The more you think about it, the more you realize that the Superboy character of the past 20 years simply could not survive, intact, into the post-“Flashpoint” DC Universe. This was a character whose origin is firmly rooted in the “Death of Superman” storyline, and with Superman’s story getting reset and compressed, that initial genesis point is gone.
With that in mind, Scott Lobdell and R B. Silva have taken Superboy and filled in the missing chunk of his origin with a new story. Superboy is still a cloning experiment, still created by mixing human and Kryptonian DNA, and, like before, the source of the DNA donors is a mystery. But now, with that in mind? Everything else is new.
Lobdell has jettisoned (at least temporarily) phrases like tactile telekinesis, and instead focuses on the person inside the test chamber rather than his abilities. We get a possibly re-imagined Caitlin Fairchild from “Gen 13” (going by the name of Red) as a scientist at N.O.W.H.E.R.E., a former Teen Titan as a fellow project member, and little glimpses into the new Superboy’s head. I say little glimpses, though, because at the end of the issue I feel like we’ve got a stronger feel for Red than we do Superboy. Lobdell plays Superboy’s motivations as a mystery to Red and her team, but in doing so it makes them equally a mystery to us. There’s not much of a hook as a result for wanting to see more of Superboy, and considering he’s the main character, that feels like a mistake.
What’s not a mistake is Silva’s pencils. Those who read his Jimmy Olsen back-ups in “Action Comics” will know that Silva can draw gorgeous comics, and this one is awfully pretty. The way Silva’s characters are drawn with such soft edges amidst some extremely expressive faces and bodies reminds me of artists like Kevin Nowlan; Silva pays attention to everything, and the end result is a comic where scratches on desks are drawn just as lovingly as the locks in a schoolmate’s hair. From a little eyebrow raise to a furrowed brow, Silva brings more storytelling to the table than all of the script. He’s just that good.
Since Lobdell is also writing “Teen Titans,” there’s a rather large nod toward that series; if nothing else, it certainly explains how Superboy can get from here to there with relative ease. But with Superboy himself a little too much of an enigma, I’m a little worried that the most interesting things are “look at these characters from the previous continuity” (like Dr. Umber’s contact in the outside world) rather than what Lobdell is bringing to the table. This is a beautiful book, but the script is feeling mediocre. The story needs merits of its own to get reader interest up.