Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reboot Attacks

Superboy: Smallville Attacks: written by Jeff Lemire; illustrated by Pier Gallo, Marco Rudy, Pete Woods, Cafu and others (2010-2011; collected 2011): Canadian indy comics writer-artist Lemire (Essex County, Sweet Tooth) moved further into the mainstream with his work on DC's Superboy comic book in 2010. Like William Messner-Loebs's similar move to DC back in the 1980's, Lemire's move came while maintaining his unique perspective and sensibilities. The result was the best Superboy comic I can think of for...decades? Since he was teaming up regularly with the Legion of Superheroes, anyway (whoops -- wrong Superboy!).

This Superboy is the, um, genetic love-child of Luthor and Superman, whipped up in a test tube from Luthor and Superman's DNA and revealed to the world nearly 20 years ago in the aftermath of 1992's Death of Superman storyline. Kon-El, or Connor Kent, or Superboy, now lives in Smallville with Ma Kent and Superdog Krypto, having recovered from a serious case of death in 2005-2006's Infinite Crisis event.

Lemire cleverly brings the supernatural into the storyline, a relative rarity in the Superman family of books, with "The Hollow Men" arc running throughout these 11 collected issues. DC's go-to guy for supernatural mystery, the Phantom Stranger, guest-stars, as does Batman villain Poison Ivy and grotesque Superman foe the Parasite. Lemire also has fun with Superboy's supporting cast. Pier Gallo's art is clean and straightforward, suiting the material perfectly.

Unfortunately, DC's line-wide reboot ended this comic with issue 11, resulting in a 'new' (or at least differently written) Superboy on the stands right now. Lemire moved on to Animal Man and Frankenstein in the normal DC universe, both fine and weird books, but I'll miss his take on Superboy -- it, like several other pre-reboot DC superhero comics, was a baby thrown out with the continuity-contaminated bathwater. Recommended.

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