Superboy Vol. 1 Review – The New 52September 4, 2012
Immediate images are conjured up at the mention of Superboy. For me, they’re images of naivete coupled with unbridled super powers. The fact that he is a boy also implies that he knows close to nothing about what those powers might actually be capable of. The boy-meets-world archetype has held true for every being that has held the name Superboy, but does it hold true for this one? Simply put: Yes, it does. But at least this latest version manages to look insanely cool while not knowing what on Earth is going on or what to do next. If my “OMGAAK!” reaction to seeing the cover would be any indication, this book promises to be a fun ride and heavy on the eye candy.
The New 52 Collection Superboy Vol.1: Incubation reached publication on August 7, 2012 and collects issues #1-7. The writer is Scott Lobdell (Teen Titans, Red Hood and the Outlaws) working with artists R.B. Silva (Jimmy Olsen, Secret Six) on pencils and Rob Lean (Superboy, Action Comics) on inks to bring this collection to life.
The story itself is a little light on actual plot points. It mainly has a confused and seemingly highly intelligent protagonist flying around and getting into fights with a multitude of super-powered folks. While portrayed as someone with superior intellectual abilities, the character’s lack of doing any kind of detective work in the story detracts from what I infer was the intended image. Most of his self-actualization is delivered in random bits of overheard conversation. Meanwhile, he’s curb-stomping anything with a super power he encounters as he flies around wondering who he is, where he came from, and his purpose in life is. Typical teenage stuff, except that Superboy is really only three months old.
The main draw of this collection has got to be the art. The illustrations are highly detailed and the inks are bold and stark. It would be a sin to not mention the colors done by colorists Richard and Tanya Horie. The lighting and shadows in this book are a thing of beauty. The color schemes chosen for the characters are quite enjoyable as well. I lingered on quite a few pages during my reading to stop and enjoy the scenery. It’s one of those books where you can’t help but go back just to flip through the pages to admire the art without having to read about what’s going on. The collective of artists at work on this publication really demonstrate and showcase their abilities to render futuristic and plausible designs in armor, costumes, and environments. I was a little disappointed to find only two pages of bonus artwork with no alternate cover sketches at all. I wanted to see more eye candy!
Another item of note is the prolific presence of female characters. The criticism of The New 52’s presentation of women in costume isn’t quite as prominent in Superboy. The girls are drawn beautifully without being lewd. They are also written as strong characters with proper motivations. However, our “hero” does go beat up quite a few of them. And while he does get his appropriate share of beatings, I’m still left hoping this arrogant Boy of Steel eventually gets his comeuppance. Girl-beater. There certainly is no shortage of super-characters with questionable intent showing up within these pages. The appearances of Gen-13 and The Teen Titans also promises to deliver diverse and organic storylines for future issues. I can’t wait!
This collection indicates that the Superboy title might be worth keeping an eye on, especially with its tie-ins with Teen Titans and Gen-13. Non-detailed storyline notwithstanding, the artwork and pacing from panel to panel and page to page give the reader an entertaining time. I’m glad I purchased this book and am now on the hunt for a New 52 Teen Titans collection. And because I’m finding myself looking forward to reading Ravagers, which promises to be a Gen-13 title, I found Superboy Vol. 1 to be a great re-introduction into the New 52’s teen-superhero world and a must-read for any DCU fan.