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Review Group: Superboy #1

Written by John Snow on Tuesday, November 09 2010 and posted in Reviews

starlord had the pick for new comics shipping November 3rd and he selected Superboy #1 by Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo.

banner_OHredThe Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse's News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate.

The only reason I can think of for someone not to already love Jeff Lemire's work is that they haven't read it yet.  That or they're like Jude Terror and desperately trying to squash their inner hipster.

1103-superboy1_coverReview by thefourthman

I've touted the genius of Lemire for some time now. I caught wind of Essex County before it was complete and devoured The Nobody. Sweet Tooth has filled the void left by the cancellation of Young Liars – it is the crusade book, read it before it is cancelled.

Fans of Lemire will rejoice in the opening sequence here where the writer expertly evokes his most accomplished work. Smallville is rural Kansas after all and the wide open spaces and sense of isolation that filled the pages of Essex County is appropriate in this milieu as well.

Then there is the characterization. For those unfamiliar with Connor Kent, there is an explanation as to who this Superboy is, the test tube baby of Superman and Lex Luthor. We get to see his interactions not only with Ma Kent and Krypto, but also with his classmates. We get to see him fight a dangerous Super-foe in Parasite and get an ingenious look at that power he possesses that his idol does not.

However, it is with Lori and Simon that we see the true power of Lemire as a writer. With Lori, the scribe makes it clear that there is back story present here, but manages to keep the new reader in the loop, giving enough info to make it clear who and what she is or was and the conflict her identity causes for Connor. The other is Simon - who is set up as a confidant which will be important for the development of the title hero. It is neat to have an otherwise Jimmy Olsen character be given an insider role as well and I look forward to how this relationship will enhance the stories told.

The singular complaint that can be made for the book is obvious. As with Sweet Tooth, this is a brisk read. It is the kind of thing that will lend itself well to the trade waiter. However, it is not slight, it is just action packed and not full of filler dialogue and splash pages. It is staccato, if you will. Short, but pronounced. It is a meaty entrée, but manages to still be light and refreshing at the same time.

I am not familiar with the interior artist. However, he does an excellent job. Gallo somehow manages to evoke the Johns' Titan stories that made me fall in love with this character while evoking the storytelling prowess of Lemire's self drawn work all while setting itself apart as wholly its own. This is a talent to watch for sure.

As strong a debut as we have seen this year, doubly for a superhero book, this was a fun, refreshing read. I hope the trade waiters don't kill the damn thing.

Story 4
Art 5
Overall 9

Review by BlueStreak

Solid. Lot better than Lemire's other superhero book. Still don't like the supporting cast that much, but I'm not that picky. Besides, the use of Krypto, tactile telekenesis, and the Phantom Stranger make up for it.


Review by guitarsmashley

I really wanted to like this. I loved essex county, the nobody and am still pissed I decided to trade wait on sweet tooth..but there was just something kind of off on this story. The art is only partially serviceable. but over all not very good at all. The Parasite looks amazing and is in full on monster mode but every one else looks like they have a thick layer of dough underneath their skin and the fight with parasite was pretty lame.

I like Lee fell in love with this character back in the pages of Johns Titans run and this character is that one, if he was hit in the head with a hammer repeatedly...dialogue is choppy and doesn't flow through pages in general. This book is a bit of a disappointment and the addition of Poison Ivy still leaves a bad taste in my mouth from what DC/Dini did in my previously favorite book.


Review by King Impulse

There are few people on this board that are as big a Superboy fan as I am, I'm not claiming to be the biggest fan, but I can't think of anyone else to be honest (cept maybe Vinny), so I anxiously awaited this. I first encountered Jeff Lemire in Dark Horse's Noir' anthology, then I read The Nobody, and have recently read the first volumes of both Essex County and Sweet Tooth, and he's definitely won me over. One thing that seems to be constant in Lemire's work is rural America. The protagonist in his Noir story runs a farm, as does Uncle Ken in Essex County. Sweet Tooth begins in a cabin in the woods and the main character in The Nobody just wants to be left alone in his motel room, searching for a cure, so who better to breath new life into a setting so iconic as Smallville than Mr. Lemire?

This issue is one of the finest first issues I've read in a long time. Lemire just gets it, he takes what Johns set up in Adventure Comics and just runs with it. I'm very happy he kept around the characters of Lori and Simon, the former being Kon's own Lana Lang, with the latter being a sort of Pete Ross with possible Lex tendencies. Setting up a strong supporting cast is vital in any comic book, but in a teen book especially, it's what can make or break you.

