Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: Superboy #23

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.

Overall grade: C-


Martin Gray said...

It's rare for us to disagree so much on an issue, I thought this was a goodie. I'm forgiving of Superboy not realising he was seeing things because while we're reading it, he's LIVING it, and in the moment; we get time to consider, he has someone in his head telling him things are true, making him feel things that aren't there. There were enough moments of Superboy being smart to make me happy.

And Krypto!

We even disagreed on the art, I preferred the Robson Rocha stuff, by a smidgen. Oh well ... do we know yet who's following Justin Jordan?

Anj said...

It does feel odd for us to be on opposite sides. Makes me think I must have been surly when I read it.

I'll take another look and try to focus on the positives!

tony said...

Wow and if you have ever been wrong about a review you have given,this is the Martin explained kon is living it,you read it,why you give Justin so a hard time for this concept I don't know.robson rocha knocked this issue out of the park,his pages were very good,don't get me wrong To did a great job too,but robson was better this issue,and it makes me happy he will be back for issue 25.krypto went from sweet dog,to snarling protector,he was badass,and drawn very well,both ways by rocha.

You did seem to have a somewhat unforgiving attitude while I was reading your review,maybe you are just "over it" and you can't get passed it,which i understand,this book has been way off,more than it has been on for sure.

This issue I actually felt a spark,even though it was small,of hope for this book,time will tell if they can write it as well as robson rocha and Marcus to can draw it,cause its very much in need of a shot in the arm,the sales are terrible,and I don't need this cancelled because DC treated the character badly,because how they have done the book is a perfect recipe for killing a book.

Anj said...

I understand he is living it. But ...

1) He is brought to this school because of the concerns for psionic attacks happening.

2) He witnesses several students lashing out at others, yelling they are monsters, even though everyone is normal.

So he is aware of the situation that is at the school.

3) Halfway through this issue, after seeing everyone as monsters, everyone switches back and runs from him in fear. He should know then he has been duped.

But instead we have a Superboy clone suddenly arrive and we get more pages of destruction.

I really just felt at some point he might realize he is being psionically fed these images.

I think Conner is smarter than this.