Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review: Adventure Comics #1

Was I going to collect Adventure Comics? That was really the question.

With a growing pull list and no real connection to Conner Kent, I really debated buying. But after reading the omnipresent preview pages and hearing about the LSH back-up feature I thought I would give it a try.

So I have a very limited history with Superboy. I collected the first couple of years of his original solo title. And I bought the first half year of Teen Titans. And, of course, I read Infinite Crisis. But that's it ... I may be flailing a bit in terms of his history. I may have more questions than answers.

I have to say Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul put together a deceptively good issue. It reads for the most part like a blown kiss to the Silver Age. It oozes nostalgia with just a hint of modern punch.

I am sure most everyone has seen the opening pages. With a muted colored pencil look, Manapul really evokes a Norman Rockwell feel to these Smallville pages.

And Superboy seems like he is ready to kick back and enjoy Smallville. After living a pretty hectic life and then being dead, the country life probably looks pretty appealing. Plus, this life can be a blueprint for him. If he wants to be the legacy hero to Superman, why not emulate his hero's early life.

Conner has the blueprint in mind. What did Superman do?

1) Live with the Kents.

2) Go to Smallville High.

3) Join a super-hero team.

4) Help anyone who needs it.

I thought this was a very good scene. After a young woman falls into a river, Superboy streaks to the rescue. But just as Conner is going to scoop her to safety, Krypto steals the save.

And then Krypto gets most of the post-rescue affection. It was a cute scene with Superboy flummoxed a bit by his pet. What was it WC Fields said? Never work with children and animals. They steal the glory.

But the emulation of Superman's life doesn't seem to be limited to his heroic deeds.

It looks like it could also include the emergence of an arch nemesis. In the Silver Age, Luthor was a childhood genius working out of Smallville vexing Clark 'Superboy' Kent time after time.

Here we meet Simon Valentine another Smallville genius pushing the scientific envelope. An experiment with a nearby lake reveals the 'Beast of Bruin Lake' none other than Tellus. I wondered where he went to after his Project 7734 rescue.

And here is where that symmetry with Lex is really revealed. Tellus knows the future and he says of Valentine that he will be Conner's 'greatest friend' and 'greatest enemy'.

It looks like Superboy's time in Smallville will include some soul searching. If part of his time here is trying to understand Superman's heritage than part should also be used to understand the Luthor side of his lineage.

A trip to Luthor's old house leads to a conversation with Superman about good and evil. Is evil learned behavior? Is it predestined? Nature? Nurture? A mix?

You can see that Conner is struggling with being 'half-Luthor'. It is natural for him to worry if that part of him will manifest. Will he become evil?

Superman reassures Conner that he is not Luthor.

In fact Superman tells Superboy to stay clear of Luthor. Conner agrees.

I liked how this scene played out. After all he has been through, Conner should be struggling to find himself. And Superman should be there to help out. The dialogue read nicely - more like a dialogue between brothers than hero and sidekick/protege.

And then the hook for the next issues.

Conner has a Luthor side of the blueprint. And he has already completed the first thing Luthor does. He lied to Superman when he said he would leave Luthor alone.

For someone who has never really grabbed onto the Conner character, I have to say this issue was a smooth read. A teenage super-hero struggling to find his way ... it's a well travelled path in comics ... but when you add the Superman and Luthor layers it should be interesting.

But wait there's more. There is the Legion back-up feature.

First we get a two page spread of the roster.

Nothing like a glaring editorial error in issue #1. That's right ... the Shadow Lass and Night Girl boxes are reversed. I cringed when I saw this. This issue might be the introduction to the Legion for a new reader. There shouldn't be mistakes on the roster page.

The story itself is Starman acting crazy and running into Tellus. When Tellus tries to cure Starman of his insanity, he says Starman is too far gone. Not a good sign.

And one way to keep someone like me buying the title is to tantalize with a sneak preview page.

Superboy saving Dream Girl?

Despero working for Morgan Edge?

We also see Element Lad in his pink-top costume and a Green Lantern ring and a Legion Flight ring on the same hand.

Nice hooks to keep the marginal reader interested.

The Superboy story was the most compelling here. This was one of the times that I actually wished the second feature pages were used for the main character. The Starman pages seemed pretty superfluous.

So for the time being I'm in.

Overall grade: B+ (Superboy)/ C (Legion)


Nikki said...

I totally felt that the connor story could have been done in 8 pages but Legion, there was no story to speak of. A double page highlighting characters not in the issue, the looming presence of superman were all unnecessary. All the Starman pages did was give us a gag and interpret the file seen at the end of legion of three worlds, which every legion fan had done already. It felt like there was too much going on in geoff's plan and he got intimidated by the small page count to do anything significant

Saranga said...

I was amazed by the art in this. The colouring is just beautiful.

TalOs said...

Man oh man, Conner really should've added to that list "wears a costume" and underlines it because unlike Mon-El Superboy hasn't got a device that can "blur" he's features when operating as Superboy so anyone and their grand ma will be able to tell he's Conner Kent of Smallville who's operating as Superboy and where's the logic in that?! *Blinks*

Anywho, aside from that and the fact that editorial apparently missed the 2 Legion members bios being mixed up I personally thought that this was a really enjoyable follow up series to Legion of 3 Worlds and I simply can't wait to see when Geoff will apparently be dealing with the other 2 Legions as he recently claimed will be happening in this title here too! :D

P.S. Heh, gotta love Ma Kents 'cape' too. :P

Anj said...

I totally felt that the connor story could have been done in 8 pages but Legion, there was no story to speak of.

Hmm ... maybe that's why I wanted more pages. Like there was a good skeleton there but I wanted more meat.

Still, I thought overall it did what first issues should ... grab me and make me want to read more.

Anj said...

I was amazed by the art in this. The colouring is just beautiful.

I loved Manapul's work on Legion.

But the art here is even better. And your right, the muted coloring just fits this title perfectly.