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‘Titans’ S02E06: ‘Conner’ (review)

S02E06 — Conner Kent and Krypto escape from Cadmus Labs. His search for the truth about his past leads him to Lionel Luthor and genetic scientist Dr. Eve Watson.

Let me say up front that, while I like the character in theory, I was never really a fan of Conner Kent/Kon-El/Superboy. I always find that your affinity for these characters (and any, really) happens upon when you first meet them.

They say the Golden Age of comics starts in 1938 and extends to Post-WW2 America, but the golden age (lower case) is when you’re introduced to whoever your favorite character is.

For example, I’ve always been fond of Wolverine, and if you ask me what period of his publication history is best, I’ll point to the 80’s, around the time of Frank Miller’s mini-series, when Byrne is handing off the art duties back to Cockrum before Paul Smith arrives, and when he’s offering Spider-Man a piece of fruit off his claws. It’s why guys my age have a greater affinity for Dick Grayson’s Robin over Tim Drake’s; it is totally a generational thing. Conner comes in the early Aughts, when Geoff Johns and Mike McKone reboot the Teen Titans; at that point, I’m in my 30’s, so it’s not like this character is going to change anything for me.

That is a lot of set up for saying that I really enjoyed how Conner was introduced to this universe.

No, not T-100 bare ass nekkid; that’s a cameo at best. I mean this episode, where he walks around and starts to live life outside of Cadmus. What I think I enjoyed the most is that the writers, actors and the director take full advantage of the idea that Conner is, maturity-wise, an infant.

So, with that in mind, his judgment is basic, almost based completely on needs and wants. For an infant, they cry when they’re wet, or hungry, or want a little bit of love. Conner acts the same way and I feel like I don’t remember the comics taking full advantage of this aspect…at least not the way they do here. It’s endearing when Conner, who wants a Superman t-shirt but has no money, saves someone from being mugged…and then takes her money.

I know that sounds counter-intuitive to the superhero ideal, but, again, he’s got the maturity of a 5 year old…AND IT TOTALLY PLAYS. It works because everyone commits. It’s like the superhero equivalent of SPLASH. I read somewhere a headline that says that this week of TITANS validates Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL ouvre, and that is the hottest knee-jerk takes I think anyone could have gotten from this episode. Are there similarities?

Sure, but if you’re going to validate Snyder just because of an S-shield, you are in for some rough roads ahead, my friend.

Another thing that the show does better (?) than the comics is that it actually plays more with the idea that Conner was created from the DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor, with interesting results. From Superman, he has a very strong sense of what is right, but from Lex, he has gained two things, that are almost things you don’t associate with Luthor; a sort of PTSD from being beaten by his father, Lionel, and a mean streak that doesn’t come from anger, but almost…and I may be reaching here…from inferiority.

From his father, from Superman…it’s there, I think, in Joshua Orpin’s portrayal. It’s interesting to see how the epigenetic memories of both men lead Conner in, almost, two different directions but on the same path.

What I mean is…he gets a memory (Martha Kent calling out to Clark) which leads him to Smallville, but he finds the Luthor farm and a blind Lionel on the porch.

Two different directions, but the same path.

After taking out the Cadmus/LexCorp agents in the Luthor home (a really cool display of Conner’s and Krypto’s abilities), Conner, Krypto and his “mother,” Eve Watson, take a road trip to where Conner was created. There, he finds rejected versions of himself (maybe a Bizarro in there, too?).

Here, he learns a similar lesson to Snyder’s Clark; Watson tells him that his life will be difficult and painful, and full of joy, but people are not what they say they are going to do; they are what they do. Maybe that isn’t Snyder’s Martha…maybe it’s more Nolan’s Rachel Dawes, but Watson tells him that whatever he does, don’t be a hero (THAT sounds like Snyder’s Kents).

He and Krypto end up in San Francisco (because, of course they did) at the same time that Deathstroke ignites the bomb on the scaffold that sends Robin hurtling toward the ground (because, of course he would) and he catches Jason in mid-air (because…you get it).

As Dick and Kori meet the boys on the ground, Conner is shot from off panel…by Mercy Graves…with a Kryptonite bullet.

AND MERCY TAKES KRYPTO AWAY WITH A KRYPTONITE COLLAR!

Because why would anyone give us nice things?

(I fully expect him to be rescued next episode.)

EXTRA POINTS:

  • There’s a Cadmus Labs commercial at the top of the episode that is the longest television ad in history. If it were real, it’d be an infomercial.
  • If you listen closely when Conner and Krypto escape Cadmus, and look upon Metropolis, you can hear the John Williams’ Superman theme.

NEXT WEEK: BRUCE WAYNE

 

****

Vito Delsante is a comic book writer, graphic novelist, editor, letterer, and the co-creator/writer of STRAY with Sean Izaakse, and THE PURPLE HEART with Dean Haspiel and artist, Ricardo Venâncio. He’s written for DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Image Comics, AdHouse Books, and Simon & Schuster, among others, and his stories have been reprinted in other countries. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Michelle, his daughter, Sadie, his son, James, and his pitbull, Kirby.  You can find him online at incogvito.com and you can follow him on Twitter @incogvito

 

 

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