Reign of the Superboys: The Strange History of the Boy of Steel

Chances are, if you realize something about Superman, you in all probability know somewhat one thing about Superboy, too. The naming conference is fairly straightforward to comply with and Jon Kent, the present Superboy, has been a reasonably outstanding character in the DC Universe as of late. But even in the event you’re not completely updated in your post-DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH storylines, it is actually not too tough to attach the dots: If you see a child or a teenage boy sporting the Superman image, you are in all probability going to assume, “Oh, there’s Superboy.”

But the fact is Jon is just the most up-to-date in a lengthy line of Superboys, most of which have tales which are slightly bit extra off-the-wall than being the literal son of Clark and Lois. Like so many things in the Man of Steel’s long history, the Superboy legacy is fraught with the bizarre, the fantastic and the complicated. But don’t be concerned, we’re right here to interrupt all of it down for you.

The first tough factor about Superboy’s historical past is definitely the first tough factor about introducing any Kryptonian character into the DCU. One of main tenants of Kal-El’s origin story is that he is the final son of Krypton, proper? So how do you clarify a Kryptonian teenager displaying up on Earth someday down the line? This is an issue that plagued Superman tales for years and years, particularly in the 1950s and ’60s when the idea of superhero “families” began actually taking off.

The reply to this conundrum? Why, time journey, alternate realities and “imaginary stories,” of course! The unique Superboy was actually simply Clark as an adolescent, dwelling and dealing as a superhero in Smallville, regardless of how a lot it might have contradicted the concept that Superman himself was the world’s first superhero when he arrived in Metropolis. You should keep in mind that these tales, particularly in the Golden and Silver Ages, actually predated the concept of continuity and shared universes. To that finish, it wasn’t actually an issue that one ongoing comedian appeared to function Clark and a slew of the Superman supporting forged as youngsters whereas one other continued to inform tales about them as adults.

Superboy tales have been truly fairly common, and regardless of their considerably questionable place in the precise canon of Super-mythology, they launched some longstanding parts of Clark’s historical past into the combine. Krypto the Superdog, the Legion of the Super-Heroes, even Lana Lang, all obtained their begin in Superboy tales.

However, when comics began to pivot away from the free-for-all, imaginary story mannequin, issues received slightly tough to reconcile. It was exhausting to make room for a world the place Clark Kent was a superpowered teen in addition to a superpowered grownup when each timelines appeared to be in direct opposition to at least one one other, and although some elements of it have been stored for good, the majority of Teen Clark was (briefly) erased from continuity with CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. He’d later come again into the fold (…type of) with the identify Superboy-Prime.

But younger Clark was removed from the finish of the Superboy legacy. In the ’90s, following Clark’s demise in THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN, an all-new Superboy—er, excuse me, Metropolis Kid—got here into the combine who was a clone of the unique Superman. Later nonetheless, that clone was given an up to date origin to turn out to be Kon-El, or Connor Kent, the Superboy who reigned supreme all all through the late ’90s and early 2000s.

Connor’s revised origin story stored the “clone” half, however added in a single necessary twist: The DNA used to create him got here from each Superman and Lex Luthor, making him the final fusion of good and evil (and primed for an id disaster of epic proportions). Connor acquired his foothold in the DCU by becoming a member of Young Justice and later the Teen Titans together with his shut pals Bart Allen and Tim Drake, the place he stayed for the majority of his time in the highlight.

Freed and unbiased from the complicated quantum tangle of time journey and Silver Age shenanigans, it was Connor who actually began to solidify the idea for contemporary audiences. The concept that Superboy was truly an unbiased entity and not a younger model of Clark displaced in time turned normal working process—at the very least till Connor and Superboy-Prime actually collided with each other in INFINITE CRISIS.

Suffice it to say, the struggle wasn’t fairly and did not finish nicely for both of them. But, so far as narratives go, you have to admit that having the previous and new duke it out in the center of a Crisis-level occasion is fairly good in phrases of symbolism.

Years later, the Superboy mantle modified arms but once more, this time falling to Clark and Lois’s son, Jon, who holds it to this present day. Jon’s fairly radically totally different from his predecessors, of course. There’s the apparent factor of truly being Superman’s son, however he is additionally the first Superboy to actually act as Clark’s official sidekick.

It’s not that each younger Clark and Connor did not spend a while preventing side-by-side, or coaching beneath Big Blue, however neither of them actually entered the position the approach Jon has. As the youngest of the bunch, Jon’s story is much less about making an attempt to determine himself as a hero outright and extra about determining the place he belongs in the world, studying his powers and getting by means of faculty—one thing that may be slightly tough when your dad is the biggest superhero to ever reside.

You can sustain with Jon’s adventures, and maintain tabs on all the newest Superboy developments in SUPER SONS, SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS. And if historical past is any indication anticipate issues to proceed being a reasonably wild experience.

ACTION COMICS #1000 that includes artwork and tales by Brian Michael Bendis, John Cassaday, Paul Dini, Geoff Johns, Tom King, Jim Lee, Scott Snyder and extra is now out there in print and as a digital download.

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