Superboy, art by Tom Grummett
|First appearance||Adventures of Superman #500
|Created by||Karl Kesel
|Alter ego||Kon-El/Conner Kent|
Metahuman clone (1993-2003)
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Team affiliations||Project Cadmus
Legion of Super-Heroes
Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (New 52)
Supermen of America
|Notable aliases||Conner Kent, Carl Krummet, Experiment 13, "Superman", The Boy of Steel|
|Abilities||Tactile telekinesis that provides superhuman strength, flight, speed, invulnerability, and additional abilities
Kryptonian powers (2003-2011)
Superboy (real name Kon-El) is a fictional comic book superhero in the DC Comics universe. A modern update of the original Superboy, the character first appeared in Adventures of Superman #500 (June 1993), and was created by writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett.
From the character's debut in 1993 to August 2003, Superboy was depicted as a genetically engineered metahuman clone of human origin designed by Project Cadmus as a duplicate and closest genetic equivalent of Superman. The character was retconned in Teen Titans vol. 3, #1 (September 2003) as a Kryptonian/human hybrid of Superman and Lex Luthor. After DC's The New 52 initiative that relaunched the company's comics continuity in 2011, the character of Superboy was revamped as a clone derived from three DNA sources and designed by Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. as a recreation of Jon Lane Kent, the biological son of Superman and Lois Lane from a potential future timeline. After the character's death in the Superboy series, Kon-El was replaced by Jon Lane Kent in subsequent stories. After the events of Superboy #34 Kon returns as Superboy again.
- 1 Fictional character biography
- 2 Powers, abilities, and equipment
- 3 Identities
- 4 Legal dispute
- 5 Other versions
- 6 Continuity issues with 2003 retcon
- 7 In other media
- 8 Reception
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Fictional character biography
After the death of Superman at the hands of Doomsday, Project Cadmus Executive Director Paul Westfield wanted to create a clone replacement of Superman that would follow the agendas of Project Cadmus as well as his own personal agenda. After failed attempts to acquire Superman's DNA (which included an attempt to steal his corpse), Westfield decided to genetically alter a human clone to look like Superman and made the clone to be the closest human equivalent to a Kryptonian as they could based on their research. During their research when they had Superman's body, Westfield's scientists discovered a bio-electric aura surrounding Superman's body that provided some of Superman's powers such as invulnerability, flight through a form of self-telekinesis, protection from getting dirty and protection from skin-tight clothing to be damaged. The aura was translated into a telekinetic field for a human that would give the clone the ability to simulate Superman's powers such as flight, invulnerability, and strength. This was later known as "tactile telekinesis" by the scientists. After twelve failed attempts, the clone known as Experiment 13 was grown from a single cell to a teenage boy in less than a week and was a complete success. The clone was given implanted memories and underwent an artificial maturation process intended to match the age of the original Superman. This clone was released from his cloning tube too early, however, and emerged as a teenager. While at first calling himself "Superman", he would later be known as Superboy.
The Metropolis Kid
When Superboy arrived in Metropolis, he used the name "Superman". While glibly asserting he was the original Superman, he quickly rebuked any insinuation he was the original Superman. In fact, he told anyone who'd listen that he was a clone of Superman. This revelation was first revealed to Lois Lane, but she was not interested. This prompts the Kid to turn to another reporter, Tana Moon, who breaks the story live on WGBS. Three other Supermen emerged simultaneously: "The Man of Tomorrow" (the Cyborg Superman), "The Last Son of Krypton" (the Eradicator), and "The Man of Steel" (Steel). WGBS' Vinnie Edge arranges for the Kid to go into Suicide Slum and apprehend a gangster named Steel Hand. After the encounter, the Kid is confronted by the Guardian, who tells him to be careful—and mindful that Cadmus will not simply forget about him. Superboy loved the limelight, but was not particularly cautious at first. Steel had to have some words with the Kid about not trying to be Superman just for the glory after Superboy's carelessness inadvertently led to the death of a Daily Planet chopper pilot. The Kid, angry at first that Steel would tell him off, came to see the wisdom in Steel's words and helped pull Steel from a fire later on.
Superboy is approached by Supergirl to work with her at LexCorp. While initially interested (much to the delight of Lex Luthor II), Tana and WGBS get to him first, convincing him to sign a contract to be represented by Rex Leech. He meets Rex's daughter Roxy Leech at this time. Vinnie Edge, eager to shore up ratings, hires a villain named Stinger to attack Superboy on live television. After a battle between the two, Supergirl joins the fray, but even together they are incapable of stopping Stinger from destroying the Hobsneck Bridge, one of the major bridges into Metropolis. Superboy and Supergirl work together to save lives, pulling many people from cars that fell into the river, before Supergirl is left with the unhappy job of telling Luthor that Superboy turned down his offer.
After Coast City is destroyed, Superboy is duped by the Cyborg Superman into joining him in a mock investigation (having told everyone that the "Last Son" was responsible). It is really a ruse, and the Kid is quickly defeated by the Cyborg inside Engine City. The Cyborg reveals his plans, and his servant, Mongul, to the Kid while being held prisoner. The Cyborg also uses Superboy's image via a video feed to trick the Justice League America into going off world in a wild goose chase for the alleged destroyers of Coast City. Mongul reveals the plan to destroy Metropolis next to the Kid, hoping it will prompt the Kid to escape and lead to the downfall of Mongul's hated master. Superboy escapes and flies back to Metropolis, arriving to find Steel, Luthor, Lois Lane, and Supergirl gathered near the harbor. The Kid warns everyone that it was the Cyborg and not the Eradicator who was responsible for Coast City's destruction—and that he meant to do the same to Metropolis. Just then a Kryptonian War Suit emerges from the water. The warsuit opens and the real Superman emerges, though he is underpowered and clad in a black Kryptonian recovery suit. While Superboy and Steel are skeptical about his claim, they joined him in an frontal attack on Engine City. They discover a huge missile, capable of wiping out all of Metropolis. Superboy manages to pull it off course before it can destroy Metropolis.
Despite minor injuries, the Kid rejoins the fight in Engine City, saving the life of Steel. He acknowledges after the defeat of the Cyborg that the "man in black" is indeed the one true Superman. Afterwards, he returns to Metropolis with Supergirl and Steel. Tana comes to visit him, telling him that she quit her job and is leaving Metropolis for good.
With the real Superman back in action, the Kid relinquishes the rights to the name and symbol and decides to leave Metropolis after finally accepting the name Superboy. It was then decided that he would go on a world tour in order to establish himself in his new identity. He also went back to Cadmus and was told more about his origins—he was not in fact a direct clone of Superman's, but rather a human clone genetically engineered to look like Superman and mimic his major powers by way of tactile telekinesis. Despite Director Paul Westfield's initial protests, Cadmus agreed to stop trying to bring him back to the Project—partially because of the publicity that would come with such a move—on the terms that a "chaperone" would go with him: Dubbilex is chosen for the role.
After a few weeks of traveling, Superboy arrived in Hawaii during his world tour. Superboy decided to stay on the islands when he learned Tana Moon had moved there, stylizing himself as the "Hero of Hawaii." He would make several new acquaintances (special agent Sam Makoa, Hilary Chang, Dr. Emil Hamilton and the femme fatale Knockout) and new enemies (Scavenger, Sidearm, Techno, Silver Sword, the Silicon Dragons and King Shark)
Soon after, however, Superboy began suffering from the Clone Plague that was ravaging most of the Underworlders and other Cadmus clones (including Lex Luthor II) and return to Metropolis. Superboy was successfully cured, the first of the few survivors, thanks to Cadmus' efforts. Superboy had to help fight off some of Luthor's Team Luthor goons when they tried to steal the cure from the Project. He then joined Superman and Supergirl in the Fall of Metropolis, trying to minimize the damage as much as possible, and together they apprehended Lex Luthor—although most of downtown Metropolis was destroyed. Cadmus had suffered major damage (and Paul Westfield had been murdered by mad scientist Dabney Donovan), but most of the staff and clones survived. Superboy stuck around in Metropolis for a while, battling the Parasite and encountering the heroes of the "Dakotaverse".
On his way back to Hawaii, Superboy is forced to make a pit stop in Smallville, where he meets the Kents. He also meets the pocket universe Superboy, who was there because of the effects of the time disruption.
