new super-title: SUPERBOY # 1
It had to happen eventually - - - I read a Superman title that holds my interest and makes me want to return for more ! And here it is:
SUPERBOY #1 (DC, January 2011 cover date) Jeff Lemire, writer. Pier Gallo, artist. Jamie Grant, colorist. John J. Hill, letterer.
I’ve admired the story telling abilities (also the simplistic subtle yet effective artwork) of Jeff Lemire for some time. THE ESSEX COUNTY TRILOGY is a great example of how powerfully effective a comics/graphic novel can be at communicating emotions and moods. His story and art on SWEET TOOTH for DC has brought a lot of deserved attention to his work.
I’ve often wondered what Lemire might do with a true super-hero title, and I received my answer with SUPERBOY #1. In three quick opening pages, Lemire puts his personal stamp on the title - - - and now he owns it. I remain impressed.
Page One begins with art panels of a young boy in home-made mask and red cape wandering through the wheat fields of Smallville, Kansas - - and I’m immediately reminded of the first book in the ESSEX COUNTY TRILOGY. The unidentified narrator in the captions wonders “what kind of kid would I have been?” if “I’d had a normal childhood.” On Page Two we learn that this version of Superboy is Conner Kent, the clone made from Superman/Lex Luthor DNA. In a calming scene of wind blowing through a wheat field, a single grain becomes dislodged and floats on the breeze over to Connor’s hand. He reflects on his former anxiety over his birth and recalls his resolve to be happy by “focusing on the small things.” Page Three cuts away to show a full-page panel of a young man and his faithful super-dog Krypto resting on a water tower surrounded by fields. It’s great imagery and just a small amount of narrative captions locks in the mood - - - and I don’t want to spoil your surprise by copying those panels here. You need to pick up the book, if only to glance at these opening pages and see for yourself.
In the next three pages, the reader learns everything needed to know about the direction Lemire will be taking this book in. What a fine job he does of setting the table so we know exactly what to expect in the coming issues of SUPERBOY. I’m fascinated, and I’m in!
Pier Gallo is definitely an artist to watch. I sense that Lemire may have indicated in the script how he wanted to see certain scenes depicted, as I see many instances of what I believe to be his influence. And Gallo seems to understand what is required. He’s better at detail than Lemire is, but you can see a nice mesh of the two styles here with many panels that remind me of the very-appealing work of Mobius. Page Six is one of my favorites, with Superboy flying across the wheat field (and past the young pretend super-hero) to rescue a falling Ma Kent as Krypto retrieves her work hat. The Parasite strolls through the country-side with determination, leaving a path of destruction in his wake in four caption less panels of artistic perfection. A beautiful Page 10 full panel shows Connor Kent being smashed by The Parasite through a window, complete with shattering shards of glass rendered in near 3-D clarity.
I probably don’t need to reveal anymore to encourage you to check this book out. Connor’s closest friend reveals that he knows about his Superboy identity. Lori Luthor is interested in Connor, and knowing their shared ancestry he gets a little freaked out by the attention. Smallville is celebrating an anniversary, and its history holds valuable secrets. Superboy learns that Smallville will be the epicenter of some dire future calamity to come, and he may be in part responsible.
I know many readers of this blog have moved on to trade paperback collections rather than single issues. You will at least want to get Issue #1 to determine if you want to order the eventual trades. For me, I can’t wait that long.