Mikyzptlk: Ah, the Ticking Clock. This dramatic device has been used countless times in probably every story telling medium imaginable. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s fairly simple. If you are a writer and want to add a bit more tension or urgency to your story, just introduce a countdown or time bomb element of some kind. The H’el on Earth event has been using this particular device since the Star Chamber threatening Earth was introduced. Superboy 17 introduces yet another ticking clock, and, as it turns out, it’s fairly effective.
Shelby: I’m usually pretty excited for annuals. They’re an extra opportunity to spend time with the books I’m reading; about twice as long, and often separate from the main continuity, for me annuals are a fun, special thing to read. Lately, however, my streak with annuals has not been so great. I hated the New Guardians annual, because it was so removed from main continuity as to be an intro to a new book. Moreover, DC led me to believe otherwise by showing me a cover featuring Kyle, and then changing the coloring slightly to have the cover actually feature Jedidiah Caul of Threshold. I’ve got a similar complaint here with the Superboy annual; DC promised me Rose Wilson, daughter of Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke, and gave me a regular issue stretched out to annual length by repeating the same terrible dialogue and character posturing over and over again. Continue reading →
Patrick: Drew had to fight pretty hard to find some meaning in last month’s issue of Superboy. I’m not saying his assertions are wrong, but they certainly meet Tom DeFalco more than half-way. Shelby was not so kind. This issue, by comparison, brings some strong characterization of Superboy, non-stop action and an interesting theme (with clever call-backs). This issue isn’t going to start any Superboy-revolution, but it is a tonally consistent, exciting story. Maybe I’m setting the Superbar pretty low at this point…
Drew: We’re pretty big fans of meta-commentary here at Retcon Punch. That is, the notion that the way a story is told can reflect the themes of the narrative itself (or vice versa), adding another level of meaning to the work, and often some kind of experiential element. This can happen when a character experiences time in an unusual way, or when our expectations for a title might be unreasonable, but we generally treat those moments as specifically designed by the creators to speak to our own experience of the title. Tom DeFalco isn’t responsible for the strange identity crisis Superboy (the series) has experienced in the New 52 (at least, not solely responsible), but issue 15 finds him tying that in beautifully to Kon’s own identity issues. Continue reading →
Drew: We read a lot of comics at Retcon Punch. One of the best thing about reading so many comics (besides, you know, reading so many comics) is that when we do pick up the odd issue of a title we’re not reading — usually for a crossover event — we still kind of know what’s going on. We may not get every reference to what has happened before, but because we’ve seen glimpses of, say, the Red Lanterns in Green Lantern: New Guardians, we kind of know what’s going on with them when we pick up Red Lanterns 13. This works well enough for stories set in Gotham or Oa, where our coverage of related titles is relatively robust, but it breaks down if crossovers are happening in our blind spots. The Superman and Young Justice groups happen to both be blind-spots for me, which makes jumping into a title like Superboy at issue 14 a particularly disorienting experience. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and (special guest writer) Nick Idell are discussing Superboy 0, originally released September 12, 2012. Superboy 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Drew: I’ve never been a big fan of origin stories. They tend to be overly plotty, displacing more telling character moments in favor of unwieldy exposition. In short, I see them as a necessary evil we often need to get out of the way before the real story can begin. It’s unfortunate, then, that I live in an age where superhero origin stories are so ubiquitous, every third Spider-Man movie needs to revisit that well. We’ve fetishized origins, pushing them to ever-increasing complexity, straining the very limits of pre-title copy that attempts to explain it all. “The Supergirl and Robin of Earth-2 are trapped on Earth-1” sounds relatively snappy, but likely requires an explanation of what the fuck Earth-2 is, and how exactly they get trapped in the first place. These baroque origins relay details, which requires more space to properly explore, resulting even more bloated exposition. “Scientists clone Superman” is such a clean, self-contained idea, but Superboy 0 finds writer Tom DeFalco ladling on the details, buddying the message into an inexplicable hash.