By Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker (writers), Francis Manapul and Clayton Henry (artists), Brian Buccellato and Brian Reber (colorists)
The Stories: Johns opens the book on a squadron of military helicopters searching for Brainiac and Luthor, who have both just escaped. Brainiac and Luthor are in cahoots and nothing good is going to come of this. Flash forward to Conner getting ready for Cassie to come over for supper. They each have issues to struggle through. The second story is about the Legion of Superheroes. Mekt Ranzz (Lightning Lord) will tell the Legion where all the supervillain safehouses are if Lightning Lad will talk to him in prison. Seems easy, right? Wrong!
What’s Good: Johns did some very solid character work on the Superboy story. Connor is wound up, worrying about how he looks, and he’s hopelessly transparent, yet perfectly believable. I also really like the clever use of Conner’s obsessive little lists. What did Superman do? What did Luthor do? The amount of time he spends looking at those two columns and comparing himself to them show how worried he is about who he is. Johns also did really deft work on Cassie and Conner catching up. That year apart put a lot of space between them. This character work sounds like it would be dull, but it’s exactly the opposite because both characters are so likable with their desires so obvious.
Johns and Shoemaker pulled some more fine writing out of their hats for the Legion story. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to follow the Legion, so I don’t remember Garth being so spun up, but Johns sets up the characters so even a long-absent fan like me can understand everything. The human supremacy movement was an interesting touch (not original, but interesting), as were the words that Garth and Mekt shared. I didn’t see that surprise coming.
Manapul’s art was brilliantly page-slowing for me. I’d be done with the words, but reluctant to turn the page, because I wanted to keep admiring the art. The double splash page opening the book was awesome and I loved the realism combined with the rough, almost old-school pencil lines that Manapul left for strategic shading. Brainiac sitting in his control chair, wires sprouting from his head, Luthor standing in prison browns with smears of blood on his wrists… All memorable and awesome…Also Manapul’s and Buccellato’s work on Cassie and Conner under a pink, starry sky was just great.
What’s Not So Good: I had no complaints whatsoever about the Superboy story. However, I wasn’t wowed by Clayton Henry’s pencils on the Legion back-up story, nor was it easy on my suspension of disbelief to see super-powered prisoners manacled in their cells in costume.
Conclusion: This issue is worth buying just for the Superboy story. Little action on the outside, but lots of action on the inside. Buy this book.