Or – “I Still Remember The FIRST Superboy #0.”
The New 52 has made a lot of changes to a lot of characters, but none is as welcome as finally seeing Superboy in a costume that wasn’t horribly dated within seven minutes of its creation. Will the REST of this special origin issue make readers as happy? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously, in Superboy: Kon-El is a clone created in the cloning vats of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to… um… I don’t know. Where does he come from? What does he want? Where did they get Kryptonian DNA? And what about Naomi? All we really know is that his entire body thinks, and he wants to know the reasons for his existence. Oh, and that he has better fashion sense than he did in 1993. But where DID he come from?
THE KRYPTON CHRONICLES…
We open on the battlefields of the dead planet Krypton, as the clone named Kon takes his army into battle, fighting against those who created them in the first place. It’s an interesting sort of backstory, explaining that Kon basically means “abomination,” and that this connotation explains a lot about the Kryptonians views on cloning. We get more Harvest (the monstrous mastermind behind ‘The Culling’ crossover) and the revelation that he somehow knows of what happened on the dead planet. The untold story of Superboy’s creation and life in a tube is also new to me, but it’s Harvest’s mysteries that are the most interesting. Superboy’s one protector is Fairchild (of the Ravagers, late of Gen 13), the only doctor in the facility who has any scruples whatsoever, and it is she who realizes that a hybrid creature wouldn’t necessarily act or function like a human being does. The issue throws up a few more mysteries, as well, making a question of where the human portion of Superboy’s DNA comes from a point of contention, as well.
“EVENTUALLY, HE WILL MAKE ENEMIES OF THEM ALL…”
Superboy’s creators eventually decide to destroy him, which triggers him into action for the first time, proving for the first time that he is not brain-dead, and leaving Fairchild in control of his development. From a visual perspective, this is where the issue really catches fire, as we get the twin plot engines of Superboy blasting free of his containment tube and the original Kon leading his murderous uprising on Krypton. Harvest even manages to feed the nascent superbeing his own scenarios involving war, death, combat, death, savagery, death, death, armageddon and sports. He even makes sure to planet the seeds of hatred for Superman in Superboy’s subconscious, while Fairchild tries to make Superboy into a hero with virtual reality projections of her own. I like the art here, reminding me a bit of Paul Pelletier (albeit with stronger fundamental anatomy), but some of the designs are a bit generic throughout. Harvest reminds me visually of the villain whose name escapes me in Justice League #10, and it seems that there are a lot of guys wandering around the new DCU with a cape, elongated body-structure and a mutilated face.
THE BOTTOM LINE: MILDLY INTERESTING, A LITTLE BIT REVISIONIST.
I’m intrigued by the re-imagining of Krypton as a boiling kettle full of tensions (kind of like the one seen in Alan Moore’s story “The Man Who Has Everything”) and the use of some existing old-school continuity about Krypton is nicely done. The idea of clones rising up is a bit shopworn, but it’s visually appealing here (Kon the first reminds me in a very good way of early Jack Kirby O.M.A.C.) and at least consistent with the darker and edgier New 52. Superboy #0 gives a good accounting of itself, serving as a decent stand-alone while deepening some of the mystery around Superboy, earning a not-bad-at-all 3 out of 5 stars overall. I haven’t been following this title on a regular basis, but there’s a lot of good stuff here that makes me want to reassess that decision…