I was actually surprised by this issue. It started off pretty slow, and after the first page or so DeFalco pushes the story forward considerably. I think what most impressed me by what I read here was the dialogue. I actually really enjoyed the DeFalco's voice for H'el. I like the fact that he demonstrates the character using logic: he will fight just as hard for his home as Superman will fight to protect home, this makes a lot of sense. The interaction here is great, and although this is a Superboy book, I still enjoyed that every one of these characters got to spend a little bit of time in the spotlight. Not a lot, but just enough.
Following an interesting monologue by H'el, Superboy is basically catapulted to a distant region where he is "shivering of cold." It is unclear whether the punch to Superboy was meant simply to stop him, or to actually kill him, but it is clear that Superboy doesn't go down without a fight. I like the way DeFalco brings the story back to focus on Superboy since it is, after all, his book.
After being thrust into a distant place, Superboy is met by a strange creature with the interesting ability to "read" his character. In this moment the creature states that if Superboy is to survive, he "could come to shape the destinies of worlds without number." Correct me if I am wrong, but is this not a direct reference to a certain "Crisis"? This is actually pretty interesting, and the dialogue here is consistently good.
The big thing here is that the story's focus goes back to Superboy and away from H'el and the rest of the Justice League. Sure, Superboy goes down for a moment, but he gets back up again and goes forward. It really feels, in this issue, as if the creative team has given Superboy a purpose. He is given an important role to play in this story which I think is really important. It's also very cool to see the story go from being about the Justice League, to focusing on Superboy.
DeFalco does a great job setting H'el up to be really big threat in this issue and there is a scene where he hits Superboy so hard that he loses control and is shot out to a completely different part of the Fortress. What I didn't like, here, was how quickly Superboy got up and started fighting again. I understand he is strong, but that punch was meant to kill him. He should have been in a bit more pain than he was shown to be in, in my opinion.
Now, I am not even that crazy about Superboy but it was great to see DeFalco show readers just exactly what the character is capable of in this issue. I enjoyed most of the comic (except for the fact that Superboy made H'el look a bit weak in one scene), and I admit this issue really took me by surprise. Overall, the dialogue is great, the pacing is solid and the story is propped up by some really pretty art. There are some very interesting clues in this issue as to the nature of the story, the future of the universe and the importance of Superboy's role in the DCU. This was by far one of the better issues in this series and it made Superboy's character look really, really good.