Connor Kent is making another go at maintaining an ongoing series with this first issue of Volume IV’s Superboy. The young man is going back to his roots, although if you take that literally, it would mean his return to a Petri dish in a very ornate lab. After all, Connor Kent is the product of the combined D.N.A. of Clark Kent and Lex Luthor. No, in this case, Superboy is back where all of Superboy’s stories tend to originate: Smallville.

Superboy #1

You Got Your D.N.A. Into MINE!

Kent has finally come to grips with the fact that he has never had a childhood. Grown from organic material, his unorthodox ‘birth’ has essentially robbed him of the opportunity to manufacture a foundation for his emotional maturation. So, after some emo brooding from atop a local water tower, Kent is ready to call Smallville ‘home’ and he’s prepared to let himself become (gulp!) happy. Apparently this is not to be, since The Phantom Stranger materializes atop the water tower (you know, like the Hendrix tune) with a foreboding message!

Phantom Strangers In The Night…

Our favorite stranger delivers a few panels of purple prose with a warning that includes the phrases “…a darkness blowing on these gentle Kansas winds,” and “something sinister incubates within these rich old fields.” At least Kent calls him on the leaden speech, telling him to drop the ”ominous cryptic schtick.” If only the warning could have been whispered earlier in a certain scripter’s ear.

From this point forward, we actually have the semblance of a tangible threat for Superboy to face against. However, short of swooping in to catch a falling Ma Kent, Superboy doesn’t really do anything resembling heroics until page 20. In order to survive this encounter with baddie #1, Kent will need to rely upon a specialized skill set uniquely different from Superman’s roster of abilities. And before you ask, no…it’s got nothing to do with Billy Corgan or picking out fashion for this year’s back to school sale at Hot Topic.

Less Aha, More Hurm

This had many ingredients that should have made this a better book. Writer Jeff Lemire is no stranger to quiet tales about isolation and farm life. Long before he arrived in the offices of DC, Lemire wrote a series of books for Top Shelf, titled The Essex County Trilogy. However, superhero scripting is a relatively recent endeavor for the talented creator. As much as Connor Kent suffers from a lack of identity, this issue itself shares the same fate. The initiation for conflict wasn’t terribly creative and there were very few ‘aha!’ moments. Instead, we’re mostly a series of ‘hurm’ moments. Dog’s stomach exploded on concrete alley. Blood congeals on bottom of shoe. Wait a minute…mixed my metaphors for a moment there. No worries, I’m back!

Interior artist Pier Gallo doesn’t do much for me either. His renderings of faces are nondescript and there isn’t much energy to his layouts and action sequences. He also stumbles pretty badly on a motif-stylized page. A unifying image appears at the center of the page and the resulting actions read in a series of splinter panels. I had to go back and read the page twice to make sure I followed it correctly. Nope – still didn’t take.

Bottom Line: Take It Or Leave It

As a first issue, this does very little to whet my appetite for future monthlies. This is a straightforward superhero comic that doesn’t seem very compelling. In a marketplace full of superhero books, I’m not sure what readers will find within the pages of Superboy that will make them want to come back for more. Superboy #1 earns 3 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Author

Mike McLarty

Mike McLarty

A San Diego native, Mike has comics in his blood and has attended the San Diego Comic Con every year since 1982. His comic interests are as varied as his crimes against humanity, but he tends to lean heavily towards things rooted in dystopian themes. His favorite comic series is Warren Ellis’ and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan. Spider Jerusalem is the best character ever devised. Mike realizes those statements will alienate a good portion of his potential audience, but those are the facts. You are unlikely to find a single collector with a better Transmetropolitan art portfolio than the one he has in his possession. He is an Assistant Editor for the upcoming Transmetropolitan Charity Book.

He also occasionally freelances for various other comics websites, which he promotes through his homepage (, Twitter and other inherently intrusive forms of social media. Mike firmly believes that the best writers come from the UK. This could be because he’s of Irish descent; not so much based on physical geography as the fact that the Irish like to drink heavily.

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  1. November 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm — Reply

    Wow, that kid looks JUST LIKE Tom Welling Prime! :)

    I’m afraid that DC is expecting the “novelty” of Kon’s resurrection to carry the new title, as well as Teen Titans (although he has fellow “came-back-from-the-dead-to-do-pretty-much-a-lot-of-nothin” Bart Allen to help split the load, there) without realizing that it’s a short term bump.

    Jeff Lemire’s work on Sweet Tooth hasn’t grabbed me (although the art is somewhat off-putting, which probably doesn’t help) so I’m skeptical, but I’m at least willing to give this book a shot.

    • November 8, 2010 at 5:07 pm — Reply

      It’s good. It sets up the theme of the book (little things), teases a long term menace, creates a sidekick, stages a pretty good fight with an established villain (with a clever resolution) and the last page splash suggests an intriguing dynamic for the next issue, all in, what, 22 pages.

      I understood what they were going for. It’s not earth shattering, but that’s kinda the point.

