It's been a long time since readers have seen the original Kon-El Superboy, but Convergence is revisiting him in what writer Fabian Nicieza calls his "purest version" — just after his introduction, while Superman is still assumed dead.
And when young Kon finally does meet the Man of Steel in Convergence, it's none other than the Kingdom Come Superman.
That's the backbone of the story Nicieza is telling in the two-issue Convergence: Superboy, as he explores themes related to the "conflicted, cocky and emotionally vulnerable" Kon learning that respect is something you earn.
Convergence: Superboy features art by Karl Moline and Jose Marzan Jr., and it's one of the three total Convergence tie-in series written by Nicieza (the others being Convergence: Titans and Justice League of America).
We talked to the writer to find out more about Convergence: Superboy and why readers could will several thousand dollars in gold bullion if they pick up the book.
Newsarama: Fabian, you're writing teens again! How's it been revisiting this version of Superboy from the past?
Fabian Nicieza: I've been arguing, laughing, shouting and hanging with teens for the last several years just in real life and not on the printed page! Trust me, I like the control I have over teenagers a lot more when I'm writing them!
Getting to write Superboy has been a lot of fun. He's such an easy character both to write and to love.
Nrama: What attracted you to this character and writing the Convergence version of his story?
Nicieza: Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett created a very rich, conflicted, cocky and emotionally vulnerable character and I'm getting to write him in the early stages of his superhero career, which was arguably his purest version.
All of the character's strengths (and weaknesses, which always made him a better character because of them) are on display.
Nrama: Did you have to do research on that time period — dust off some old comics?
Nicieza: Having a vested interest in teenage superheroes from all the work I was doing at that time, I absorbed the book's content and characterizations and they stuck with me. But I also went down to the basement and cracked open the first year of the book's original run.
Nrama: Ah, the joys of reading comics for research. OK, but in this story, at what point in Kon's life did he get "domed?" What was his status?
Nicieza: Very soon after he'd emerged as "Superman" — even before he'd accepted he was going to be Superboy. There is no Superman in his world; Kal-El died fighting Doomsday and he has not returned to life yet.
Nrama: So wait, this version of Superboy hasn't met Superman?
Nicieza: He has never met Superman, but he knows he falls under his shadow with everything he says or does. He thinks he should be Superman — Kon-El thinks he should be Earth's greatest hero — but he doesn't know that responsibility is earned, not given.
Nrama: How did the dome affect Kon, and what's his mindset as we meet him in Convergence: Superboy?
Nicieza: Can't give too much away about that, but it's made a normally impatient character ready to bounce off the walls.
Nrama: And then, according to solicitations, he meets Kingdom Come Superman. Is this the Superman of the Kingdom Come we know?
Nrama: But… why would he fight Superboy? What are the circumstances that make these two want to battle each other?
Nicieza: That falls under a "need to know" security clearance that can only be granted upon purchase of the comic book when it comes out.
Nrama: OK, OK. So let's talk about this meeting. If Superboy has never met Superman… then what's it like for Superboy to finally meet a version of Superman – and an older one, no less? How does that meeting play into the themes you're exploring?
Nicieza: The meeting is not a pleasant one because of the circumstances surrounding the Convergence storyline. The story is more in line of the Kingdom Come themes, specifically: what is the right way to exercise great power? How should people of great power shoulder the weight of such responsibility? Can a young generation understand that respect should be earned and not expected?
Nrama: How would you describe the art style on these issues, and how does that inform the story you're telling?
Nicieza: Karl Moline is a really strong draftsman, his figure work is graceful and realistic, his storytelling is consistently smooth, but what I like best about his work on this book is the emotion he gives to the characters, especially Kon. There is such a sadness and yearning in his eyes, combined with a defiance and arrogance. It's perfect for the character.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell readers about Convergence: Superboy?
Nicieza: I've been told by several sources, none of whom are affiliated with DC, that nine out of every ten readers who buy this book will win several thousand dollars in gold bullion. I was surprised by this, but thought it was a clever, if not very cost-effective, promotional hook. So, the odds are pretty good if you buy our two Superboy issues, you'll also get several crates of gold bricks delivered to your door.