“Superboy” is currently one of those middle-of-the-road fun comics. Is it great? Not really. Is it bad? Certainly not. Is it dependable and enjoyable? Absolutely.
Scott Lobdell’s continued his more or less complete restart of the Superboy character by having him finally out from the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. labs, dealing with a pair of convenience store killers. In terms of pacing, it’s still a little slow; Superboy’s just now starting to experience the real world, not quite understanding its limitations, and inevitably ending back over at N.O.W.H.E.R.E. once again. It’s the sort of momentum that can work well in a big 250-page work because it’s such a small fraction of the greater picture, but in a serialized format it runs the risk of irritating those who want a bit more of a zing to each individual issue.
It’s that same pacing that hits the other characters, too. Rose Wilson is in the process of getting repositioned for a new purpose within the comic, but we’ve yet to actually see what that new role will be. And likewise, Red’s identity is finally revealed (in more ways than one, with an homage to one of J. Scott Campbell’s favorite things to do to Caitlin Fairchild back in the day), except that just about every reader figured it out in “Superboy” #1 or #2. Once again it’s not bad, but it’s hard to keep from feeling that this could have moved a bit faster.
On the other hand, the pace is just right for R.B. Silva’s pencils, which continue to attract me as a reader. I adore his smooth, well rounded character designs, and he can do so much with even the smallest of character moments. Superboy’s sudden wide-eyed expression when he thinks about how the V.R. program was less complicated — even though we only get half of his face on the panel — is hysterical even as it gives us a great little character moment, for example. And something as simple as a hairstyle is well-executed; I love the female half of the convenience store robber’s long, carefully-drawn braids, or the slightly tousled haircut for Superboy. We only get a little in the way of inventive layouts, but that said I adore the circles all over the double-page spread of Superboy fighting the fire elemental. It’s inventive and easy to follow, but most of all it’s just attractive to look at.
“Superboy” is the sort of book that I suspect will attract itself more to fans of the character than casual readers, but it’s not a bad little book. I do think it needs a stronger hook to bring in those casual readers, and a slightly faster pace could probably do it. Until that happens, though, it’s still a good book. Just not great. At least, not yet.