Superboy Man of Tomorrow #1
CONNER KENT TAKES CENTER STAGE! After the events of Dark Crisis, Conner feels out of place with the rest of the hero community. He doesn't fit in with the rest of the Superman Family, and the rest of the world doesn't really need him with so many Supers in Metropolis. He doesn't want to rely on Tim, Cassie, and Bart, so Conner looks to the stars as a place he might be able to call his own and carve out his own path. But what lurks in the great unknown? Are bravado and swagger enough to help Superboy find his new calling? This is the 2022 Round Robin winner-picked by you, the fans!
The world moved on without Conner Kent. His friends and loved ones forgot who he was. But now that Conner is back, what is his place? Who is he in a world where he never was? A previous series recently attempted to tackle this theme but failed. Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow #1 returns to it and offers the potential for a much greater exploration of that theme and Conner Kent.
Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow #1 opens on Conner in Metropolis, catching cars mid-air. Is he saving the day from Doctor Polaris? He’s just on a coffee run from Smallville. When he tries to do anything more substantial, he finds Kara, Jon, and Clark already on the case. Each gives him a polite brush-off, and Conner picks up his coffee and flies back to the farm. This incident feeds into Conner’s general mood that he doesn’t fit in anymore–that even though he’s back in this reality, everyone has moved on without him. This triggers an idea, so Conner flies off the Fortress of Solitude and looks for problems that need a superhero. Limiting his search for incidents on Earth reveals that someone is already handling everything. So Conner expands his search outward, finds a planet under attack by the Dominators, and teleports to the rescue.
The general theme underlying Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow #1 is Conner trying to find himself in a world that, as he correctly observes, went on without him. Readers who also followed Dark Crisis Young Justice will discover this notion is not entirely dissimilar from that series. But Porter’s story sees Conner go in the opposite direction as a result; rather than wallow in this sentiment of being lost (both literally and metaphorically), Conner is proactive in trying to find a place in the world as it is now.
Is the solution that Porter gives Conner a little too simplistic? Perhaps. But as the issue goes on, that simplicity evolves into a story component in that Conner may have charged too fast into something and is now out of his depth. Depending on how Porter’s story becomes in upcoming issues, this could also be a practical thematic component.
The setup for this theme comes surprisingly. Of all the characters one might expect to make Conner feel worse about his situation, fellow members of the House of El wouldn’t seem likely. But that’s precisely what happens. Porter’s dialogue in the opening pages is polite to the point of condescension. Conner is already involved in helping Doctor Polaris’s situation when Kara, Jon, and Clark arrive and more or less shoo him out of the way. The way the characters talk, it is as if they are doing him a favor. At one point, Conner offers to handle some random billboard debris, only for Jon to tell him what a good idea that is, and he’ll take care of that so Conner doesn’t have to. It’s the dialogue equivalent of patting a child on the head over an idea for something that you were doing anyway. This is only a three-page scene, but it is an effective way to show how even the people we expect to be most invested in Conner are not on the same page as he is emotionally. And it more than justifies his later actions.
Lindsay’s art takes a moment to get used to. All the human/Kryptonian characters in Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow #1 appear so happy and fresh-faced that it initially feels artificial. But this quickly becomes an asset because of how it presents Jon. Porter’s story is about a young man looking for a way to help people and positively impact a world that doesn’t seem to need him. Lindsay’s depiction of Jon is of a true innocent–almost naively so. By the time the story moves to the alien planet, Jon is the only human left in the book, so his appearance of someone taking nonstop joy in life stands out as a unique quality and drives the reader to not just sympathize with Jon as the protagonist but to invest in his plight emotionally.
Lindsay’s coloring is bright throughout, making for a lively issue. He leans toward a blue hue on Earth and green on the alien world. It’s a subtle distinction that, while not necessary to differentiate the two settings, is a nice touch. The generally bright coloring further reinforces the well-meaning, good-natured attitude Lindsay’s pencils and inks already give to Jon.
Gattoni chooses a yellow/red theme for Jon’s caption boxes, consistent with the coloring of John’s crest. Thankfully he picks yellow as the dominant color to set the text against and red as the border. The opposite choice–red captain boxes are often more striking–would have been more challenging to read. He is liberal, emphasizing dialogue–large fonts that protrude from bubbles and various colors. It contributes to an overall fast-paced story.
Superboy: The Man of Tomorrow #1 is a high energy first issue that delivers a lot of fun. The issue makes much more effective use of Jon’s difficulties reconnecting with this world than has recently been done. The story elements are direct and simple (as is the art at times). But it’s easy for the reader to quickly invest in Jon and his compelling story.
Superboy The Man of Tomorrow #1: A Place to Belong
- Writing - 9/109/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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