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Comic Book Throwback Review- Superboy #1 (DC Comics)

Superboy #1 (DC Comics) cover (detail) by Tom Grummett
Superboy #1
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Summary

Writer: Karl Kesel

Pencils: Tom Grummett

Inks: Doug Hazlewood

Colors: Tom McCraw

Letters: Richard Starkings

Hawaii seems the perfect destination for Superboy: sun, waves, beaches and babes. What else could a teen hero want? Well, the super villain Sidearm has a different idea for Superboy’s arrival, and it is not a game of beach volleyball! 

 

Don’t Mess With the “S” Superboy #1

Welcome to another comic book throwback review, with Superboy #1. Today we are going into the 1990’s with a character that is pure 90’s radness in Conner Kent or Kon-El. The leather jacket wearing, round sunglasses tilting, fade haircut styling… the one – the only – Superboy, with attitude to spare. Look, say what you will, but if you don’t like the 90’s Superboy design, then I don’t think we can be friends. It is spectacular! It oozes the attitude that the character needs. Plus, modern artists have put different spins on it that are cool (two of my faves from Babs Tarr and Jorge Jimenez) without changing the overall lovely design.

Superboy #1 (DC Comics) cover by Tom Grummett
Superboy #1 (DC Comics) cover by Tom Grummett

I have always loved that design, but not being a big DC comics reader growing up I never knew much about Superboy. Well finding Superboy #1 in a $1 bin a few years ago seemed like a good start, or is it?

The Big Island

Superboy #1 was written by Karl Kesel with pencils by Tom Grummett, inks by Doug Hazlewood, colors by Tom McCraw, and lettered by Richard Starkings.

So, I know 90’s comics usually get a bad rap. With the era of extreme everything they are not known as the best work. But there are some gems in there and not all of them are bad. So, I did not want to stereotype this 1994 comic book. But, the first line Superboy says he is going to and I quote “pump up the volume”. The dialgue does not get much better from there as Superboy fights a villain around his new place of residence, Hawaii.

Now looking back, the dialogue is a bit cringey and a bit over the top. But for this incarnation of Superboy I kind of like it. He is rebellious and is supposed to have attitude. He just does it in the most 90’s PG way I guess they could get away with at the time. The dialogue actually really works for this character; because, he is supposed to be young and brash. He is a teenager that is not making the best decisions.

The other characters in the book have dialogue, though, that does not fare much better, and it does not quite fit for anybody but Kon-El.

The Big #1

This issue of Superboy starts somewhere after the whole Death of Superman debacle. For me, it is not a great springboard for jumping into the character of Superboy. There are a lot of characters that he has history with that are not introduced well, nor are their actions explained. We are just thrown into everything and it happens a bit too fast. His history and who he actually is needs a bit more intro from this 1st issue, as well.

Superboy also fights one of the worst villains ever in Sidearm. Who literally has a third metal arm, but also some new random attachments coming out of his “techno vest.” No, I did not make that up, either. I mean they could have really picked a better villain. Superboy apparently has history with him, but I think that could have been forgotten about.

Superboy might also have the dumbest power explanation in this issue. Well if you call it explaining. I am still not sure what “Tactile Telekinesis” is. Go ahead read the wiki page. It still makes no sense. But I guess it works all the same, and makes him a bit different.

Superboy

The art in Superboy #1 is not terrible. It does have that 90’s aesthetic to it: super muscular; oddly thin; just all around odd, scantily clad bodies, which get a pass since they are on a beach. I actually like the overall design and feel of the issue. There is some quality character detail and some fun pages throughout.

I mean Superboy’s costume looks amazing that is a given.Beyond that the book actually opens with a fantastic page of Superboy flying over Hawaii. It looks beautiful. He is kind of gracefully soaring, looking like he is about to dive down. The perspective of him way above the tiny land mass looks great.

The major problem with the art is the overall storytelling and sequencing. There are several parts where it felt like a page or panel was missing. For instance, there is a panel with Sidearm holding a hostage and Superboy flying off. Then the next page Superboy has Sidearm with him in the air and is hurdling towards the ground. There’s no explanation of how that happened. There are a few instances like this in the book.

The highlight of Superboy #1 is the coloring work. Very surprised with the work from Tom McCraw. The brighter coloration really fit with the issue and it works extremely well.

To The Max

So, Superboy #1 was not the introduction to the character that I wanted, nor was it the best story ever told. But it was fun to read. The dialogue is a bit cringe worthy, but for the 90’s, Superboy being full of attitude works for his character. I mean I paid $1, for it so I can’t complain too much. Plus again, it is worth it just to look at that delightful costume. 

I can’t say if you really want to get into this character you should seek out this issue, but I mean it’s worth a $1 if you find it. I give it 2 leather jackets out of 5.


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About the author

Brent Jackson

Brent is happily married and an avid comic book consumer who loves nothing more than the smell of comics in the morning and diving through a long box of back issues. By day he is a nutritionist and has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years. He is probably not the coolest person you have ever met. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @brentjackson30

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