H’el on Earth Part 2: Superboy #14
Not too long ago, we reviewed the first part of the H’el on Earth story arc taking place in DC’s Superman family. That first part was simply the prelude to the crossover, and now we get into the real first part of the story. Superboy #14 is what brings the New 52’s Superboy into the fray with the Superman family. During the first year of this book, a lot has happened that’s worth a really quick summary for a new reader:
- Superboy escaped from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., the facility that created him
- He started hanging out with the Teen Titans, who don’t seem to like him too much
- He had some exposure to the Legion Lost team as well as the Ravagers
- He discovered he was a clone
- He stole a lot of money to pay for a snazzy lifestyle because he doesn’t know any better – he’s less than a year old!
How’s that? Quick and dirty. Now we can move on.
After the results of all of the above – which, let’s face it, is a little daunting to suddenly spring into existence and have all that thrown at you – Superboy is a little lost as to what his place is in the world. He returns to his apartment to find out that he is not alone. One of his teammates in the Teen Titans, Bunker, is hanging out waiting for him. They had plans, which Superboy tries to ditch, but Bunker isn’t taking no for an answer. Turns out he’s the only member of the Titans who actually likes Superboy, and as such our young clone spills his story to Bunker as well as his name (which was imposed on him by Supergirl) – Kon-El *.
When Superboy begins to explain what kind of an insult it is, a voice looms from behind him, calling him an abomination. Kon turns to face the voice, who seems somewhat surprised that there is a clone here. He’s more concerned because he wonders how Earth technology could create such a being. Kon looks at the creature – who, the reader can see is H’el – and asks him to leave (after first pointing out that the big red S on his chest is backwards). Bunker is suitably confused, however, since only Kon is able to see H’el. (Remember at the end of the prelude when we mentioned that neither Superman or Supergirl could see him? He can be seen only when he wants to be…) And he really doesn’t like a Kryptonian clone… so he puts him through his paces – by sending him plummeting through the street.
Even though he can’t see who Kon is talking to, Bunker knows something is up, at first thinking N.O.W.H.E.R.E. took back control of Superboy. He sends out a signal for help, with a great big T appearing in sky. (You can guess what happens next…) While all that goes on, Superboy is trying to stay alive after the attack from H’el. He sends out some debris from the ground towards the invader, who easily repels the attack and then gets the drop on Kon. The Titans arrive on scene – Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Solstice and Bunker – and proceed to try to save Superboy, who is literally being torn apart by H’el. They attempt to intervene, but H’el sends them away with a simple wave of his hand. That doesn’t stop our headstrong teenagers, though; they return to the fray. H’el seems them merely as inconveniences and decides to take the fight elsewhere… and Superboy with him. They vanish leaving the Titans confused as to what just happened. But where did Superboy and H’el go to? You’ll have to check out Part 3.
Writer Tom DeFalco has done what he could in the 2 issues since he took over as solo writer to lock down FAR too many story arcs going on with the character. The list above happened all in one year, and there was some major criticism over it all by fans (myself included) – it was going so fast that even the readers were getting lost. Superboy may have a lot of powers, but he’s no Wolverine or Spider-Man – there’s no need to have him in umpteen different titles in the same month! It appears that with this crossover, Superboy will be a major component (while the Titans will be integrated into the Death of the Family arc going on over in the Bat-titles) which means maybe some focus can be given on him instead of Kon getting second billing to everyone else. He is integral to what’s going on with the Super-family here in the New 52 and it’s time to address it (apart from a brief acknowledgement in the past). It looks like DeFalco is taking the reigns here to make that happen. Unfortunately, this issue suffers as a result because not only did it bring Kon into the Superman family proper, but it also had to spend time to remove him from the Titans so it could move forward.
The artwork by R.B. Silva and Rob Lean is good. Not great, but good. Some of the faces seem a tad… off for my liking, but the artists have the body architecture down well. (I’ve been harping a lot on this recently after reading some older books – if you cannot draw a person well, you shouldn’t try to. Specifically hands and feet and body proportions. We all know who I mean.) The inking in this title is a little strange to me, and reminds me of Skott Kolins run on Flash some time back. There’s not a lot of shading to give detail, but instead an outline in many cases where the colorist has to fill in the gap to show the different dimensions. It’s not bad, but it’s also not my personal favorite.
All in all, this book seemed more like another prelude issue leading into H’el on Earth rather than a major component of the story. Part 3 really begins to dive into the arc, so hopefully it progresses more smoothly as the issues go on.
* Kon means clone on Krypton, so Kon-El is a clone from the house of El.