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Mild Mannered Reviews - Superboy Comics

Superboy #9

Superboy #9

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 6, 2011

Cover date: September 2011

"Rise of the Hollow Men" - Part Two: "In The Underworld"

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Pier Gallo
Cover: Karl Kershl

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

Superboy, Krypto, Psionic Lad, Simon Valentine, Phantom Stranger and a whole group of Parasite Frogs have penetrated The Hollow Men's lair - The evil Aben Took's base underneath his original farm (currently Lena Luthor's land).

The population of Smallville are frozen shells comatose through the same magic that has kept the Took Farm hidden from even Superman. Sujan uses his Psionic powers to track Lori. Phantom Stranger advises them that he detects Lori within the strange factory at the centre of Hollowville. Psionic Lad is sure that their friend is on the other side of the underground town.

The indecisiveness leads them to split into search parties. Sujan, Simon and the frogs head to the other side while Phantom Stranger, Superboy and Krypto head to the factory. Despite Conner's misgivings the split is done and they are magically teleported outside the factory doors. As they approach the citizens of Hollowville, Phantom Stranger reveals they are but empty automaton golems. Clay doppelgängers of Aben Took's family.

Stranger reveals that Took was never the mastermind, merely the willing servant of his greatest enemy Tannarak!

Across town Simon and Sujan also come across the "hollow" hollow men too. The two boys begin to bond but no sooner do they become friends than Sujan discovers Lori tied up in a barn. While Lori and Simon bicker Sujan receives a mental transmission from the future telling him he must kill the Prime Hunter who is revealed to be a future version of Simon Valentine.

Superboy meanwhile is growing more and more suspicious. Why when Stranger first appeared did he directly tell Superboy of the coming evil then after communicate through Mr. Lynch secretly until most recently when he began contacting Superboy directly again... Even more so why did he switch from being cryptic to direct each time. The answer reveals itself as they open the factory doors. Hundreds of soulless Superboy clones.

Back in the barn, Sujan declines his mission. Spending so much time in the present has let him see the good inside his friends and as his boss fades out a punch from nowhere connects with the back of his head. It seems that Parasite was drafted by Took, and with Psionic Lad unconscious his mental shielding shuts down and the Hollow Men converge on the barn to investigate.

Superboy makes the connection that the souls trapped in the frozen citizens are to be transferred into his clones and that the bomb he stopped at Gilliam's farm was nothing of the sort. It was a DNA scanner and Superboy was being played since he arrived in Smallville so Took could have an army.

Krypto growls as out of the shadows emerges Aben Took and his sons, while a puzzled Conner looks to his friend Stranger for answers. Stranger reveals that this is the final stage of a plot thousands of years in the making. He hurls Superboy into a support pillar and throws Krypto into the arms of the Took boys. Helpless to magic Krypto endures horrifying torture before Conner leaps to his friend's defense though he too is beaten by their magically empowered tormentors.

Conner begs for Phantom Stranger's help but his friend smirks revealing himself to be an impostor. Conner's friend, the real Phantom Stranger, was their captive all along.

To Be Continued...

5Story - 5: 3 out of 5 or 5 out of 5 depending on how you read it.

No, no, no! This is truly a 5 out of 5 but honestly, it feels like Jeff Lemire has been forced to kill the story because of the reboot. All the fantastic threads of mystery, some obvious, some brilliantly out there were all truncated and forcibly revealed in what every issue up till now had painstakingly set up s l o w l y . . . I don't think this chapter did the series, or the writer justice. All being said and done, if you ignore the fact at least eight months worth of story lines were squeezed in here, this is a fantastic chapter. It just feels rushed, as if a schedule had been enforced on the creative team.

4Art - 4: Pier Gallo has a fantastic talent for using minimal detail to convey the depth of a story that really draws you in. This issue was no different as I was drawn into the creepiness of Hollowville and its mysteries. Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo make a fantastic team.

4Cover Art - 4: A brilliant, spooky, evil, threatening cover that conveys the evil Conner faces perfectly. The downer that knock a point off? This is a pre relaunch story, so how about an editor does the job and point out Superboy is wearing the WRONG shield?

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2011

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