marvel kid at all, so I was really excited to do that.
And to be perfectly honest, I was initially a little tentative. I like the character, and I like Geoff's run when he did Adventure with Conner. But I was kind of hoping for something a little more off-beat or dark in the DCU next, like one of the supernatural books. Or a Batman book or something. But then, the more I thought about it, I realized Superboy really suited my obsession with telling stories in rural settings.
I am glad that Lemire is a longtime DC reader and that he read the Johns run on Adventure. I thought that arc captured the difficulties of being a young hero, struggling with life decisions, and trying to reconcile the gap between saving the universe and saving a friend's mother from an affliction. It may have read overly sentimental in some places, but that initial Adventure arc definitely had a dark undercurrent.
Nrama: You mentioned that you've always been a DC fan. What kind of stuff first attracted you to the DCU? Lemire:Then as I got older, I really got into the Wolfman/Perez Titans run, and the Levitz/Giffen Legion run. Those were my two favorite books. And then, you know, I was the perfect age for Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that was great for me, seeing everyone together and the whole mythology of the different earths and everything. So I got sucked into DC really early. I love that early '80s and late '80s era of DC.
So I was in my mid-teens when the Titans and Legion were really hitting their stride. So that is a magical time for me as a comic reader too. So I like that we are coming from a similar place.
Nrama: So that led to you being attracted to the "rural setting" of Smallville? Lemire: Yeah, that was really a draw for me. I know he's back in the Teen Titans and he's going to pop up other places in the DCU, but this is a chance for me to focus on his Smallville adventures again, and really build that sense of a small town and community around him, and to build his supporting cast. And tell these superhero stories that are set in a country setting. That was something that really appealed to me. It seemed like a natural fit.
As I said above, I think the country setting is an interesting wrinkle to all of this. It just has to be handled right or it might get tired pretty quick.
Nrama: Can you tell us a little about the supporting cast and the villains you're introducing? Lemire: I'm keeping some of the cast that was introduced in Geoff's Adventure run, like Simon Valentine, his new best friend/future arch-nemesis, and Lori. So I'm taking them and using them as my main supporting players, but then I've come up with a few of my own, some of which are villains. But I'm just rounding out the cast.
I think Simon will be a great character to watch closely. In some ways having an 'eventual Luthor' in the book adds to the legacy of Superboy. That said, it will be hard to differentiate him enough from Luthor that he is able to stand on his own.
Nrama: OK, we've definitely covered the setting and the supporting cast, but let's talk about Conner Kent a little. The character has been pulled in a lot of directions over the last few years, even including dying, but what's your take on Conner as you start the new book? Lemire: But in the story, what happens is that whenever he turns into Superboy, he keeps messing up. It's almost a spin on the old Peter Parker thing where he's a mess in his real life, but being Spider-Man is great. For Conner, his life as Superboy keeps messing up his personal life, and he's trying to find a balance.
For me, Spiderman is the quintessential teenage super-hero in terms of exploring how difficult it would be to handle both sides of life: the ever-changing adolescent and the super-hero. Almost every teen hero I read gets put against that Spiderman yardstick in my mind. So I like that he is outright discussed here, albeit with the reversal of life roles. I have to say that sounds intriguing. I have read so many books where the teen's personal life is spinning out of control while the superhero life is easy. To see the opposite played out should be fun.
Nrama: We saw a preview of Pier Gallo's take on Superboy, but most readers aren't really familiar with his artwork. Can you describe his stuff a little? Lemire: I honestly wasn't very familiar with him either. A lot of his work was done in Italy, in the graphic albums they publisher over there. I think he's done some sporadic DC work. But most of what I've seen is his online portfolio, and the stuff [editor] Matt Idelson sent me. He's got a really hyper-detailed style; it's almost like Geoff Darrow or something. And he has a way of bringing realism to faces.
Well, I had nothing but great things to say about Gallo's art on the Car-Vex story recently in Adventure Comics. I think he really showed me something in that story. It'll be interesting to see how his style adapts to corn fields and barns. The Car-Vex story was told almost exclusively in military installations.
Anyways, I like what Lemire said here a lot and have heard great things about his work. And I think I will really like Gallo's art. So I guess I am in.
I am starting to wonder if I have reached a 1:1 swap with new titles, meaning I'll need to drop one to pick up a new one. I wonder which title will get the axe when I pick up Superboy. I guess this will fill the slot that the Luna Brothers' Sword filled now that that book is finished.