I read the earliest issues and felt it was a team book with Caitlin and Rose with Superboy working his way through life with those two role models. Would he be like Red or the Ravager? Then I read the Gathering issues and thought that he was a reluctant hero on journey, learning about this new world in which he was created. While he seemed conflicted, I thought he would find the right path. I did worry that the loss of Caitlin and Rose on the book would hurt how much I enjoyed it because I thought they were the most interesting characters.
Then I read Superboy #11 and wondered if it was going off the tracks. It read wrong. Superboy seemed narcissistic, uninterested in being a hero, overly edgy, and thinking only about living a fun and over-the-top life. Was this a bump in the road? Or the beginning of a new theme on the book now that Tom DeFalco signed on as writer.
Superboy #12 sort of continued the themes of last issue although maybe not as abrasive. And yet, when it was done, I thought it read mostly like a retread of some of the Jeph Loeb/Joe Kelly Supergirl issues. (I'll point out the similarities as I go along.) And I hope that feeling isn't going to continue. While I know Loeb/Kelly had their fans on Supergirl, she was mostly unlikeable and unheroic on their run. I just hope that Superboy rights it self faster than Supergirl did. It was 19 issues before DC realized the callous, self-important, selfish Kara wasn't right.
As I said, this issue wasn't as bad as last. So maybe I should try to remain optimistic.
The issue starts with Superboy out at a dance club with his newfound supporting cast. He quickly realizes that all his super-powers can't give him rhythm and so quickly extricates himself from the dance floor.
So an underage (and I am going by assumed maturation age not actual age - he has been around only months) Superboy sneaks into a club to hang out. Sounds like the Kelly Supergirl, or even the Palmiotti Supergirl.
I'm not saying that he can't relax every once in a while. But this simply built on the feeling of the character from last issue.
The person he is dancing with is his landlady Dallas Sorrentino, a sort of Paris Hilton celebutante. She is there with her friends. There is Sam Mendez, NBA star. There is Hartford Howard Wellington, a young brilliant businessman a la Patrick Bateman. And there is another beautiful young woman named Jules Bennet and Raz, the green haired punk of the group.
We learn how Superboy got there in a flashback. Here, at least, Bunker continues to tell Superboy that robbing banks is ... gasp ... wrong. Out loud, Superboy says with all the 'rules and regulations' of being a hero he might not want to be one. Sounds again like the Kelly Supergirl who sold Batman Kryptonian technology so she could also be an instant millionaire and be a bon vivant instead of a hero. At least he wonders about returning the money.
Dallas then shows up. She is played up as being somewhat oversexed asking if she can stay with
Superboy for weeks, commenting on how good he is with his hands when he
helps her get into her apartment (she was locked out), and telling him to come in for a 'reward'.
When he refuses, she demands they go out clubbing later. I do like Bunker's reaction. He says he should go, mostly for research. If Superboy wants to learn about humanity, he should hang out with people without powers. And why not the famous Sorrentino. Now this ultra-rich partying group isn't typical of everyday America but it has to be better than the Titans.
At the club Superboy is handed a drink which he quickly downs. I do like how he asks what the allure is.
But look at that second panel. I guess this crew is our new supporting cast. I don't know if any of them are going to be more than one-dimensional. I don't think they will make me forget Rose and Red.
I think I am still trying to wrap my head around just what this Superboy's powers are. They seem more like straightforward telekinesis rather than tactile TK. But he also seems to have a Spider-Sense which tingles when this redhead enters the club. She radiates evil. It is clear that she is after Dallas.
Superboy steps up, trying to buy time for Dallas to escape. So at least he stepped up for a friend.
But she is more than she seems. She is Kiva, Mistress of the Dark Domain!
Her powers seem to be two-fold. One is that she can rebound someone's powers back against them. The other is that she can flood their minds with hallucinations.
Battered, Superboy rids his body of the alcohol by vomiting up the remaining drink in his stomach. Yeesh, TK to ball up your stomach contents?
Perhaps reassuring is that in his mind, Superboy pictures himself in his costume and not in dance clothes. This is his manifestation of himself in this hallucination. Maybe deep down he considers himself a super-hero.
And if his power is rebounding back against him, the only thing to do is stop using his power and let Kiva all the way in.
She doesn't like what she sees, screaming in fear and going catatonic.
He must have something dark inside him. So dark it frightens this devilish woman.
It all sounds so familiar ...
Reminds me of early on in Supergirl when she battled Raven (she was always battling heroes). Supergirl is enshrouded in Raven's soul but it is Raven who is defeated, Supergirl being soooo dark on the inside that the daughter of Trigon is incapacitated.
I didn't like it then. Don't expect me to like it now.
At least all these shenanigans aren't going unnoticed.
Detective Lure, who helped spring Superboy from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is going to step up to bat. And I hope she will be more teacher than executioner. At least there will be someone in his life trying to be a mentor and showing him right from wrong.
So Superboy wants to learn more about humanity, jumps up to help a friend, and pictures himself in his costume. A mentor is waiting in the wings. All good.
But there was also that shudder of early 2000's Supergirl, out at the club, not wanting to be a hero, surrounded by other self-involved people, and with a dark soul ... dark enough to scare a demon-esque villain. Who wants to read that book?
The art on the book is a hodge podge of inkers over Eduardo Pansica pencils but feels awkward as we go from style to style.