Regular readers now know why Oliver has come across as distant, and indeed the tragedy of his current existence, and with that all revealed to Amy, Stephen McCranie dropped the plot into the past. The final half of Space Boy 9 was a look back to Oliver’s youth aboard the Arno, a spacecraft sent from Earth to rendezvous with a mysterious monolith discovered in space, a journey set to take years with entire families aboard the vessel. In isolation it seemed to lack purpose beyond fleshing out Oliver’s early life, but this is a series titled Space Boy after all, and that earlier life occupies this entire volume.

Oliver here looks seven to eight years younger than the person seen in the previous volume, and readers already know the Arno’s fate, so given the bigger picture, does everything need to be spelled out? Superman is Superman because he’s on Earth and while his past informs that, how relevant is it? Or another way to look at it is that there’s have been some interesting adventures set on Krypton, and as McCranie is settled into a massive multi-volume treatment of his story, why not go with the flow? He’ll get back to Amy in the present day come Space Boy 12.

McCranie’s version of events on the Arno connect with Superman’s origin story as it’s Oliver’s engineer father who first becomes suspicious of the impending disaster, and just like Jor-El he’s preaching to disbelievers. As readers know what’s coming, it doesn’t induce a pleasant sensation. Along the way, though, there’s the revelation of the Space Boy title, which is rather charming and seen on the cover.

Because it’s a new situation we’re introduced to a bunch of new characters. Oliver’s father Wyatt was seen last time, but we’re shown just how good he is at his job, which comes from a smart piece of plotting on McCranie’s part. Almost all the other new characters also strike a chord in one way or another, and if there’s a message to the volume it’s not to look down on anyone because of the job they do.

For all that this is a decent story well drawn and well told, it’s leading to a pay-off already revealed, and still seems a diversion not greatly relevant to the greater story. Perhaps that will change with Space Boy 11. Alternatively both form part of the fourth Space Boy Omnibus.