Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Superboy Book Is Now A Villain Book

I have railed against the 'grim and gritty' New 52 for a long time. From it's inception with an isolated Supergirl, a distant Superman, a vapid Starfire, an art thief Wonder Girl, raping murdering Amazons ... I could go on ... I have been shocked that there is very little light in the current DCU.

There is no inspiration here. There is little heroism. There is almost no humor. And there is very little love. The whole universe is painted with the same dark brush. It is disheartening.

And, before anyone says I want the sticky sweet innocence of older times, I will reiterate what I always say. I like darker books and anti-heroes as much as the next reader. What I don't like is when dark anti-heroes are the only choice on the menu. I want to read other books, ones where heroes are heroes because it is the right thing to do, where heroes are respected for being heroes and do good because it is right to do so.

On top of the overall tone of the universe, as fans we have been faced with story after story of DC's editorial changing plots at the last minute, irritating creators and leading to a shaky foundation on characters.

Perhaps the biggest and best (worst?) example of that is the Superboy character.

Superboy started out as a clone of Superman and 'someone', created as a living weapon.
Then we learned that he was meant to be a weapon, created by Harvest, with a layer of subliminal brainwashing to make him want to kill Superman.
Then he escaped all that and became a bank-robbing playa! Living the high life on ill-gotten gains, he partied and hung out with other rich debutantes and princes.
Then we learned his DNA make-up was three strands - Superman, Lois, and the DNA of an evil son from an alternate future - Jon Lane Kent, a genocidal villain.
Then he became a joking young hero trying to do good.

All that in 2 years. There was even a couple of feints in there. There was a cliffhanger hinting at a more classic Superman/Lex genetic makeup.

As a fan, how can you back this character who has been changed so dramatically so many times in 2 years? There just isn't anything to hang on to. And this isn't character growth. This is flailing.

So what did DC decide to do with this character they can't figure out what to do with?

Kill him.

Perfect solution for the New 52. The only solution it seems. Dark and grim and gritty.

Rather than cancel the book, DC decided to continue it. But now put the villainous murderous son of Clark and Lois at the helm. Starting in Superboy #26, Jon Lane Kent is the star. Marv Wolfman has been tagged as writer and this is what he said in an interview on Newsarama (here is the link: http://www.newsarama.com/19372-wolfman-s-superboy-to-star-villainous-son-of-superman-lois-lane.html ). I am not going to copy much from this interview because it sickens me a little. But here are two blurbs that caught my eye.

Nrama: So you're approaching this new Superboy as a villain?
Wolfman: Yeah, he's a villain. Least we know he is. But that doesn't mean everyone knows. Nyaaa haa haa!

We have read this sort of response from so many creators and editors on so many books. The hero is dark, conflicted, or an outright villain. This isn't edgy any more ... because everyone is on this edge. Remember when Bobbi Chase laughed when she talked about how dark Supergirl was going to be as if it was funny.

I mean right now we are rooting for some villains because 'Evil is Relative'. 

Are no other styles and themes possible in DC anymore?

Grant Morrison looked in the crystal ball saw this and left. I think of this panel whenever I see another hero, going dark for no good reason. "They built a violent, troubled, faceless anti-hero concealing a tragic secret life."

But then this caught my eye as well, showing once more that DC has no faith in their creators and changes things on the fly.

Nrama: How has it been working with Andres Guinaido and the rest of the creative team on Superboy?
Wolfman: Superboy #26 was the first time we worked together, and it was a very different experience. There had been a previous script done and layouts were already finished. So we used about 8-9 of the layout pages and I wrote a new story around them, which leads into where we're going with #27 and on. So I got to see his art on something I was only partially responsible for and really loved what he did. But then I handed in my page/panel breakdowns to him, so I then got to see how he interpreted my ideas, and they were wonderful.

The original solicit lists Frank Hannah as the writer and has Superboy (again!) discovering something shocking about his origin. But that was a story written for Kon and already laid out!

So DC changes things, puts Jon Lane Kent in as hero and makes Wolfman re-write the script to fit the pages with a completely new leading man. Amazing in a bad way. But not surprising.

The bottom line is this.

I am not going to read this Superboy book. I am dropping it. 

And therefore you won't be seeing reviews here.

I cannot support this book which butchers the Clark/Lois relationship, sets up the son of Superman as a homicidal maniac, and puts yet another villain as the headliner of a book. This book as a whole could be used to show everything that is wrong with DC comics over the last few years.


Anonymous said...

Amen. Honestly, this is, without question, one of the lowest blows they've taken towards Lois/Clark in the whole new 52.

