Superboy #1 - Smallville Attacks! Part One' - Lemire & Gallo
Story - Jeff Lemire's transition from Independent Comics to the Mainstream has been fairly low-key and steady so far, he started a Vertigo series (the superlative Sweet Tooth), and then a back-up story featuring the Atom, all pretty under the radar stuff. But with Superboy, Lemire is writing a Superman family book, a book slap-bang in the centre of the DCU, this is the big-time. And Lemire really does manage to step up to the plate, but he doesn't forget where he came from.
When this book was announced, I was very pleased, proclaiming that 'Smallville is basically the Essex County of DC' and it seems that Lemire has been thinking the same thing, the first page, featuring a young boy dressed as a superhero, is straight out of 'Tales From The Farm', and Lemire proves very adept at working with the rural setting of Smallville, and keeping the strong sense of character he imbues places with.
But this isn't just Essex County with Superboy, Lemire has grabbed the DCU trappings by their horns, and this issue features guest-appearances from characters from all over, The Phantom Stranger makes an ominous appearance, Superboy fights The Parasite, and then Poison Ivy shows up, it's good to see Lemire not only immediately use a classic Superman villain, but also bring in some characters you wouldn't think of. The last page, which teases the next year or so of Superboy stories only adds to that, we can expect Kid Flash, the Doom Patrol and even the Earth-2 Robin.
Lemire wisely chooses to pick up several story elements and characters from Geoff Johns' aborted run on Adventure Comics, namely Simon Valentine, a sort of mini-Lex Luthor and Kon-El's best friend, and Lori Luthor, the niece of old Baldy himself. I really enjoyed Johns and Manapul's work in Adventure, and was sad to see it end, so it's a really good thing that Lemire is continuing that stuff on. This isn't just Smallville the TV series in comics form, there is new stuff here.
This issue isn't perfect however, I did feel that it was a little short, and ended abruptly, I think this issue would have benefited from being a double-sized debut, I'd have been willing to pay the extra dollar, maybe they could have brought in some elements from the one-off Action Comics back-up from a few months ago. Lemire's pacing is normally very solid in Sweet Tooth, so I was surprised by this, but hopefully it's just teething problems.
Overall, this was a strong first issue featuring a character I have liked ever since he first appeared, written by a creator gaining in confidence with every superhero comic he writes. With JMS' fundamental misunderstanding of Superman stinking up the stands lately, thank God the peripheral books are stronger than ever.
Art - Pier Gallo is an artist I'm unfamiliar with, but I felt he did a good job here, he's not quite as good as Francis Manapul was when dealing with the same characters and setting, but he did a good job, especially I feel in how he drew secret identity Conner Kent and Superboy, it was just a slight difference in hair-styles, but it really worked. The colours of Jamie Grant combined with the strong ink line really made this book look good.
Best Line - 'I know that you're Superboy!' It's the simple stuff that stood out here, and that's what this book is, simple superheroics done well.