Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Superboy #5

There have been plenty of surprises in the DC relaunch. Titles I thought for sure I would love that I haven't (like Green Lantern Corps or Captain Atom). And titles I thought I wouldn't collect but was lucky enough to stumble upon and pick up (Birds of Prey and Demon Knights).

But all of the surprises, Superboy is the biggest. I have enjoyed this title more than I ever thought I would, especially when reading the pre-relaunch buzz. But somehow this title has churned along, revealing more and more about Superboy and N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and boasting a great and complex supporting cast.

Last issue was the first time that Superboy stood front and center, now supporting cast around him, and I wondered if he alone would keep me intrigued. He is growing as a new person in this world. Will his characterization match that of those around him?

This issue, the supporting cast is back. And Superboy continues to grow as a character. So this issue was a win. Scott Lobdell seems to be slowly letting Superboy form his own personality, free from NOWHERE's control. And right now, he seems like a powerful kid on the edge, albeit with good tendencies as we see here.

Add to that RB Silva's amazing art, and this book continues to shine.

The book opens with Superboy back at N.O.W.H.E.R.E., running through the usual tests, and ready to fulfill his mission of bringing in rowdy super-powered youths.

So it is interesting for me that Superboy is willing to trade Wonder Girl to NOWHERE to buy his own freedom. That isn't exactly noble. But he never exactly says outright that he is on board for that plan.

What I really liked was Superboy taking charge of his own life, including the 'Michael Corleone' like statement of tying off loose ends. Time to settle some family business.

We still don't know exactly what N.O.W.H.E.R.E. stands for or what there overall mission. But there has always been a sense of evil there. Here we see a more concrete representation of that evil. N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s supervisor Templar morphs into some sort of multi-headed demon which slaughters a crew of workers for their failure.

To be honest, the off-screen slaughter works so much more for me then actually seeing the heads impale these guys. The unknown sense of what could makes a 'splortch' sound works better than an actual panel of flesh being rendered.

The best character of the book for me so far has been Rose Wilson. She is tough, takes no prisoners, and strong-willed. But she was also good friends with Fairchild. We know Rose knew Caitlyn's secret but kept it to herself, not letting NOWHERE know. She is a true mercenary, working for but not necessarily espousing her employers beliefs.

She took off a couple of issues ago but is back now. I hope at some point Lobdell fills in what prompted her to return. Here Superboy gives it to her, wondering where Rose was when 'Red' got taken. I love how Silva let's us know just how self-defeated Rose feels, slumped against the wall. It is the first time we have seen Rose in a position other than strength or battle.

But part of the loose ends for Superboy is saving Caitlyn who is being taken to 'the colony'. Maybe he didn't say this to Rose because he doesn't know just where her loyalties lie.

Conner has no problem stopping the truck Fairchild is being transported in, scattering the Metans that N.O.W.H.E.R.E. has guarding her.

I love this red flare effect of the tactile telekinesis. Beautiful.

And he saves Caitlyn, turning her over to whoever she was working for. Could this be the DCnU introduction to John Lynch?

But it is clear that Superboy hasn't bought into what N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is doing, doesn't trust anyone there, and wants to save the one person who fought for him. Nice character growth.

As for Rose, she stumbles upon a jump drive hidden in Caitlyn's quarters and rather than give it to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. she peeks at it herself.

And Rose is on there, named Ravager, and part of 'Culling Day'. Culling day? Must be N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s plan to send out their brainwashed young Metans to kill someone ... maybe older  heroes?

My guess? N.O.W.H.E.R.E. has implanted a control chip in Rose as part of their plans to convert her to Ravager. In turn, Rose removes the chip herself by ... gauging out her eye to get to it. You heard it here first!

And Superboy sneaks back into his quarters so he can't be implicated in the Fairchild rescue. And he starts to push back against his masters. It is all coming to a head here, nicely.

Hopefully, next month's brawl with Supergirl is handled well. And hopefully I don't need to read Titans to see how this all turns out ... because I am not.

And man, RB Silva just continues to do fantastic work here!

Overall grade: B+


Dante said...

Nice review and it's nice to see that Superboy is continuing so nicely with such a nice crew[that's not to say that Supergirl isn't,but that's another topic],both in the making of the comic and the characters of the title.Both crews are awesome.

Now,I might sound a little nerdy,but Templar,the way he spoke and more importantly his character sillouette and that...ability just screamed Nrvnqsr Chaos from Tsukihime.


The League said...

It would be nice if (1) a book about Superboy had anything to do with Superman instead of as backdoor way to get people interested in defunct properties and (2) after spending $15 on 5 issues I knew enough about what was happening to care.

The art is fine (if you can get over the fact that scientists wear armor in the lab), but I dropped this title after this issue. Its all hand-waving with no sense of a plot. There's not even enough story here for a 6-issue collection. And someone help anyone new to comics who stumbled onto this book who doesn't feel like playing "guess which Wildstorm character we'll see next?".

Dave Mullen said...

'It would be nice if (1) a book about Superboy had anything to do with Superman instead of as backdoor way to get people interested in defunct properties'

Yeah, that's something I can sort of agree with. Kon-el was a product of the 90s Death of Superman and made sense in that context, an attempt by Cadmus to replace Superman. This clone we have now is a lot harder to justify.
It may be there's a different rationale and origin for him that the one coming out of the 90s Death of Superman but for me it doesn't feel convincing when you've launched this character concurrent with Superman - we don't know Superman yet, he's a blank slate, and we certainly don't much care about some clone of him running around simultaneously. It may be an okay read but the motives behind this book and character are... odd.

Yes that's harsh I know, I liked Kon-el but after Flashpoint he makes no sense at all to ressurect as suddenly as this, the timing is way off.

Anj said...

Thanks so much for the comments.

I can see your points that creating a Superboy when we don't know Superman seems off. And yes, it seems like this is the place for Gen13 to be found.

One thing I have liked about the book is the slow creation of this Superboy's personality. Each issue he is becoming more and more his own person. He is trying to understand why he is doing what he is doing, why he is feeling what he is feeling. He cares ... but why does he care? He is angry ... but why is he angry?

Rather than being one emotion (happy go lucky, angry, bitter), he is struggling through all of them. And that slow character growth has worked for me.

Now would it work if I wasn't fascinated by Rose and Red ... or if the art wasn't so pleasing ... I don't know. But this whole product is working for me right now.