The comic isn't all set-up and talking though, Lemire isn't in Essex County any more, and he knows we need some action, which is provided plentifully by a hulking Parasite, which results in one of the best fights I've read all year, and a welcome return of Kon-El's Tactile Telekinesis, which I personally have missed greatly.

Pier Gallo is a name I haven't come across before, or if I have, he hasn't made much of an impression on me, but I like what I see. The art has a kind of Pete Woods/Freddie Williams II feel to it that's perfect for the book that works well in quiet scenes as well massive fights. My one art gripe is Kon's glasses which look too small and like he's never actually looking through them, they always seem to be right down his nose, although that could be to indicate he isn't as comfortable in his secret identity as Clark is, and it's a small gripe regardless.

On the whole, this is a very enjoyable teen book, which is high praise coming from myself, someone who considers teen superheroics a personal favourite type of comic. Very recommended.

Story: 9
Art: 8
Overall: 9

Review by Jude Terror

If you were to ask me what my biggest pet peeve with DC comics was, above all others, it would be characters like Superboy. There's nothing hokeyer than female, boy, and dog versions of popular characters. As soon as Hawkboywomandog or the like shows up in a DC comic, my brain immediately quits paying attention and I'm taken right out of the story. Legacy characters are bad. Boy sidekicks are worse. But dogboywoman clones of characters is just too fucking much. If there is one thing that will forever keep comics marginalized as a medium for manchildren, it's this shit. Ironic that Lemire is acclaimed for his serious business hipster literary comics and then he signs on to write this otherwise mediocre embarassment.

Story: 5
Art: 5
About Superboy: -4
Final: 1

Review by Zero

I love Superboy. I loved him in YJ and while I wasn't keen on Johns' handling of him in Teen Titans the revelation of his 'parentage' adds an interesting angle to the Teen of steel. (People call him that right?) His original ongoing was a nice little book that I've dipped in and out of, and this could be an interesting follow-up. Fair warning: I'm gonna use the word 'nice' a lot here.

I'm coming at the title blind, but I like the supporting cast and I like Kon trying to have a normal life for a little while. I don't like Krypto though, never have. Putting these prejudices aside for a minute I thought this comic was a pretty good one. Nice use of Superboy's powers, nice internal monologue and I'm never sad to see the Phantom Stranger.

The art is nice. It doesn't stand out as blindingly good but the use of Jamie Grant's colours make the whole package reminiscent of a more down-to-Earth All Star Superman and that's as fine a compliment as a Superman title can get.

A nice little package. A lot of things I like with a solid writer and a not-terrible artist. One to watch I think.


Review by starlord

I liked this a lot. Conner is, though, one of my favorite characters from his particular generation. And no, it's not because of his unrequited love with Tim Wayne. This is a character that has one of the coolest origins in comic book history. I mean can any other character say that he is the son of two dads! It's history in the making.

The art here was very pleasing on the eyes, but the story out shined it. Anytime Phantom Stranger shows up it's a nice surprise that usually means something cool is going to happen soon. With the way the first issue reeled me in, I'm positive it's going to be a fun ride. Nothing here that I can seriously complain about. It's what I wanted in a Superboy comic and the first issue shows that I might get what I want.

Story: 9
Art 8
My Score: 8.75

Review by Eli Katz

I agree with Zero. This is a "nice" comic. It looks good. It reads well. It has a retro-DC, feel-good vibe to it. It has a cool villain, the Phantom Stranger, corn fields, and Krypto. My only complaint -- and it's a minor one -- is that Krypto has a cape. This poor dog needs a new look.

ART: 7

Review by Punchy

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.


Review by John Snow

The DC continuity gymnastics that is Conner Kent has never appealed to me. I know lots of younger readers around these parts seem to dig him, but I didn't read Young Justice or Johns' Teen Titans so I have zero connection to the character. When someone says Superboy, I still think of a teenage Clark Kent.

Jeff Lemire has done some damn good comic booking over the past couple of years. This was my first experience with his work for hire output and for me it didn't really have the same spark as his creator owned stuff. While I think Lemire did a nice job of setting a tone that would be appealing to fans of a more traditional take on Superboy, I still had problems connecting to Conner as a character. I would like to have seen more of the straightforward small town teen drama and less of the big superhero fight that seemingly took up half the book.

