Superboy #6

Superboy 6

B+

Usually I hate compulsory crossovers. If you’ve been reading comics for awhile, chances are you do too. In comic fandom, there’s little worse than the feeling that you’ve been duped into buying only part of a story. That happened to me earlier this year when, without any previous knowledge, I learned I’d have to buy an issue of Secret Six to get the whole story of Paul Cornell‘s run on Action Comics. Needless to say, those two issues were an obvious low point in an otherwise stunning run.

But I don’t hate Superboy #6, a tie-in to DC’s current “Reign of Doomsday” crossover. Actually, I quite like it. A large part of that is because it’s one of those crossovers that doesn’t really need the rest of the story to make sense. I mean, yeah, when Doomsday shows up and starts pummeling Superboy out of the blue, you might wonder why. It didn’t really phase me, though. One of the major tropes of Jeff Lemire‘s run on Superboy so far has involved the title character being thrown into outlandish circumstances against his will. Therefore, when Doomsday literally falls from the sky to attack Connor, it actually feels perfectly in keeping with most of the other antagonists we’ve seen throughout this run.

And actually, that’s the bulk of this issue. Though there’s a few pages of set-up (in which we get to see Connor’s bff Tim Drake) and a few pages of (really great!) interstitial action with the book’s supporting cast, mostly the Boy of Steel and the monster that killed Superman just wail on each other for 20 pages. That’s fine, though, because it’s a really cool fight with some solid stakes. It’s also quite well drawn.

Indeed, the art on Superboy to this point has been, in my experience, a bit divisive. While series regular Pier Gallo is fine at what he does, his style doesn’t really match up to expectations of what this book should look like, at least to me. Like many readers, I’m sure, I came into Superboy loaded with visions of Francis Manapul (from his amazing and brief run on Adventure Comics) in addition to Lemire’s usual creepy and excellent art on Sweet Tooth and The Essex County Trilogy. Fill-in artist Marco Rudy (Superman/Batman) takes pencil chores for this issue, and while I don’t feel comfortable saying whether or not he’s actually more skilled than Gallo, his artwork better suits the story’s tone. That’s helped by colorists Jamie Grant and Dominic Regan, whose shades make the comic look more like a Jeff Lemire book than it ever has before. Additionally, Rudy and Lemire play around with some great panel arrangements in this issue, including establishing a Watchmen-like 3×4 grid that establishes this book’s pacing early on. As you might imagine, breaking that grid produces tremendous effects, especially in the scene that marks Doomsday’s first appearance.

Was I a little bummed out that this issue ended with a promise that the story’s “continued in Action Comics #900 in two weeks?” Sure. But, you know, I’m willing to cut it some slack because I plan on buying that comic anyway — frankly, I’d imagine that book has substantial crossover audience with Superboy to begin with. Is that personal bias on my part? Certainly. Regardless, I feel that with or without following the story into Action, Superboy #6 was another satisfying issue of a typically solid series.

tags: Jeff Lemire, marco rudy, superboy

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