When I did my review on Green Lantern we got a write in about how happy someone was to see a positive review of a book that the writer was a fan of before the relaunch. Well, this is going to be interesting to see what they think in this case. Partially, because I am a big Superboy fan. Partially because I've been reading Superboy since he had round glasses and lived on Hawaii. Partially because I was really big into Volume 4 with Luthor's niece and the unexplained kid from the future. And also, partially, because this book was #@$%ing rotten.
This most recent version of Superboy starts off very very closely to how that last one did (may he rest in piece). He's a clone of Superman. He has half human DNA (from a source they haven't named yet, but let's guess). And...that's where the similarities end.
He's in a tube raised by a group named N.O.W.H.E.R.E. which sounds like something out of a bad Abbot and Costello skit.
"Where are you keeping Superboy?"
"Well he's got to be somewhere."
"He is! He's at work."
"Where do you work?"
"Wait, you're unemployeed?"
And it would go on and on like that until your head explodes.
Apparently, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is a top secret facility that engineers whatnot. It's not really covered too well. But, if I had to guess, I'd guess that they produce the occasional weapon and mass produce speech balloons. No joke. If there was no proof that Scott Lobdell wrote this I would have guessed a drunken Brian Michael Bendis rubbed his almost empty pen all over this thing. Every time a character thinks or talks it reminded me of a dialogue heavy scene from the old Speed Racer cartoons. Just...babbling. Every single character had seven tons of needless exposition. I mean, don't get me wrong. I'm a reader, I enjoy reading, but do we need all this on every page?
It's not terribly good writing either. It's rushed. It feels like they were told to make sure that all the origin and intro story is done before Teen Titans #1 comes out. Plus, and this may have just been me, but it feels like the writing was on par with a parent trying to sound hip to their kid.
There's terminology in here stolen straight from medical shows. Technical terms being used very carefully. And probably the best usage I've ever seen of someone taking an Intro to Psychology course.
And whenever they use something they feel "the kids" would know, it's not only awkward but it's in bold. See the picture on the left? It's already awkward but the fact that it's bold is like the writer saying, "hey, I know what you kids like." Though, as a former video game retail clerk, I can honestly tell you that NO ONE got Wii Sports for the golf game. You might say, "but E.N., I got Wii Sports for the golf". To which I would tell you to go look in a mirror, you can't see your own reflection. You know why? Because you don't exist.
The art is alright though. R.B.Silva seemed to put a fair amount of work into everything but sometimes it seems a little over the top. It reminds me of a pseudo-realistic rendition of the works of Jhonen Vasquez. There's wires everywhere in the foreground. Needless technological whatnots and dohickeys. And there's even a moment where a helicopter shows up that looks like a relative of Zim's ship from Invader Zim.
Though, to his credit, I did like how some of the characters looked normal. There were some short characters, some chubby characters, pretty characters and flaws ones as well. The lady who does the majority of the talking (which is an impressive feat in this book) has giant glasses. It's a nice change to see characters actually have physical character traits beyond just their hair. I mean, download a bunch of pictures of Lois Lane and Carol Ferris and try to see how many of your friends can guess who's who. But sometimes the character definition goes overboard and ends up being distracting. For example:
Great Hera looks at all that dialogue. But notice something else? Why is that guy there. You know who. That guy. I'm not even going to describe him. You know exactly who I'm talking about. You know why? Because it's distracting and takes away from the panel. He's practically the focal point.
I know this is starting to sound like an attack. But I want to make it clear, I DO want this book to succeed. I love Superboy. I would love this character to grow. And I think that with what the last page led into, this book has some potential. It has the elements it could use to succeed. And, it had Rose Wilson (right) who I am also a big fan of and was surprised to see. This book could be good. And who knows, the second issue could be amazing.
Like I said earlier, this issue seemed rushed so I won't let this speak for the entire series and I'm still giving it a shot. Maybe I'm bias. I've spent years waiting for Superboy to finally find himself and it seemed like after years and some jerk punching through reality itself, he was finally doing that. Too see him hop right back into the tub was a bit of a let down for me. To put it bluntly, this new character...he may be Superboy, but he is definitely not Connor. In fact, I'll close out by letting this panel from the book itself do all the talking for me.