I am so happy to announce that we are branching out to cover the modern adventures of the Superman FAMILY, along with the regular Superman books. One of those family members is the recently returned fan favorite (myself included) character, Kon-El / Conner Kent / Superboy, the teenage clone of Superman!
Firstly, let’s talk about the covers. As this is a round up of the series so far, I’ll keep it brief, but all look great with a plethora of creative teams working on them. Most are team shots, with some extra Millennial/Gen-Z vibes thrown in for good measure. What I love the most about the covers is the fact that they are honouring the original Young Justice series by doing male and female versions for each issue.
This version of Superboy was created by Cadmus Labs and was intended to be a government controlled replacement for Superman after his death at the hands of Doomsday. However, before he reached maturity, Superboy was broken out of Cadmus, and first appeared in Metropolis as one of the four Supermen, who, after Superman’s death, claimed to be The Man of Steel resurrected.
Abandoning his quest to be the new Superman upon the genuine article’s return, Superboy moved to Hawaii, where he was the Aloha state’s resident hero for a time. After that, he became an official field agent for Cadmus, and founded Young Justice. When the team broke up, Superboy’s personality took a shift from an irresponsible, carefree ladies man, to a more mature brooding character, now living with Superman’s parents. The shift was brought on by growing older, the death of some of his peers, as well as discovering he was not only a clone of Superman, but of Lex Luthor as well! Superboy has a special place among my favorite characters in the entire DCU, myself having grown up reading his adventures.
Disappearing from continuity with the New 52 in 2011, (and no, I’m not counting the New 52 version of the character, because they are NOT the same character), Superboy now returns to us in the pages of Brian Michael Bendis’ revival of the cult classic Young Justice series.
The series is already on Issue 17! So to catch you guys up, I’m going to do a brief series of story arc reviews covering the issues we’ve missed.
For the uninitiated who are only familiar with the Young Justice Animated Series (which is utterly fantastic by the way), the comics differ in tone, focus, and character rosters from the show. The original series by Peter David and Todd Nauck, which began in 2001, was highly comedic in the best way, and balanced that comedy with heartfelt character explorations, along with equally epic and outlandish story arcs.
Superboy (Kon-EL), Robin (Tim Drake) and Impulse (Bart Allen) were the founding members of the team, chaperoned by JLA member Red Tornado. In short order, Wondergirl (Cassandra “Cassie” Sandsmark), Arrowette, and original character “Secret,” also joined the team, along with fan favorite Little Lobo / Slobo, among others. These characters would eventually move on to join Geoff John’s Teen Titans, and then break off in various directions before the New 52 reboot.
Thanks to events like Rebirth, Doomsday Clock, and Flash War, some founding members appear to be back after their long hiatus, when we pick back up in Issue #1 of the new series.
Tim, Bart, and Cassie return, all reclaiming their original monikers, but with some tweaks to their costumes. Joining them are established DC characters Amethyst, and Jinny Hex (Jinny only barely established, her first appearance being in Batman Giant #4, the very same month as YJ #1’s release), as well as an all new original character, “Teen Lantern!”
In this first arc, Bendis assembles the new team roster, reuniting old characters and introducing new ones. After a brief skirmish in the streets of Metropolis, our teen heroes are hurtled through dimensions and find themselves on Gemworld (as featured in the classic “Amethyst” series). There, they find Superboy, (I won’t say how, or in what condition) and yes, he’s the exact same Superboy from pre-flashpoint! Our core team reunites, and join forces with the newbies to save Gemworld from impending doom!
Along with the overarching present day narrative, each single issue explores the recent past of a single team member, catching us up on, or introducing us for the first time, to each team member’s story.
When reading through this first arc, I noted that the amount of storytelling Peter David usually accomplished in 3, or even sometimes 1 issue of the original series, Bendis does in 6. So Bendis’ signature slower pace might be jarring to fans of the original series, but take heart that Bendis is telling the same amount of story here, he’s just taking longer to do it. If that bugs you, you might just want to pick up the trades instead of the single issues.
Bendis’ signature “sassy teen dialogue” comes through here too, and for me it was a bit jarring to have my characters talking similar to Ultimate Peter Parker, but I think it works as the series progresses, and as we get some more depth to Bendis’ rendition of the characters. Am I happy with how he’s handled Superboy? Yes. Yes I am.
As for the artwork for each issue of this first arc, including the main covers, are drawn by Patrick Gleason and a guest artist or two. The art’s pretty great. It has an edgy / pointy feel to it. Though for me, it’s hard to compete with the artist for the original series, Todd Nauck, now one of my favorite artists of all time. He’s just so good at drawing believable teenagers.
I liked the way Gleason and company depicted everyone. I especially liked Wondergirl’s new costume. Superboy’s costume is pretty close to his original debut outfit, with some small tweaks, like spikes on his jacket, or fingerless gloves. I should say, I like how everyone looks except for Impulse. I think they skewed him a little too young, and sometimes he just doesn’t look as great.
Overall though, this series has been fantastic so far. I have to say that I’m really enjoying it and getting to know these characters once again. It is so good to see Conner Kent back in action!