Back as a regular title after a quarter of a century, Adventure Comics proves more fun than expected. There’s an airy feel to Geoff Johns’ script for the lead strip, Superboy, which I appreciate after the complexities/clutter of the current Green Lantern storylines. This is a simple tale of the newly resurrected Conner Kent beginning a search for his place in the world.
Along the way we meet two new supporting characters, teen brain Simon Valentine and . . . I can’t say as she’s not actually named. It could be the comics version of TV’s Chloe Sullivan, at last. Anyway, it’s a blonde and she likes Superboy, but likes someone else more. As for Simon, he looks to be a well-meaning boy genius but history may send him down a familiar path. That’s according to what appears to be a swamp monster but is actually someone more benevolent, as smartly revealed in the second tale.
Johns does a great job of reintroducing Conner, and showing how he and Martha Kent could be just what one another needs. The story structure, with Conner trying to model his second chance on the life of co-DNA donor Superman, is clever and facilitates a pleasingly logical ending.
Francis Manapul’s art here is a terrific surprise. On the Legion’s most recent run his work was clunky and angular – not unsuited to the strip, but not my favourite. Here it’s softer edged and when you add Brian Buccellato’s palette you have a gorgeous story, as a blaze of autumnal colours light up the pages.
I mentioned the second tale above, but have no intention of spoiling its reveal – you’ll feel smart when you figure it out for yourself, and I’m not denying anyone that. While this was advertised as a Starman solo, it’s not at all, with plenty of other Legionnaires appearing. Which is nice.
I liked this opener less than the Superboy lead-off because we’re back in the land of a never-ending Johns plot, Starman’s missions in the 21st century. I’m old enough to have read plenty of stories featuring LSH members in the present day (see Karate Kid, Valor, Leionnaires, Inferno etc) and my prevailing thought is ‘So, when are they going home?’ Because the Legion’s unique selling point is their far future setting, and if they’re not there, I don’t care.
Which isn’t to say this isn’t an entertaining little read for its minuscule 8pp runtime. Starman remains the poster boy for the Let’s Laugh at Schizophrenics League, and we see that there are even more members hanging around the 21st century than previously revealed. There’s one of Johns’ patented final page previews of upcoming events and it’s full of promise, bar the final panel, which has me grimacing in a ‘change the bloody record’ sorta way. But this merely whets my appetite for a full-size portion of Legion goodness.
Clayton Henry’s stripwork is more than adequate here, with an especially impressive job on a double page shot of the Legion. It’s just a shame some printer’s devil scuppered the right hand side powers and abilities text boxes, making them unreadable. That’s after mixing Night Girl and Shadow Lass’s captions.
Still, it wasn’t a bad beginning to the latest Legion revival and, if tradition prevails, they’ll be taking over the book within a year or so.