Superboy (22-Page feature):
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Francis Manapul
Legion of Super-Heroes (8-Page co-feature):
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Clayton Henry
The super-hero comic has changed a lot since its inception in the 1930s. Characters are more complex, there are few moral absolutes, provocative social and political statements are far from unheard of, and events are rarely isolated incidents. Throughout his career, Geoff Johns has been able to continually do the impossible: weave well-plotted, character complex, pure super-hero genre comics without stepping into the post-modern quagmire. Adventure Comics, Johns' newest title, is no different and it promises to be as good as any of his previous endeavours.
First issues can often put a particular strain on a writer-- it's expected that a staus quo will not only be established but broken in a mere twenty-two pages while also setting up the necessary set pieces of the comic. Johns, expert that he is, doesn't miss a beat. Rather than bogging himself down with the exposition around how Superboy has returned from the dead (all previously revealed, I believe), he starts the narrative with him back on Earth, returning to the Kent farm. From here he seems to introduce every major supporting player (or at the very least alludes to their future presence) that will play a role in the stories to come. By the end of the issue Johns hasn't quite shaken up the status quo, but he has provided enough questions so that readers simply cannot refuse to come back.
Additionally it seems to be welcoming new comers to Superboy with open arms. A certain working knowledge of the DC universe is necessary, of course, but there are few lingering plot lines surrounding the character that would alienate anyone. The one remnant that may pose a problem does seem to be his return to Earth (and Life!), but the opening threads of the series seemed poised to answer even those questions.
Lastly, It should be noted that Johns seems to be making astounding use out of his co-feature. Rather than two separate narratives, he has melded Superboy and Legion of Superheroes into one, the co-feature literally supporting the feature with illusions to upcoming events. In addition, unlike Rucka, Johns seems to be doing wonderful things with the co-feature on its own as well. There were certainly some strong character moments in its short eight pages span. The last page of the co-feature, acting quite appropriately as a "next-time" preview melds wonderfully with the already movie serial feel they have.
RATING: 10 out of 10!
Johns is working magic! I haven't wanted to read more of a monthly in a long, long time. Please, read this comic. SUPERBOY IS BACK!