Let’s face it, the times we’re living in can be a bit crazy. I don’t necessarily want to go back to the ’90s (I wouldn’t have DC UNIVERSE INFINITE anymore), but it would be nice to visit for something like a weekend escape.
Say, isn’t that the name of our weekly column, spotlighting reading recommendations for the weekend? In that case, let’s continue DC’s month-long celebration of the 20th century’s most colorful decade by spotlighting a fun ’90s storyline. And it doesn’t get more ’90s than Superboy, so this week, we’re spotlighting “Losin’ It,” a pivotal storyline that ran in 1996’s Superboy #25-30.
Years before he took the name Kon-El or Conner, Superboy operated out of Hawaii. At the time this story was published, the Boy of Steel was a bit more brash, inexperienced and impulsive. In other words, he was a teenage boy with phenomenal powers, but he was in over his head. This leads to Superboy hooking up with Knockout, an Apokolips refugee who was once a member of Granny’s Female Furies.
Knockout is every teenage boy’s dream, and Superboy is smitten, but his friends have concerns. They think Knockout is a bad influence on the Boy of Steel, but Superboy ignores them. Things escalate when a cop is murdered and Knockout is the prime suspect. Against his better judgement, Superboy sides with Knockout, believing that she’s innocent. Choosing hormones over heroism, our young hero finds himself on the run from the law and his fellow superheroes. Can he overcome his super-crush before Knockout takes him down the path of no return?
Let’s Talk Talent:
“Losin’ It” is written by Karl Kesel and Steve Mattsson. The pair have a perfect voice for Superboy, giving him the right amount of teenage arrogance, while still making him a loveable and sympathetic character. The readers know Superboy is making a mistake, but Kesel and Mattsson still make us root for his redemption. The story is paced well, with wonderful emotional beats, which culminates into an exciting climax that will satisfy Superboy fans.
The storyline was penciled by Tom Grummett, along with an all-star cast of DC artists like Chris Gardner, Jason Armstrong and Staz Johnson. Plus, we get some cool bonus pages penciled by Jeffrey Moy, Dean Zachary and Jim Calafiore. Each of them adds something cool to the storyline. Grummett (who co-created Superboy along with Kesel) was firing on all cylinders in the ’90s. Gardner and Armstrong, on the other hand, contribute an electrifying battle between Supergirl and Knockout.
Staz Johnson is one of the most underrated artists of the 1990s, and his pages perfectly capture the general mood of Generation X. Every artist captures Knockout’s sexual appeal, making it easy to see why a teenage boy like Superboy could be manipulated by her. If they hadn’t been able to pull off Knockout’s allure, the story would have fallen apart. There’s a lot to love with this art, which takes this story to the next level.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- This story is a fun look at Superboy’s early days before he joined Young Justice or the Teen Titans, when he was still an inexperienced hero. The Boy of Steel hadn’t yet experienced the trauma and tragedy that would mature him into the hero we know today. If you’re a fan of Superboy, then you’ll love reading this story and seeing how far he’s come.
- “Losin’ It” is a great ’90s coming of age story about a teenage boy who falls for the wrong girl. Like most teenagers, Superboy is listening to his hormones instead of his head. Maybe we can’t relate to having super-strength and flight, but everyone has experienced temptation, making this a quintessential ’90s teen story.
- This comic is set in Hawaii, which is the perfect backdrop for a ’90s teen coming of age story. Gorgeous beaches, big waves and volcanoes.
- If you’re a fan of Matrix Supergirl, I’m happy to report that she shows up to give the Boy of Steel a piece of her mind. This leads to a great fight with Knockout, which is chaotic, destructive and fun.
Why It’s Worth Your Time
“Losin’ It” is a great snapshot of ’90s comic books. If you were a reader back then, or someone who’s read enough of the comics that came out over that decade, you know what I’m talking about. The stories were paced differently, and the art had a certain sense of over-the-top fun to it. For me personally, reading this book took me back to my middle school days, giving me that feeling I used to have reading DC Comics.
But even when you remove the ’90s nostalgia, this is a phenomenal story that stands on its own. At its core, it’s a story of growing up, accepting responsibility and overcoming temptation. This is also a story that could only be told with this version of Superboy, demonstrating what sets him apart from Superman. Superman is the hero we all aspire to be, while Superboy is a kid who is still learning and growing. “Losin’ It” was an important step in that growth, and it helped make him into the fascinating character he is today.
Superboy: Losin' It by Karl Kesel, Steve Mattsson, Tom Grummett and more is available to read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DC.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.