As much as I talked last week about trying to look at the positive of comics, some issues just send me reeling back to pessimism or ennui.
Superboy #23 seemed like an unnecessary issue, trying to stretch an idea to fill 20 pages, and feeling pretty repetitive as it did so.And unlike Worlds' Finest last issue, there aren't many character flourishes to keep me interested. And while Marcus To's pages in the issues are great, the rest of the issue seems muddy. Writer Justin Jordan's initial issues were very good, grabbing me with a new concept, injecting humor, and bringing a lighter feel to the book. This issue and the last have dimmed the optimism I felt then. And Jordan is already gone after next issue.
The problem is simple. Superboy has been in a school where it is obvious that students are seeing things and going crazy. Then ... shockingly ... Superboy begins to see things and go crazy. I would hope that he would realize he is being manipulated immediately. But after a couple of pages, he should realize it. Instead we have a whole issue of people bashing things nonsensically. The whole 'none of this is real' could have been ... should have been ... handled more quickly. I guessed it at the end of last issue. Superboy should be able to do it reasonably quickly too.
In fact, the realization that this is all an illusion is given to us on the first page! "Doctor Psycho" arrives to try to set Superboy's mind right.
But despite his friend saying that he isn't seeing things clearly, despite seeing a number of other teens reacting to things that aren't there as if they weren't seeing things right, Superboy ignores his friend and lashes out with his TK.
He terrorizes the school, sending kids running for their lives.
After a couple of pages of senseless property damage, it all fades away.
Eliza, the girl who befriended Conner last issue, tells him he shouldn't be there. She says it in such an odd way that I have to think she is somehow in on what is happening.
And then (hurray for me), the girl highlighted in one of last issue's panels, the girl I thought was probably behind it all, turns out to be the psionic making people go crazy. As I said then, if you are belittled or shy or bullied, you might think all of high school was filled with monsters.
Now here is where I rolled my eyes a bit.
Superboy has smashed his way through a school, endangering the students, and then he learns that it was all in his mind. Good.
He tries to follow the unnamed girl responsible only to run into ... another Superboy.
Now maybe, just maybe, he would think that this is also an illusion. Right? Right??
Okay, there is some literary utility to having someone literally fight themselves. But there isn't even any good dialogue between the real Superboy and the illusion. Wouldn't it have been cooler if the 'Superboy' hallucination talked about all the things Conner fears he would become. It would make it meatier.
Instead we get more pages of property damage. Until, finally, thankfully, Conner realizes he is hitting air ... and almost hitting people.
I don't know. Am I expecting too much?
Luckily Superboy strikes on an idea. Maybe he can 'see' reality through the camera setting of Eliza's smart phone. Okay, nice panel construction on the top. Although why he would think this would work, who knows.
I also like how the girl doing all this (called Shift here) is saying 'no one sees me'. It works on two levels. She is invisible literally. And she can't be seen in the hallways of her school. No one notices her. At least her the implied pain of her isolation makes me sympathize with her, understand why she sees people as monsters.
My guess is she might not even know she is doing this to the others.
Too bad it took 19 of 20 pages to get there.
At least we get a fascinating cliffhanger. We get the introduction of the New 52 Psycho Pirate. Boy, there are a lot of psionics out there.
Now why he is holing up and doing this in a high school I can't imagine. I suppose we'll hear something about how emotional kids are and potent they are for feeding him.
The new Medusa Mask at least helps me figure out why it is called a medusa mask. And I wonder if he has a connection with this Shift girl.
Of course, I know the old Psycho Pirate best from Crisis on Infinite Earths. So we'll have to see what this new one is like. (The old Medusa Mask doesn't seem Medusa-ish at all).
Still, overall, this was a lot of destruction without much plot. I should be happy about some nice Krypto moments in the book but I can't get away that Superboy wouldn't realize this was all an illusion for so long. And I am always hoping for more in my comics.