Friday, July 28, 2023

Review: Superboy The Man Of Tomorrow #4

Superboy The Man of Tomorrow #4 came out last week and was a thought-provoking comic for a Conner fan like me. A reminder, this comic is out because it was the winner of a round robin tournament. So to get such a sort of deep dive into Conner's psyche is a bit of a revelation! I'm pretty glad this won and I am reading it. 

Writer Kenny Porter is giving us a good plot of Superboy stumbling onto a Dominator kidnapping and experimenting on youths. Conner joins the Cosmoteers to try and stop this. But there is a more sinister or gray thread here that makes it very interesting. But more importantly for me, it is the character development in Conner that is more fascinating. He went to space to find himself, feeling redundant. He wants to grow. He is espousing the tenets of Superman showing he wants to grow. But there is a feeling of 'been there' here. He is acting like 'The Metropolis Kid' in some ways, young and brash and quippy. Does he want to grow? Or does he want to wallow in this comfort zone.

And as a reader, I am torn. I loved the impetuous Conner and have enjoyed the echoes of the early stuff. But I also like to see character growth. But if he grows too much, is he still Conner? Hmmm ....

Jhanoy Lindsay is on art again and brings his manga-infused insanity which works so well with a Superboy story. From character design to action, this is a kinetic and anime driven story.

On to the details.

We open on action. 

Infinity, Dominator X's multi-powered mega-clone, is fighting Travv and Conner. And it looks like it is winning.

I loved that second panel, all pencil and colorless. It just adds something to the action, somehow telling me that Conner and Travv are really being battered here. Maybe like a black and white crime scene phote?

But things get a little ugly and pretty quickly.

Travv takes mental control of all the powered kids the Cosmoteers have rescued and uses them like weapons. They literally rip Infinity apart. And then, knowing some have tracking powers, he sends them out to find and kill Dominator X.

More interesting is that Pira is on board. This isn't a Travv coup. Pira wants Dominator X dead so he can;'t continue to terrorize.

So this is an interesting ethical question. But not for Conner. Heroes don't kill. 

Travv admits being angry for not having his Daxamite powers. But he also thinks Superboy isn't doing what he should be doing given this threat. Conner is reliving his glory days. That is one of the things that I have been enjoying about this book ... but has Conner been just playing around?

I don't think so, especially when he touts the party line. The S-shield is about hope, not killing.

The Cosmoteers expose Conner to red sun energy and beat him up. They destroy his teleportation bracelet. He is powerless.

And then Travv unveils this. He has cloned Superboy, doing just what he despises about Dominator X. Travv is a bad guy.

Again, this is such a wonderful new plot. We know about Conner's own issues about being a clone. He has faced Match, an evil clone. This is a sort of trigger for him. Seeing another version of him AGAIN probably makes him twitch. 

I wondered if the other Cosmoteers were going to turn around and realize they shouldn't be following Travv.

But then the Green Lantern we saw last issue shows up ... and is quickly killed by Pira.

These are not good guys. Maybe anti-heroes. But not heroes.

Great panel by Lindsay here. 

On Earth, Superman realizes that Conner has gone missing.

Appropriately, Kelex calls him out on it. Two weeks without realizing Conner is gone?

Seems long. Love the sad face on Kal.

He is going to rally the super-family to head into space and find Conner.

And then a solid ending. 

Superboy is powerless, battered, and trapped on this planet. But then he is found by some of the youth he has recently inspired. So he is a hero.

Nice ending, contrasting Superboy again from the Cosmoteers.

So a decently meaty issue with significant plot progression and character beats. The art complements the story so much. This has been a pleasant addition to my reads.

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

AG said...

I can totally understand your concern about Kon growing out of being Kon - quippy, rash, dummy with a heart of gold - but because this is set just prior to Action Comics 1051 and we've seen his quippy, fun self under PKJ's pen, I don't think Kon's personality is lost in the shuffle. I actually have a lot of faith in Porter - calling attention to Clark / DC's failing Kon (and I choose to see it as Kenan by proxy) - I think he'll stick the landing and we'll see a more mature, self-assured quip-monster