Superboy #17 came out this week another chapter in H'El on Earth, and thankfully another step closer to the end of H'El on Earth. It is hard for me to read H'El in any sort of unbiased way because, unfortunately, Supergirl is the villain of the story. And ... let me tell you something ... in this issue, she is the villain. She is the hysterical, deluded, angry, ignorant villain.
And if making a long time Supergirl fan dislike this Supergirl character was a goal of Tom DeFalco, Scott Lobdell, and Eddie Berganza, then congratulations are in order. Because after I read this issue, I really really disliked this Kara. And my condolences to Mike Johnson and Michael Green because the powers that be have simply undone everything that those guys were creating over in the main book.
Should Superman fans be happy with H'El? Well, he acts a bit erratic and his plans are often muddled. But at least he is a hero and leading the charge to prevent Earth from being destroyed.
Should Superboy fans be happy with H'El? Hell yeah. He comes off great in this book, realizing what it means to be a hero and working hard to be a hero! In this book, he comes off as selfless and strong. In fact, most of the parts of the book I am going to highlight show just how far Superboy has come on the hero's journey.
In fact, I am not hating on Superboy when I say that I find it amazing that his character, the guy with violent mind programming and a deep-seeded hatred of Superman, is the guy to rise above the fray and be the hero. Meanwhile, Supergirl plays the patsy.
I have always been a fan of RB Silva, especially when he is inked by Rob Lean, and his art is slick here. For some reason it works best in a sci-fi setting and so he shines here.
The book opens with the Justice League organizing their attack against H'El and his star chamber. The draining sun is creating havoc with our weather, resulting in natural disasters. While the rest of the Leaguers go on rescue duties around the world, Superboy, Wonder Woman, and Superman will take the battle to H'El himself.
One thing I like here is that while, once again, Superboy opens the book by saying he is a living weapon, he also calls Kal and Diana living weapons as well. But they are calm, confidant, and clearly in control of their decisions. It is yet another way to show that Kon is starting to think of himself more as a person and less as an automaton. Living weapons can be in charge of their own lives too.
Meanwhile, listen to how starstruck Supergirl sounds when talking to H'El.
Talk about gushing. She takes about his vision ... his tireless dedication. Does anyone outside of the most infatuated, most inane say such things?
Yes, she is still thinking H'El is the good guy. And she is so blinded by love for this guy she met maybe 2 days ago that she can't see straight.
So she is gullible. And she is infatuated. And she falls exceedingly quickly into a superficial kind of love.
How does that make Supergirl a likeable character.
Before the heroes can intercede, H'El teleports in and again lays some serious damage on Superboy. He rips the healing Kryptonian armor off him and throws Superboy aside.
I said it before, there is a little too much venom in H'El surrounding Superboy. I think this is transference of some sort of self-loathing. H'El has to be a clone of some sort.
But it is here that we see the best of Superboy.
Despite being battered, despite his genome being unraveled, despite no real dog in this fight, Superboy decides he isn't ready to thrown in the towel. He is going to pull himself together, maybe literally, and fight on and try to stop H'El and his plans.
When the Hornblower arrives and says that he is calling The Oracle to come to the doomed planet, Superboy even goes one step further, attacking the alien, and saying the world still has hope ... Superman.
So pulls himself together, recognizes Superman as a hero, attacks the Hornblower, and then navigates around the raging atmospheric chaos to get to the Star Chamber.
After all my worries about Superboy, his dark side, his bank-robbing, his hatred of Superman, it turns out he is the brightest star in H'El on Earth.
Now contrast that to Supergirl.
Here is the thing, one of my biggest complaints about this arc is that no one has told Supergirl that H'El is going to implode the solar system. Superboy finally ... finally ...tells her the imminent danger.
So what does Supergirl do with this new information?
She attacks the ailing Superboy when he arrives. She calls
him a time bomb, someone willing to kill Krypton again, someone who she
can't trust in the way she trusts H'El. She says he is lying. And she is vicious in battering Kon despite the fact that he is obviously dying in front of her.
And let's add more.
Despite Superboy telling her over and over that Earth will die, telling her that she can't be naive and must realize what is happening, Supergirl still doesn't believe him. She doesn't even pause.
And here she basically says she is going to kill him if he doesn't walk away.
Supergirl is too blind and too stupid to recognize the impending cataclysm, pounds on a dying boy, and then plans to kill him.
How am I supposed to like this Supergirl? How am I supposed to feel empathy for her?
I'll say it again, I am a life long Supergirl fan and I don't like the character right now. I haven't felt this way since the issue by Kelly/Garza where we saw her gun down her high school classmates on Krypton.
Supergirl as a stupid killer ... who can honestly think this was the right direction for the character.
Luckily before she can deliver the killing blow, Wonder Woman shows up and the two begin to battle.
So now Supergirl is fighting all of Earth's heroes.
It makes me so sad.
Again, contrast that to Superboy. Despite dying, despite being bloodied and bruised, he wills himself on ... striving to 'make like a hero and save the world'.
I have to say this was a tale of two issues. If there has been an upside to H'El on Earth, it has been the character development of Superboy. He has really changed during this short time with Superman. Suddenly he isn't interested in living in the posh apartment and clubbing. There are bigger things in life. He really is becoming the hero.
On the other hand, Supergirl has de-evolved from the smart, sad, over-cautious young woman in her book to this lovestruck idiot who can't see the truth even when it is shoved in her face.
Again, congratulations to Tom DeFalco, Scott Lobdell, and Eddie Berganza. You have made Supergirl pathetic and unlikeable. The writing has been on the wall since the beginning of this arc.
And to Superboy fans, I hope you like the new direction he is taking here.
Overall grade: C+ (B+ for Superboy characterization, D- for Supergirl stuff)