As part of my determination to read and write about as varied a set of comics each week as possible, I this week spent a good five minutes staring at a crisp copy of Superboy while it stood on the shelf. Then my eyes flicked to The Ravagers, which got wonderfully trashed by House to Astonish recently. After a quick glimpse at Resurrection Man, it was ultimately Superboy who went home with me.
Written by Scott Lobdell, issue 10 has a massively OTT cover for what is essentially an issue of downtime/flirting between Superboy and Wonder Girl - who wears invisible armour and doesn’t appear to have any actual connection to Wonder Woman that I can tell. Although we go have dinosaur fighting, it’s a very short sequence as we most see two superheroes decide to sit down in the woods, have a campfire, and bicker with each other.
Lobdell is fully aware that we’re expecting the two characters to inevitably fall for each other, and plays that up as much as he can, providing ample fire for internet shippers. He’s helped in this regard with a guest creative team who make the issue look a little similar to Francis Manapul’s Flash book - which as you may know by now, is my favourite DC title. Sebastian Fiumara draws with an interestingly misty flair, so the characters continually feel like a camera is sharpening and losing focus on them as the story goes on. They zoom in and out of shot, with the colouring from Richard and Tanya Horie providing an excellent tone for this short, throwaway story.
We get to see Lobdell really having a bit of fun with his dialogue, as we see these two teenage characters stranded on ‘Mystery Island’ together, with no idea how they get out (even though they can, uh, fly) and very little tolerance for each other. This version of Superboy was apparently grown in a lab with the intention of being set upon the Teen Titans. When he failed to do so, and grew a conscience, the Teen Titans helped him escape his creators and now he’s looking for a place to go find out who he is. Lobdell paints this on the character pretty thickly, overdoing things with a scene where Wonder Girl teaches the character what ‘food’ is and why it’s fun. But for the most part, this was actually a pretty entertaining comic.
The central problem is the pacing, which is dreadful and a little woeful. The dialogue and characterisation grows nicely over the course of the issue, and seems to be one of Lobdell’s greatest strengths as a writer. The shoehorned-in dinosaur fight and mystery of Mystery Island isn’t so good. The story skips in time at several points, creating a bit of a schizophrenic feel which doesn’t ground itself. While this does mean we get to see the relationship between the two characters build and provide some genuine laughs, it also makes the issue feel incredibly slight. Although, I suppose, there’s nothing wrong with that.
We’re obviously seeing much of this issue from Superboy’s perspective, which is why he seems to much more grounded than the flighty, moody Wonder Girl. At least that’s what I think is the intention here, and don’t think I’m not heading to some pretty vicious forums after this to find out what long-term fans think of the issue. But as far as I’m concerned this was a fun, simple issue, with good jokes, entertaining dialogue, and likeable characters. It’s not a massive important title, but it put a lot into the page count and made me… like? Superboy?