After getting back to Hawaii (met with a brief clashed with Aquaman at Pearl Harbor), he acquired a visor that simulated Superman's x-ray, heat, and infra-vision powers. Superboy also settled into a new residence called the Compound, in a secluded spot near the beach, with the Leeches and Dubbilex staying there as a well. Superboy became involved with Tana Moon, and encountered Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad, which had enlisted Knockout, Sidearm and King Shark to combat the Silicon Dragons. Superboy joined the group and defeated the Dragons (although their leader, Lady Dragon, would escape); however in the process Sidearm was killed, and both Knockout and King Shark were also presumably killed as well.
The Alpha Centurion recruits Superboy into the Superman Rescue Squad, after the Man of Steel is kidnapped by an alien Tribunal. Superboy joins the Centurion, Supergirl, the Eradicator, and Steel and leave Earth to find Superman, which they do. The team rescues him from the Tribunal (who it turns out had been deceived into imprisoning Superman by the Cyborg Superman) and they all return to Earth.
Later, Superboy is forced to battle against Valor, who was amnesiac and fighting under the name of Champion. Knockout, alive and well, decided to join in on the fight. As Valor regained his memory, he also realized he is dying of lead poisoning. Superboy helped Valor escape into the Phantom Zone to save his life. Superboy meets the Legion of Super-Heroes shortly after, who have come to the past seek to save Valor's life. Superboy explains what happened and accompanies the Legion to the 30th Century to help Valor. Valor is freed from the Phantom Zone in his own time and takes the name M'onel and decides to fight wearing Superman's costume. The Legion rewards Superboy with making him an honorary Legionnaire, complete with flight ring, before sending him home.
Upon returning to the present after helping the Legion, Superboy finds Knockout waiting for him at The Compound. She wants to join him as a partner, loving the heat of battle more than anything. Over the following weeks they pair up against several foes, and Knockout teaches Superboy how to use his powers in new and creative ways, such as extending his TK field to cover another person just by touching them. Superboy regains his visor, but destroys it, reasoning that he would just lose it again.
Superboy and Knockout are then attacked by the Female Furies, revealing that Knockout was one of their lost "sisters". An intense battle ensues, and thanks to Sam Makoa, Dan Turpin, Dubbliex and a large contingent of police officers, the Furies are driven off. During the battle, Knockout killed a police officer in the fray. Dubbilex discovered what had happened and the police — in the process of forming their own Special Crimes Unit — attempt to arrest Knockout. Superboy refuses to believe the evidence and the two briefly go on the run from the law (prompting Superboy to break up with Tana Moon). Despite Supergirl's intervention (the 2 fight, and it ends when she rips the S-shield off Superboy's costume because of his lawlessness), Superboy persisted that he was in the right and everyone just did not understand Knockout. Knockout's true colors are revealed, however, during a meeting with Victor Volcanium, who had risen an island for himself near Hawaii. Knockout first tried to get Superboy to kill him and then finished him off herself. In this act, Superboy realized then that she did not love him the way he thought he loved her, but that she merely was using him as her lapdog. Superboy apprehended Knockout, in part due to the training she had given him on how to use his powers, bringing her in as the island sunk back beneath the waves. Roxy Leech, having recovered his S-shield, put it back on his costume.
As Superboy resumed his relationship with Tana, an organization called the Agenda sent Amanda Spence to kidnap Superboy. Spence is successful, kidnapping Superboy after defeating him at the Compound. The Agenda uses Superboy to create a clone called Match, who had even greater power than Superboy. The Agenda plans on making an entire army of Match clones. The Kid manages to defeat Match, however, and destroy the Agenda's lair. Spence and the Directors are all taken into custody, while Match is thought to be killed.
Unknown to the Kid, the Agenda infected Superboy with a virus that began to break down his DNA. Superboy is rushed back to Project Cadmus, and they are able to slow the condition but not halt it. Superman, Supergirl, and Steel came to his aid, each tracking down leads that might help. Amanda Spence, it turns out, offers a solution: he needs a DNA donor to "re-zip" the breakdown of his own DNA. Roxy Leech offers to be part of the procedure to help restructure the Kid's DNA and cure him of the virus. The plan succeeded, although a side effect was that Superboy was locked at the age of sixteen. Superboy is crushed at the news, having always dreamed of one day assuming the role of Superman, but a heart-to-heart with Superman helped make the Kid feel better and he returns home.
Things began to break down upon returning to Hawaii, culminating with Tana breaking up with the Kid. Superboy decides to travel a bit to clear his head. He stops by Jersey City and asks Natasha Irons, Steel's niece, out on a date. Nat has fun, but tells him she's not interested in a relationship because she can tell he's still very much in love with Tana. After a failed publicity stunt and wavering public opinion in Hawaii and abroad, Superboy disappears without a trace while flying back to Hawaii and getting caught in a storm.
He awakens some time later, amnesic in the Wild Lands, an island of anthropomorphic animal-men (an homage to Jack Kirby's Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth). Superboy quickly regains his memory, and briefly fears he is somehow in the distant future. After passing a test and other challenges, Superboy and some other humans stranded on the island manage to leave the Wild Lands. Superboy befriends the Wild Men, who decide to explore the world at large and leave with Superboy. They quickly discover they are not in the distant future, but really only a few months have passed since Superboy's disappearance. The islands had been created by a precursor to Project Cadmus (part of an experiment in the 1940s known as the "Moreua Project"). Superboy and the stranded humans get off the island to their lives; back in Hawaii, Superboy learned that most of his friends were gone and decided there was nothing really left for him.
He rejoined Cadmus and began working as a field agent with Dubbilex and Guardian. After a mission in Paris where they battled the Agenda and meet a supermodel named "Hex," who claims to be Jonah Hex, Superboy meets the new Cadmus Director (Mickey "the Mechanic" Cannon), new military liaison Col. Adam Winterbourne (one of the men the Kid rescued from the Wild Lands), and one of the new ace scientists, Serling Roquette. Superboy is interested in Serling (as she's one of the few females at the Project and the only one close to his own age), but she is oblivious at first.
A defining moment in Superboy's life would come when Superman asks Superboy to come with him to the Fortress of Solitude. While there, Superboy visits Krypton via virtual reality. After explaining how he considers Superboy part of his family, Superman offers him the Kryptonian name Kon-El. Superboy tearfully accepts, overjoyed with the simple joy of having a real name. He would eventually accept the name "Conner."
Superboy was one of the first heroes to explore Hypertime, after a Superboy from an alternate reality arrived at the Watchtower, dying shortly thereafter from injuries. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all explained their recent experiences with Hypertime, and ask Superboy to volunteer for part of an experiment. During this journey, he met a villainous counterpart, Black Zero, from a reality where he had not been freed from Cadmus as a teenager, nor had Superman ever returned to life. Black Zero had become a cruel tyrant in his world, and then had set out to other worlds he had found via Hypertime. Superboy (Kon-El) led other versions of himself in an uprising that defeated Black Zero, and then returned to his proper timeline/reality.
About this time, Superboy decides to visit Smallville, specifically to drop by the Kents. Clark Kent arrives there, too, and Superboy hints around that he knows Clark's secret (which he discovered during his Hypertime adventure), but does not come out and say it. Clark is reluctant to come out with it too, not because he doesn't trust the Kid, but because he is afraid that eventually Superman and Clark Kent may no longer be distinguishable. Still, he does hint back to SB that he knows the Kid knows about him (while teaching Kon-El how to milk a cow). Later he heads to Metropolis and meets up with Lois Lane, who advises him that everyone - even Superman - needs a little privacy in life. Ultimately, the Kid is comforted when Superman tells him that of all the people who wear the S-shield, Kon-El is the one he feels closest too.
After a visit in Hawaii (where he visits friends, and comes to learn he is no longer well thought of among the locals there and that nothing will ever be like it once was) he returns to Cadmus. Upon arriving he is accosted by The Agenda, who have seized control of the Project thanks to the Apokoliptian monster makers Simyan & Mokkari and an army of clones. Along with Krypto, Hex, Guardian, Mickey Cannon, the Wild Men and Tana Moon, Superboy wrests control of Cadmus back from The Agenda, however Spence escapes and Superboy pursues her.
