The beauty of Tom de Falco’s Superboy really lies in the power of ideas, in Tom and artist RB Silva’s great capacity to gesture towards the epic in the space of just a few panels.
A decade or more ago I remember holding the first of six volumes that reprinted, in translation, the full run of the legendary Akira. The size of a phonebook, this first volume already felt like a tome, already felt weighted down by great import and animated by a vast history.
The opening sequence was a powerful statement. The relatively quick story of a teen bikers racing along the freeway to a city demolition city, became a sprawling epic in Katsushiro Otomo’s gifted hands. Ten pages of aspect-to-aspect cutting, of close-ups on handlebars and engines and pistons, of the all-too-young-to-be-jaded kids, their blank eyes beneath the helmets.
Otomo’s achievement is his capacity to find drama in everything. What should have taken a page sprawls to ten times that. Tom de Falco and RB Silva demonstrate genius in the other direction–gesturing and suggesting rather than filling in all possible detail.
But the real achievement is not how compact the story is. The real achievement is how a compact story like this one stretches back in time. In the New 52, and earlier (ever since “Reign of the Supermen” all the way back in the early 90s really), Superboy has been segregated from the original 50s/60s through the 80s vision of the character. Rather than being a younger Kal El who would eventually become Superman while he struggle with both his Kryptonian and Human heritages, this new 90s-onwards Superboy would be a clone of Superman.
There certainly was an opportunity for rich storytelling with this new character. But jettisoning a young man struggling with a simultaneous immigrant and American identity did seem, at some levels, to read as a kind of lost tradition. Despite the compactness of storytelling from Tom and RB in this zero issue, we see a story that pulls Superboy back into the Kryptonian fold. Taking Superboy back to the earlier ideation of this character, is nothing short of a silent revolution.
Please, enjoy your exclusive preview of Superboy #0.