KON-EL LIVES! But Will He Launch a New GEN 13 Title?
CREDIT: DC Comics
With New 52 Superboy, only one thing is constant: Change.
The latest development? Jon Lane Kent, who's been acting as Superboy for the last few months, is dead. And Kon-El, who was killed late last year, has returned.
And… well, it looks like Kon's going to have something to do with the introduction of a Gen 13 team to the New 52.
Kon-El is Back
To fully understand all the clues we've been seeing about Gen 13 and Kon-El, one of the most important things to note is that this month's Superboy #34 saw the old Superboy (Kon-El) finally returned to the New 52 universe.
But without a book of his own.
The New 52 version of Kon-El was introduced in September 2011 as a super powered teenager created as a weapon from Kryptonian and human DNA — to serve a mysterious villain named Harvest.
But over the course of the last three years, this new Superboy — nicknamed "Kon-El" by Supergirl — has gone through a lot of changes, as he evolved from an angry, weaponized clone to an enthusiastic superhero who joined the Teen Titans.
Kon's story came to an apparent end last year when the evil, future Superboy from whom he was cloned — Jon Lane Kent — killed Kon in Superman #25. In the meantime, Jon Lane Kent took Kon's place as Superboy, and the Teen Titans book was relaunched, without a Superboy.
Never fear, Kon-El fans. Over the last few months, Jon Lane Kent learned the error of his ways, and in last week's Superboy #34 — the final issue of the series — he sacrificed himself to save his friends. And also saved Kon-El.
The explanation for how it all happened is kind of complicated, with pocket universes and a battle between heroes from all over the Multiverse (although, readers can check out Superboy #34 for writer Aaron Kuder's surprisingly well-done simplification of the whole thing, complete with an effective death scene for Jon).
But the end result? Kon-El is home, just in time for... his book to be cancelled.
So where will Superboy show up next?
Our best guess comes from an odd, two-page epilogue that showed up in the back of Supergirl #33, where a group of characters associated with the former WildStorm team Gen 13 were shown in juxtaposition with Superboy.
We call the epilogue weird because it had nothing to do with the Supergirl story. And when we asked the writer of the Supergirl issue, Tony Bedard, about the Gen 13 characters, he knew nothing about their appearance in Supergirl.
(Of course, we've since learned that November sees a new writing team for Supergirl: Mike Johnson and Kate Perkins. So there's a chance that the new team knows more about the Gen 13 tease.)
However… the Supergirl epilogue was penned by Frank Barbiere, who is also writing Superboy: Futures End #1.
So it's much more likely that this "odd" epilogue is actually something that will be explained in Superboy: Futures End #1 in September.
It's also important to remember that the epilogue not only showed Superboy, but it represented the first appearance of the Gen 13 team in the New 52.
And although they'll likely be part of the Futures End issue, Gen 13 seems like too good of a concept to only show up for one issue, in a "potential" future. Why would DC tease a single, alternate future, September issue in the back of Supergirl?
It seems much more likely that the epilogue was meant to tease something more ongoing, and that the Futures End issue might just be a set-up for further Superboy adventures — as well as a new Gen 13 team.
Could epilogue creative team (Barbiere and artist Ben Caldwell) be launching a new Gen 13 comic, starring Superboy?
It would make sense for the character of Superboy, because he's homeless after the cancellation of his own title and the relaunch of Teen Titans without him.
From the marketing side of things, the Gen 13 concept might give Superboy new life after the cancellation of his solo title, and his presence on the team would give the title a powerhouse and well-known star.
It would also make sense with the current New 52 timeline, since two Gen 13 characters, Caitlin Fairchild and Grunge, previously appeared in Superboy.
Those two were shown in the epilogue teaser as part of the Gen 13 team, along with Burnout, Freefall, and Sarah Rainmaker (formerly seen in the New 52 title, The Movement).
Those five characters were part of the team when Gen 13 was a successful part of the Jim Lee WildStorm universe that debuted at Image and later became a separate imprint at DC. With the 2011 New 52 reboot, all the WildStorm characters became part of the DCU.
Will Gen 13 take in the homeless Superboy? DC isn't saying yet. But whatever the future holds for Kon-El — whether it's "five years later" in Futures End or in a new title being launched by Barbiere and Caldwell — readers should look for it to involve Gen 13.