Or – “Already Diverging From The Formula?”


When DC (re)launched Adventure Comics last year, we were told that each issue would consist of two stories of “characters associated with the Adventure Comics title.”  What that turned out to mean was a Superboy tale with a Legion of Super-Heroes backup story…  Excuse me, Second Feature.  This model stayed in place for the first four issues, but then we were thrown a curveball when issue #4’s Superboy was the artist known as Tom Welling Prime.  Last issue annoyed me a bit by being a Tom Welling Prime tale followed by a backup co-feature starring the current S-boy.  This issue changes things up again, making me wonder if the whole “Backup Feature” idea has already gone by the wayside…  Either way, if you’re looking for the wrapping up of loose ends, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re looking for the Legion?  You’ll probably be less than thrilled.

Adventure Comics #6 (#509)

AC1.jpgWritten by Geoff Johns
Art and covers by Francis Manapul

Previously, on Adventure Comics: Kon-El is the biological son of Kal-El of Krypton, and Lex Luthor of Smallville, fabricated out of alien DNA and all-too-human hubris.  Ever since his recent resurrection, though, Kon has been dealing with a bit of ennui, trying to figure out what he should do with his life by making an ongoing list of what his “fathers” have done.  Needless to say, it’s made him a little bit unpredictable, even as he seems to have the world’s best interests in mind.  Last issue, upon his return from Europe (where he met up with his old pal Tim Drake, for some reason known as Tim Wayne to Stephen, aka Red Robin ((YUMMM!)) and the two young men mended fences about death, love, and dead parents.  Returning to Smallville, Kon found that his newfound friend Lori is much more than she seems, living as she does in a nearly abandoned house with her invalid mother.  Of course, that news pales next to the revelation that her mommy is the little-known younger sister of one of Kon’s daddies (and it ain’t the big blue boy scout, neither.)  Confronted with the man who is both father figure and worst enemy, Kon-El will finally get the chance to figure out which side of his little list is more important in the long run…

With the help of a handful of Kryptonite, Lex Luthor is able to keep Kon-El at bay while staging his reunion with sibling and niece in his own inimitable bastardy way. “I spent an awful lot of money to bury my tracks from Smallville to Metropolis,” muses the big bald nastyman. “In all honesty, I shoud’ve buried my sister and her daughter, too.” Lori is shocked, and seemingly the only thing that saves the teenagers life is the arrival of Lex’s sister Lena. (For those of you who wonder, this is NOT LLena’s first appearance. She was an occasionally Silver Age plot device, as well, dating back to the early sixties.) Lena is barely coherent, and Connor tries to taunt Lex by reminding him that he may be the smartest man in the world, but even he can’t fix his sister. “I can,” remarks Lex quietly, and after a brief discussion of Superman’s wherabouts, he informs Kon-El that together, they are going to revive the mind and body of Lena Thorul. (Her parents changed the name out of shame after Lex’s true reputation became public…)  Kon’s first stop is to steal the Time Bubble from the Fortress of Solitude, and retrieve a certain herb from the age of dinosaurs. The upshot comes when Lex reveals that the herb is only to make a bit of tea, to help him think more clearly (and maybe identify who the alpha male in this situation really is.)

Kon is then dispatched throughout the universe, getting to cross things off his “What Did Superman Do?” list: Went to Bizarro World. Went to Paradise Island. Swam to Atlantis. While all of this is going on, Lori and Unca’ Lex get a moment to talk about his family, and why he went missing. Lex snorts that his father could barely take care of himself, much less anyone else, and when the subject of the man’s demise comes up, Lena again regains her coherence. “I’m glad Dad wasn’t there no more,” she babbles. “Big brother was watching out for me.” The implication that Lex killed off their abusive father is pretty clear as Kon returns from his travels, and Lex completes his formula. One quick injection later, and Lena is walking and her mind is restored! “Miracles don’t exist,” says Lexy. “Lex Luthor does.” After a few moments of joy for Lori and Lena, Lex injects his sister again, reversing the effect of the formula, swearing that he’ll make it permanent only when Superman is dead. Kon responds by punching Luthor through a wall (“You’re not much like Superman at all, are you?”) but Brainiac’s interference keeps him from killing his genetic parent. The Luthor/Brainiac team teleports away, leaving Kon to consider his actions. We end the issue with Kon discussing it with his best friends (Kid Flash, Red Robin and Wonder Girl) and finally throwing his notebook checklist into a campfire, after checking one last thing of his W.W.S.D. list: “Was Superboy.”  Far, far away, Lex assesses Kon as nothing but a failed experiment, indicating that he “used the wrong alien DNA.”  A green hand is seen for a second as we fade to black…