In Washington D.C. a public outcry erupts over Young Justice's actions at Mount Rushmore prompted a calling of the superhero community to come to D.C. The heroes are all shocked at how Superboy (standing with Young Justice) seems to be betraying his friends and comrades to the media, until they realize that this Superboy is in fact Match, who had infiltrated Young Justice after the real Superboy had been captured and locked up in Cadmus. The real Superboy arrives on scene, slugging it out with his clone. As the tension mounts, the Contessa (a behind-the-scenes player in The Agenda, and Lex Luthor's ex-wife) and her partner, Klarion the Witch-Boy, enact their plan. Klarion's sorcery alters the ages of everyone present: the adults become kids (with the oldest heroes becoming the youngest) and the younger heroes all become adults—all except Superboy, who is still stuck at sixteen.
The spell that changed everyone's age is frustrated by Superboy's stunted aging process—and as a result, his body begins to tear apart at a molecular level, at "war" with itself. Wonder Girl helps Superboy back to Cadmus, arriving just after Match (again in the guise of Superboy) and he is able to hold his own against Wonder Girl and the weakened Superboy. Guardian and Mickey prepare to make another stand against the Agenda clones who had rallied and were coming back, but Dabney Donovan surprises everyone. Having escaped Simyan and Mokkari, Donovan unleashes a gas that contains a virus lethal only to the newly cloned Agenda soldiers. All the evil clones disintegrate, though Match escapes by activating a teleporter. Superboy is taken to the medical bay, Tana at his side, still very much in love with him. Serling is able to cure his aging condition, and by doing so, the spell ages him to a full adult. Emerging from the lab, Superboy embraces Tana. Amanda Spence, looking on, activates a device around Tana's neck that kills Tana and vanished via teleporter.
Superboy is devastated over the death of Tana. He barely has time to mourn, however, as he is called in by Superman (still a teen) to help him defeat Klarion and reverse the spell. Superman finally divulges straight up about his dual identity, asking Superboy to contact Lois to assure her everything is alright. As an adult, it appears as though Superboy may have even greater power than Superman. Klarion is eventually defeated and everyone is restored to their natural ages.
However, when he was restored to youth, Superboy loses his powers as well. Guardian encourages him to take some time to grieve and see the world as a "normal" kid. Once again everything around him changes so nothing will ever be like it once was: Tana is dead, Dubbliex leaves Cadmus on sabbatical, the Wild Men and Hex depart. Superboy decides to rely on his Legionnaire flight ring and had some special training with Guardian and continue the good fight. A fellow ally, Gadget Guru, fashions a shield for him to use: the shield is nearly indestructible, but can shrink in size.
He encounters Kossak the Slaver, who has come to Earth to capture an escape slave - an alien that has somehow fused itself with Superboy's friend Roxy Leech. After a battle with Kossak, the alien breaks free of Roxy's body and flies off into space. Kon and Roxy reunite, as he tells her how he thinks of her as family, and she tells him the same. Shortly after, Superboy decides to adopt a new uniform, abandoning the leather jacket and streamlining the look.
Lex Luthor, recently elected President of the United States, has appointed Amanda Waller Secretary of Meta-Human Affairs and tasked her to keep an eye on Project Cadmus. Under Waller's instruction, he and the Guardian are sent on missions where they cross paths with Lobo, Batman and Batgirl. The Guardian splits off to deal with the villain Shrapnel, and when Superboy returns to Cadmus he learns that Guardian was killed in the battle with Shrapnel. Superboy arranges a team to take down Shrapnel. During the battle, he is contacted by Deadman, who tells him that the soul of Guardian cannot move on: Guardian has been re-cloned to life (but is a baby) as part of a plot to create a whole army of clones based on him. A group of fighters called The D.N.Angels are sent to recover the baby, but Superboy fights them off and takes the baby to a friend's house. The next day, he finds that Project Cadmus has been closed down per the President's orders.
After an encounter in Pokolikstan with Zod, Superboy learns that President Luthor is up to something involving Strange Visitor at LexCorp Towers in the newly upgraded Metropolis. Catching up with Serling and Heat Wave (and "baby" Guardian, now a boy about the age of nine or ten), Superboy leads the team on an infiltration of LexCorp Towers. They free Strange Visitor from a machine, but she angrily chides them that she is no prisoner, but came there willingly. Talia Head, now the head of LexCorp, enters and tells them they have broken U.S. law and stolen government property (namely, Guardian). A man named General Good arrives with the D.N.Angels and places them under military arrest.
Superboy and the others are taken as prisoners to a huge spaceship in orbit. General Good explains that he plans to create an entire army of clones based on Guardian to be used as soldiers in an upcoming war — not a war between the U.S. and Pokolikstan, as many had feared was coming, but a war on a much bigger scale. Working for Good is Amanda Spence, now heavily modified into a cyborg. Superboy frees himself and battles the D.N.Angels and Spence, until the Angels decide they are on the wrong side. Spence, who boasts she no longer needs to eat or breathe, is knocked into the void by Superboy. He frees Guardian (now almost fully grown), Heat Wave, and Serling. The clones are soon destroyed. Viewing out into space, everyone notices a vast armada of alien ships — and Apokolips itself — in orbit around Earth. General Frank Rock arrives, places Good under arrest, and tells Superboy to consider himself drafted.
He then got fully involved with the events of Our Worlds at War, first helping to aid injured heroes and then being recruited by President Luthor (with the rest of Young Justice) for a special assignment that takes the team to Apokolips. Things go badly and the team is briefly captured by Granny Goodness. The team is eventually able to make it back to Earth, one of the last groups to be accounted for. The war deeply impacted Superboy, having witnessed much death and destruction, as well as some scarring to some of his closest friends. Superboy decides to go to the Kent's to rest, but is troubled by nightmares for some time.
With Cadmus shut down, Superboy has no job and no place to stay. He relocates to Metropolis, becoming the "super" at a tenement building called Calvin Gardens. Eventually Superman invites him to stay with his parents in Smallville, which he gladly accepted and did for quite some time.
Young Justice and Teen Titans (1998–2005)
Superboy is a founding member of Young Justice, a group of teenage heroes who intended to one day be the next Justice League.
Superboy first encountered his future teammate Robin after the latter called Rex Leech requesting Superboy's help in defeating Metallo in Gotham City while Superboy was judging the first "Miss Kryptonite" pageant in Hawaii. While Superboy and Robin seemingly defeated Metallo, Poison Ivy takes control of Superboy. Robin follows Superboy and Poison Ivy to Kauai, where Poison Ivy released vines all over the island. Metallo shows up in Kauai as well and the team of Superboy and Robin defeated them. It was during this that Superboy discovered that he had a weakness to Kryptonite radiation that made him sick in the presence of it as guessed by Professor Hamilton. He also teamed up with future Young Justice member Captain Marvel Jr. against mental projections of Knockout, Chain Lightning, Captain Nazi, Silversword, Superman, and Captain Marvel.
Although Young Justice's first mission was technically the rescuing of the metahuman ghost-girl, Secret, the group did not officially form until an incident in which the world's adult population was kidnapped and transfers them to a copy Earth, by a pre-teen with godlike powers. Teaming up with Robin and Impulse, the three teen heroes manage to defeat Bedlam and return everything to normal. Soon after, they agreed to form an official team, dubbed "Young Justice" by the media. Soon after they are joined by Secret, Arrowette, Wonder Girl, and others. Although Superboy and Robin begin with an argumentative relationship similar to the one shared by Superman & Batman as well as leadership struggles, they became allies and friends. Superboy and Wonder Girl's relationship is developed throughout Young Justice. At first, Wonder Girl's infatuation with Superboy is unnoticed. In the final issue of Young Justice, both Wonder Girl and Superboy reveal they have feelings for each other. After the events of Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day and the apparent death of Donna Troy, Young Justice disbands with Superboy, Robin, Impulse, and Wonder Girl going their own separate ways.
Now based in Smallville with a new civilian identity as Clark Kent's cousin "Conner Kent", Superboy is asked by Superman to accept Cyborg's invitation to join a new incarnation of the Teen Titans with his former Young Justice teammates Robin, Impulse, and Wonder Girl. Also on the team are Teen Titans veterans Cyborg, Starfire, and Beast Boy. Superboy is retconned from the original premise of a human clone of Paul Westfield with restructured DNA (based on a genetic template from Roxy Leech) to a hybrid of Superman's Kryptonian DNA and Paul Westfield's human DNA. After the new team gathers at Titans Tower in San Francisco Bay, it is revealed via an email sent to Robin that Superboy's human DNA is not from Paul Westfield but from Superman's foe Lex Luthor.
