Superboy-Prime’s tantrum rages once again and covers the entire emotional spectrum.
What They Say:
The Black Lanterns have forced Prime to face his deepest and darkest fears, but what – and who – are they? And how will Superboy-Prime strike back after this devastating attack?
With Adventure Comics spending its Blackest Night time dealing with Superboy-Prime, the previous issue did a decent job of getting some of the basics about him on track in a short and clean form though not without it being somewhat confusing even if you’re an old hand it. The character has been screwed over so much in the larger DC Universe history that trying to wedge him into things is difficult. With him residing in the real world alongside us, the readers, this issue has him coping with seeing the Blackest Night event play out and seeing only more pain and misery ahead for himself. With the arrival of Luthor and the fight that ensues, Superboy-Prime finds himself in the heart of the big city and fighting back in the actual halls of the DC Comics office. That offers up a lot of fun if you know who the people are with the cameos of the editorial staff and others and some of the little nods here and there. It’s a bit too self-referential, something I felt with the previous issue, and this one takes it a step further.
Superboy-Prime does take an interesting approach in the attack, one that we haven’t seen at this point in the core Blackest Night storyline, in that during the fight he rips off one of the rings and wears it for himself. Considering the nature of the Earth he’s living in and the utter discontinuity that the character suffers from in general, never mind his mental state, the reaction the ring has to him is priceless. The initial Black Lantern version is creepy as hell since the character already has gone pretty bad at times, having wanted to destroy literally everything in order to restart it in a more beautiful way without all the ugliness. So seeing that he runs the gamut of the emotional spectrum, going through each of the phases with a huge burst of rage thrown into the mix, it’s an impressive moment until it all burns out. His emotional state at the end of it really continues what he’s been put through before, where he knows he’s a puppet and just wants to be a hero, but realizes that he can never be because that’s not what’s in the cards by those who control them. Which, in the end, is sad.
In addition to the main storyline, the backup feature starts the tale of the Earth-Zero Superboy, Conner Kent, who has just returned to Smallville only to discover that Lori is causing trouble. She’s vandalizing a clinic in town, which is a repeat offense for her considering some of the other things she’s done to the doctor recently, and he can’t understand why she would do it, much as she can’t figure out why he’s treating her as nicely as he is. It’s a decent little piece at the start that allows Conner to explain in a basic way the why of how he acts and what he’s about. The story takes an odd twist, almost Psycho-like when he takes her back to her house, before it runs with the big reveal about who is standing outside the door that’s come to visit. With the few pages that are here, it doesn’t really utilize things well and Manapul’s artwork doesn’t feel like it works for Conner. Between the two things, it’s an awkward setup overall that you just know is going to go in a different direction the next time around.
This Comixology edition of Adventure Comics leads with the Jerry Ordway main cover and then follows up with the Francis Manapul alternate cover. The practice of including both is definitely that is very fan friendly and gives the digital editions just that little bit more value for appreciating the artwork.
The lack of Legion material here makes me sad, but I liked the Superboy-Prime story overall simply because it does put the guy through the wringer and yet he keeps coming back to the same thing. He just wants to be a hero, something he was for so very many years and quite the inspiration for so many more. Yet he’s been denied it completely and finds himself at the whims of others in ways that will likely keep him from ever being what he wants to be. He’s tragic in a way that really makes me feel for him. The downside is that since he plays in the real world, some of the story elements go a bit too far since he carries the battle inside the DC Comics offices. It’s cute as a nod and a wink here and there, but this much of it just makes me cringe a little bit. The backup story doesn’t offer all that much in the end, though it reaffirms what kind of person Conner is, but that’s not enough to really draw you in with the limited space and the awkward pacing of it all. This issue is a bit of a mixed bag but just watching Superboy-Prime go through the emotional spectrum is worth it.