I was pretty excited to read Superboy #11 this week. I have been a bit surprised by this title, enjoying it more than I thought I would. I love RB Silva and Rob Lean's art. The one thing that detracted from the book was how linked it was to Teen Titans and now The Ravagers. The whole Culling storyline didn't grab me.
But all of that was behind us. Superboy #11 wasn't part of The Culling. Tom DeFalco was picking up on Scott Lobdell plots and was writing the book now. N.O.W.H.E.R.E. was demolished. And while the issue guest starred Bunker, this felt like it was going to be the first issue of a solo Superboy title. We were going to put the heavy cross-over feel to the book behind us.
Well ... if this is what this solo title is going to be like ... I don't know how much longer I am going to be reading it. This issue encapsulated everything that I think is wrong with the DCnU. Everything.
The book opens with Superboy showing Bunker his opulent apartmen all while TK-twirling $100 bills.
With his home a N.O.W.H.E.R.E. gone, Superboy had to figure out where he is going to live. He didn't like living with the Titans so he found a place to stay. And then he needed to fund his new life ... so what did he do ... he robbed a bank.
That's right! The 'hero' of the book robbed a bank.
And when Bunker calls him on it, saying that is what bad guys do, Superboy rebuts that 'he didn't hurt anyone' by doing this. Is that how low we have come that we have to praise our heroes for not hurting people? That white collar crimes are fine?
And this isn't him raiding N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s funds (although we could debate the morality of that too) ... this is him stealing people's money.
Just as bad is Bunker's shrugging acceptance of these excuses. As if Superboy's reasoning isn't worth debating ... and vilifying.
So this scene alone would make me dislike this comic ... but the misses kept coming.
Bunker and Superboy decide to walk around the city. Superboy talks about how the only thing he can call his own is his symbol, ironic since it isn't his.
But look ... he notices that some people respond with hope to the S-shield. Others with fear.
Now I suppose that it is the criminals that respond with fear ... but that isn't what was said. Instead the implication is that some 'everday people' react to the Superman symbol with fear.
So in the DCnU there are people who are afraid of Superman. Superman!
It is as if DC doesn't understand who Superman is and what he represents.
To show his 'ownership' of the S-shield, Superboy gets it tattooed on his right deltoid ... albeit in a barcode manner. Ooooh ... he got a tattoo! He's gritty!
And look, the tattoo artist has 'no use' for Superman. And neither does Superboy! So there is a rift between Superman and Superboy ... AND THEY HAVEN'T EVEN MET YET!
In fact, the only thing Superboy has faith in is himself. Oooooh .... he's a loner and a tough guy!
Of course, as happens in comics, a super-villain attacks the city at the same time the two Titans are walking around.
The villain is Detritus, a sort of parasite. He seems to absorb any machine or person he comes in contact with, growing with the absorbed mass. When we first meet him, he is a towering giant.
Using his TK, Superboy strips Detritus down to his core. And here is the villain, bemoaning how it is hard for him to survive in a 'world met for others'. Detritus is lonely. So ... that makes it okay that he was ripping up the town, hurting people, and wanting to enslave them? Am I supposed to feel bad for him?
Superboy empathizes ... in a sad way it seems. And yet, can Superboy complain about being lonely when he, of his own accord, has set out on his own and pushed everyone away? Has not trusted anybody except himself?
Despite the damage and threats, Superboy is going to let this guy just leave!
Nothing to complain about the art here by RB Silva, pushing the edges of the panel and adding the gear motif. The art was great.
Detritus turns out to be a true villain though, spurning Superboy's sympathy and compassion and trying to absorb Kon instead.
So Superboy defeats him by punching him into the water because 'water and robots don't mix'. Not that Detritus was a robot (as far as I can tell). And not that that will end Detritus' threat. He'll just terrorize some other place when he regains consciousness. The bad guy, in essence, gets away!
As if everything in this issue wasn't bad enough, the issue ends on a terrible note. Bunker says they need to leave before the authorities arrive because the two will be blamed for the destruction, not praised for the rescue. Superboy now equates the hero experience with 'no credit and all of the blame'.
Is that what being a hero means these days in the DCnU? We certainly have seen that theme in all the super books. We have seen it in Legion Lost. It is a pervasive theme that is being overdone.
So what did we have in this issue. Superboy robbing a bank. Declaring himself a loner and then lamenting it. Shunning Superman and showing how people either don't like Superman or are afraid of him. Almost letting a super-villain walk away from devastation. And then equating heroics with being blamed by the authorities.
It's terrible. It is terrible that this is what it means to be a super-hero in 2012.
It is terrible that the editors thought this was a good idea.
I don't want to hear that this is 'realistic'. Or that I am a curmudgeon or out of touch. This is a Superboy book ... not Mark Millar's Supercrooks, not Bomb Queen, not Irredeemable. Those books are already out there.
And I don't want to hear that this is what the readers want to read. Not all the time. I read Fatale and Bomb Queen and Wanted and Kick Ass. But not every comic on the rack needs to be a persecuted hero, painted with the same brush of alienation and isolation and angst.
Maybe ... maybe ... if DeFalco comes out and says that this petulant, self-centered, immature, and criminal Superboy is part of the journey. That he will learn some hard lessons and fly right soon. But this didn't feel like that. This felt like the future of this book and this character - a smug anti-hero, a quasi-supervillain.
I have read and reviewed every super-book on this blog for the last 3+ years. But I don't want to read this book if this is going to be the tone. I'll give it 3 more months to shape up or I'm out.
And it's a shame because I love RB Silva's art. But that alone can't keep me here.
Superboy robbed a bank and has no use for Superman. Yeesh.