Having this cross-over in all three "Super" titles (SUPERMAN, SUPERGIRL and SUPERBOY) means that we get the same, consistent story nearly every week. Last week we saw H'el's appearance in SUPERMAN, and this week we see the continuation of that story in SUPERBOY. The good thing here is that the story feels consistent, so if you didn't read SUPERMAN last week, you might be a bit confused because this issue picks up where that last issue of SUPERMAN left off.
Personally, since I have been reading this cross-over, I think having this consistency is a good thing, but if you are one of those people who has only been reading SUPERBOY you might not appreciate the consistency.
The cover is pretty compelling in that it's basically stating Superboy will die without Superman's help. If you've been keeping up with all three of these titles and both these characters, you may have been looking forward to seeing a team-up between these two characters. Here, it seems, we finally get that. I think that in utilizing Clark's character we get this really organize integration of Kon-El into the Superman fold. Sure he's a clone, and sure Clark is somewhat protective of him, but the fact that these two are teaming up against a common foe who claims he is from Krypton, it sort of reinforces this relationship between them. It establishes a sort of a bond.
Writer Tom DeFalco keeps in mind that there may be readers picking up SUPERBOY this week just because of the cross-over, so he does a great job catching new readers up on the who Superboy is, what created him and what he's been up to lately.
One of the things that is sometimes forgotten or overlooked by writers is that Superman is not only super-strong, but he's super-smart, too. I think DeFalco recognizes this and utilizes it, which is a great scene in this issue. I loved that he went to both Dr. Veritas and Cyborg for professional opinions regarding the state of Superboy's health, but left it up to him to solve the issue, demonstrating that he is intelligent, too.
Superboy's internal thought bubbles in the scene where he is being taken to the Fortress of Solitude by Superman are pretty goofy and make the character seem sort of hokey. It just felt really forced and not very likeable, particularly for a character who is only half conscious and almost dead. I think it would have been better if we had the internal thoughts of Superman in this scene if we were to believe Superboy is on the brink of expiring.
The issue starts out pretty well in that we get a great scene with Superman's rescue of Superboy, but the issue sort of nosedives from that point. The dialogue begins to get a little bit corny and not very realistic. And while I liked that Superman's intellect was stressed upon in this issue, I wasn't much of a fan of what came afterwards. The dialogue between these two characters just doesn't seem to read very well and was not very well executed. The tension was good, but overall, the dialogue just feels really campy and silly. Part of the reason why it wasn't as good as it could have been is because the writer feels the need to spell everything out for the reader.
I was also not a very big fan of the art in this issue. I understand that the issue had four different pencilers, but I don't think their styles should feel so drastically different that it pulls the reader out of the story. Unfortunately, that happened to me here.
The issue had its redeeming qualities; it was great to see the interaction between Superboy and Superman and it's exciting to look forward to the development of their relationship in the future. Having said that, there is definitely a lot of things I didn't really enjoy about this issue. First, a lot of the dialogue felt forced and corny, and I thought it could have been better executed. I really wasn't crazy about the art in this issue, I felt it was lacking and that the various different art styles on the issue only served to pull me out of the story. Also, it's a bit odd how H'el just shows up out of nowhere. Very strange. I think the good things about this issue is that it does give fans some insight into Superboy and how he differs from both Superman and Superboy as far as his power set and molecular make-up go. I thought that was definitely interesting. Overall, not the best issue of Superboy but not the worst one either.