It’s been a tough relaunch for Superboy. The Boy of Steel has been imprisoned in N.O.W.H.E.R.E. testing facilities, sent on clandestine missions for the organization and had an encounter with the Teen Titans — and things show no signs of getting easier. Beginning in “Superboy” #7, DC Comics’ New 52 iteration of Superboy takes on Rose Wilson as he comes back to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with a taste for vengeance, but even with all his incredible powers, he may be outmatched according to series writer Scott Lobdell.
“I will just say that Rose has a tremendous amount of training and knows almost everything there is to know about Superboy, anything that’s knowable at this point,” Lobdell told CBR News. “Superboy has no training at all and no experience with Rose or her abilities. So, if I had to, I would probably put money on Rose Wilson.”
The writer also teased a possible encounter between Rose Wilson and her father, Deathstroke the Terminator. “I think that’ll happen on a one way street that isn’t heading towards Superboy,” he said. “I would say that anybody that’s looking for an interaction between Slade and his daughter are not going to be disappointed.”
Rose Wilson will be the next in a line of battle royales for Superboy — he takes on Supergirl in “Superboy” #6 and the Teen Titans in “Teen Titans #5,” but readers shouldn’t expect him to join up with the Titans anytime soon. “As everyone who’s ever read a comic book going back to probably the first appearance of Superman knows that whenever two heroes fight, they come to the conclusion that there’s been a terrible misunderstanding and they actually should be fighting together against a united foe,” Lobdell said. “None of that happens in ‘Teen Titans’ #5. I think anybody that’s expecting Superboy to be joining the Teen Titans anytime in the immediate future is going to be sadly disappointed because the amount of damage that Superboy inflicts upon the Teen Titans in this issue is going to leave a lot of sore feelings for many months to come. So while there will be more interaction between them, they’re not going to be opening the doors to Superboy during any membership drives.”
Then again, Superboy has enough to deal with in his own book. At the beginning of “Superboy” #4, the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. scientist known as “Red” was revealed to be Caitlin Fairchild, previously of Wildstorm’s “Gen13.” While the character teased there were thirteen more like her, Lobdell mentioned there are no plans anytime soon for a concrete “Gen13” relaunch in the New 52 — but did clarify what this Caitlin Fairchild’s role and powerset are. “I don’t know that there is a ‘Gen13’ in any way that anyone would recognize the team or the concept from the old Wildstorm Universe,” he said. “While that’s certainly Caitlin Fairchild that’s in the book and there have been hints to people who share some kind of genetic connection to her, I don’t know of any plans for Gen13 in either a traditional or a nontraditional sense are anywhere in anyone’s drawing board. I can tell you that like a lot of characters who have been either completely rehauled or tweaked in the New DCU that to my understanding of Caitlin, the reason why she attacked Superboy at the end of Issue #3 is that this Caitlin’s natural state is this abrasive and hotheaded hyperthyroidal young woman. The wet scarecrow version of her is the superpowered state in the sense that she, as Red, becomes brilliant in a way that would make Lex Luthor feel like he needs to take night classes at his local learning annex.”
In “Superboy” #4, the young hero befriends a N.O.W.H.E.R.E. officer named Centerhall, but by the end of the recently released #5, the partnership may have run its course as Superboy attempts the rescue of Caitlin Fairchild. “Even though Superboy got away with the rescue of Caitlin, he’s made an enemy in Centerhall, who up until this point was trying to be the good guy to Templar’s bad guy,” Lobdell said. “Superboy sooner or later is going to regret crossing Centerhall and it’s going to take the combined might of a very reluctant group of teenagers to liberate Superboy from his upcoming confrontation with Centerhall and more importantly, the man behind the creation of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.”
