Throughout the first 9 issues of Superboy I have wondered if the book would ever leave the confines of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and move towards more independent adventures for the title character. Superboy #10 was a step in the right direction.
Linked to my concern about N.O.W.H.E.R.E. was my concern about just how tightly this book is linked to Teen Titans, a book I don't collect. This issue doesn't allay those fears. Sure, this issue is sort of an epilogue to The Culling which impacted the Titans too. But the fact that the story started here is concluded in Teen Titans does not please me.
That said, I enjoyed this issue for a couple of reasons. For one, it shows just how discombobulated Superboy can be around reading his own and other people's emotions. He has only been alive and interacting with people for a short time so it makes sense that he isn't going to be able to read people easily.
I also find it interesting that the book is already teasing a Wonder Girl/Superboy romance. I wonder just how many beats from the old DCU have already started to manifest in the DCnU. Here there is definitely some physical chemistry between the two characters.
Lastly, the whole issue had a sort of Silver Age feel to it, from the title to the events.
Between the cringe-worthy interactions of Kon and Cassie and the silliness of the premise of being on a mysterious island, Scott Lobdell serves up a fun read. I definitely missed RB Silva on art here but Sebastian Fiumara brings a sort of splotchy muddiness to the jungle art here which looked right.
The Culling is over. And Superboy and Wonder Girl find themselves washed up Blue Lagoon style on a tropical island.
Since he is narrating this opening page, my guess is he is actually awake and simply enjoying the peaceful moment of a 'gorgeous', 'determined' Cassie cozying on top of him. Even that little smirk on his face tell me he is soaking this up.
Of course, Cassie is not initially awake. And when she does awaken, she is shocked and angry.
How they got here? No one knows.
I do wonder why Superboy's uniform is pristine while Wonder Girl's is torn in all sorts of places.
Getting a bird's eye view, the two find themselves above a question mark shaped island. And the title is all sort of Silver Age awesomeness. 'The Mysterious Mystery of Mystery Island' might be the title of the year.
Wonder Girl is all business here. Her first thoughts are for her friends. If they are here, could the other Titans also be on this island.
There is some crackling chemistry between the two. Throughout the issue, the two comment on how physically attractive they think each other is. But Wonder Girl isn't forgetting that Superboy has in the past attacked the Titans and later needed to be rescued by Cassie and her team.
She doesn't trust him and therefore wants to keep him within eyeshot while the scour the island.
Using his TK, Superboy sweeps the island and doesn't detect any Titans or life forms. His scan complete, he thinks it's time to head back to New York.
Cassie thankfully disagrees. Kon owes it to search longer than five minutes. Again, I think in some ways this shows the relative immaturity of Superboy here. He isn't used to caring about people or worrying about people. He needs to learn what being a hero and what being a friend means.
Of course, this argument felt like a bit of release of some of the tension the two might be feeling. If I was standing there I would probably say 'can't you two see that you love each other?'
The argument is cut short when a T. Rex suddenly materializes behind the two. They forget their differences and bash the dinosaur.
Here is a good example of how Fiumara's art works in this setting. Nice splotchiness. I especially like how the left panel border also seems to be bashed away by Cassie's blow. Very slick.
But how did this thing appear? And how did it slip by Kon's scan?
It clear that a mystery is going on here and that it would be wrong to leave this place yet. So the two set up camp.
Again, there is some tension here. Wonder Girl decides to bathe in a nearby pool. And Superboy 'ahem' uses his powers to scan the place, most likely getting a better 'sense' of her body. I am glad that she catches him and calls him on it. It takes away a question of knowledge and consent.
In fact, she says he needs to clean up and invites him into the pool with her. She trusts herself to make the right decision. But she could have just as easily told him to do it after she was done.
And then things get even steamier. The two sit around the fire, talking about their difficult pasts. She even feeds him tropical fruit (the first thing he has ever eaten).
Whether they like it or acknowledge it themselves, there is attraction here.
But when Superboy presses her to talk about her armor (she calls it a curse), she storms off angrily telling him to mind his business. She isn't quite ready to open up to him.
He follows her and admits that he isn't used to caring about people. He wants to help her. I think he has genuine feeling for her, probably amped up by the sensual nature of this place and everything else that has happened.
He moves in for a kiss and she seems like she is accepting ...
But at the last minute she throttles him, sending him flying. While she says he is 'hot', he still tried to kill her and her friends. In fact, she is nonplussed that he would even think a kiss could happen.
This sort of banter and attraction and anger and history all read right. I liked the back-and-forth smoldering feel of love and hate here.
But before they can process this interaction too much, they realize that the T. Rex they killed has disappeared. Heading back to their camp, they find footprints and a sort of wooden trap door leading down into the earth to another door.
In a great upside down closing splash, the door opens up on another island's ground. Just a great close.
This is one of those issues where I have to fall back on the old gauge 'was I entertained'. The answer is yes. I definitely liked the characterization between Cassie and Kon here. While I don't think that I will be following this closely in Titans, I hope that this is allowed to simmer a bit before it becomes a relationship.