Saturday, February 11, 2017

Superboy #83

How Kon-El Got His Groove Back

Joe Kelly Writes
Pascual Ferry Pencils
Keith Champagne Inks
Jason Wright Colors
Comicraft Letters
Mike McAvennie Edits

Our cover by Pascual Ferry shows all the challenges Superboy has to deal with — the craziness of Cadmus, a random giant robot, a Young Justice cameo, and, worst of all, trying to wake up in the morning. It is a pretty funny cover for a pretty funny story, and I'm sure there were some fangirls who were thrilled to see the Kid walking around in his underwear. The Impulse on this cover isn't a very good-looking Impulse, but he's not the worst I've seen.

Our story begins with Superboy in the same outfit he's wearing on the cover — a bathrobe over his shredded costume, his boxers completely exposed, and some tiger slippers to complete the ensemble. He groggily makes his way through all the chaos of Cadmus, not showing any emotion until he's served decaf instead of coffee. Superboy spits out the brew and sadly wonders aloud when, exactly, his life went to hell.

We then cut to Superboy, Robin and Impulse battling a random giant robot. Robin is pulling some wires out of the robot's head and he asks Impulse to create some static cling inside the robot's skull, but first to check on Superboy. Impulse follows the order of "BossRobinSirMan" and finds that Superboy has been covered with a ton of actual snot from the robot's nose. Impulse asks, "Got stink?" Superboy answers, "Up your nose with a rubber hose."

Impulse doesn't understand what "Up your nose with a rubber hose" means and he wonders if it's a secret code. Robin tries to call the team to attention, asking Impulse to double-check the streets for some last stragglers that haven't been evacuated yet. Superboy explains that he heard the line on TV last week from Babarino, the comeback that launched Travolta's career. (Superboy is referencing the 1970s show, "Welcome Back, Kotter" in which John Travolta played Vinnie Barbarino, not "Babarino," as Kon misremembers.) Impulse asks what a "Babarino" is and wonders if Superboy is having some sort of seizure that's making him talk so crazy.

Robin says he wishes he could have spent they day with nice, quiet, peaceful Batgirl. Impulse asks Robin what a "Babarino" is, but Robin only tells him to get the people off the street. Impulse thinks Robin is stalling because "Babarino" means something dirty. He protests that he's old enough to learn such dirty secrets, but Robin shouts at Bart, so he takes off. Superboy, meanwhile, tries to finish off the "R2-Dweeb," but the robot vomits all over him. Pulling his best Daffy Duck face, Superboy says, "You're despicable."

However, Superboy is able to get inside the robot. Impulse has done a bad job of getting everybody off the street, as there's still a couple of teenage girls hanging around. Bart tries to politely ask them to leave, but when he sees one of them is enthralled with Superboy and wants to give him her number, Bart decides to take credit for the Kid's coolness. He boasts that he taught Superboy everything he knows, including "Baba-re-bop." Superboy then destroys the robot from the inside out, shouting, "I pity da fool who mess wit' dee 'S'!"

Everybody, even Robin, is shocked by this incredibly lame one-liner from Superboy. One of the girls hopefully asks if Superboy is being "retro-cute," but her friend slams that down. Impulse says he'd put his ears out with a hot poker if he had one, and Superboy is dead to him. The filthy and totally uncool Superboy flies down to his fellow teens, expecting a warm welcome for having saved the day. Instead, he's met with a giggling Robin, an embarrassed Impulse, and two girls torn on their opinion of the Kid. The more hopeful girl, Buffy, decides to still give Superboy her number, rationalizing that he's still cute. But her friend is not convinced, mocking Superboy for his "disco belts." Kon is in complete shock by this treatment, and Bart suggests a mind worm has crawled in Superboy's ear — an old mind worm — and he asks Robin for the Bat-tweezers.

Our heroes head back to the Young Justice headquarters in upstate New York, and Superboy claims it was the robot goop that drove the girls away. Impulse smells Superboy's armpit, tells him it smells like roses, then quickly runs to Robin and whispers to him that he needs to push hygiene to save their teammate. Robin tells Kon to not worry about the one girl and be happy with getting one girl's number. Lobo, meanwhile, is mercilessly mocking Superboy, saying his three-fingered Grandma Klak'chak could have come up with a better K.O. line. Impulse resolutely states that he will not rest until Kon starts acting like himself. He vows to scour the globe for a cure, first asking if anyone has George Clooney's address sine he wants a blood sample.