During Superboy's first adventures with the Teen Titans, his Kryptonian powers start to manifest. In a battle with Jericho, Superboy's body gets possessed by him and Jericho was able to exhibit heat vision and other Superman-like powers. At first Superboy seems to have a hard time controlling his powers but he soon adjusts. Later, during Wonder Girl and Conner's first date, Superboy is forcibly sucked through a time portal to the 31st century.
When Superboy reappears, he is wearing the classic Superboy outfit (with a Legion belt buckle). This was the result of 31st century minions of Darkseid stealing Earth's mightiest heroes from the past and turning them into warriors of the future Apokolips. Because Conner is a clone of Superman, he is mistakenly taken, because they thought he was actually Kal-El. When their error is realized, Conner is left drifting in 31st century space. Conner is found by Phantom Girl's mother and the United Planets and is soon formally inducted into the Legion of Super-Heroes. When Conner is seen by the people of the 31st century, he is revered as a great legend of the Superman mythos. He then helps the Legion defeat Darkseid and his corrupted heroes, which consist of Superman, Green Lantern, Orion, Wonder Woman, Lobo, Big Barda, Firestorm, White Martian, and Hawkwoman, who were abducted and manipulated into his service. After Darkseid and his minions are defeated, the Legion returns the past heroes to their proper places in time (as seen in the "Foundations" storyline in The Legion #25-30). Conner suffers from short term memory loss after his time jump and cannot remember exactly when he vanished from the past. Because of this, Brainiac 5 refuses to send him back until they discover his point of departure. After months of probing Conner's mind, Saturn Girl finally discovers the point at which he left the past. With this newfound information, Superboy is sent back to the 21st century a second or two after he left. It appears to Cassie as though he was only away for a couple seconds, but Superboy has spent five months in the 31st century with the Legion of Super-Heroes fighting the Fatal Five-Hundred. He returns to enlist the help of the Titans, bringing them to the future where they help the Legion to victory.
On the return trip home, they accidentally arrive ten years in the future instead of the present. The Teen Titans meet adult versions of themselves. Superboy finds that he is now Superman, Tim is Batman, Cassie is Wonder Woman, and Bart is the Flash. In this alternate future, Conner has greater control of his powers, Cassie chooses him over Captain Marvel Jr., Lex Luthor is his mentor/father figure, and the Titans are "freakin' bad guys". They discuss the possibility of breaking up the team when they get back to the present, but Cyborg 2.0 tells them that the future developed the way it did because the team was not together during the "Crisis".
Brainiac and Luthor lead an attack against the young heroes of the Teen Titans and the Outsiders using a brainwashed Superboy and Indigo. Luthor reveals that the reason he had donated his DNA to help create Superboy was to create a sleeper agent that he could use to destroy Superman. He revealed that he was involved with "Project: Superman" (a.k.a. "Project: Lionel"), and he had implanted verbal commands into Superboy under Cadmus director Paul Westfield's nose. This eventually led to near disaster, as Luthor was able to "unlock" the potential of Kon-El. Under Luthor's influence, Superboy's power magnitude was at a level he rarely displayed on his own. Conner defeats his team, including tearing Cyborg apart at his mechanical pieces, breaking Robin's arm, and savagely beating his own girlfriend. He then shakes off the brainwashing. Afterwards, Conner takes a leave of absence from the Titans and secludes himself in the Kents' home. He is unsure as to whether or not, being a clone, he even has a soul. There, Raven shows him that he had a young soul that was stronger than his inner demons and steadily growing.
Infinite Crisis, death and return (2005–2011)
In the DC Comics' limited series Infinite Crisis, the other-dimensional Superboy-Prime watches Conner during his seclusion in Smallville. Infinite Crisis was a sequel to DC's 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which did away with DC's "Multiverse" storytelling device in favour of a streamlined single continuity. For Infinite Crisis, DC editorial chose to portray Superboy-Prime—a survivor of the previous Crisis—as a disgruntled fan, as a metafictional commentary on DC properties during that time; he is an avid consumer of the adventures of various superheroes, but has come to loathe the direction their lives have taken in the time since the previous crisis. Along with Alexander Luthor, Jr., another survivor of the previous Crisis, they wish to undo a lot of the plot developments which have occurred since 1985 and reconstruct the DC Universe in their image. Resentful of Conner, who he claims has lower standards than his own despite a seemingly perfect life, Superboy-Prime attacks him, telling him that he should be his replacement as Superboy.
Possessing an apparent strength advantage, Superboy-Prime pulverizes Conner, badly injuring him, until the Teen Titans, Doom Patrol, and Justice Society of America join the fray, leading to a climactic battle where various Flashes pull Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force. The battle against Superboy-Prime overtaxes Conner's body. His body begins to fall apart to the point that even JSA physician Doctor Mid-Nite cannot aid him. Knowing that Lex Luthor wants to keep Superboy alive as much as the Titans do, Robin leads Speedy, Wonder Girl and Beast Boy to find a cure while Raven keeps watch over him. The Titans succeed, and they immediately administer the cure to Conner, who makes a complete recovery; however, Luthor informs Robin it will only work that one time. In the Teen Titans Annual, which is part of the Infinite Crisis crossover, Wonder Girl volunteers to look after Conner as he recovers while the other Titans are called away to organize the relief effort in a decimated Blüdhaven, since her powers are slowly vanishing due to events in Wonder Woman and Infinite Crisis. Conner awakens, and he and Wonder Girl spend time alone, reminiscing and longing for "simpler times". Thinking this may be their last night together, the two consummate their relationship in the Kent barn. The two of them are later discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent.
Luthor later grants Conner the means to find Alexander Luthor, a sliver of the crystalline construct that Alexander is using to monitor reality. Superboy leaves a powerless Cassie in the care of the Kents in order to respond to a distress call from Titan's Tower in San Francisco. There he meets up with Nightwing, who sent the call. Being the only two heroes available to deal with the situation, Conner and Nightwing bond as they make their way north to Alexander's fortress. Conner and Nightwing are later rejoined by a now repowered Wonder Girl and together they infiltrate Alexander Luthor's base and foil his plans. They free Martian Manhunter, Power Girl, Black Adam, Lady Quark, Nightshade, Breach, and The Ray, but the tide of the battle turns with the return of Superboy-Prime. Superboy-Prime makes short work of many of the heroes and then turns his sights on Nightwing. Before Prime can touch Nightwing, an enraged Conner attacks him. Conner and Superboy-Prime battle intensely, until Prime catches one of his punches, crushing Conner's right hand in the process. Despite being vastly overpowered, Conner fights bravely and defiantly manages to hold his own for a time. In a last-ditch effort Conner rushes into Superboy-Prime, sending both of them headlong into Alexander Luthor's multiverse tower; Luthor had managed to recreate the previous Multiverse, but this causes the worlds to merge again anew, into a refreshed singular continuity and apparently foiling Alexander Luthor's plans for good. Conner, fatally injured from the explosion, lies dying in the arms of Wonder Girl. When Cassie tells him that he had saved the Earth, Conner replies, "I know, Cass. Isn't it cool?" Moments later, he dies. Batman, Wonder Woman, Kal-El, Nightwing, and Kal-L arrive, too late to save Conner's life. Later, Superman mourns Conner's death while cradling his body. Conner is buried under his civilian name in Metropolis, alongside the bodies of Kal-L (the Earth-Two Superman) and his wife Lois Lane Kent, for over a year.
