Welcome to part one of The Culling! DC’s New 52 is divided into different branches, the one featuring teen heroes is called Young Justice and this serves as the first crossover between all Young Justice titles. The Culling builds off of the major story line in Superboy and spreads throughout the various Young Justice issues, culminating in a new series called The Ravagers.
(yes, we do comic reviews here too! …it’s just been a while)
Superboy goes into battle with Grunge, an enemy impervious to most of his powers. Getting smashed around left and right, Superboy’s battle seems hopeless: his telekinesis is useless against Grunge, who, by the way, can’t have any of his bones broken due to being a metamorph – a shape shifter. Grunge is taking the battle pretty calm and cool, telling Superboy that he’s trying to get him ready for The Culling so that he can become one of the Ravagers. All of this sounds like nonsense to Superboy. This is one of those awesome issues where you see a Kryptonian really on the ropes with an enemy. Despite his super strength, Grudge is mopping the floor with Superboy and there is a definite sense of fear on our hero’s face.
Elsewhere, Caitlin, one of Superboy’s creators, is busting into a laboratory and stealing a spaceship, making a mess of the place. A mysterious woman watches on and comments that the fate of many people might rest in her hands. Back at NOWHERE, Rose is being attacked by a mental monster called Leash – luckily Teen Titans member Solstice shows up to save her from his mind control. Here we get a lot of info dumping on how Rose used to be a killer among killers and that Harvest, the organizer of The Culling, took her and changed her personality as well as the fact that Leash is trying to bring her back too because…er, we’re not exactly clued in on why. A lot of this comic doesn’t make sense, even the opening sort of just throws you right into the fight with Superboy and Grunge.
Speaking of, how is that fight going? Welp, Superboy thought he broke Grunge’s neck, but he soon finds out that Grunge has no bones to speak of and that doesn’t go well. As he keeps getting his butt kicked and Grunge extolls a little more over what The Culling is – and when I say a little more, I mean next to nothing, he just likes to talk – Superboy realizes the guy’s basically given him the key to defeat. Grunge is using implanted devices that allow him to mimic the powers of other meta-humans from afar. While telekinesis might not work on Grunge, they will work on those devices. Superboy uses his powers to rip the devices from Grunge’s body. While Grunge has no bones, I’m going to guess he needs blood to live, that’s something nine giant holes in his body might get in the way of. Superboy collapses to the ground once the battle ends. Harvest collects Superboy and takes him down to what is known as The Colony, where he meets Rose, who has Solstice unconscious in her arms. Harvest says it’s best that Superboy and Solstice head to The Culling and leaves them within The Colony.
When Superboy awakes, he’s met by Beast Boy and Terra, both ready to declare him an enemy.
Well that’s a pretty interesting start to the crossover event known as The Culling. And by interesting I mean I was absolutely confused. I have no idea how the battle against Grunge started and the comic makes no attempt to fill you in as the reader, so you just have to go with it. There is a ton going on all over the place here and I know it’s to be expected from a crossover. But still, Superboy as a series has been a huge series of events so far that you kind of wished they would tone it down a little. There’s definitely some foreshadowing going on with Caitlin stealing that ship and going off to who knows where with it.
Oh, by the way, for new readers: Back in issues 3 and 4, Superboy met a young couple trying to run away from their problems out in the middle of nowhere while he’s on the run himself. One of NOWHERE’s agents is sent to track him down and while he defeats her, they do send a clean up crew. And, unfortunately, you can guess they end up becoming Beast Boy and Terra. It’ll be interesting to see how that actually happened and whether or not they’ll go on to join the Teen Titans later on.