I gave the first issue five stars while my cohort in reviewing, Greg McElhatton, wasn’t so generous, delivering a 2.5-star review to the second issue. The third issue, as it turns out, is a little closer to average than stellar, but that is due to the scope of the story and the liveliness of the art.
The story bounces between “then” and “now,” starting with the end of the issue and working through the time leading to that point. Lemire is settling balances left from the first two issues in this issue, and in doing so puts Conner Kent’s personality on nicely on display. Conner doesn’t act like a clone of either tissue donor that comprises his genetic material. In Lemire’s writing, Conner has evolved quite a bit, less concerned about being big man on campus and more interested in helping the people of Smallville recoup their lost revenue from a destroyed season’s worth of crops. Through it all, Lemire is doing a nice job of building up continuity and community around Superboy. Lemire’s work with Smallville is nice to see, especially for a slice of comic book Americana as old as Smallville is, but it’s far from complete in this issue. Lemire clearly intends to play with the town in a manner akin to what James Robinson did with “Starman”‘s Opal. How it continues to evolve and how it impacts Superboy will be as much a part of this series as Conner Kent and his everyday adventures.
Gallo’s art is serviceable, but distinctly suffers from the red-tinted colors of Jaime Grant. The combination of Gallo and Grant feels very stiff in this issue, like cutout paper dolls dropped on wallpaper backgrounds or maybe even inserted into scenes from a magazine. Gallo showed great potential in the first issue and still brings a strong sense of storytelling to this book, but this issue just looks flat. Still, Gallo’s knack for detail is nice, like the stylized double-T nod to the Teen Titans logo on Bart Allen’s sweatshirt, but I’d like to see him find some glasses for Conner that don’t look like the readers my elderly uncle uses.
“Superboy” is a nice comic that veers a little from the standard issue on the new comic racks today, but this issue in particular is less than spectacular – better than average, but not as individually memorable as the first issue of this series was for me.