In the latest of our comprehensive series of reviews of DC Comics' 52 relaunched titles, we take a look at Superboy #1.
Who's it by?
Superboy #1 is written by Scott Lobdell (X-Men, Excalibur) and drawn by R.B. Silva.
What's the history?
Kon-El first appeared back in 1993 in Adventures of Superman #500 as a metahuman clone designed to look and act like Superman, and he was created by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett.
The future 'Superboy' was created by Project Cadmus following Superman's supposed death at the hands of Doomsday,' and went on to star in his own self-titled series between 1994 and 2002, during which time he also co-founded the teen superhero team Young Justice.
After settling in Smallville, Kon-El eventually took on the civilian identity of Conner Kent and joined up with the Teen Titans in 2003, retconned as a hybrid clone of Superman and his human nemesis Lex Luthor.
The character played a major role in the 2005 DC Comics event Infinite Crisis, where he tragically died at the hands of Superboy-Prime.
However, he was later resurrected in the far future by Legion of Superheroes member Braniac 5, and eventually returned to the present day alongside Superman Bart Allen.
Superboy #1 will completely reboot the character's origins, depicting him as the failed experiment of a new organisation called N.O.W.H.E.R.E., who are attempting to create a hybrid clone from both Kryptonian and human DNA.
While the original Superboy received his human DNA from Lex Luthor, DC Comics are keeping very quiet about whose DNA was used in the creation of their newest Superboy.
The character will also be closely linked to the new Teen Titans series, and is expected to eventually become a member of the team.
Superboy opens by introducing readers to the captive Superboy as he observes his human creators from a containment cell.
Although the scientists believe he is simply a failed experiment with no detectable brainwaves, Superboy's internal thoughts reveal that he simply has more advanced biology than they are aware of.
After being deemed a 'failed experiment', Superboy is injected with cyanide, causing him to break out of confinement and brutally kill most of the scientists present.
Superboy is then recaptured and forced to experience various virtual reality simulations designed to prepare him for becoming N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s private superhero weapon.
What's the verdict?
The opening issue of Superboy is likely to be a jarring experience for longtime fans of the character, but the simplification of Kon-El's complicated origins is a welcome change which fits nicely into DC's plans for 'The New 52'.
While the overuse of Superboy's internal monologue can be pretty jarring at times, it does help readers to appreciate the character's higher intelligence, as he constantly outwits his human captors.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new series is the source of Superboy's human DNA, although this question is likely to remain unanswered for some time.
Lobdell throws several interesting subplots into this first issue, from Superboy's conflicted emotions towards the red-haired scientist to Lois Lane's involvement, as well as a final page cliffhanger teasing the future involvement of the Teen Titans.
Silva's artwork is a good fit for the series, being stylistic enough that his figurework doesn't look too generic, although the lack of any real action sequences means the majority of the issue feels relatively static.
Overall, Superboy #1 has the potential to create a powerful origin story for the future Superboy, but will need to provide significant character development in future issues if readers are expected to identity with the titular character.
> Buy the digital version of Superboy #1
> Read our review of Action Comics #1
> Read our review of Supergirl #1
Watch an extended trailer for the DC Comics New 52 below: