Three weeks in, the plots of DC’s Convergence tie-ins are getting rather formulaic: character trapped in city under dome is confused and trying to make sense of the situation, dome falls and hero rises to confront the new challenge. Superboy pretty much follows the same pattern, yet, delves deeper below the surface. Last week, Keith Giffen used Supergirl to highlight the absurdity of the Event; this week Stuart uses Superboy for pathos. In the process, Stuart gives readers a touching portrait of who Kal-El is and what he represents to others.
The issue opens with Superboy addressing Metropolis of the 30th, which has spent the past year, you guessed it, trapped under an enigmatic dome. Superboy’s message to the citizens of the future is simple: “Do not give up hope.” Yes all super-powered beings, himself included, have lost their special abilities, but that does not mean that they lack other uses. Harnessing advanced science with a large amount of gumption, the Legion is examining the problem, testing out theories in the process of finding a solution. The city’s residents may feel isolated but they should not despair. No one is alone in this.
The speech is a rousing beginning to the issue. What follows it, however, is more somber. In the address, Superboy evokes his own lost world of Krypton as proof that he knows the stakes of the current situation. He pledges that he will never allow another population to die. Alone after the camera has been switched off, though, Superboy grows despondent. A visitor from the 20th Century, he is even more cut-off than others around him. His family, his friends, all the comforts of home are 1000 years in the past. Even something as ordinary as his dog is beyond his reach. Despite the bluster of his words, the future Man of Steel feels quite vulnerable. He misses his home, the everyday beauty of life on the farm. In addition, he worries that if he stays trapped in the future, he will never be able to become the Superman of the 20th Century, the hero who inspires generations through time and space. Yes, some of this sounds a little navel-gazing, yet, it is also sincere. In other words, Superboy is thinking like the adolescent that he is.
Eventually Lightning Lass is able to snap Superboy out of his funk, prodding him back into the leader not only the Legion, but everyone, needs. All in all, it is some strong character work by Stuart. He uses this moment to explore the young Kal-El’s personality. One of the oft-repeated complaints about Superman is that he is not relatable. (Unlike billionaire, scientific geniuses in state-of-the-art weaponized armors?). By placing Superboy in a moment of doubt, Stuart is able to highlight how Kal-El experiences similar emotions as anyone else. At the same time, Stuart hints at how the boy will grow into a man and beyond that into a legend.
All of this is well-illustrated by Stuart’s EGOs collaborator Gus Storms. Storms is able to convey both the sense of wonder of 30th Century Metropolis along with the human feelings of the character beats. Together they craft the most satisfactory Convergence tie-in yet. How good is it? The ending actually had me looking forward to next month’s battle.