Written by Justin Jordan
Art by R.B. Silva, Rob Lean, Kenneth Rocafort, and Chriscross
Reviewed by Sean Lamont
It was a mixed bag of endings and beginnings for Justin Jordan this week. With both Deathstroke and Team 7 coming to a close (not due to his work for either), the Luther Strode author has now moved on to try his hand at the Boy of Steel in this week’s #20 issue. But, much like the Deathstroke title he found himself on before, Superboy has been floundering a bit of late; desperately seeking that spark or direction to turn it into a viable title in the Superman family stable. And while this issue will likely not knock your socks off, it may prove to be an important turning point in the book as it lunges forward in both characterization and dialogue.
Picking up threads from previous issues, Superboy has decided to turn himself in to the police for his earlier crimes. His plans are stopped when he meets a diminutive Dr. Psycho (introduced two issues ago), who is being hunted by H.I.V.E. operatives and pleads with Superboy to help save him. A large battle erupts when the two groups collide, and Superboy finds himself facing a type of enemy he has not run across before. But is the quasi-maybe-good guy version of Doctor Psycho we see now being completely forthright? Can Superboy learn to compensate as his powers are drained? And who exactly is this H.I.V.E. organization?
This issue was not the explosive start that I was hoping for, but it was some good ole’ fashioned superheroics in action. By no means am I saying that as an insult either, as it is something that has been direly missing from the title since its start, and it works as a good base to establish the character as a hero instead of the self-obsessed moping that has driven Superboy to this point. Jordan still uses all of the plot threads from the previous issues, but on top of adding heroics there is a playful demeanor to both the character as well as the dialogue that even made me chuckle once or twice. So while the plot did not dazzle me out of the gate, the marked improvement in the writing/characterization does bode well for the title as it moves forward.
While the writing found a level of consistency this issue, there was the opposite problem on the artistic side of the fence. With four artists taking up their pencils to illustrate this one issue, there was a distinct lack of symmetry as the story progressed. Each artist did a good job with the portions that they illustrated themselves, but it still made this particular issue feel a bit jilted as page turns would swap styles immediately. Being almost entirely a combat issue though, we do get quite a few great shots of Superboy in action against his enemies, and the title overall has a much brighter look to it artistically that matches up nicely with the more jovial dialogue that is taking place. I will reserve judgement overall on the direction of art until we see a more unified approach, but for this issue there were flashes of great buried under a barrage of artistic changes.
If you are looking for a light fun punch-em-up; this is a great issue for you. From reading Jordan’s previous work, I have no doubt that the plot will start to bulk up as we progress, but the current offering being an extended battle sequence left it a little light on story as he gets his pieces into place. A well executed and more importantly fun light story, but a light story nonetheless. As I said at the top, it is a large leap forward in quality though, and I am more than willing to see where it goes from here.