The solicitations say that this is Geoff and Francis’ big goodbye to Kon-El, making me wonder if Adventure Comics is even going to continue with the announcement of the new Legion of Super-Heroes series and the return of Kon to the mainstream DCU. Even knowing that this could be a big swan song, this issue does two things that bug me… The first is taking the really entertaining and fun checklist bit away long before it would have gotten old (for me, anyway.) This is doubly noticeable when I realize how much of this issue is drawn completely from old Silver Age Mort Weisinger edited comics: Lena Luthor. The Time Bubble. The Luthor/Brainiac team. The whole “Am I good or am I evil?” schtick was the real hook for this particular series, in my mind, and I’m left wondering where young Tom Welling goes from here. The second complaint comes in the fact that this is the second issue to not feature the LSH at all, in what is ostensibly their home title… Still, the strength of Manapul’s art here made the overall reading experience a very pleasant one, and Johns makes us understand the true depths of Lex Luthor’s madness and depravity. It’s not what I expected when I signed up, but it was a decent reading experience nonetheless. Adventure Comics #6, also known as Adventure Comics #509, earns a nicely done 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. But the real question is, what happens next month?

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

John Carter of Mars begins photography in London

Next post

MSP#169: Immortals


  1. Darrell Lawrence
    January 15, 2010 at 6:53 pm — Reply

    Per a DC announcement, Paul Levitz will continue Adcenture comics with the Legion *and* the Legion gets a new title. The Adventure storyline will start off with “Secret Origin” (ie, the past) and the Legion title will be about the current aged Legion.

    So this issue may have been a swan song, but for Kon-El, not the title.

  2. shamon
    January 15, 2010 at 6:54 pm — Reply

    This issue was great 4 stars because it shown how much a dick lex can be and i bet it Brainiac DNA mixed with his , this could also be how the Brainiac bloodline start.

    • astrodinosaurus
      January 16, 2010 at 7:33 am — Reply

      Unless they do a Martian swerve..But the original theory makes so much more sense.

    • Darrell Lawrence
      January 16, 2010 at 11:10 am — Reply

      Brainiac 2 (Vril Dox) and his kid (Brainiac 3) already exist over in R.E.B.E.L.S.

      • astrodinosaurus
        January 16, 2010 at 7:29 pm — Reply

        We(Well I do) know that. But we have never (as far as I know) seen how Braniac 2.0 CAME to be…Right? Though it should be noted the hand(which was shown) in the book looked “female” and Vril is a “dude”. But how cool would it be to know that there was a lil bit of Luthor in Braniac 5…Explains quite a lot don’t it.

  3. J Michael T
    January 15, 2010 at 9:12 pm — Reply

    And to think I almost subscribed to this title in a desperate last gasp for Legion stories… Whew!

  4. Katzedecimal
    January 16, 2010 at 11:44 am — Reply

    I never liked Conner Kent. The only time I came even close to liking him was during his appearances in The Legion. I bought this book for the Awesome!Brainy Legion that I had been SO enjoying, and got a surprise — I liked this version of Conner. So a good call all around on this book. I thought the back-up features idea was a good one and am sorry to see it falling to the wayside already; several books are losing their back-up features, not just the characters but the concept itself. Unfortunate, as it is a good way to test the waters and to give B- and C- list characters a chance to shine.

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section