In year-long weekly series 52, which directly follows on from Infinite Crisis, although Conner is dead, he is not forgotten. Wonder Girl leads a memorial broadcast over the Internet, and she and hundreds of others pay their final respects to Conner in a traditional Kryptonian way. It is revealed that the mourners are part of a resurrection cult supposedly based on Kryptonian theology, which Wonder Girl and Ralph Dibny refer to as the "Cult of Conner". Dibny hypothesizes that the cult and Wonder Girl are responsible for defacing the tombstone of his wife Sue Dibny with an inverted Superman insignia (the insignia is the Kryptonian symbol for hope; when inverted, it is the symbol for resurrection). Wonder Girl later encounters the strange, enigmatic hero called Supernova. Cassie introduces herself but is confused that he does not recognize her. When Supernova flies away, she calls him "Kon-El." Three weeks later, surveillance footage is shown to Lex Luthor by an enthusiastic scientist who assumes that Kon-El is still alive. Luthor dismisses this belief, convinced that Supernova is not Kon-El but Superman. In week 37, it is revealed that Supernova is not Conner but in fact Booster Gold.
In Week 51, Batman and Robin return from their journey across the globe. When the heroes appear at Superboy's memorial on the first anniversary of his death, Robin is wearing a new costume using colors of black and red from Superboy's last uniform. Wonder Girl also changes her costume to honor Superboy as well, wearing a Golden Age Wonder Woman-themed T-shirt and denim jeans. These become the character's standard costumes thereafter. Superboy memorial statues are erected in Metropolis next to Superman's statue and in San Francisco outside of Titans Tower. One year later, Lex Luthor still mourns Conner's death as he considers him his own son. Meanwhile, unknown to his teammates or even Superman, Robin is attempting secretly to recreate Superboy using DNA from Superman and Luthor. Robin has a glass case memorial to Conner, which contains Conner's last costume, the jeans and S-shield T-shirt, similar to the memorial Batman keeps for the second Robin, Jason Todd. Supergirl took another one of his other T-shirts from the Kent farm and gave it to Wonder Girl.[volume & issue needed] Robin immediately wonders if Raven may be able to resurrect Superboy, as she has done recently for Jericho. However, Raven explains that she cannot since Superboy's soul has transcended into another plane of existence.[volume & issue needed]
The character is later revived in the pages of Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds (2008–9). Having been placed in a Kyrptonian healing chrysalis 1000 years ago by Starman (Thom Kallor) of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Kon-El awakens in the 31st century to once again battle Superboy-Prime. After Superboy-Prime is defeated by three incarnations of the Legion, Superboy and Kid Flash (Bart Allen), who has also been resurrected, Bart and Kon are returned to the 21st century to resume their lives. Kon-El returned to regular publication at a time when the Superman: World of New Krypton limited series was being published, during which time the Superman comic books Action Comics and Superman did not focus on Superman. Superman writer James Robinson stated in an interview that Superboy was originally going to star in Action Comics, following the departure of Superman to the planet New Krypton. Superboy featured instead as the main character in a revival of Adventure Comics, one of DC's oldest Superman books. During the Blackest Night storyline, Conner was briefly turned into a member of the Black Lantern Corps, but Wonder Girl manages to free him by using the temporally-complex nature of his resurrection against his Black Lantern self, luring him to the Fortress so that the ring can be drawn off him by the presence of his deceased self, allowing Conner to destroy the ring before it can take control of either of him.
Conner featured as a supporting character in the Superman story arc Man of Valor starring Mon-El, who has been filling in for Superman as the Man of Steel is on New Krypton. Conner subsequently features in the Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton and Superman: War of the Supermen follow-up stories to World of New Krypton, where he and various other Kryptonians and Superman supporting characters take part in a war against General Zod. He also rejoins the Teen Titans in Teen Titans #81-2, after the teenage superhero Static is kidnapped while visiting his hometown of Dakota, and faces off against the supervillain Holocaust. Both Static and Holocaust had recently been integrated into the DC Universe, having previously belonged to the Milestone Media comics line-up. Following the conclusion of War of the Supermen, writer Jeff Lemire and Italian artist Pier Gallo launched a new Superboy series. The series begins with Conner resettling his life in Smallville, directly continuing the arc in Adventure Comics. Both series featured Superboy as the lead character right up until September 2011, when DC's announced "The New 52", a relaunch of its entire series took place. Superboy ended with issue 11.
The New 52: reboot (2011–present)
After DC's relaunch and a reboot of its continuity, Superboy is introduced anew with a fresh origin story. He first appears in Teen Titans #1, where he is the half-human half-Kryptonian clone creation of the mysterious organization N.O.W.H.E.R.E., which seeks to control the new generation of metahumans. His main power is telekinesis, which he uses to simulate full Kryptonian abilities, and he is sent out on missions by the organization. He comes to the attention of the newly formed Teen Titans, and battles with them, during which he realizes he is merely the "living weapon" of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., and spends time by himself. During this time, he encounters Supergirl, who explains to him his Kryptonian heritage. Sharing her people's prejudice and hatred of clones, Supergirl names Superboy "Kon," a Kryptonian word that (in the New 52 continuity) means "abomination." He also learns he is N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s second Superman clone, but cannot extract more information about this from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. mercenary Rose Wilson, who defeats him in combat. The Teen Titans later stage several rescue attempts on Superboy, and eventually recruit him to the team.
In the Superman/Supergirl/Superboy crossover storyline "H'El on Earth", he is attacked by a time traveling Kryptonian named H'El for being a clone, after which H'El delivers his body to Supergirl and Superman for execution. As clones were generally hated by Kryptonians, H'El believes this act will prove his loyalty to Krypton, but it instead triggers conflict between him and Superman, who doesn't wish to kill Kon-El. During the fight against H'El, Superboy and Superman come to know each other better and develop a feeling of friendship and understanding. Kon-El is surprised by Superman's heroism and is touched by it.
In 2013 comics, following the "Forever Evil" Justice League storyline, the evil speedster Johnny Quick throws the Teen Titans forward in time. After he is separated from the Titans, Kon-El encounters Jon Lane Kent, the villainous future son of Superman and Lois Lane. Kon-El is actually a clone of Jon Lane Kent, created by Harvest (founder of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.) so that a cure could be found for Jon's illness. During their battle, Jon Lane Kent is seriously injured but then Kon-El falls through a portal and is transported to Krypton's Argo City in the past, days prior to planet's destruction. This leads to the 2013 Return to Krypton storyline. During the story, Kon-El uses the last of his powers to lift Argo City off of the dying Krypton, saving it so that a young Supergirl can arrive on Earth just as history records. He then dies with the planet, accepting himself as more than a "living weapon," in Superman #25. It is later revealed that Kon-El is still alive serving a being called the Oracle, patrolling past, present, and future.
Meanwhile, in Teen Titans, the unconscious and injured Jon Lane Kent is recovered by the Beast Boy and Rose Wilson of that future time period. They know that this Superboy is actually Jon Lane Kent but, for their own purposes, hide this fact and dress him in Kon-El's costume. The Teen Titans then arrive and assume that this is the Superboy they know (they were unaware of Jon Lane Kent's existence or that Kon-El encountered a villain with identical appearance and powers). The Teen Titans then take Jon Lane Kent back to the modern day era and he pretends to be their version of Superboy. Although Superman and Supergirl know that Kon-El is "dead", they have not told the Titans. No one on the team is aware yet that Kon-El is "dead" and that they have an impostor in their midst who intends to kill all of Earth's meta-humans. It is later revealed that Kon-El is still alive serving a being called the Oracle, patrolling past, present, and future. His conscience is pulled in a pocket universe (dimension) when Jon Lane Kent touches his Pschyo Future Self with all other Kons and Jons of the multiverse. The Future Jon taps into all other Kons and Jons except this dimension's Kon and younger Jon. The younger Jon heroically sacrifices himself to destroy the elder Jon, obliterating them both through his TK, sending all the other Jons and Kons back to their respective timelines, dimensions and universes. Jon isn't erased from history, and his actions outside of the pocket universe are well remembered, but he is truly gone, leaving Kon-El once again as Superboy. Kon-El is later revealed to travel all across the world and train and practice various forms of meditation and inner peace of mind as indicated in Supergirl comics. He later joins the Teen Titans.
