All Ages Adventure: Adventure Comics #3

Adventure Comics #3?
Featuring Superboy
By Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul
Published by DC Comics

Adventure Comics has a story that is synonymous with its name in more ways than one. Superboy’s world-traversing adventure nicely parallels an inner journey. When writing the Super Family there are certain guidelines or bullet points that make the stories what they are. Generally writers take from one and use it on the other; some build and expand on the mythos. This is what Adventure Comics sets out to do to an extent.

For now, Superboy (also known as Conner Kent) is the star of the series and recently back from the dead. News to you? Did you know that he died? Now granted, both his death and resurrection are from the same writer (and the one who helms this issue) so I’d like to think that it was in the plan all along. You see, in recent years, Geoff has been reestablishing some of DC Comics’ more popular but still B-List characters. To the general public at large, anyway.

Green Lantern recently got a well-deserved return to greatness, as did the Corps. Flash is another one well on his way, along with a movie next year. Geoff is even tackling such things as Blackest Night (DC’s big event), and Superman Secret Origins (which I’ve also reviewed). Factor in some movie scripts and stints on Smallville…well you get the idea. He’s become the go-to guy for everything DC Comics, along with Grant Morrison.

Geoff seems to be at his writing peak when he’s tackling the younger characters. Superboy is really trying to figure out who he is in the greater scheme of things. For those that don’t know, he’s essentially a clone mixed from Superman and Lex Luthor. So he’s got a bit of a bad side to him. He’s not sure if it’s still inside or if it can be changed. Superboy attends Smallville High and we meet some of the new cast. It’s essentially like the television show Smallville or anything Clark has had in his own comics. But like I said, take from one for the other and you have a new setup that is based on old themes.

We’re treated to science class and a whole conversation about good and evil and whether or not it’s in a person’s genetic makeup. Resident super-genius discusses how he could figure it out if he had pure D.N.A. from a pure evil person and one from pure good. Meanwhile Conner, through his super-hearing, hears Krypto in the distance and runs off to his aid.

He’s apparently helping Superboy find himself. How does he do this? By traveling the country rounding up all his super-villains and arch nemesis and bringing them to Smallville. Look, Krypto isn’t a slacker pooch and yeah it’s all in good fun…but if the dog can take your A-List villains down, well…

But he’s helping a little more than that. Superboy is trying to find Lex to see if there’s some good in him, hoping that maybe whatever is in his genetic makeup isn’t all evil. But it’s been tried before and it didn’t work. So he goes back to basics and contacts the one person who could help him find Lex the old-fashioned way. His best friend and former Teen Titan, Tim Drake, known these days as the Red Robin.

We’re swept off to a high-pursuit car and motorcycle chase on the streets of Paris. While I don’t read the title of the same name, essentially Red Robin is traveling the world looking for Bruce Wayne who is supposed to be dead. But Tim doesn’t think he is. The man he’s after now is in possession of a mother box. Think of it as a device that allows you to travel through other dimensions. In this case Apokolips, where Darkseid rules. Krypto to the rescue.

Continuity and strange scientific theories aside it all comes down to friends helping friends. Under the streets of Paris, the duo and a certain super-canine look for one of Lex’s secret lairs. Red Robin’s costume is supposed to be that of Jason Todd (killed by the Joker, came back evil, etc. etc.). I’ve never read this before or know of it but it seems to be this costume is worn by failed Robins. There’s a weight that comes with it physically and mentally. Take from one and use it on another. Sounds very much like Batman in a way. I know DC is all about generational superheros but it just seems like that same burdens shouldn’t be passed down. Not every Batman has to have a horrible thing happen to him and not every Superman has to have the same imperfections.

Eventually they find the lair and we’re told that Robin has been here before. He’s already looted it, stealing cloning equipment which he used to try to make Conner again. It wouldn’t bring the dead back to life but at least it would be something. Friendships are found again and forgiveness is given. Especially for the kiss.

The last page shows Lex Luthor still scouring over the headlines. He has plans for Superboy, regardless of what his plans with Brainiac are. We’ll have to wait a couple more months to find out what. Next issue is about Superboy Prime.

Overall if you’re a fan of Superman’s stable of titles or you like Smallville you’ll like this comic. Make no mistake. It comes with a burden but it’s still an all-ages kind of comic, which is something we rarely see these days. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. You’ll either like this or you won’t and either way is fine.

DC, in recent months, has taken it’s cancelled titles due to underperforming sales and repackaged them as backup features. People still want to see these characters but with the recent economy the way it is, and the fact that comics are upwards $4 now (as is this one), it seems we’ve found a middle ground. More pages, more content, with more characters with a higher price.

Considering this week’s comics cost me $14 and change for four of them, whereas I bought 10 back issues for a dollar a piece well…you get the idea. But it’s Geoff Johns so I gave this a chance.

This issue comes with a Legion of Superheroes tale but it’s rather underwhelming for me. So much so I really don’t have much to say about it. Yeah I know that’s kind of a cop-out but for me the draw is Superboy and why I chose to review this comic. These backups don’t continue from one comic to another. They’re all rather, so far, self-contained and if they’re not then it’s really lost on me. I would have just rather had more pages for the main feature and scaled this one back a bit. I know it’s not a backup per se, which would make it shorter, but the cover story should have just had more pages.

Sure, I know it’s an all-ages book and there’s nothing wrong with a good old fight now and then, but it just didn’t do anything at all for me. The title is apparently going to shift more towards the Legion after Geoff leaves with issue six. So that will be it for me. Much like the comic I’m not pretending to like something for the sake of, even if I’m a fan of the creative team. Because with the cost of comics these days, and the fact my store sells back issues for a dollar, there’s no real reason for me to buy comics I only generally like anymore.

If it doesn’t know it out of the park for me I’m done. But I do want to see where this story is headed.

Anthony Schiavino can be found talking comics, movies, television and all things pulp at his website, Facebook, and Twitter.


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