Superboy admits that he's had a rough past few weeks with all the turmoil at Cadmus, him losing his powers, and watching his girlfriend Tana get killed. He suggests everyone just drop this topic, but Lobo ignores him. The Top Teen offers to teach Superboy the moves to score with girls ... in exchange for a little favor involving a certain dresser drawer of a certain female member of Young Justice. Superboy asks Lobo to please die, then flies away to Cadmus. Impulse arrives a moment later, saying he has the chemical breakdowns from all five Backstreet Boys. When he sees that Superboy has left, he gloomily hopes that Kon didn't take off to go play Bingo somewhere.

Superboy helps the Guardian battle some monsters, and Guardian tells him he needs to spend some time as a normal teenager. So Superboy takes his advice and prepares to ask Buffy out on a date. But he overhears her talking to her friend, Bianca, about how lame he is. So Superboy flies away in embarrassment, coming to the sad conclusion that all his ideas of being cool come from the early '90s. Later, while helping Steel save Massachusetts from a volcano, he bemoans his worthless belts that don't actually hold up anything and are really "form over function." He does help save the day, though, and he's thanked by a sweet little girl who calls him her second favorite super-person of all time. Superboy can't help but ask who number one on this girl's list is, and she says it's Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. As if that wasn't enough to crush Superboy's spirit, the girl adds more heroes as she thinks about them — Blue Beetle, someone called Green Man, and Impulse because he's funnier.

In desperation, Superboy decides to take up Lobo's offer by first stealing all the underwear from Wonder Girl. Cassie comes out of the shower to find her drawer empty and she yells at her mom for not doing the laundry, saying that unlike Arrowette, she needs underwear to save the world. Superboy feels awful while flying back to New York with his arms full of Cassie's underwear. He tries to rationalize that there's no harm in this, but he quickly realizes that with Lobo involved, it could quickly become a pretty dicey situation. As Superboy passes by the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, he's met by Superman himself.

Kon initially tries to use Impulse's excuse of having a mind worm in his brain, but he eventually admits that he's feeling lame and like he doesn't have a life. Superman acknowledges that Kon has had a pretty rough year, and he figures that the teen is stuck in a rut. He suggests that Kon is trying to make up for the things he can't control by getting too deep into the grind of his work, leaving his life to suffer. Superman says most people look at him just as a big blue Boy Scout, to which Superboy says, "You? Wha—? Really? No ... I never heard anyone say that. Nope, not Impulse. No, sir ..." Superman says that perception doesn't matter because nobody sees Clark Kent dancing with his gorgeous life, playing hockey or listening to Metallica. (His favorite album, by the way, is "Justice for All.") Superman encourages Superboy to step back and appreciate his life, but Superboy interprets this as a call to spend time with the cool kids to learn how to be cool again. Superman tries to say that's not what he meant, but he just sighs and lets the Kid take off.

So Superboy looks up that cool girl, Bianca, and begs her to teach him how to be cool. So we get a fun montage of Superboy trying on different outfits, learning about the current celebrities, music and catch phrases, getting a new haircut, and practicing appearing more aloof and, in general, cool. Finally, they settle on a new outfit for Superboy, which thankfully isn't that much different from his old look — it's just more streamlined, I guess. Now that he's gone from "lame to game," Bianca decides to come on strongly to Superboy. He asks her if she really likes him or just his new cool makeover. He says she's too superficial and shallow for him, and he flies away, leaving Bianca crushed. But once he's gone, Bianca reveals that she was just acting, and that was Superboy's final test. She wanted to make him cool, but still hold to his principles.

This was a hilarious issue. And it addressed a real need. Superboy was the epitome of cool in the early '90s. But by 2000, that look had fallen woefully out of date. So I loved the emotions Superboy went through when confronted with this "awful" truth. Denial. Bargaining. Depression. And finally acceptance. And I'm happy with the results of this journey. His new look isn't too bad (we won't see it in Young Justice until they get back from space, and that's going to take a while). Impulse was perfect in his sincere, but flawed efforts to help. Lobo had the right attitude, but he really should have been asking for Empress' panties, and his hair was all wrong. The art in this issue wasn't great, but it didn't take anything away from the story.

Next time, we'll wrap up our epic baseball game in Young Justice #28.

No comments:

Post a Comment