For Your Consideration: DC’s Superboy Book 1

Robert Greenberger

Robert Greenberger


by Robert Greenberger

Once upon a time Superman died. A world without a Superman was not a happy place to be. Clearly, there was need for people to see the S-shield and to take comfort that there was someone with powers beyond those of mortal men.

There prayers were answered with four different people hoping to inherit the S-shield, all of whom have remained a part of the fabric of the DC mythos ever since their 1993 arrival. Of course, the best known is Steel, possibly followed by the Cyborg Superman. After that it might be a toss-up between the Eradicator, more recently seen in print; or the teen incarnation who thought he deserved to be call Superman, not Superboy.

Superboy Book One

Superboy Book One


After running in Adventures of Superman for a while, once the Big Blue S returned from the dead, he regained his title and the kid got his own book. Written by Karl Kesel and illustrated by Tom Grummett, Superboy was a breath of fresh air at a time when comics were mired in the grim and gritty mold. Coming this winter, DC is finally collecting the first twelve issues (0-11) in Superboy Book One.

A clone with mixed human and Kryptonian DNA, he was a cocky teen, using braggadocio to mask his uncertainty that he really was ready for prime time, especially with Superman protecting Metropolis. Kesel is a wildly inventive writer who brings a certain joy to everything he touches, owing a lot to the imaginative work for Jack Kirby. As a result, this book is filled with moments of action, humor, character, and lots of heart.

Superboy #2

Superboy #2


It all starts with Superboy deciding to head west and settle in Hawaii and bringing with him some of the people he met during his early forays as a hero. This supporting cast includes girlfriend Tana Moon and sleaze ball agent Rex Leech and his daughter Roxy (yes, setting up a fun triangle). With a nod to the King, Superboy gains a mentor in the form of DNAlien Dubbilex, who fled Project Cadmus when the clone was released from his gestation tube. Unfamiliar with how to handle having a super-hero in town, the police force has assigned cop Sam Makoa to keep an eye on the kid.

Of course, once a hero arrives, trouble is sure to follow and in the first five issues, we settle the cast in place, have some fun, then Superboy takes on the hapless Sidearm, then Knockout, and for variety, a crazed Scavenger and Silversword. Of the bunch, of course Knockout got to play a larger role in the title in the issues to come. In this volume we also meet King Shark, long before he became a member of the Suicide Squad and everyone’s darling.

Superboy #4

Superboy #4


There’s a delightful bit from issue #4 where Rex tries to peddle Superboy: The Animated Series and the late, great Mike Parobeck provided the art for the presentation.

Kesel and Grummett conceived of this new character together, and Grummett’s design – with the sunglasses and leather jacket over the spandex outfit – set him apart from the other Superman wanna-bes but also established him as a unique hero. Together, they sparked off one another and reveled in the wacky ideas that seemed to arrive with regularity.

Not that it was all sweetness and light. Early on, Superboy has to deal with a clone plague and once he survives that, has to reconcile himself with the news that his cure has also inhibited his growth. He was to be forever a teenager on the cusp of manhood.

Superboy #0

Superboy #0


Reading this collection will take some effort as issues here crossover with other events, starting with World Collide, which involved the Milestone Universe. Then there’s the Zero Hour crossover, although that means we get issue #0 and a nice recap of his origin.

These will no doubt hold up well to rereading because the writing is strong and the art features classic storytelling. You will smile as you read it and then demand a second volume.

Purchase

Superboy Book 1

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