Thursday, July 18, 2013
Superboy Annual #1
Tom DeFalco Writer
• Pages 1-5, 18-26: Yvel Guichet Pencils, Jonas Trindade Inks, Java Tartaglia Colors
• Pages 6-7, 27, 37, 38: Iban Coello Pencils, Rob Lean Inks, Richards and Tanya Horie Colors
• Pages 8-17: Tom Derenick Artist and David Curiel Colors
• Pages 28-36: Julius Gopez Artist and Nathan Eyring Color
Travis Lanham Letterer
Chris Conroy Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
The cover is by Yvel Guichet, Jonas Trindade and Java Tartaglia. I don't think it's a very good cover. It more or less shows action that happens in this issue, and Superman looks pretty good, but Superboy just looks off. He doesn't look like he's in any real danger, just mildly annoyed. Of course, I imagine they had to quickly draw this cover, as the solicited cover and story were completely different.
This issue represents everything that is wrong with DC's Annual books. I liked that this issue was included with the H'el on Earth storyline, but that was a late decision. Ideally, DC should have planned that out six months in advance. The result was a story that kind of barely fits into H'el on Earth, but doesn't really progress anything because it couldn't. But the biggest problem with this Annual is DC's insistence that Annuals should be extra long so they can charge more for them. But this extra page count necessitated a lot of extra artists, some with widely different styles, resulting in a non-cohesive comic book well below the industry standards. So, to sum up, DC gave us a rather unnecessary story with poor quality art and demanded that we pay more for it because it included extra pages that we didn't want and the story didn't need. Tactics like this are driving readers away. But then DC sees declining sales numbers and tries more big "events" that pretty much do this — bad stories with bad art and too high a price tag — and the downward spiral continues. So having said all that, I hope you'll understand why I'm rather terse with this review.
The story picks right up where Superboy #16 ended. Superman had been blasted by a machine that sends its victims through an endless loop of pocket dimensions, and Superboy decided to dive in to save him. They first arrive in a dimension where everything looks like it was painted by Salvador Dali, and Superman isn't too happy to see Superboy there, who admittedly has no plan to rescue him.
Superboy then recaps what's been happening in the past few issues for those who missed it. We see H'el psionically dissecting Superboy, then Superman saving him and giving him his armor, then the two of them teaming up with the Justice League to take down H'el.
Superman and Superboy then get transported to a couple of different worlds and have to fight a bunch of different monsters, all the while getting in some quality bonding time. To make a long story short, they eventually figure out that they're staying on one planet the whole time that is simply changing its environment. Superboy figures out how to communicate with the planet through his telekinetic powers, and finds the planet is being manipulated by a couple of evil people named Blastor and Lasara, who are somehow trapped on this planet and need Superboy's powers to free them.
They fight for a bit, and ultimately Superboy tricks them by helping the planet teleport the two bad guys to an uninhabited galaxy at the far edge of the universe. Superboy then gets the planet to send him and Superman back to the Fortress of Solitude, where they find out they've only been gone for 2 minutes and 13 seconds, even though it felt like hours. However, those extra two minutes were all H'el and Supergirl needed to complete the Star Chamber.
Superman/Superboy dynamic. I genuinely enjoyed the interactions between these two. Superman got sick of Superboy acting so snarky and sarcastic, and Superboy constantly felt like Superman was lecturing him. They eventually learned to appreciate each other and figured out how to work well together. It was really nice to see this, I just wish it could have happened in a better story.
No Flash. He only shows up in one flashback panel, and his costume is all wrong. Look at it again — his lightning bolt is going in the wrong direction! Come on people! That's a simple fix!
Uninspiring story. You could have completely eliminated this issue and the H'el on Earth story would have been completely fine without it. Just change the ending of Superboy #16 so Superman doesn't get zapped to another dimension and everything else could happen the exact same way. Instead, we went through a very long and boring adventure story with lackluster villains. Even their names were lazy: Blastor, who used concussive blasts, and Lasara, who used a laser lash. And then there was the visually dull climax of Superboy saving the day by concentrating so hard he got a bloody nose. Wow! I've never seen that before! Seriously, why is it that every single psychic comic book character gets a bloody nose when they really strain themselves? Is that the only visual effect anybody can think of with mental powers?
Inconsistent art. Had this book been done by just one or two different art teams, I probably would've been OK with it. But we got four different teams with four completely different styles, which made the reading experience quite jarring. You shouldn't turn the page and feel like the printer made a mistake by putting in pages from a different book. My favorite artist in this issue was Tom Derenick, but everybody else left me flat.
I imagine this must have been a rather frustrating book to work on. It sure was frustrating and disappointing to read. It makes me want to scream at DC: "Stop doing stuff like this! You're losing readers because of awful strategies like this!" But as long as they think it works, they'll keep doing it.
Final score: 3 out of 10
Next time: Superman #16