As a fan of “Superboy” and “Teen Titans,” I should be a natural audience for “The Culling,” the big crossover (pulling in “Legion Lost”) that the previous eight months of comics has led up to. Unfortunately, “Superboy” #9 is proving to be a bit of a disappointment, as is the crossover in general.
The problem with Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco’s story is that so far it’s mostly consisted of the casts of their book fighting a series of random characters, some existing but mostly new. The end result is a never-ending battle against foes that you don’t care about. Faces with powers are hardly thrilling if you don’t know anything about them, and even when it’s a returning foe (the couple from “Superboy” #3-4 that Superboy had encountered and turned over to N.O.W.H.E.R.E.) they’re hardly thrilling. This crossover feels like what non-comic readers think most superhero comics are about, unfortunately. When the only part of the script that stands out is a hint about Kid Flash’s origin (and remember, this is “Superboy” and not “Teen Titans”) it feels like something has gone slightly awry.
Fortunately, there is one bright spot, and that’s R.B. Silva’s pencils. I’ve loved Silva’s work ever since the Jimmy Olsen back-ups in “Action Comics,” and we get a couple of nice moments from Silva here. Rose Wilson and Dawnstar both look great, and Silva’s even able to make Kid Flash’s strange glowing Tron suit look sharp. The moment where Timber Wolf grabs Kid Flash looks particularly good; it’s got Silva’s trademark puffy hair, some good expressions, and on the whole an attractive composition.
Still, even some of the panels come across a little too busy-looking and having two inkers brings a slight inconsistency from one page to the next. “Superboy” has on the whole been a strong comic, but this issue feels like a bad misstep. This crossover should have been easy to pull off; after all, “Superboy” and “Teen Titans” have been closely connected since day one. But overall? If I was a new reader to these title and decided to start with “The Culling,” I doubt I’d return next month.