We’re now two issues into new Superboy scribe Justin Jordan’s run and things are looking up as the Boy of Steel battles H.I.V.E., but will it be enough to give the book a new life?
For the majority of its run, the Superboy title has felt a bit like “Teen Titans Lite.” The title always kept our titular clone the focus, but more often than not the book just seemed to function as a vehicle for a Titan team-up, or an alternate view of the events occurring in other titles (such as the recent H’el on Earth crossover). Thankfully, it would seem that new writer Justin Jordan has been taking the book in a new direction that acknowledges Superboy’s link to the Titans and Superman but does not rely on them to carry the narrative; this is a solo mission for Kon-El. Making the antagonists psionic-based is a clever move as well, helping keep the threat tailored specifically to the psionic-based Superboy.
Jordan also provides a more lighthearted tone than past issues. This is not the brooding, angsty, and lost Superboy we’ve seen for the last few years (though he’s retained a bit of his attitude). This is a confident Superboy that just wants to help people out, and there are a few times we can actually begin to see shades of the Kryptonian that supplied his DNA begin to emerge. There’s plenty of humor to be had as well, usually courtesy of Krypto, who makes his entrance into the main narrative with this issue.
As for the pacing, the book moves at a frenetic and highly accelerated pace with the narrative. Though this can sometimes be a bad thing, here the pacing works for the most part; we get to really feel just how quickly the events with H.I.V.E are unfolding, and we get to feel a bit overwhelmed right along with Superboy.
Unfortunately, that fast pacing begins to take its toll whenever the fighting starts. It often becomes a little tricky to figure out exactly what just happened in a fight scene. This could be because most of the fights are psionic, fought with astral projections, and often showing the action taking place in two different locations, but I still think it could be handled better.
Our new characters also succumb to some old comic book traps from time to time. Our villain for this issue, Decay, seems to fall right into classic villain monologuing and exposition, carefully telling you who he is and how much we should be scared of him before even throwing a punch. However, these moments are very few and very brief, and most of the narrative is shown, not told.
I’ve been following Superboy from issue one, and though I certainly did not think the previous issues were by any means terrible, they grew stale very quickly; for the most part, Superboy kind of wanders around the city until the Teen Titans or Superman come around, and we’re off. Lather, rinse, repeat.
New writer Justin Jordan has managed to breathe a little bit of fresh air into the book by separating Superboy from his usual companions and sending him off on his own adventures, and it looks like we’re in for a fun ride.
Brandon Stines is a projectionist living in Thousand Oaks, California. He’s currently waiting for his parents to show him the ship he crashed to Earth in.