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Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 10, 2009
Cover date: November 2009
"Superboy: The Boy of Steel" - Part Two
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Francis Manapul
"Long Live The Legion" - Part Two: "Lightning Lad"
Writer: Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker
Artist: Clayton Henry
Review by: Anthony-L
A fleet of military helicopters is looking for Luthor when Brainiac's head ship takes the entire fleet out. Luthor and Brainiac answer the question of why they're working together: Brainiac gets Kal-El and Kandor and for his help Luthor gets Earth. Brainiac thinks Earth contains no useful knowledge (seems a bit shortsighted to me given all the super-heroes on the planet), prompting Luthor to essentially reiterate his Scooby-Villain credo: "I'd take humanity to new heights if it weren't for your meddling, Superman!" It's also implied that Luthor may be cloning a new Superboy.
Meanwhile, Cassie Sandsmark (Wonder Girl) comes to dinner. Conner and Cassie go for a walk, talk about their relationship and Ma Kent sends Krypto out to bring them dinner. Cassie and Conner eat dinner on a picnic table under the stars. Cassie has already figured out that Conner is trying to live like Superman did as a boy (at Smallville High, it looks like Conner and Simon Valentine have become lab partners). Conner again chooses the path of Superman (tells the truth) and tells Cassie that he's worried he'll go all Manchurian Candidate again and hurt those he loves. He's trying to do better with is second chance. Krypto lifts the picnic table into the sky where Conner and Cassie kiss. Ma looks on, approves and wistfully recalls her relationship with Pa Kent.
The issue ends with Luthor looking like he's swallowed the proverbial cat when he reads that Superboy is back.
To be continued...
"Long Live The Legion" - Part Two: Lightning Lad
Garth (Lightning Lad) acts like a jerk until his murderous jerk-of-a-brother Mekt tells him something that may or may not be true. More happens but really, that's what this entire eight-page feature can be boiled down to.
Lead Story - 3: I'm conflicted on this rating. This issue is a nice character piece for Conner although the titular adventure seems to be lacking again. This is more like a thriller or mystery story so far with lots of attention to the characterization and a slow building of the main story beneath. The adventure needs to get going; any more issues of Conner fretting over his checklist might be too many. If I put all the elements of book together (art, plot, lettering choices) I would probably rank this higher but I'm a bit underwhelmed by just the plot so far.
Lead Story Art - 5: Editorial clearly knows what it has with Francis Manapul! The choice to show the destruction of the helicopters and slaughter of the troops without sound effects really worked excellently here. It was very well rendered and didn't come off as cartoon-like. It was destruction and horror. The final image of Luthor captured everything that he might be feeling about the return of Conner, his genetic "son". Manapul generally isn't lazy about the backgrounds especially in the long shots and in the Kent home. It feels like he really cares about what he's creating for us. The art is really outshining the story here.
Back-Up Story - 2: A two?! Really?! Yes, this was a mediocre "story" at best. The writers are really painting these characters with a really big brush here: Starman is crazy, Lightning Lad is a jerk, Cosmic Boy is serious and who can even say what Saturn Girl is. Given the intricate job of characterization going on in the main feature, this backup comes off as lazy at best. Never mind the terrible way Garth (a hero) acts here: giving a violent shock to a prisoner because of a gay incest joke? Ugh. Why would anyone in their right mind, let alone Garth, believe Lightning Lord, a man who has tried to kill him and his friends on more than one occasion? The possible reveal that Lightning Lord does have a twin could have been interesting but it was done poorly here. Lightning Lad has traditionally been impulsive and acts without thinking but underneath it all, he's a really good guy. The character in this issue is just a jerk that yells at his best friend and gives shocks to prisoners for no good reason. If this is an indication of what Johns has planned, then bring Levitz on today!
Back-Up Art - 2: The thirty-first century never looked so dull! The backgrounds are week to non-existent and Garth's proportions keeps changing. For the most part, the faces are well done but comics are more than just faces and the Legion is especially more than just about faces, it is about their worlds just as much as it is the characters. This New Takron-Galtos doesn't even look as fancy as a prison in the present-day DCU and while it may look very dramatic to keep Mekt prisoner in that position, it's definitely cruel and unusual punishment to keep someone in that position for long periods of time. And while Garth mostly looks like a Ken Doll, Mekt looks like he's stocked up on his "male enhancement" drugs.
Cover Art - 4: The cover captures everything you need to know about this story: Beautiful art, a date under moonlight and a whole world of possibilities under it all. It's a simple but sweet image. My sole complaint is the placement of the "Featuring Superboy" tag. That tag should be closer to the title.
Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 5: Francis Manapul does something really nice in this cover: he features moments that are implied (but not shown) in the main feature. It makes the cover an excellent companion to both main story and back-up feature. Here the "Featuring Superboy" tag works in the image. The 7 panel design is a classic Adventure Comics (and Legion of Super-Heroes) element but I think it's more fun to see used occasionally rather than every month.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2009.