People BEGGED for them to have a child for YEARS on end. Greg Rucka planted the seeds for them to have a child in Adventures of Superman #638 in what Rucka still claims is one of his "favorite" issues he's ever written. (I have it autographed by him and he wrote that right on the cover.) Then they adopted Chris Kent which was lovely and what did DC do to him? They got rid of him way too soon. Threw him in the Phantom Zone.

(Smallville has a ray of hope with Lois and Clark having a child. Smallville's canon was that they could conceive a child together with the use of BlueK. I guess that's a small little ray of sunshine to remember since BQM's book keeps going. Doubtful we'll ever see it though.)

Now....we get THIS. This abomination. They have a child and let me get this straight----he's unstable because oh Lois's weak human DNA is so weak or some insulting BS. And their child is a villain. You know what, DC? Seriously go throw yourselves off a cliff. No really. I'll wait here. ---Shades

AndNowInStereo said...

#25 will be the first and last SB I ever buy. I hope Kon gets a heroic sendoff *at the very least*.

But really, this is a shambles. How a company can screw up this character and this book so badly almost baffles me. And yet I get the impression, having read a lot of your blog by now Anj, DC has previous form on this. Especially under Berganza! Why does that man still have a job?

If Lobdell's hint that Supergirl will leave this family of books turns out to be true, I'll welcome it if it gets her away from Berganza and Lobdell.

Siskoid said...

Amazing. Looks like I did Jon Lane Kent in Reign of the Supermen way too soon, thinking he was a one-off (and terrible) idea.

But despite devoting a weekly post to Superman, I am not currently reading any New52 Superman book (just Smallville), which is just the WORST of the editorial families in DC's stable right now. So this news won't affect my reading habits. I just don't know what going on there anymore.

Jay said...

My strong, strong, strong hope is that this is a temporary thing to set up Kon's return. I say this because with how willy nilly they've been spoiling his death, I wouldn't be half surprised to see the actual ending of Krypton Returns being a reveal to the reader that Kon is alive, lost somewhere. I sincerely hope this is the case. I imagine a storyline where Jon Lane Kent succeeds in his ruse and he and Harvest rule the Earth (a future we know will be erased, like Rotworld). Kon returns, takes it upon himself to change things, to time travel to keep Harvest from ever going into the past in the first place, and belieing he is sacrificing his own existence in doing so.

He succeeds, changes history, waits for nothingness to take him, only to find himself on Earth, in the present, and alive. With a new origin he and the readers will find out together.

This is my hope. If I see any evidence of such a thing, I'll let you know. :)

Jay said...

Another idea! Instead of stopping Harvest from travelling in time altogether, maybe have Kon travel instead to the alternate Jon Lane Kent future. In this case, he reverses events by keeping Harvest from kidnapping Jon, defeating the villain, then before he disappears manages to return Jon to Superman and Lois, revealing to them their child is alive, putting a stamp of hope to the ending of that particular character.

Anonymous said...

It's tantamount to saying DC finds no money in writing about heroes because villains are more interesting. A sad commentary on today's morals.

Kandou Erik said...

I think your taking it all way too personally. For the time being, this is the villain's big moment, with "Forever Evil" taking over the DCU. While grim and gritty, it might be in some places - I don't think its a permanent thing. Especially with Marv Wolfman writing the title -- I wouldn't peg him as someone disrespecting the Clark/Lois relationship or legacy. Turning it on its head, though, is another matter.

Ever since Morrison left, the Superman franchise has indeed felt rudderless -- but with Greg Pak taking over Action Comics, I think things are going to turn around. Same thing with Forever Evil -- after those 8 issues of the mini-series, I expect the Sun will shine once again. (literally, in this case).

Then again - I don't read the satellite Superman titles, like Superboy and Supergirl. So maybe this is the last and final straw. But I'm just saying - such a change won't last forever.

Jay said...

Well temptation to get any sort of clue as to what's going to go on here had me get the TT Annual. And honestly the events have me feeling that Kon will be back eventually, and I'm fully expect now that his death in Krypton Returns is going to turn out to be an assumption by Superman and Supergirl that turns out not true.

Anonymous said...

Small correction on the Morrison leaving DC thing. He hasn't really left at all. He's still working on a Wonder Woman: Earth One graphic novel set in the same universe as Superman and Batman: Earth One. And on Multiversity, a new exploration of the DC multiverse that Morrison's been tasked to write. When he writes superhero comics, Morrison almost always goes to DC over Marvel because of the iconic stature of DC's characters and because they suit his style of writing better. Just thought I'd correct on your use of Morrison in your post.