That’s more like it. Last month’s issue of “Superboy” was part of a larger crossover, and both regular writer Jeff Lemire and guest artist Marco Rudy felt a little off their game. So with this issue, it’s nice to see the pair show what they can do unfettered from the constraints of someone else’s story.
Lemire takes Superboy and new supporting character Psionic Lad into space this month, in a story that flips between their exploration of the spaceship and the end result of what they find there. It’s a solid script, one that recognizes that not all characters need to be in a given issue (giving Simon Valentine the month off was a smart move), and which hides part of the surprise by flipping between the two time zones, rather than a linear progression (which would have ruined part of the fun). At its core, it’s a basic and traditional superhero story, but I like the way that Lemire writes Superboy, and he keeps it entertaining if still slightly predictable. (Although I certainly wasn’t expecting a tie-in to a classic “Superman” comic, which was a nice surprise.)
Even better, though, is seeing Rudy’s art looking much better and more like I’m used to seeing from him. Rudy’s great with some of the design choices, like the groovy backgrounds for when Psionic Lad or Superboy use their powers. Something as simple as the retro pattern of circles emanating from Psionic Lad’s head or the wavy lines and shapes coming from Superboy ends up looking eye-catching and fun. It’s an easy enough technique, but Rudy makes it stand out.
Then again, Rudy isn’t afraid to play around with his pages, and I’m not just talking about the puzzle piece shaped panels. The other side of the timeline for this issue is painted by Rudy, in a style that reminds me of artists like Dustin Nguyen. The rough, jagged painting style looks great; not only does it instantly let the reader instantly know if they’re reading a “then” or “now” section of the story, but it has a lot of energy and visual impact whenever Rudy uses it.
“Superboy” is back up to its old standards, and I’m glad to see it where it belongs. Lemire has done a good job with the “Superboy” title, and it’s good to see Rudy’s two-issue stint end on a high note. Crisis averted.