While this confrontation sends Superboy searching for his Kryptonian roots, Lobdell cautioned readers against expecting the traditional relationship between him and Superman when he finally meets the Man of Steel. “I can’t imagine that [the meeting] won’t happen at some point,” the writer said. “The same way that we’ve seen examples of Superboy not quite understanding concepts like good and evil or when to help somebody or when to lash out at someone else — similarly, while previous incarnations of Superboy have held Superman in varying degrees of adulation, and the need to earn the House of El emblem that is on his chest, this version of Superboy really has no particular interest in impressing Superman or pleasing Superman or really having much involvement with this guy at all, which I think is one in keeping with his youth but two also keeping in the fact that this Superboy is relatively new, so he hasn’t grown up with stories of the wonder and majesty that has been Superman’s portrayal in the past. Again, I think fans who might be looking for the traditional relationship between the two are going to find those expectations upended.”
Lobdell also elaborated on the differences between the Superboy of old and the New 52 Superboy. “I think traditionally, we’ve always seen Superboy as a Superman or Superman in training or an underdeveloped Superman,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the case with this Superboy. I think that he’s such a blank slate and humanity is such a mystery to him that it’s not his first, second or third instinct to emulate anyone. Instead he’s going to be making his own choices when he’s outside of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and some of those choices will be smart and some of them will be less smart, just like any teenager.”
The current Boy of Steel was originally intended to have more in common with the previous DCU version, but Lobdell said he and his editors quickly realized this would be difficult to accomplish. “There were certainly many discussions early on, and they actually made it into early interviews, that Superboy’s story moving forward would come as a result of him being genetically reverse-engineered by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. which would have led to a bunch of memory problems, which would have been able to give us a new Superboy for the New 52 that also maintained all the previous ‘Superboy’ stories,” he said. “But as we got closer and closer to the launch, it became clear that with Grant’s re-writing of Superman’s origin, we necessarily lost things like Smallville and Martha Kent and a lot of the backstory that would have existed for Superboy, specifically the last ten issues of his run where he was spending his childhood in Smallville. Once those changes were made to Superman and also a lot of the changes to ‘Supergirl, it’ meant that we had to look at Superboy as a brand new character in a brand new world.
“The notion that he was being reverse engineered was altered to he was actually being created for the first time and these other changes that we see in terms of his worldview and his personality got changed as a result,” Lobdell continued. “I’ll say this: In the past when we’ve seen people step out of labs or step into a whole new world — Starman, for example, in the ‘Starman’ movie — where we’re used to seeing the portrayal of the innocent blank slate who doesn’t understand the world around them, to me when you look at an infant, everything that happens to infants is brand new, so they’re constantly processing information infinitely faster than you and I do because we know to put on a coat if it looks like it’s cloudy. We don’t have to go outside and get rained on to do that. We know not to step out into traffic because we know that if we do, we’ll get brushed by a car. All these things that we do normally are things that an infant or a new mind is processing at a much faster degree. When I started to look at Superboy as a blank slate, it occurred to me that rather than being this nice, not very bright innocent, the opposite would be the case. He would be almost scary in the amount of information he’s able to digest.”
Moving forward, Lobdell teased more challenges and adversaries for Superboy and possible setting changes due to his unique powerset. “Part of it is going to be how he starts to adjust to life outside of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and how he’s going to try to function as a young superpowered teenager in not only New York City, but the fact that here’s a kid who could go to bed in Paris and have lunch in Hong Kong and tea in Dallas, Texas if he wanted to,” he said. “He’s not restrained by any of the normal restrictions that a regular kid has. I think in the first few months we’ve seen him get a fairly easy ride of it in the adversaries he’s been facing. Over the next two or three months, we’re going to see him get his head get handed to him more than once starting with Rose and continuing on. Eventually, we’re going to find that the adversaries he faces are going to be much darker and more sinister than people are used to seeing in a Superboy book.”
Finally, the writer implied a new love interest will surface for Superboy beginning in “Superboy” #7 — and that fans will recognize her. “Under the assumption that all things change very, very quickly in the storytelling department of some of the books, it seems to me that there is every indication that in issue #7 that Superboy is probably going to be meeting a familiar young woman who is going to wind up being his love interest who is no one we’ve seen in the DC Universe so far,” he said. “Although, comic fans will recognize her immediately and will probably understand instantly why Superboy falls as hard for her as the rest of us will.”
“Superboy” #5 is on sale now.