In the 2015 storyline "Convergence" the supervillian Brainiac figures out a way to travel to defunct alternate universes where he steals multiple cities which he places within domes on another planet. Brainiac keeps these cities trapped within these domes for nearly a year until he lowers the dome walls and forces the heroes inside to fight each other in order to save their cities from destruction. One of these cities is a Metropolis which contains a an alternate version of Superboy from the pre-Zero Hour continunity. This Superboy is a resident of Project Cadmus where Dubbilex and Cadmus scienticists try effortlessly to repower a powerless Superboy by charging him with artificial solar radiation. Somehow Superboy is unable to access his powers until the dome is lowered. Just then, a voice tells him that he must fight another hero to ensure the safety of his Metropolis. When he regains his powers he is attacked by Red Robin from the Kingdom Come reality with Kryptonite gas. Superboy easily defeats him after the gas wears off but he is rescued by the KC version of the Flash. Soon Superboy is confronted by the elderly KC Superman who tells him to surrender so that he can be spared the pain of being defeated by an obviously stronger and much more experienced opponent. Superboy refuses to listen to reason as he is determined to win in order to save his Metropolis from destruction. The two supermen engage in battle, destroying parts of Metropolis in the process and even injuring Lois Lane when Superboy threw a rock at the elderly Superman and Lois was hit in the head with some of its debris. Finally Dubbilex informs Superboy telepathically about the reality of the situation and Superboy decides to do what Superman would do and surrenders, letting the elderly Superman defeat him with a punch that knocks Superboy out.
This Superboy is clearly not the same Superboy who appeared in the 1990s DC Universe. This Superboy manifests both x-ray vision and super breath which he never had with only his tactile telekinesis as his power. He is also called "Kon-El" by Dubbilex and the Cadmus personnel, a name which was given to him later in his career by Superman who is either still dead at Doomsday's hands or was outside of Metropolis when Brainiac erected the dome.
Powers, abilities, and equipment
Originally, Superboy's only superpower is a telekinetic force field that surrounds his body and granted him abilities that approximated some of Superman's powers such as super strength, flight and invulnerability. The field allowed Superboy to lift heavy objects by extending the field around him and deflect any solid object that came into contact with him. The field also allowed Superboy the ability to manipulate objects that he came into tactile contact with, bend them into any shape that he could visualize mentally, and disassemble things such as machines and other complex constructions by touch. Under Knockout's training, Superboy learned new ways to use his tactile telekinesis such as projecting telekinetic force waves to blast pieces of ground and extending his field to another person. Superboy can also manipulate solid masses such as volumes of sand or dust causing the individual particles to fly apart in an explosive manner to create particle clouds or a forceful attack. He can also perform the same with solid masses that are splintered, such as a cracked slab of concrete or fractured pane of glass. The telekinetic field also lets Superboy break free of an opponent's grip by pushing the field outward to force the opponent away and he is also able to create an air pocket around himself enabling him to breathe in outer space. In addition, he demonstrated the ability to extend his telekinetic field around other people that he touches to make them invulnerable. He also learned a trick from his older and more experienced alternate self, Black Zero, that allowed him to freeze people where they stood if he was touching the same surface that they were standing on.
The main disadvantage of Superboy's tactile telekinetic ability is that while his field could withstand physical force, the field is less effective in blocking radiant or conductive energy such as fire and laser fire. This left Superboy slightly more susceptible to energy-based attacks. While less effective against gaseous materials, he could manipulate water with a degree of difficulty and project his tactile telekinesis to create a current he could fire while underwater. He can also use his telekinetic field to deflect lava and prevent himself from being burned. Although Superboy was vulnerable to Kryptonite and magic, he was immune to the effects of a creature called "The Four-Armed Terror" which Superman was highly allergic to. Another advantage of Superboy's telekinesis is that it does not use up his solar energy as fast as Superman's powers. In "The Final Night", the Earth's sun was being eaten by a Sun-Eater which severely weakened Superman but Superboy's power level remained the same and he was able to use his tactile telekinesis at his normal power levels.
The process that made Superboy's human physiology genetically similar to that of a Kryptonian was done in such detail that he was a living solar battery like Superman, had a weakness to Kryptonite radiation that made him physically ill, and it was theorized that there was a possibility for him to gain superpowers that did not derive from tactile telekinesis when he matured like Superman or if Superboy was aged to full adulthood as planned by Project Cadmus. As explained by his alternate timeline counterpart Black Zero and shown when Superboy himself was aged to an adult by Klarion, Superboy gained new powers such as heat vision and super hearing when he matured to full age as well as gained a higher form of increased telekinesis, strength and greater invulnerability.
In the New 52, it seems that Superboy has not yet obtained all of his Kryptonian powers and his only abilities is his tactile telekinesis and a degree of superhuman strength ( a weight machine shows he is able to lift in excess of three tons with no strain at all in issue 5) as well as a superhuman healing factor (something Harvest pointed out after Superboy's fight with Grunge). In this version, it seems that his tactile telekinesis is far more powerful than in previous incarnations. It now operates like regular telekinesis letting him levitate objects at a distance and also providing greater awareness of his environment akin to a type of sonar. Superboy's telekinetic abilities also enable him to hyper accelerate himself at amazing speeds. It has become so powerful that when he escaped his test tube, he managed to destroy the entire laboratory and killed everyone inside save for Dr. Caitlin Fairchild. Later he has shown that his power is so immense that he managed to destroy an entire prison complex while he was unconscious, which leads to believe that he doesn't have complete control over the power.
It has been revealed that Kon-El is a clone of Jon Lane Kent, Lois and Clark's son from an alternate timeline future. Jon's hybrid nature led to genetic instability. To solve this problem, Harvest created the clone Superboy as a test and added two extra DNA strands with the human strand from Lois Lane and the Kryptonian strand from Superman. Harvest hoped that Lois and Clark's DNA could counteract the genetic disorder found in Jon's trans-alien DNA. Superboy's creation and stability proved a success. Superboy's telekinetic power stems from Jon Kent's DNA who also possesses this power due to being a Human/Kryptonian hybrid born under a yellow sun. Kon's power was temporarily shown to dwarf Jon's which may be the result of the addition of Lois and Clark's DNA.
When the villainous Kryptonian H'El manages to disrupt his DNA, Superman uses his Kryptonian armor to stabilize Superboy's condition. His tactile telekinesis is condensed enhancing his physical abilities, but also cutting into his sensory abilities and limiting the range of his power to the point that he has to be in direct contact with an object in order to mentally affect it. He has since seemingly recovered with his power returned to normal.
During Teen Titans, Superboy developed Kryptonian powers including heat vision, x-ray vision, and super-hearing. He also developed Kryptonian invulnerability. He also has developed Kryptonian level super strength, as shown when he battled the hugely powerful Superboy-Prime and even managed to damage him with some of his blows, when some characters such as Black Adam could not. When the Titans encountered their future selves, he found his future self had greater telekinetic abilities (no longer limited to tactile telekinesis), was stronger, more durable, and faster. Superboy later states that he has developed telescopic vision and eventually figures out how to use his freeze breath. It has also been shown in Teen Titans that he is much faster, traveling from San Francisco to the Arctic in less than an hour whilst carrying Nightwing. Superboy, like Superman, derives his Kryptonian powers from the absorption of solar energy from the Earth's yellow sun, and he is as vulnerable to Kryptonite and magic as is the Man of Steel.
In the Titans Tomorrow storyarc, the Kon-El Superman exhibits full Kryptonian abilities and full telekinesis with greater control of his telekinetic fields. In a fight with the future Captain Marvel, he shields himself from a magic attack, an advantage the modern Superman has never had.
A recent issue of Adventure Comics explained that since his return to life he had been trained in the use of heightened mental blocks to defend against mind control and influences, such as the brainwashing Luthor used on him. It was with this training that he was able to briefly pierce the control of the Black Lantern ring, using his heat vision to give Wonder Girl the clue needed to free him from it.
Because both Superboy and Superman as a boy absorbed less solar energy than Superman as an adult, Superboy is also less able to process the appropriate amount of solar energy as fast as Superman could: as a result, overtaxing his powers to the point of physical depletion would spell his death, as his body would literally begin to feed on itself, unable to absorb solar energy fast enough to restore itself.
