Review | Superboy #1

I'm pleasantly surprised with Scott Lobdell's new Superboy. It feels like a solid, nicely tweaked reboot of the established origin of the clone who became Conner Kent—though it's hard to see this Superboy ending up with that ID given the way his story starts.

Superboy is, like his predecessor, a "trans-terrestrial clone" grown from fused Kryptonian and human DNA—Superman's and Lex Luthor's. (The latter isn't explicitly stated in this issue, but it's strongly hinted that Lex remains the human half of the kid's genealogy.) As the book opens, the clone is floating in a tank in the lab where he's been created by a "pan-national organization" called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (a nice hat tip to Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol). The scientists surrounding him think he's a dud, but in fact he's fully conscious, and in the three and a half months he's been alive, he's somehow absorbed a level of cognitive skills and knowledge that should be impossible for him to have. When N.O.W.H.E.R.E. tries to kill the project, Superboy's powers ignite (though their exact nature remains elusive).

Lobdell introduces a couple of interesting supporting characters in Rose Wilson, the assassin formerly known as the Ravager, and a sympathetic female scientist who seems to have a special bond with her subject. This doc, who's referred to only as "Red," features so prominently I figured she must be an established character, only I couldn't place her. A little Googling proved me right; since her identity is only teased and not revealed in this issue, I won't spoil it, but I will say the reason I didn't know her is she's from the Wildstorm universe.

The art by young Brazilian penciller R.B. Silva, who did last year's Jimmy Olsen backup story in Action Comics, is sharp and varied, with strong lines from inker Rob Lean suggesting an animation feel. Lobdell sets up a couple of potential bombshells for the second issue while also making it clear that Superboy's origin will play a big part in the inception of the new Teen Titans, which Lobdell's also writing (its #1 drops September 28). Suddenly, I'm cautiously looking forward to it.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)