ART: Robson Rocha, Eduardo Pansica, Greg Adams, Mariah Benes, and Andy Owens.
Well, so much for that short-lived run of passable Superboy issues. Scott Lobdell's reintroduction of the Boy of Steel has been riddled with problems since the beginning. The task of reassigning years of convoluted backstory is already a daunting one, yet Lobdell decided it would be fun to make things even more complicated by starting off with one of the most complex, interwoven, boring story arcs I've read in a long time. That being said, issues 10 and 11 went on the upswing, taking Kon-El (and the Teen Titans because they can't possible exist without each other, right? RIGHT?) to Mystery Island then to New York City, giving him new placed to explore and discover more about himself without the distractions of villains constantly swinging at him.
Superboy #12 loses it's grip and falls down to "N.O.W.H.E.R.E." levels of sap and disingenuousness. Last month, we learned that Kon's understanding of good and bad are somewhat skewed when he purposefully robbed a bank in order to live a comfortable enough life in New York City. While this situation was approached by fellow Teen Titan Bunker, I gave Lobdell and Tom DeFalco a pass because it was such a small part of the overall issue. Unfortunately, the same problem that's been plaguing Superboy since it's first issue are back, and it's worse than ever after a couple of decent issues that showed these writers can actually do good work with this character. This issue, however, is not good work. There really isn't a story in these pages as much as a string of random occurrences that somehow culminate in a confrontation with some unexplained mystical enemy. Every bit of this issue is groan-worthy and eye-rollingly silly.
It turns out Superboy's landlord, Dallas, is a Paris Hilton-esque party girl with little ambition and a cadre of semi-famous friends that aren't all that interesting. DeFalco transports us readers to a stereotypical nightclub with cliched night owls raging to indistinguishable dance music. It's here that the audience is treated to pages and pages of inane dialogue between Dallas, her friends, and the ever-annoyingly-naive Superboy. Last issue, I explained that the main problem with Superboy's limited understanding of the real world is that it's inconsistent. If N.O.W.H.E.R.E. was trying to create a competent being that could operate in the human world, basic morality and ethics would have been a part of the downloaded curriculum. Here, it's more evident than ever. How does a person who knows advanced mathematical formulas and can manipulate telekinetic energy not know how to dance? He never even saw a clip of people dancing? The idea that simple pieces of knowledge like these apparently slipped through the cracks is just preposterous. And I haven't even got to the issue's villain yet.
Up at bat this month is Kiva, a woman with glowing eyes who can make you see things that aren't there. It's really no more complicated than that, but DeFalco spends most of these panels with Superboy's continued confusion at the situation. It's extremely frustrating to see the main character fumble around so much in his own series. Yes, it's jarring to have your surroundings suddenly change in an instant, but Kon-El has been through much worse than some wonky demon-looking things.
Really, this issue feels phoned in. Tom DeFalco's awful story is just boring and gratingly inane, while the artwork from Robson Rocha and Eduardo Pansica is plain ugly. There was only one panel I truly enjoyed and that's because it had hints of Darwyn Cooke's style nestled in there. Otherwise, the panels looked rushed and dated. I really did have high hopes for Superboy after it's last two issues. I even conceded that my issues with the series were due to the cumbersome N.O.W.H.E.R.E. arc. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Superboy is just bad.