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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Adventure Comics #6 Adventure Comics #6

Adventure Comics #6

[Original Numbering: #509]

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 13, 2010

Cover date: March 2010

"Superboy: The Boy of Steel" - Part 5

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Francis Manapul

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Lex Luthor explains how he and Lori are related as he exposes Conner to Kryptonite. Conner calls him out on the fact that Lex blames his inability to be the great man he should be on Superman's presence on the Earth and asks why he can't cure his own sister. To everyone's surprise Lex reveals that he can. Using Lori as a hostage Lex sends Conner on a quest to find certain elements he needs to make the cure and proves that he is as good as his word when he injects Lena with a green liquid which does indeed cure her. Suddenly he injects her with another syringe and explains that he can just as easily give her the disease as cure it and as long as Superman is alive his sister will remain ill. Conner loses it and throws him out of the house. Brainiac arrives and saves Lex from a worse beating and the two villains escape.

As Conner sits around the camp fire with his friends he burns his journal because he knows he will never be like Lex Luthor. Meanwhile Brainiac chides Luthor for putting their plans in jeopardy but Luthor insists that what he did was worth doing. He also disowns Conner as his son and says that the next experiment will be better.

5Story - 5: This issue not only reminded me why I like Conner Kent as a character but why, despite not agreeing with certain decisions he has made regarding Superman, I remain a fan of Geoff Johns' writing. This issue had that emotional punch to the gut that I have come to expect from Johns and frankly as down as I have been on the current comics scene this book also reminded me why I stay with the Superman family of titles, though I guess this is the last issue of ADVENTURE COMICS that would make it part of the Superman family of titles but I think you get my point.

Since 2007 or so I have had some problems with the characterization of Lex Luthor and that comes down mainly to motivation. I just did not care for the fact that Lex's raison d'etre was that he could have been a great man if it wasn't for Superman. I will admit that it makes sense on a certain level but at the same time I thought it might make him too sympathetic of a character. While I want complexity from my villains I also want them to be bad guys and the current thinking with super-villains seems to be that their motivation has to be so clear and strong that you connect with them and understand why they do what they do. The danger there is that if you connect with the villain too much it makes the hero look kind of like a bully. With the Pre-Crisis Lex you not only had the whole, "You made me bald," thing but also the deeper pain of feeling that Superboy had been jealous of him and the fact that Smallville pretty much turned on him after he became bald. The Post-Crisis Lex was just evil. He had depth but mainly his hatred of Superman came from the fact that the Man of Steel dared to replace him in the hearts and minds of the people of Metropolis.

So, "I would have done so much if it hadn't been for the alien," comes in a very distant third to both of those.

The fact that Johns actually addressed this was a major part of why I liked this issue but it was how he did it that made the book so good. Simply talking about it would not have been enough. Johns showed just how evil Lex was and I felt something for the character since Infinite Crisis. I got a huge fannish charge when Conner called him on his supposed reasons for not doing something great and then Lex turns around and shows him and us that there is a way to make that motivation work. The fight scene was fantastic as well. It was brutal but the rage Conner felt was justified and took it to that next level.

I also dug the fact that Conner burned the journal at the end of the issue. This mirrored Lex's feelings that Superboy was no son of his and affirmed that Conner is his own person. Lex hinted at this earlier in the story where he tells Conner that he isn't like Superman. Conner isn't, but he's not like Lex either and this was a great step forward for Conner as a character.

So when you add that to the goofy scenes of Krypto and Superboy being chased by a T-Rex or visiting Bizarro World or getting hit on by an Amazon, this was easily the most well rounded single issue I have read in a while.

And that makes me happy.

5Art - 5: Francis Manapul has become one of my favorite current artists. He really has. Like Johns I am going to really miss him on this title. He has a good feel for the characters involved and I really dig his take on Conner.

More than anything he sold the raw emotion of this story. Sure there were some big, fun scenes involving Bizarros and dinosaurs but he absolutely nailed the raw emotion of what happened to Lori and Lena and especially the rage Superboy feels at the end.

I'm not quite sold on the look of Brainiac, but I can't hang that on Manapul.

5Cover Art - 5: Now that is a fun cover.

Seriously. Superboy, Krypto and a dinosaur. That is awesome on so many levels. What makes it even better is that this image is repeated inside the issue as well, which is something I kind of miss about covers and comics these days.

Oh well, this was a really cool cover and a great way to end this particular storyline.

5Cover Art (Variant Edition) - 5: Like all of the other alternate covers that ADVENTURE COMICS has had this one has nostalgia factor and is a nice piece of art. It doesn't seem as "special" as the one from the first issue but I like it just the same.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2010

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