Monday, November 03, 2008

100 issues later

I finished the Kon-El Superboy run. It was pretty hard work – 100 issues and apart from 3 story arcs it was pretty much all crap till issue 80. *sigh*

The following text covers the women in Superboy’s life, good plot lines, Superdickery, Batman bashing and reccomendations. Look for the text in bold if you want to skip to specific sections.

I figure this comic was written to be fun and an alternative to more serious titles out there at the time. It started in 1994, and like Superboy himself; for most of the run it was shallow, superficial, sexist, street talking and wise cracking. Except there was no depth and it just wasn’t very good. I had hoped the book would be more like Young Justice or Impulse – they were immature and full of fun but didn’t insult the readers’ intelligence. Instead the style seemed matched to Superboy’s personality, and while I can see how that makes sense from an editorial and thematic point of view, it just wasn’t for me. Judging from the letter columns, lots of people did appear to like it, so I guess it’s just a matter of taste.

Having said all that, there were a few gems before issues 80. Superboy’s discovery that he could no longer age (during the Meltdown arc, issues 38 to 41) gave him a bit of maturity, heartache and agonising nightmares. It was good to see more fleshed out, he’s a fun character, he needed fleshing out. Issue 44, Battle of the Ages, where Superboy discovered a never never land style island where the kids didn’t age was really good and allayed a lot of the fears that Superboy had about his new found permanent teenager status.

About the women in his life..

Knockout is awesome. Too much with the constant double entendres (I refer you back to the shallow superficial nature of the comic) and man chasing, but it was good to see her as a regular character. I like Knockout and I’ve got the feeling she’s currently in a lesbian relationship with someone, anyone know if I’m right?

Roxy and her dad were always good. Roxy was never two dimensional and along with Tana Moon were the only 2 female characters treated with any sort of respect (by Superboy and by the writers/artists) for a long time.

Tana and Superboy’s relationship was creepy. I appreciate that technically he was less than a year old when they first met and got together, but both physically and mentally he was at the 16yr old boy stage. As she was 22 or 23 at this time that’s just plain wrong, and looked wrong on paper too. I figure the creators were thinking about your typical 16 year old boys desires when writing in this relationship, and from the 16 yr old’s point of view, dating a 22 year old is pretty cool. But the rest of it’s just weird.

I guess they also wanted to mirror Superman’s relationship with Lois, as Tana is also a reporter, but they could have made her a teenage prodigy or something. Or just starting in her career - y’know, something less predatory and abusive.

The other decent ongoing female character was Doctor Serling Roquette. A 16 year old scientific genius working for Cadmus with an ‘are they aren’t they’ relationship with Kon. The last one worth mentioning is Trixie – started off bad, got good. She’s my type of woman – tough and blonde and won’t take any shit.

The other good story arc before issue 80 was The Wild Lands storyline, starting in issue 50 with the Last Boy on Earth. This arc pleased me. Kon ends up in an island populated by intelligent humanoid animals. It turns out this is a secret island in the pacific and the first animals were bred by geneticists about 50 yrs ago. Good stuff. My only complaint was the partially clothed lady animals. The in context explanation, so far as I can guess, is that the geneticists deliberately bred the female animals to resemble busty human women and also introduced the idea of different clothing standards for the male and female animals. So, not objectifying at all there then. I’m not even gonna bother going into the creator’s reasoning, I think we all know how sexism works in the mainstream comics industry. (Hey, DC, it’s wrong!).

Issue number 59 reveals the extent of Superman’s Superdickery – he finally gives Superboy a name, Kon-El.

Obviously giving him a name is a good thing, but it took 59 issues to do this???? Superboy is a clone, he was created to replace Superman, something he can no longer do as he is stuck at age 16 and all this time he’s only had a job description, a title?! Apart from anything else, look at Kon’s expression in this issue:

He’s so happy! He’s got an identity! This was way overdue. Also, the art in this issue was *really* appealing.

Issue 60 sees the start of the Hyper-Tension arc where Kon visits many different realities including the Elseworlds Superwoman/Batwoman one. I love alternative universe stories. :)

issue 80 saw the return of Roxy, bonded with a fiery alien named Pyra. This was the start of it being consistently good. Joe Kelly took over from issue 83 to 92 and brought in a lot more Young Justice and other DC character crossovers, which to be honest was what I had been hoping for from the start. And this run was goooood. Plus issue 82 saw Kon beating up Batman:

Ok it’s a cardboard Batman, but admit, you enjoyed that panel didn’t you?

Palmiotti and Didio took over writing issues 93 to 99 and these were also pleasing. Kon got himself a job as super in an apartment block and tried to live a normal life. Predictably, as he’s a superhero and therefore a villain magnet, this failed. Issue 100 was the last one saw Clark taking Kon to live with the Kents, in order to provide him with stability and to see how the normals live.

In summary, if you are thinking of picking up any Superboy issues may I recommend the following:

Superboy 44, Battle of the Ages

Superboy 50 to 53, The Last Boy on Earth, and 66 (Wild Hunt) and 67 (Tooth and Claw) – follow ups to The Last Boy on Earth

Superboy 59 – Superboy on Krypton

Superboy 60 to 65 – Hyper-Tension

Superboy issues 80 to 100

And of course all the Young Justice and Impulse issues, which are all brilliant!

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