Costumes and equipment
- Original costume (1993-2000): In his first appearance, Superboy has a black, blue and red costume with yellow accents and the red and yellow s-shield on his chest, black boots with yellow accents, two black belts with a yellow belt on the right leg, red gloves, fade haircut. The Newsboy Legion gave him a black leather jacket that belonged to a Cadmus worker and when he signed with WGBS, he started wearing black leather jackets with the yellow s-shield on the back along with the addition of black shades and a gold earring to his outfit. He had a red cape that was left behind at Project Cadmus and he later appeared with it when he was changed into an adult during "Sins of Youth". Superboy acquires red "super-goggles" from Professor Hamilton after giving Superboy a cellular diagnostic at S.T.A.R. Labs. The goggles provided him with x-ray vision like Superman but also included other vision powers including heat vision and infrared vision capabilities. The goggles are briefly lost during a mission with the Suicide Squad and then used against Superboy by The Technician, a criminal inventor. After re-acquiring the goggles, Superboy decides to rely on his natural abilities and destroys the goggles rather than risk them falling into the wrong hands again.
- "Superboy: The Last Boy On Earth" (1998): During the "Superboy: The Last Boy On Earth" storyline, his hair is grown past the shoulders with a look similar to the Jack Kirby character Kamandi; blue torn shorts, red boots, red gloves, and a stone necklace with a red and yellow "S" medallion that resembled the S-shield but was the serpentine mark of the slave trader Sacker. He is later given a blue tunic.
- Post "Sins of Youth" (2000): When he was depowered after the "Sins of Youth" storyline, his costume was a black T-shirt with red and yellow S-shield, blue pants, red gloves, red boots, and a yellow utility belt. He used a Legion flight ring to fly and later used a gold wrist guard designed by the Gadget Guru of the Hairies that was powered by the same Legion flight ring. It enabled Superboy to fly and hid a gold S-shield made of expandable alloy that Superboy used for combat. The S-shield could also be launched from Superboy's wrist guard.
- Updated Costume (2001-2003): In Superboy #83, Superboy is given a redesigned costume. This costume is a blue and dark red outfit with a blue and red jacket of matching design, red gloves and boots with yellow accents, red shades of an advanced design, and a new haircut. This is the character's primary costume until the beginning of Teen Titans in August 2003.
- Teen Titans (2003-2011): The character's design in Teen Titans is a more civilian look featuring jeans and a black T-shirt with a red s-shield. He sports a contemporary short haircut. In the "Superboy and the Legion" storyline from Teen Titans, he wears the classic Superman costume, but with a Legion belt buckle. During the five months he spends in the future, he grows his hair to match Superman.
- New 52 (2011–present): In the New 52 relaunch of the DC Universe, Superboy's costume is a black suit created by Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with red piping leading into the S-Shield. The origin or functional design within the DC New 52 have yet to be explained but they were likely designed by Harvest. Promotional art for Teen Titans depicted the character wearing a sleeveless black shirt, half-fingered black gloves similar to the original costume, black pants, black boots, and a red barcode tattoo on his right arm.
Initially, Superboy is known as "Experiment 13". When he escaped from Cadmus, he used the name "Superman". Those who would not accept him as Superman would refer to him as "The Kid", "Superkid", and "Superboy", a name he hated. After Superman's return, Superman let him use the name "Superboy" and continue to wear the S-shield. During the time, he had no other identity, with Tana Moon calling him "Kid" and Roxy Leech calling him "S.B.". Later, Superman gives him his first real name "Kon-El" (after a descendant of the second House of El and Superman's cousin in spirit). While undercover at Montridge High, Superboy's first attempt at a human alias name is Carl Krummet, a play on the names of Kon-El's creators. The character retains this name after Superboy relocated to Smallville. At the beginning of Teen Titans, he was given another civilian identity by Superman: Conner Kent, cousin to Clark.
A March 23, 2006 court decision returned rights to the Superboy character to Jerry Siegel's heirs. The decision, issued six days before Superboy's death in Infinite Crisis #6 hit the shelves, states that the Siegels have owned 'Superboy' since November 17, 2004.
Even though DC Comics does not own the rights to the "Superboy" name, Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio have stated that the decision to kill off the character had nothing to do with the court case, and that they could have just renamed the character. Following the conclusion of Infinite Crisis, Didio compared Superboy's death to Spock's death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (who was subsequently resurrected), and also stated that he was "as dead as Blue Beetle".
On the cover of Teen Titans #46, Match's insignia (a reverse version of Conner's) is obscured, and in Supergirl #18 (2007), Conner's "S" on his statue is covered. Almost all references to the character refer to him as "Conner".
Recently, it has appeared the legal status has been near dropped, as the Superboy name has been used as normal in several books such as Teen Titans[volume & issue needed] since his return in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, with his 'S' shield no longer obscured.
In Smallville: Titans, a spin-off of the Smallville television series, Conner is a member of the team with Speedy, Blue Beetle, Miss Martian, Zan and Jayna at Jay Garrick's school for the "gifted."
In the comic tie-in to Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superboy was heading to Metropolis with Beast Boy and Kid Flash on the day the Joker nuked the city, killing both of his friends. He then hears from Nightwing that Superman killed the Joker in retaliation, ruining his views on his former idol. After Superman announces a worldwide ceasefire, he talks to the Kents as he finds it nearly impossible to forgive Superman. Conner then tries to find the Phantom Zone projector to stop Superman, but Superman knew of his plans and single-handedly defeats him and the Titans, mortally wounding Conner in the process. In order to save him, he sends Conner and the Titans to the Phantom Zone.
Continuity issues with 2003 retcon
The retcons to Superboy's origin are not consistent with continuity in various ways. In Superboy# 0 (1994) Professor Emil Hamilton examined Superboy and determinded that he was 100% human, but altered to be as Kryptonian as possible. And in Superboy# 60 (1999) both Superman and Project Cadmus determinded that a Superboy from an alternate universe was human and that he was identical to Kon-El in everyway, even down to past injuries and scars. Additionally in a 1997 storyline Superman was altered into an electro-magnetic being as a result of a three cosmic giants whose presence somehow altered Kal-El's Kryptonian biology but Superboy was uneffected. Then in Superboy# 62 (1999) Superboy uses a hyperjacket to travel to alternate realities that is programmed to only work for Superboys cloned from Paul Westfild's DNA. Also in Superboy# 70 (2000) Superboy was immune to a creature called "The Four Armed Terror" which Superman was fatally allergic to. Numerous other examples of Kon-El's non Kryptonian origin are depicted previous to Geoff Johns' 2003 retcon.
Superboy has also lost the use of using his tactile telekinesis in various, more imaginative ways that defined him as a unique character during the '90s and early 2000s. He has been depicted as weaker and less tactical after the retcon. For example: in Adventures of Superman# 501 (1993) Superboy was hit by a bus rigged with explosives that destroyed most of a city block and was only barely injured, being more concerned over his tattered jacket; but in Teen Titans Vol. 3 # 3 (2003) Superboy is incapasited by the explosion of a hand grenade. Then in Supergirl Vol. 4# 2 (2005) the pre-Flashpoint Kara Zor-El Supergirl and Superboy fought which ends when Supergirl dislocates Conner's jaw; but in Superboy Vol. 3# 8 (1994) Kon-El withstands multiple blows from the vastly powered pre-Crisis Superboy and is only momentarily dazed. The reasons for these changes have never been explained but are likely due to writers not studying past storylines and Superboy-Prime altering reality when he punched his way out of Alexander Luther's Paradise Dimension which DC has used to explain all of its continuity errors between Crisis On Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis.
In other media
- Superboy makes his first animated appearance in a 1996 commercial for the Superman: The Man of Steel line of action figures by Kenner.
- Superboy in his original 1993 incarnation appeared alongside the Eradicator, Cyborg Superman, and Steel in the 2013 Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short produced by Zack Snyder and Bruce Timm. The animation is a bonus feature in the Man of Steel Blu-ray release.
- The second season of the Legion of Super-Heroes television series features a future version of Superman alongside the Clark Kent version. This second Superman called Kell-El aka Superman X (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) is a clone of the original Superman; he's from the 41st century and was created to oppose the villainous being Imperiex. Kell-El has a different variety of powers than Superman and is immune to kryptonite due to it being a part of him. The character's concept is based on the Kon-El Superboy, Eradicator, and Lar Gand, wearing a costume that is similar to Kon-El's costume from Superboy #83, worn towards the end of his series and before Young Justice was disbanded.
