STORY: Tom DeFalco
ART: R.B. Silva and Rob Lean
I don’t know what to think anymore. I know that’s a pretty bold statement to make, but seriously, I’m all but out of reasons to continue reading Superboy. Since the beginning, the Boy of Steel’s story has been one muddled, under-developed narrative after another with no discernable connecting factors. Superboy himself is a two-dimensional character whose only character development has come from sloppy inner monologue penned by a writer who doesn’t know how to write as a teenager. Add to that plot lines riddled with obtuse, vague advancement, and a reliance on shock value to sell a complex story. Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule, and Superboy #10, back in June, was a refreshing change of pace from the constant threat of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., the secretive criminal organization who manufactured Superboy, and acted as the ‘big bad’ for the first nine months of the title. Unfortunately, after that one month, Superboy descended back into mediocrity.
In Superboy #0, writer Tom DeFalco brings back N.O.W.H.E.R.E., for reasons that seem obvious at first, but slowly become incessantly annoying and unimportant. Harvest makes his unwanted return to the ‘New 52’ as he tells a story about the clone uprising on Krypton eons ago. Yes you read that right: this issue prominently features a villain telling a story.
It. is. so. boring.
Without any sort of backstory or identity, Harvest is already a boring villain because his motivations don’t have meaning. Readers don’t know why he’s doing any of this, so it’s not interesting. It’s the same reason children’s cartoons often feature mad villains who simply want to “take over the world.” – they tend to not have a concrete reason for their actions, allowing for a range of stories. But they’re intended for children. I expect a bit more from DeFalco and DC in general when it comes to one of their semi-flagship characters.
Harvest’s tale is about Kon, the first clone on Krypton to rise up against his creators. Eventually, he starts a violent revolution against the Kryptonians, resulting in a defeat and the extermination of all clones planet-wide. It’s an interesting enough story, but it’s presentation is just so lazy it’s hard to get past the fact that we’re literally being read an alien fable. I can think of at least five different ways issue could have gone that would have effectively conveyed the ideas without stooping to the most basic and frustrating of storytelling styles.
In the end, not much is revealed in the way the origins of Superboy. Sure, the tale of Kon and his bloody rampage against his makers could foreshadow future events, but as a stand-alone issue, this one falls so short of good it’s hard to put into words. As I flipped through the issue upon initial purchase, I pondered for a moment if perhaps Harvest was a Kryptonian clone looking to restart his revolution. It got me excited to read the issue, thinking DeFalco would actually make some connections and give me something to hold onto going forward. The opposite happened: I was so let down by this issue that I don’t even know if I want to continue reading Superboy.
Good luck going forward, DeFalco.