Still struggling with his purpose — which seems to be a theme with the folks wearing the Kryptonian “S” nowadays — Superboy has taken out the Teen Titans and now finds himself facing down Supergirl. Their battle leads to the display of some awesome powers: a telepathic touch from Superboy, one helluva left punch from Supergirl, and some beautiful art from R. B. Silva, Rob Lean and Richard and Tanya Horie.
Once the cover enticed me to pick the book up (I am loving Supergirl in this relaunched DC Universe), the thing that reeled me in on this book, as it has done to this point, is the wonderful art of R. B. Silva. His work is clean and open, like a coloring book given life. His characters are clean and athletic, sharp, but smooth, visually strong and wonderfully emotive. Although they struggle through a language barrier, Superboy and Supergirl try to communicate. The translation between English and Kryptonian is played up as any linguistic difference might be between people genuinely trying to understand one another. You’ve seen it or experienced it, and the message comes through in Silva’s art.
Silva doesn’t stop with the characters’ expressions and gestures, though. The backgrounds are filled with detail. The Hories are due as much credit for the visual spectacle of this book as Silva is, but Silva’s linework magnificently captures and contains the spectacular coloring from the Hories. It is worth mentioning that the digital version of this issue doesn’t play nicely with the designs that Silva so cautiously crafted for his pages. Superboy bursts out of one panel, which is a nice, classic comic visual, but his forearm sprouts from his head in the next panel.
The story itself features a great deal of introspection, as Superboy tries figure out how to escape the evil clutches of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Outside of the scrap with Supergirl, this issue is not anything groundbreaking or particularly memorable, but it does offer up such cliched lines as “Free will isn’t a blessing. It’s a curse.” I rolled my eyes at that one and heard mock whining in my head. Besides, navel-gazing with heat-vision has got to hurt at some point. X-ray vision might be cool, though. Supergirl does drop a potential story bomb on Superboy. I’m sure Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco will find a way to pursue it more, but it quickly shifts to the background in this issue.
From the tussle with Supergirl, a sort-of crossover gets thrown in the mix but doesn’t seem critical or compelling. Supergirl, who still can’t speak a bit of English, has determined she needs to go talk to Superman about this Superboy. We’re told to follow that plot over in “Superman.” In for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose, but if you’re a selective Superbook reader, you might simply shrug your shoulders at this one.
This book might not be the most memorable issue to come out of the relaunch, but it is a nice looking comic. I’ve been pretty selective in my super-reading, but I might just come back for another peek at this one, especially since Superboy’s going to be throwing down with Rose Wilson in the next issue.