- Superboy is a principal character in the Young Justice animated series, voiced by Nolan North. He has been referred to as the "breakout character" of the show by its producers and is the only member of Young Justice from the comics to appear as a member of the team in the first season, with other characters either appearing or joining next season. He first wore a white form-fitting solar suit and later wears a black T-shirt with the Superman logo across his chest and blue army-type pants with brown work boots. The result of Project Cadmus' "Project Kr" in the two-part pilot "Independence Day", Superboy is a sixteen-week-old genomorph clone of Superman, created as a living weapon by Project Cadmus and Dr. Mark Desmond to either replace Superman if he falls or destroy him should he go rogue. Kept in a pod at a sublevel beneath the Cadmus facility, he was telepathically force-fed advanced knowledge in various areas including languages, history, math, reading, writing, culture, etc. While he possesses Superman's super strength, enhanced speed, telescopic vision, infrared vision, super hearing, and invulnerability, these powers are not at Superman's level, nor at the proportionate level for a Kryptonian of his physical age. In addition, he lacks Superman's more advanced powers such as flight, x-ray and heat vision. This is due to the missing sequences in Superboy's Kryptonian DNA being bridged with human DNA. The human DNA stabilizes Superboy but also withholds his full Kryptonian powers. After being released by Aqualad, Robin, and Kid Flash, defeating the transformed Desmond (a.k.a. Blockbuster) and the Justice League's arrival, Superboy meets Superman, who has since found it uncomfortable being around his clone, and Superboy's failed attempts to work with and talk to Superman make Superboy angry and irrational. He has a burgeoning romantic relationship with Martian Manhunter's niece, M'gann. In "Targets", Superboy is given the name "Conner Kent"; the first name suggested by M'gann after the love interest of a sitcom titled "Hello Megan" whom he greatly resembles; and the surname by Martian Manhunter after Superman's surname, which Miss Martian thought was in homage to Doctor Fate (Kent Nelson). At the end of "Terrors", he kisses Miss Martian after Killer Frost had almost killed her. Since then, the two have started a romantic relationship, but attempted to kept it from their teammates, showing their affection in privacy or speaking telepathically about their feelings. In "Agendas", Superboy learns that he is the half-human clone of Lex Luthor, who gives him Shield-shaped patches to defeat the Superclone Match. Afterwards, Lex tells him to keep the shields as a gift "from a father to his son" and quotes "Red Sun" to incapacitate Superboy when he tries to attack him. After recovering hours later, he chose to keep the "shields". In "Performance", Superboy displayed signs of addiction to the "shields", using them continuously in the field, but making him more aggressive when fighting Parasite. In "Usual Suspects", Superboy confesses to the Team that he has been using the shields that withheld his human DNA and that the human DNA used to help create him also came from Lex Luthor. Luthor sent a message telling Superboy to meet him on Santa Prisco for a restock on the "shields." When Superboy meets up with Luthor on Santa Prisco, Miss Martian and Artemis also arrive to find Lex Luthor accompanied by Queen Bee, Bane, Blockbuster, Cheshire, and Sportsmaster. Lex Luthor quotes "Red Sun" to immobilize Superboy. When the rest of the Team arrives after Miss Martian freed Superboy, Luthor admits the rest of the programs that would've enabled Lex Luthor to control Superboy weren't installed in time by Dr. Desmond. In "Auld Acquaintance", He and Superman finally interact and reveal their civilian identities to one another. In the five-year gap, Superboy remained with the team sporting a long-sleeved Superman T-shirt, but retaining his appearance from season one, due being force grown. He's now more relaxed, intelligent, and more reliant on strategy and technology in battles. In the episode "Alienated", his relationship with Superman has visibly improved. Kal-El refers to Superboy as his little brother and gives him the Kryptonian name Kon-El. At some point, he ended his relationship with Miss Martian in part of him not outwardly aging, and for violently probing their enemies' minds for information and leaving them in a catatonic state. Even more, she attempted to erase his memory of this argument. After M'gann broke up with Lagoon Boy and realized she still loved Connor, they both chose to renew their relationship and became a couple again.
- Conner Kent makes his first live-action appearance in the final season of the television series Smallville, portrayed by Jakob Davies (6-year-old) and Connor Stanhope (pre-adolescent) and Lucas Grabeel (teenager). This version is introduced as Alexander Luthor (LX-15) as he's a clone of Lex Luthor and then appears as "Conner Kent" based from his second designation Cognitional Neuroplastic Replicant (CNR) after it was discovered he's a hybrid clone with Clark Kent's DNA (a reversal of his 2003 comic book origin). Introduced in the season premiere "Lazarus", Alexander's existence was discovered in Cadmus Labs by Tess Mercer. In the episode "Isis", Alexander is physically 6-year-old as he starts bonding with Tess in a mother/son-like fashion. But the episode "Harvest" shows Alexander as a physically 12-year-old affected with all of Lex's memories and emotions to the point that he shaved bald to resemble Lex. In the episode "Luthor", Clark discovers Alexander's existence. In the episode "Beacon", Alexander is a physical teenager and mentally unstable as he was discovered by Lionel Luthor (an alternate universe version) but their 'father/son relationship' went wrong quickly and Clark and Tess promised to help him. The episode "Scion" shows Conner's powers from Clark's DNA manifest after he lost all of Lex's memories. Lionel tries to force him to reject Clark's side but he eventually rejects Lex's side. Afterwards, Conner is shown wearing his typical black T-shirt and jean attire at the end of the episode, telling Clark he wishes to join him as a hero when the time is right and Clark enrolls him at Smallville High School and gives him the Kent surname. In the episode "Kent", Conner was mentioned visiting Martha Kent. In the series finale's first part, Conner was originally set to make a cameo appearance where he walks with Martha to their seats during Clark and Lois Lane's wedding but Lucas Grabeel was unavailable due to filming Switched at Birth. In the series finale's second part, Lionel originally wanted Conner's heart to revive Lex but Tess hid him too well.
- Superboy appears in the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special 2: Villains in Paradise voiced by Zac Efron. When Lex Luthor takes the Legion of Doom to Spring Break to find Lena Luthor, Lex Luthor finds that Lena has been dating Superboy when he finds her after an incident where some Legion of Doom members mistook the Justice League's private beach for a nude beach. As Lex Luthor tells Lena that she is not to see Superboy again, Superman tells Superboy never to see Lena again. Both Lena Luthor and Superboy tell about their love romance for each other to the other heroes and villains in a song parody of "Summer Nights". As the Justice League and the Legion of Doom argue about Superboy and Lena Luthor's relationship, the group is attacked by an enlarged Starro (who was previously flushed down the Hall of Doom's toilet by Captain Cold). Starro attacked both sides and overwhelmed them until he sees Lena Luthor and Superboy in a romantic moment and stopped attacking which ended with Starro getting killed upon Green Lantern sending a boat construct with Batman in it through Starro. Lena Luthor and Superboy are later seen at the wedding of Bizarro and Gorilla Grodd.
- Although Superboy's character does not appear in the Superman: Doomsday direct-to-DVD movie, elements from his history are used for a second Superman (a clone of the original one) appears towards the end of the movie.
- Superboy is a playable character in the SNES and Genesis video game The Death and Return of Superman in 1994, with the other Supermen included.
- Superboy is a playable character in the Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Vita versions of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes.
- Superboy is a playable character in the video game Young Justice: Legacy. Based on the animated series, the character is voiced by Nolan North.
- Superboy appears as a non-playable character in the game DC Universe Online.
- Superboy is a principal character in the BBC Radio 5 radio drama adaptation of "The Death of Superman", "Funeral For a Friend", and "Reign of the Supermen!" storylines. The character was voiced by actor Kerry Shale. It was released as "Superman: Doomsday and Beyond" in the United Kingdom by BBC Audiobooks and as "Superman Lives!" in the United States by Time Warner Audiobooks.
This version of Superboy has been ranked as the 196th greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard Magazine. IGN also ranked Superboy as the 83rd greatest comic book hero of all time, stating, "This genetic clone of Superman and Lex Luthor often bears the weight of the world on his burly shoulders. But over the years he's managed to carve his own legacy and win a large legion of fans." In 2013, ComicsAlliance ranked Superboy as #35 on their list of the "50 Sexiest Male Characters in Comics".
- Manning, Matthew K.; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1990s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
The issue also featured four teaser comics that introduced a group of contenders all vying for the Superman name...A cloned Superboy escaped captivity in a yarn by writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett.
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