By: Sam J. Rizzo
The Boy of Steel gets his reboot this week in SUPERBOY #1 by writer Scott Lobdell with Art by R.B Silva. The issue opens in a laboratory with SUPERBOY in a status chamber being studied by these scientists from the group N.O.W.H.E.R.E. The leading scientists is a young woman by the name of Red, who we come to find out is a graduate of M.I.T. Her associate on the project is an old gentleman by the name of Dr. White. The scientists believe that Superboy is a failed project because he has no brain activity. Every scientist on the project believes this except for Red. Dr. White gives the order to excuse the termination sequence; he believes that by ending this project now they can do an autopsy to see what went wrong. What the scientists don’t understand is that even in status Superboy was learning and was quite aware of what was going on in the lab since his creation, which he estimates has been for three months, sixteen days, four hours and fifty-three seconds. We see that Superboy has the power to distribute his consciousness equally throughout his body, to every atom in his own body and possibly beyond. He has no idea how he knows he could do this he just knows and feels he can. The entire time he has been studied by these scientists he had learned from them and studied them just the same. As the termination protocols are put into place, Superboy sees the anguish in Red’s face. Superboy feels that she has been the only one who looks at him as a person instead of a lab rat. Superboy can sense something is wrong, as Dr. White orders three hundred CC’s of cyanide and electrical charges into the chamber to kill Superboy. Red tells Superboy to fight it. Superboy bursts out of the chamber destroying pretty much everything in the lab. One of the bystanders killed in the blast is Dr. White who tried to get out of the lab but could not due to the explosions. Superboy is free from the chamber exposed to the air for the first time he feels free. The look of the Superboy after being freed with the bald head is fitting for the next few pages of the book.
Fast forward to a month later, Superboy is enrolled in high school in the heart of Middle America, Kansas actually. The teacher of the class asks a question to the newly enrolled student “If we’re three thousand light-years from mars and traveling at the speed of light—and we’re trying to reach New York City, Earth by breakfast—What time would we have to leave the Red Hallow?” Superboy gives the answer to question as “2300 A.M. Mars standard time according to the universal chronal chart established by Salvator Grotto in 1856.” Superboy has no explanation as to how he knows the answer or any reason for knowing what he knows, since he has never studied these things before. After class, Superboy meets this young girl by the name of Rose Wilson. Rose and Superboy walk home together. Along the way home, there is a person in a burning house screaming out for help. Superboy and Rose just continue their conversation as they make their way home. The scene shows that Superboy’s thought process is a little off and that really cannot disguise what is right or wrong.
Superboy lives on a farm with this nice family, the Helpworths. Superboy can’t stand living there, it is so boring living on the farm there. He feels that the town is so small, that he describes it as “soul crushingly boring.” He believes he is destined to do so much more with his life than living in this small town.
Superboy knows that this is all just an elaborate test. This town and everything in it is just a virtual reality test given to him by Red, to prepare him. But prepare him for what? Red too has her own questions as she views everything going on in this virtual world. She keeps thinking to herself; “Why does he keep bring up in his mind this small town? Why does he have these feelings of alienation…of being the new kid in a new place, having to pretend to be someone he is not?” She wonders to herself, who’s memories are these? At this point, Red has become the one who is put in charge of the project since the death of Dr. White in the lab. Superboy believes that her intentions are pure and good but he feels that a jailor is still a jailor and that he will never have his freedom even though he trusts Red.
The next few pages deal with Red trying to discover why in every scenario, Superboy doesn’t save the helpless person in the burning home. Red wants Superboy to be like Superman when it comes to saving people. She doesn’t know who the donor of the human cells that went into the creation of Superboy is but it is hinted that it could be Lex Luthor in her dialogue with her associates; “So unless Superboy’s human cells originated in a deeply pathological, megalomaniacal narcissist, it means we did something wrong.” The hint thatat Luthor was the donor of his human cells was great. When Superboy first comes out of the chamber and he is bald, his intelligence, and his moral compass being just slightly off. As a side note in the issue, we get to see Lois Lane do some investigation into this group N.O.W.H.E.R.E. She has no idea that they have created this super-weapon in Superboy. Lois has a person on the inside who has been tipping her off on the goings on of the group, his name is Dr. Limber. Limber knows that by going to the media with this he is signing his death warrant; he doesn’t tell Lois about Superboy or the project. He gives Lois the schematics to the layout of the base where they are holding Superboy.
In the last few pages of the issue, Superboy discovers his powers of telekinesis and how he can move objects with his mind by focusing on them. He says at one point “I’m told I could lift a battleship if I focused.” Superboy feels that someone has arrived at N.O.W.H.E.R.E., he can sense it on a macrocellular level as a helicopter lands on the roof of the installation. A man by the name of Templar comes to the base and tells Red to release Superboy. He says he has this very unusual problem and needs Superboy to take care of it. Several, in fact. He says he plans on having Superboy solve them. The problems Templar is referring to are the Teen Titans. On the last page of the issue, we see Superboy in the center of the page surrounded by members of the Teen Titans. Superboy states that if resolving these so-called problems is the only way to guarantee his freedom it is a small price to pay.
Overall, I thought the book was great. What a start to the new era of Superboy. The cover art was a little miss leading, in that it looked like that were going to blend Brainiac’s DNA with Superboy’s. I really liked in the book the hints at Superboy’s human cell donor in Lex Luthor. I liked that his moral compass is a little off which lends to the idea that he is from both Superman and Lex. In the book, we get a real sense of just how powerful Superboy is with his telekinetic powers. The writing and art in this issue was spot on and the story was great. I can’t wait to see Superboy’s encounter with the Teen Titans and how that will all develop in the coming issues. By the end of this issue, it seems as though Superboy can either become one of the greatest heroes in the new DC Universe, or he can become the most dangerous villain. It is going to be interesting to see how Superboy will develop throughout the course of this series and Teen Titans.
Overall Grade: 9/10