For the record? I thought the end of “Legion of 3 Worlds” was amusing. I laughed at Superboy-Prime’s whiny end, and thought that was the last we’d see of him. The joke is clearly on us, though, as Superboy-Prime returns for two issues of “Adventure Comics.” The problem is, it’s a joke that gets old before we even hit the halfway point.
The gimmick of Superboy-Prime is, for those coming in late, that he’s from our own world. So as “Adventure Comics” #4 kicks off, it has Superboy-Prime reading… the latest issue of “Adventure Comics” and begrudgingly realizing that he’s getting dragged back into DC Comics. “Why couldn’t they leave me out of this!” is one of the first things he says, but it’s a more of a prophetic moment than I thought it would be. As Superboy-Prime discovers that his potential death is around the corner, he desperately tries to stay alive. Running to the comic store, searching the internet for “Adventure Comics” #5 spoilers, it’s a funny idea, and the concept from Geoff Johns and Sterling Gates wasn’t a bad one. The problem is, it can’t sustain its own length, and it starts dragging in a matter of pages.
As a comedy character, Superboy-Prime is both too self-aware and too oblivious to be tolerable for long. He pouts, he whines, he shouts. He’s not a character you want to read a full issue starring, let alone two. So as a back-up, “Second Feature” story this could have worked. Go for the punch lines, wink at the readers, and move on. But after a full issue, I’m already internally groaning at the idea of a second one. “You’re a burden, Prime,” a Black Lantern tells him. “An inside joke.” Truer words were never spoken.
On the bright side, Jerry Ordway’s art is as crisp and as clean as ever. Ordway’s pencils always remind me of a slightly less complicated time in comics, a throwback to an earlier style of art. That makes him a good choice for a character created during “Crisis on Infinite Earths” back in the ’80s, and he handles the oddball script the best one can. The second feature starring the Legion of Super-Heroes is short and sweet, for that matter; it makes me sad to see that Johns and Michael Shoemaker will stop writing the characters before too long. It’s definitely building towards something, even as we continue to get small character pieces focusing on concentrated groups of characters. Considering that all four of the stars of this piece (Blok, White Witch, Dawnstar, Wildfire) are ones that have never interested me, I was impressed that they captured my interest. Clayton Henry continues to pump out good art as well; I’d love to see him stick around once Paul Levitz takes over.
In the end, it’s the second feature and Ordway’s pencils that make me interested in seeing “Adventure Comics” #5. And who knows, maybe the character of Superboy-Prime will finally get retired at that point. I don’t hate the character, but I do think it’s a joke that needs to be put away for good.