STORY: Scott Lobdell (Plot) and Tom DeFalco (Scripts)
ART: R.B. Silva and Rob Lean
I don’t know why Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco are so intent on making Superboy such a difficult character to write. Not only did they take Kon-El’s original clone backstory and make it so convoluted that it’s mostly just a blur of ‘super secret organization’ gobbledygook, they’re moving forward with a characterization that makes Superboy sound (and act) like a HUGE dick. That being said, Superboy #11 continues an upward trend of overall quality that started last month, which is interesting seeing as Lobdell penned last issue all by himself, while DeFalco is back to scripting duties this month.
Apparently, some time has passed since the Titans were transported to New York City by Danny the Alley, and Superboy has his own penthouse now, complete with weird, random antiques and art pieces that make him look like some rich, foppish trust fund baby with too much time on his hands. This seems like a missed opportunity for DeFalco – glossing over an major part of Superboy’s very young life like meeting a regular person person for the first time. Kon-El takes some time to tell his visiting guest, Bunker, all about his new landlord and how he robbed (ahem, borrowed from) a bank for personal funds. It’s scenes like these that make me want to ask Lobdell and DeFalco how they plan to compensate for the errors in their narrative. If Superboy is supposed to have collective knowledge that was pumped into his head since he was created, how was it never explained that robbing banks is wrong? If Superboy knows that messenger bags are fashionable, he’s got to know that bank robberies are faux pas.
It seems like DeFalco often uses Kon-El’s origins as a clone to explain his misunderstanding of the real world. Unfortunately, scenes from early issues will prove that, even though their endgame was to make Superboy a weapon, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. attempted to give their clone a bit of real-world experience through psychological manipulation. In so facto, basic ideals of right and wrong must have been ingrained, otherwise he could never have known that hurting people was wrong. “Money’s a thing – you can’t hurt it,” says Superboy like it’s no big thing. What’s supposed to sound naive just sounds pretentious and snooty.
Superboy #11 also brings about the dreaded ‘S’ tattoo that whining fans got their panties in a bunch over when the ‘New 52’ started last year. At the time, Kon-El was wearing a black tank top with a pencilled Superman logo duct-taped to his back, which may have made the tattoo seem all the more ridiculous. Now, it doesn’t feel so forced. In actuality, Bunker and Superboy’s visit to the tattoo parlor is one of the more grounded parts of the issue. Bunker explains that Kon needs to feel a connection with his symbol, the only thing that is part of him now. It sounds sappy when I write it (and it very well might be a lot sappier than I’m interpreting), but the friendship between Bunker and Superboy feels more natural and organic than almost any interactions in the first nine issues of Superboy.
Superboy’s relative age becomes more and more apparent when new villain Detritus starts attacking the city. Kon feels like he’s being taken advantage of – as the team’s powerhouse player – whenever a “big bad” attacks. All he wants is a more normal life, something Bunker explains is “boring!” While this sentiment of normality might work for Peter Parker or Jaime Reyes, nothing up to this point has given readers the impression that Superboy wants to live a normal life. Why would he? He’s a super-powerful telekinetic clone of Superman. Why be normal?