    • November 18, 2010 at 11:54 am — Reply

      There’s a good article over at Broken Frontier that explains why they killed off Connor and brought him back.

      Apparently it has to do with the Superman Lawsuit.

  2. November 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm — Reply

    Glad you liked it, IKLKS. It wasn’t a bad book in my estimation, I just didn’t really see the point of it. Reminded me of dozens of other mediocre books on the stands.

    Matthew, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts once you’ve had a chance to peruse.

    • November 15, 2010 at 11:41 am — Reply

      That kind of gets me to my point about your return of bruce wayne reviews and to a lesser extent this review.

      If somebody gave me a job reviewing ballet, every review would be exactly the same. “Well they dressed up like a bunch of idiots and jumped around for what seemed like forever, and I could clearly see that guy’s package.”

      Now that’s not an acceptable review of the Pittsburgh Ballets production of Swan Lake, that’s me saying I don’t like ballet, because I don’t.

      At the same time I realize that there is something to appreciate about ballet, the dancers are great athletes, the lighting and the sets are elaborate and well done, but it doesn’t move me.

      So if the point of your review is that you personally don’t care about the material, as a consumer, that doesn’t do me any good.

      • November 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm — Reply

        As with ANY review – here or elsewhere – it is one person’s opinion of the material presented to them, so your results are going to be vary.

  3. November 15, 2010 at 11:56 am — Reply

    Not sure where I conveyed that I don’t care about the material, that’s not my viewpoint at all. In terms of the Return of Bruce Wayne is concerned, I am a big fan of Batman and I felt these books were ill-conceived and didn’t portray Wayne in a very positive light.

    With Superboy, I don’t have any issues with the character or the concept of starting a new series. My feedback is that if you’re going to do it, do it with some sense of excitement and urgency. The issue earned 3 stars, which is a bit better than average.

    WIth the huge glut of comics in the marketplace, books are having to offer up more than just standard fare in order to standout from their peers. You have DC putting out nearly 70 books a month and Marvel alone clears 100 issues. The fact that Superboy is back in a number one issue (volume IV) is not enough. It wasn’t that I disliked Superboy, I just didn’t see anything that inspired my readership. Of course that is my personal perspective, etc, etc.

    Return of Bruce Wayne tie-ins were much less satisfying for me. I didn’t think the art was that great and again, the characterization of Wayne didn’t strike me as particularly complementary.

    Not sure if that helps, but understand that I buy these books and have been a reader of comics for more than 30 years. The great thing about reviews is that they reflect opinions, which are very individual and unique. Sometimes I identify with some reviewers more than others. I also look at the reviews that don’t necessarily reflect my personal opinions because often times, they see things differently than I do…thus informing my perspective.

    Thanks for taking the time to read the stuff, regardless. I hope you’ll keep reading!

    • November 15, 2010 at 3:50 pm — Reply

      Mike McLarty doesn’t care about bat people!

      Look dude, I don’t want to break your stones, but check this out. This is your whole batgirl review:


      The writing style on Batgirl allots for simultaneous dialogue, monologue, journal documentation and yet even another voice that appears to be a neutral narrator. A ‘mysterious’ costumed protagonist confronts each of our heroes in a series of strategic challenges. While the identity isn’t revealed until the end of each respective issue, it doesn’t take a detective to figure out that the guy who can kick everyone’s ass, happens to wear a yellow utility belt, and is featured in a comic carrying the banner “Bruce Wayne: The Road Home” may be somebody we’re all somewhat acquainted with.

      To add to our confusion, one only has to delve into the history of the Batgirl character. She was originally Barbara Gordon, then Cassandra Cain and now Stephanie Brown. I can hear many of you thinking to yourself, ‘Well, that’s not so bad!’ Okay, how’s about the fact that Stephanie Brown was Spoiler, then became Robin until she was ‘killed.’ That’s what I thought.

      Does this current iteration of Batgirl get to keep the cowl? Will she even want to keep it by the end of this issue? I can only speak for myself and say that by the end of the issue, I wouldn’t have minded giving the comic back.


      Where’s the review? You don’t cover a single specific about the story itself. I don’t even know why you gave this a thumbs down.

      Stephanie Brown became Batgirl after Bruce went missing. She was much less mature when Bruce knew her. She has a youthful lighthearted style, both as a crime fighter and a character, that clashes with batman’s dark brooding angst. Is Batman going to accept her? Will be shut her down? That is the whole point of the story, the source of the tension.

      But what do you do? You don’t get into whether it was effective or not, you just mock it. And what does “That’s what I thought” mean? I means that you assume that the reader doesn’t care about it either. But I do care about it, and mocking it, you are by extension mocking me. And I don’t like that.

      This isn’t about your opinion. If you don’t like it, make an argument. There is a whole language available to explain why a piece of fiction doesn’t work. But to just dismiss it out of hand, to act like you are to cool to even give it a day in court, is worthless as a review and insulting to the fans.

      Ok, I’ve said my piece.

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