I’ll admit it, every time another chapter of “Reign of Doomsday” shows up in a book I’m enjoying, I find myself wondering if the number of readers it’s annoying is greater than the number of readers actively searching out the next installment. None of the pieces that I have read ended up feeling inspired, and now “Superboy” falls victim to the curse as well.
Jeff Lemire does his best, adding in some scenes with the supporting cast of “Superboy,” and opening the title with a talk between Superboy and Red Robin. They’re the best parts of the comic, easily, because as soon as Doomsday roars in over Detroit, everything fun gets jettisoned. It’s an uninventive fight scene, both in comparison to other comics and also to previous issues of “Superboy” from Lemire. Up until now, we’ve seen Lemire using clever ideas in the fights he’s written, trying to approach the material in as inventive a way as possible instead of just throwing punches. Here, there’s no such effort. We get some fists, some roars, and then it’s all over. It actually makes me wish the scenes with Simon Valentine and Psionic Lad weren’t even in this issue, because it would become that much easier for it to get left out of a future “Superboy” collection.
Marco Rudy steps in as a guest artist this month, and normally that would be reason to celebrate. Rudy’s elaborate layouts and soft, gorgeous art has reminded me in the past of the earlier days of artists like J.H. Williams III, but this issue is almost unrecognizable as being drawn by Rudy. Faces look rushed and hastily sketched in, and the two-page, 24-panel opening conversation is visually stiff and lifeless. I did laugh when Doomsday smashes through the panel layout of the third page, and the panel of Superboy looking up from the wreckage right after Doomsday shows off a new ability looks fantastic, the best individual piece of art from Rudy in the issue. But like Lemire’s writing this month, Rudy’s art comes across here as uninspired and lifeless.
“Reign of Doomsday” seems to have one tangible ability so far, and that’s to make creators that I’m normally excited about turn in lackluster work. Lemire and Rudy are just the latest to fall to Doomsday; they’re both normally much better than this. I’d love to see them collaborate on another comic down the line, if only to show how good it can be. This is ultimately a big miss.