Pity Superboy, the half-Superman half-Lex Luthor clone who can’t seem to get a fair shake at DC Comics. He left his last series, the excellent Geoff Johns/Francis Manapul collaboration Adventure Comics, after only six issues, two of them Blackest Night tie-ins (though the remaining four are a stone-cold classic story). With news that amazing indie author Jeff Lemire would be taking the reigns on the character, hope was rekindled that longtime fans would have a new great book to look forward to month after month. But here we are not even a year later, and Lemire’s Superboy has now reached its final issue as well. The character will somehow be reshuffled into what folks are calling DCNu, though it seems like he and the rest of the Teen Titans may not fare so well.
In Superboy #11, the story Lemire’s been telling for nearly a year (minus some “Reign of Doomsday” tie-ins) reaches its conclusion. A wicked village led by the ancient sorcerer Tannarak lies beneath Smallville, and with the combination of Superboy and a captured Phantom Stranger’s powers the malevolent forces are ready to make their strike on the world above. Only a defeated Superboy plus Simon Valentine and Lori Luthor stand between a legion of wicked monsters and enslavement of the Earth.
Over its 10-month, 11-issue run, Lemire and artist Pier Gallo (plus a few fill-in pencillers) told a pretty damn entertaining story. I’ve talked a lot about it on this site so some of this will be recap, but I love the way Lemire brought a Silver Age feel to these stories reminiscent of Superboy’s first book on the stands, Adventure Comics. These last 11 issues had a nice mix of sci-fi, fantasy and high-school dramedy, and it all worked for me. One of the best parts about that mixture was Lemire’s focus on Superboy’s supporting cast. Some were culled from DC’s stable (like the Phantom Stranger, put to especially good use this month) and others were brand new, like Psionic Lad, but all added depth to the several worlds in which Superboy makes a home.
Unfortunately, this series’ early end also frustrates when it comes to those characters. Will the relationship between Superboy and Lori ever come to fruition? And what’s up with both Simon and the Psionic Lad, who for one reason or another seem like Connor’s enemies? These are questions we might never get answered thanks to the reboot, and it’s a shame; one gets the feeling that Lemire had some serious long-term plans ready to go on this series, but we’ll never get a chance to see them.
But that doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy what we’ve got here, which is a really fun action-adventure series from a writer I’d consider to be one of comics’ best. No, Superboy doesn’t really reach the heights of The Essex County Trilogy or Sweet Tooth, but that’s okay — that’s not its job. What it does do is prove that Jeff Lemire can tell an engaging, exciting mainstream superhero story. That’s sure to do him well next month when his Animal Man book launches. Pity Superboy, but pity not Jeff Lemire — he’ll be around for awhile.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more