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Cover date: June 2012
Culling Prelude: "Training Day"
Writer: Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco
Penciller: R. B. Silva & Iban Coella
Inker: Rob Lean & Iban Coella
Cover: Shane Davis with Sandra Hope and Barbara Ciardo
Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel
Superboy has powers, he is a living weapon but is a lame-o when it comes to tactics preferring to lash out without precision. Grunge is beating him to a pulp readying Kon for the danger ahead.
Is Grunge a Gen 13? Somehow he seems to be able to bypass Kon's TK field just as Red had done. In anger Kon breaks Grunge's neck and stands over his tutor's corpse realizing what he just did. It turns out Kon didn't kill again, Grunge is able to absorb qualities of anything nearby and had made himself soft anticipating Kon's attack.
Grunge reveals that both Kon and Rose were bred deliberately to be the perfect Ravagers. Distracting the teen Grunge displays his new powers. Previously he was a surface contact absorber but N.O.W.H.E.R.E 's tinkering meant he was able to use line of sight absorption instead.
While Grunge howls that he is triumphant Superboy, dazed, flashes back (over the other issues between last month) to when he was captured and facing dissection. The Teen Titans risked their lives to help him and all fell to the evil force of the super villain Harvest and a woman named Omen.
Grunge wakes his student and expresses his disappointment by wrenching the boy's hair. He lets slip that Omen is trying to train the Titans and Superboy again realizes that the Titans were the only people besides Red/Caitlin Fairchild that ever looked out for him. Speaking of Red, after recovering with the help of Detective Lure, Red hijacks an aircraft and with a mission in mind she races to N.O.W.H.E.R.E.
In the now destroyed N.O.W.H.E.R.E lab Rose is leading a salvage team to close down the damaged wing. As Rose orders her minions around Solstice, the N.O.W.H.E.R.E escapee attacks her and then begins to reason with the swords woman, begging her to turn away from N.O.W.H.E.R.E before it's too late.
Back in class, Superboy begins to use his brain, perhaps Grunge is training him right? And he scans Grunge for the enhancement implants and using his TK he rips them out of his tutor. Literally tearing the five implants from the flesh till Grunge collapses in his own blood. Kon can't take the exhaustive training and collapses with him.
Harvest appears, examines the fallen and realizes that Superboy's Kryptonian side was more powerful then they had realized. He regards them as total failures but also his greatest accomplishment. Pondering the future for the fighters, Harvest is distracted by Rose arriving with an unconscious Solstice. The two teleport away to join Omen, leaving Superboy to his fate with The Colony!
Once gone, two heroes arrive and rip the wall own to meet Kon-El. The two intruders are Terra and Beast Boy and they, trained for The Culling declare Grunge and Superboy their enemies.
To be Continued...
Story - 1: Argh! Why are you forcing me to read Teen Titans? I want to just read Superboy! Unfortunately we don't get the choice, instead hopping between books. There really isn't much to be said except Grunge is being used as a tool to fix problems many people had with the character - namely his brashness and murderous streak. It goes a little way to fixing it with Superboy gradually realizing it.
Aside from this the rest of the book is terrible. We jump in mid crossover with just a two panel flashback halfway through trying to fix that very fact. A series of sledgehammer executed event building story techniques is used, the problem is unless you read the other books involved you really struggle. But even now in the 'Prelude' what is going to happen is very obvious and on a predictable path.
Initially when I started reading I actually thought I'd missed an issue because of the poor story-lining and lack of consistency. If The Culling doesn't work as a storyline I really feel we'll lose a book and since both Teen Titans and Superboy haven't performed anywhere close to where Justice League is in the sales charts, a great deal has to be done FAST.
Art - 1: Either do the book with one artist on schedule OR delay the book till the pages are ready. The disjointed art and lack of style following previous issues is really jarring. You would never see a Superman film where they switched Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill every 10 minutes, why as a paying customer expecting quality would you allow such a thing to happen.
Cover Art - 2: So 'same thing' feeling as the past issues. It looks cool but is really too similar to the covers gone by that is ends up forgettable - in comics, forgettable covers lead to cancelled titles. That's VERY bad.
Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2012.