<POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT, YE HAVE BEEN WARNED>
I don't understand how this comic exists because it should be awful. But I love it.
I admit that a lot of people out there HATE the new DCU and many of the comic reboots with a fiery passion, and I don't blame them. I am going to talk about one of them however that has surprisingly grabbed me and I am curious to see where it goes.
The comic Superboy is a very Wildstorm retelling of the origin of Superboy, that he's a clone of Superman and developed in a lab. In the last DCU he was hamstrung by being created in the aftermath of the Reign of Supermen event and I never took him seriously. He looked ridiculous. I couldn't stand him. Then over the course of a decade or two he manned up and became a good hero, someone that you didn't mind wearing the S. Then he died and pulled a Superman and went to live with Supes' mom in Smallville and the stories there, they weren't bad but they weren't 2.99/3.99 worthy either I felt.
This book is, like I said, a Wildstorm retelling of Superboy's origin and the idea of some of the stories that begun in the relaunched Adventure Comics. Superboy is again a clone, and this time we get to see his arc from clone child to superhero from day one. This story, I'll be honest, I could care less about it, even though on paper it is very interesting. What I find interesting is the role that Caitlin Fairchild plays in it.
Caitlin Fairchild, as femuscle fans know, is the red haired powerhouse of Gen 13. She's been in nearly every iteration of the team and was famous for mostly being a geeky girl in the body of a smoking hot, super strong super model. That and she lost her clothes at the drop of a hat. But as a character who grows and changes... in all the years that the character has existed, there have not been a lot of interesting stories about her, aside from Gail Simone's fantastic 12 issue run during the series' last relaunch. I crossed my fingers hoping that Fairchild and company would come back in the new DCU ready to rock, but it didn't happen. Well, almost...
When I first heard that Fairchild showed up in Superboy, I was distraught for a number of reasons. One, it meant no new Gen 13. Two, she had been relegated to some kind of one note cameo appearance just to titillate fans. And Three, she had been depowered. (Her de-powering should also be the subject of whether or not fans still like a character even if they lose their powers, or in the case of strong women, lose their muscles, but that is a different story >.>) All of these things taken together should mean I'd avoid this book because the character would take a back burner in a story about Superboy.
Then tonight I went to my local comic shop, flipped through to the end, and saw this: [link]
I picked up the first two issues and was impressed by them. In this comic, Fairchild isn't a bit player. If anything, this is probably the most interesting her character has been in years. And while the comic has the most heavy handed foreshadowing in the world, I am still loving it to pieces. There are strong implications that Superboy is a clone from not only Superman's genes but also Fairchild's. Fairchild's interactions with Superboy and how he in turn reacts to her are interesting to watch. She cares for him even though neither understand why, and she desires to see him become a real superhero. This desire almost seems like she's trying to cover up for her own inactions or inadequacies in the hero department. Let's face it; Gen 13 itself was like one long rambling frat party. Love or hate the characters, that was the mentality of a lot of the comics. In the latter issues of the last run, there were some attempts to legitimize them as heroes but it fell flat. (I mean the Scott Beatty run, not the Phil Hester run. Phil Hester is the MAN.) As a character, it is interesting to see Fairchild try to make Superboy be more heroic. Is it possible to even make something like him a hero? Time will tell.
Not only that, but after what he's done so far with Starfire in Red Robin and the Outsiders, Scott Lobdell has gotten a reputation of writing his women like sluts. After reading a broken hearted 8 year old girl's take on the new Starfire, I think that's a warranted accusation. Fairchild on the otherhand, who probably embodies women viewed as comic sex objects as much as Starfire or Power Girl, is not depicted like that in a majority of this comic, if at all. It's a nice twist on her character's portrayal. Gail Simone explored this as well (and gave Fairchild pants) in her run, but it's not something you expect from Lobdell.
My one complaint about this book is that it feels like a Wildstorm book but isn't drawn like one. The art style is still rooted in the DCU and I wish it had the artist from Red Robin and the Outsiders on it instead. The secret organization stuff feels very Gen 13/I.O. but doesn't look like it as much as it should.
And hey, Fairchild isn't depowered after all. *applauds!*
UPDATE: also, if you are Ravager fans, Ravager is in this book, albeit with two eyes and not in her daddy's knock-off clothes. Also, what I said earlier about Fairchild being Superboy's clone mommy? I'm starting to think it might actually be Ravager >.>