The layouts and storytelling of Pier Gallo felt consistent and were easy to follow, but his figures and faces were a bit stiff when trying to convey emotion. Jamie Grant's bright and vibrant color pallet fit the tone of the book perfectly.

Story: 7.5
Art: 6.5
Overall: 7

Review by 48THRiLLS

Like Jude, I am not down with the whole superboy, girl, dog ,lemur thing. It is my biggest problem with the Hulk comics right now and I just don't understand why there can't just be Superman (or Hulk) is also one of the reasons I stay away from most DC comics. That being said I actually enjoyed this comic, aside from not knowing who the Phantom Stranger was it was an easy grasp for a newbie. Jeff Lemire who's Essex County and Sweet Tooth I am a big fan of does a good job setting up this new series in a way where it wasn't too bogged down in previous events. I did roll my eyes at Lori Luthor being introduced... The art was solid, one thing that was bugging me was the way the artist had Conner wearing his glasses like a grandma, what was that all about? ...and just a observation from someone who doesn't read much DC, how many effing Batman books are there? sheesh!

I did like this, maybe I'll pick up number 2 but I doubt I will remember to next month.

ART - 7

Review by Royal Nonesuch

Sometimes, reading about the minor leaguers can be more interesting than reading about the big guns. That might happen here, but it looks like DC Comics will never allow us to see Superboy as anything other than the "qualifying round" to Superman's "champ." Still, this issue does pretty much what you're looking for from a #1 issue. It establishes the character and his world, shows off his powers, gives him some inner turmoil, and sets up a new story at the end. It isn't flashy, but it is a good, solid first issue.


Review by Amoebas

First off, I'm a huge fan of the Kesel run. It was all 'tude and fun. The moment he left it was all "Oh poor me I can never grow up", "Poor me I'm related to Lex", or "Poor me I can never love someone else because I'm related to Lex", etc. Boring!

But there on page 2 - Lemire dispenses with the angst with Conner's "I've moved on" speech. THANK YOU. Let the fun begin.

While not actually 'fun' the sudden appearance of the Phantom Stranger sets the story in motion. I love the Stranger but most of the time he's used wrong. Like here. Instead of feeding us mysteries, all he does is throw warnings out. It's like Lemire (and many many others) have forgotten the guy knows how to get white gloves dirty. Anyway, the dialog slips as PS can't remember if he's talking to Conner or Kon-El.

The scene with Ma Kent was just silly. An entire page to save a woman falling off a chair? Seems like a waste.

Set-up over it's time for the story. "I know you're Superboy" should have been a big moment but from the second it was uttered I began to think of Green Arrow and how anyone with a pair of eye could have figured out his secret ID. Same thing here. Why is this a secret? Either the people of Smallville are idiots or they are all conspired to keep the secret (ala Pete Ross back in the day).

The Parasite is one of my faves and I love seeing him in a smack down. Not sure how wheat grains take him down though.

Ivy coming to town was completely unexpected (and wondering if this will work with her in Sirens).

Writing wise, this was off to a promising start. The side characters need some fleshing out (i.e. Simon is annoying so far)

Art Wise - not so great. Like a few other 'new' DC artists (Cinar on Legion for example) Gallo just isn't ready yet. His faces seem too small for his heads for instance. He could be improved a whole lot if he had an inker.

Story - 8
Art - 3
Overall - 5.5

That gives Superboy #1 a group score of 7.01.  A nice score for a nice comic.

For what McKegan calls "all the geeky, bitchy arguing about comics you'd expect from a comic message board condensed into absolute awesomeness", check out our Superboy thread and post your own review in The News Stand forum.

Kerny has the pick for November 10th and he has selected American Vampire #8 from Vertigo/DC Comics.  Look for the new thread in The News Stand forum on Wednesday morning to join in on the fun and post your own review!.

1110-americanvampire8_coverAmerican Vampire #8


1935, Las Vegas. Who are the Vassals of the Morningstar? What do they want with Skinner Sweet? And who do they consider to be "the most dangerous vampire in the world"? Don't miss the penultimate chapter of "Devil in the Sand," and see why critics are going crazy for this can't-miss new Vertigo series.

Vertigo | 32pg. | Color | $3.99 US | Mature Readers

Written or Contributed by: John Snow

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