H’el On Earth: Superboy #15
It would be remiss not to mention that fans of DC Comics have strong opinions on the New 52. Either they like what’s being done in the wide scale reboot, or they don’t. There’s little-to-no in between on the matter. For fans of Supergirl, Superboy, and Superman in particular, the H’el on Earth story arc is likely to either turn them on or off of the evolving portrayal of their favorite heroes. It is equally likely that readers will find lots to cheer for in Superboy #15.
Superboy and Superman become not-so-unlikely allies in this issue, which mainly deals with the repercussions of H’el’s decision to unravel Superboy’s DNA. Though the comic is not particularly action packed, character development is established in the formation of an alliance between Superman and Superboy, and readers will be sufficiently concerned over Superboy’s condition to keep engaged in the storyline.
Despite stylistic inconsistencies, overall the art in Superboy #15 is of a solid quality. There’s plenty of detail to drink in on every page, keeping the reader’s mind occupied, and colors both dark and bright are interspersed on almost every page, keeping things from appearing monochromatic and highlighting the focal point of each panel. The characters are also well drawn for the most part, though their facial expressions look slightly taut and unnatural in certain instances.
Superman is compelled to deal with the immediate concern of attempting to undo the damage H’el has induced in Superboy. In order to do this, he must begin by defying the police, who have Superboy cornered and plan to take him into custody. Superman flies away with Superboy against their orders, taking Superboy to his Fortress of Solitude, where he will attempt to provide him with the help he desperately needs. It is refreshing to see Superman portrayed once again as a confident and assured hero, who always does the right thing when people’s lives are at stake, since his role in times of inaction as a temperamental writer who resents Lois’s attempts at establishing relationships outside of their friendship and quits his job after a fight with his boss has been steadily growing tiresome.
Still, while Superman is at his best in the New 52 in times of crisis, comic book writers must remain careful when depicting his encounters with law enforcement. If Superman disregards the confines of the law too frequently, he’ll become less the Boy Scout Hero fans have grown to know and more of a vigilante. While it was necessary for him to get Superboy out of the clutches of the police and into safety, the accompanying implication that he is above the law is a little alarming.
Fans who were upset over the changes made to Superman’s suit may be comforted to learn that these changes were not needless, exhibited by the fact his reimagined costume does serve an integral purpose in the plot of this issue. The high-tech suit, which the new 52 has portrayed as Kryptonian Battle Armor as opposed to a costume stitched together by Martha Kent, is placed on Superboy by Superman on a hunch that its capabilities may allow Superboy to make a recovery. It does stabilize the unraveling of Superboy’s DNA, cutting into his telekinesis and increasing his physical abilities in the process. This brings Superboy and Superman together, despite Superboy’s initial reluctance.
By the end of the comic, they agree to find a way to defeat H’el together. In fact, the ending seems rather anti-climatic until, in a surprising twist, H’el mysteriously appears in the midst of Superman’s haven, and commandeers the place for himself, throwing them both out.