I’m currently enjoying Jeff Lemire’s “Sweet Tooth” a great deal, so I was cautiously optimistic when DC Comics announced that he was also writing “Superboy.” Now that we’re two issues in, I’m still feeling cautiously optimistic; this is a book that has the potential to be quite good, but for now it’s just middle of the road due to a few problems.
On the plus side, Lemire’s basic plot for “Superboy” #2 is just fine. We’ve got a reluctant team-up between Superboy and Poison Ivy, a strange alien artifact, and a particularly funny usage of the Parasite’s powers. I’m especially enjoying Lemire’s usage of Simon Valentine, whom Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul had introduced on their truncated run in “Adventure Comics.” Simon as Superboy’s ally (or at least trying to be) with scientific know-how holds a lot of potential, doubly so if you remember the promise Tellus had made in “Adventure Comics” about Simon being both Superboy’s greatest ally and enemy over time. For now, he’s a fun character and his scenes are by far the most entertaining in the title.
On the down side, though, some of Lemire’s dialogue feels a little too flat or cliche. It’s something that over time could easily smooth out, so I’m not giving up hope. And likewise, Superboy comes across a bit too naive and trusting in spots here; it’s a fine line to walk between your character coming across as legitimately duped versus stupid, but hopefully it’s not something that will be a regular occurrence.
Pier Gallo’s art in “Superboy” also feels slightly inconsistent. Some drawings, like the branches wrapping around Superboy, Krypto, and Simon look energetic and fun. Gallo puts a lot of detail into his art, from scattered rocks to individual locks of hair. The problem is that some of the art comes across stiff and posed; Superboy’s face in particular reminds me more of a doll than a person, with slightly plastic features. And honestly, if I never see Poison Ivy getting a massive wedgie again, I will be quite happy in going without. Ivy in general comes across as looking fake and almost like an automaton, so I’m glad it looks like her story is over for now. It’s frustrating because every time a piece of Gallo’s art doesn’t work for me, I’ll turn the page and get something like the creepy figures at the end of the issue that have more expression and danger about them than the previous dozen pages combined. It’s very hit-or-miss, when what “Superboy” needs is a lot of hits.
I’m not giving up on “Superboy” because there are for now a lot of entertaining parts to keep my interest up. But sooner or later, the rough parts need to be fixed. Fortunately, based on the portions of “Superboy” #2 that do work, I think this creative team can do it.