What a strange title… we already have at least two Men of Tomorrow in the DC Universe and the whole premise of this book is that Conner Kent wants to find his own place in the world. The subtitle has to be a nod to the recent Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow mini-series, which some people enjoyed. I didn’t.
I did, though, like this debut issue a lot. It’s the result of a DC Online vote which saw several short tryout stories put before fans under the Round Robin 2022 banner. Writer Kenny Porter begins by showing how crowded Metropolis is feeling to Conner Kent after his return from another reality. When he left, Superman had Metropolis to himself but suddenly Supergirl is based there too, and Superman has a near-grown son. A run-in with Dr Polaris while picking up Big City Coffee for foster parents Jonathan and Martha Kent sees him turn into Super Fifth Wheel
A chat with Ma and Pa Kent gets Superboy thinking that perhaps a new direction is called for.
To the Fortress of Solitude, where major domo Kelex reveals that Earth’s surfeit of superheroes has all current crises covered. There are, though, many worlds in the galaxy that could use a Super.
And off he goes, to parts unknown but a familiar situation – ordinary people trying to survive in the face of bullies. The initial skirmishes go in Conner’s favour, forcing the lead Dominator to bring out the big guns
I loved this comic. Superboy is a great character, but sorely underused. Porter spotlights Conner’s deep desire to do good, his willingness to go beyond the ends of the earth if help is needed. When he was created in the Nineties the Clone of Steel was initially defined by his cockiness and often came a cropper, but over time he learned from his mistakes. So it is that the hero we get here is confident but not overly so; he assesses the situation as he goes, making plans as he learns the nature of threats. Not that this stops him being in a Super pickle by the closing page of the issue, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
In the first issue of Tom King’s frankly terrible Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow series Kara leaves Earth and gets rat-arsed because she reckons Nobody Loves Her, something readers knew was rubbish. There was nothing on page to contradict the idea, though. Here, that isn’t the case.
Superman’s words show he cares about Conner. Kara and Jon’s expressions indicate they see he’s feeling slighted and feel sorry for him, or are ashamed they’ve trampled over his moment of triumph. Maybe it’s a bit of both.
Conner is an appealing lead character as Porter pretty much ignores Geoff Johns’s handling of the hero in Teen Titans, where he was an angsty jock. This is the original ‘Kid’, light-hearted but deadly serious about living up to Superman’s legacy.
I also like that Porter makes it clear Superboy will not kill (in S:WoT Kara didn’t kill anyone but she condoned mob justice, taking a little girl to a stoning).
As for the choice of Big Villain, the Dominators are among the creepiest of DC’s alien races, a definite plus.
Jahnoy Lindsay’s full-colour art is a treat, with Superboy visually charismatic, a picture of good-natured determination, and his enemies suitably unnerving. The Super Family also look great, particularly Supergirl in her justifiably shortlived S:WoT outfit. Superboy’s tactile telekinesis looks terrific, too, and that silent ‘eureka’ panel at the Kent farm is lovely, but my favourite piece of art is a visual montage of Conner’s past..
Could the Boy of Steel look any more weirded out?
Also of note, page one’s Action Comics #1 covet homage. We’ve seen a fair few of these over the last few years but they never get old.
The attractive lettering choices come courtesy of Lucas Gattoni, the rough, stitched effect on the narration boxes suits Superboy down to the ground.
I’m less keen on the new Superboy logo, a take on the classic Super-masthead that leaves me flat. The lower case ‘u’ doesn’t help matters. Lindsay gives us a great image though, with our hero looking a right cheeky chappy… it doesn’t half remind me of something. Help!
This issue contains a Green Lantern John Stewart tale which was also in the Round Robin contest. Written by Si Spurrier and drawn by Marco Santucci, three panels in and I had a headache.
It may be very good for what it is, but what it is isn’t for me. I can see why this impenetrable entry didn’t triumph.
Ignoring the back-up, this first issue is a gem. I don’t know how long this series is set to run, but I strongly suspect I’ll love it throughout.
2 thoughts on “Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow #1 review”
I’ve read the first two issues on this one on the DCUI App, too! I’ve been wary of the mainline Super Books specifically because there are 5 other “S” wearers in Metropolis now BESIDES Conn, so this little mini has been entertaining me perfectly!
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Thanks for the heads-up. What the heck is this mini doing appearing in advance of publication on the app? How very confusing.