Superman Comic Books

Superman: Special Reports

Superboy - Part 2 (of 2)

Author: Sean Hogan (

Last updated: September 27, 2004

Team Player

Although Superboy starred in solo adventures in his own title, he has also been a member of several team groups, including Team Superman, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Superboy and the Ravers, and Young Justice.

Kesel reconnected Superboy to Legion lore by having him save a dying Lar Gand in Superboy #18-19. Similar to the original pre-Crisis version, Superboy saves Lar (known pre-Crisis as Mon-el and post-Crisis as Valor and later M'Onel) from lead poisoning by sending him into a 'stasis zone' where he stays for the next 1,000 years until being freed and healed by the Legion.

Superboy meets the Legion when they travel to his time to get information allowing them to save Lar in the story arc titled "Future Tense" (Superboy #21, Legion of Super-Heroes #74, and Legionnaires #31). This fun arc ends with the Legion giving Superboy a flight ring and granting him honorary member status.

While the series Superboy And The Ravers died as of issue #19 and topped the 'worst Superman family title' award towards the end of its run, it started out with great promise and had some enjoyable stories.

The opening arc in issues #1-4 is a good self-contained introduction to the series and cast with terrific art by Paul Pelletier and Dan Davis. Also great fun was the three part "Road Trip" in issues #7-9, where Superboy and his pals travel America and meet Impulse (for the first time), stop in at Guy Gardner's Warriors club, and finally meet Superman in Metropolis.

Superboy met his other Young Justice partner, Robin, in the two-issue prestige series WF3: World's Finest 3. When Metallo shows up in Gotham while both Batman and Superman are away, Robin puts in a call to Superboy.

Superboy, expecting to meet Batman, isn't terribly impressed by the junior partner, making remarks like, "So, I've only got one question -- who are you?" and "Batman -- impressive. But 'boy wonder'?" When Superboy falls under the control of Poison Ivy, Robin saves the day and proves that Superboy's physiology is sufficiently similar to Superman's that the Kid can be harmed by Kryptonite.

Superboy, Robin & Impulse first teamed up in the two-issue prestige series, JLA: World Without Grown-Ups, which led to their ongoing Young Justice series (and for those interested, Robin and Impulse meet in the hilarious Robin + Impulse #1 special written by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn, and featuring great art by John Royle and Rob Leigh). Young Justice writer, Peter David, continues the humour and action found in both Superboy's and Impulse's series (although later mixed with serious, dramatic stories).

For those looking for an introduction to Young Justice, you can pick up the trade paperback collections, Young Justice: A League Of Their Own (collecting the first seven issues of the series) and Young Justice: Sins Of Youth (collecting the enjoyable series that reversed the ages of the youth and adult heroes of the DC Universe).

Eternal Youth

Ron Marz' run on Superboy (issues #32-47) made a significant contribution to the ongoing saga with the five part "Meltdown" storyline, which began in Superboy #38 (with part 4 in Superboy And The Ravers #10). Superboy's genetic structure is literally melting as a result of tampering by a group called the Agenda, which created Match, a clone of Superboy (Superboy #35-36).

The story comes to a climax in Superboy #41 when Roxy Leech volunteers to risk her life. The only way to save Superboy is to speed up the cell degeneration and then rebuild it using a donor's template. The catch is that the donor has to undergo the same process. Since the donor must be close to Superboy's physical age of 16, Roxy is the only compatible volunteer.

Some tense pages later, Superboy and Roxy are both back and whole and they seal their resurrection with a big kiss. The process changes the relationship between the two. Roxy explains that when she kissed Superboy, she knew things were different and that although they were now closer, it was, "as if S.B. and I are ... family." Superboy tells Tana that Roxy is, "part of me now, and I'm glad she is. But ... as far as being my best babe ... it's always been you and that's the way it's always gonna be."

Or not.

The other news, which Superboy doesn't take as well, is that his rejuvenated body is now frozen at the age of 16. Superboy's dream was that one day, Superman will retire and then the grown Superboy would become the next Superman.

Once again, it's Superman who helps the Kid come to terms with his newest change. Appearing during his electric Superman Blue phase, he reminds Superboy that life is not always predictable, "especially in our line of work". Superman adds that his changes weren't something he expected or wanted, but he is making the best of it. Pointing to the S on Superboy's chest, he says that to him the symbol means, "doing your best all the time, and coming out on top. No matter what's standing in your way."

Marz doesn't gloss over the change or have Superboy fully accept the loss of his dream, as Superboy says, "It's gonna take a lot of thinking on my part, but you're right Supes ... the never ending battle goes on!"

Return Of The Creators

Shortly afterwards, the news came out that Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett were going to return to the Superboy title as of issue #50. To prepare for the new direction Karl wanted to go, his wife Barbara Kesel came aboard as guest writer to clear the existing slate.

In Superboy #49, as Roxy searches for a missing Superboy, the main cast heads off in different directions. Tana (no longer an item with Superboy) heads out for a mysterious job offer, Dubbilex is recalled to Cadmus, and Roxy leaves to help her father Rex, who is once again in some kind of trouble. The only main cast member to remain on the island is Krypto -- who is left behind in the care of Superboy's school classmate, Hillary Chang.

With the cast sent its various ways, the original Superboy creative team (minus inker Doug Hazlewood) returned with the four-part "The Last Boy On Earth" in Superboy #50-53 (with a half issue epilogue in Superboy #54). Kesel returns to humour and action with generous helpings of characters and inspirations from legendary comics creator, Jack Kirby. Even if you aren't familiar with Kirby's classic series, Kamandi, the fun story and wonderful art make the issues very worthwhile. However, the homages to the original "last boy on Earth", the supporting cast and story devices are an extra treat to Kirby's fans.

The story arc also sets up the new direction for the series with Superboy as an agent of Cadmus, working with the Guardian. The new supporting cast is quickly established in the next few issues. 

Another notable issue is Superboy #59, where Superman has the Kid visit Krypton via virtual reality and gives him the Kryptonian name of Kon-El (both an obvious anagram of klone and a nod to the Silver Age Superboy's friend, Mon-el).

The next significant story arc is the five part "Hypertension" in Superboy #60-64 (with an epilogue in Superboy #65).   Hypertime, the concept of alternate realities where everything and anything has or is happening somewhere, was introduced in the 1999 Mark Waid written specials, The Kingdom.

Karl Kesel was given the task of further exploring Hypertime and starts his saga with a dying Superboy warning the JLA about a threat to all reality. Realizing that the dead youth is an alternate version of their Superboy, the JLA enlists Superboy, since only he can use the Hyperjacket that allowed the other Superboy into their universe.

Over the course of the story arc, Superboy meets alternate versions of himself, including the Zero Hour Superboy (whom he learns has the secret identity of Clark Kent) and the villainous adult clone threatening all reality who calls himself Black Zero. The combined might of the multitude of alternate Superboys saves the day, and with the help of the Challengers of the Unknown, Superboy is able to return back to his own universe. Superman finally confides his secret identity to Superboy in the Superman Jr. & Superboy Sr. issue of the Young Justice: Sins Of Youth special (collected in trade paperback).

The next story arc creates further significant changes for Superboy as the Agenda returns to take over Cadmus ("The Evil Factory" in Superboy #70-74) featuring the return and death of Superboy's first love, Tana Moon, and the loss of Superboy's powers.  Superboy's personal upheaval continues over the next several issues, with his powers returning in Superboy #79 as Kesel and Grummett wind down their notable second run on the title.

The Continuing Adventures

Writer Joe Kelly took over the Superboy title starting with issue #83 with Kelly's trademark emphasis on humour. That issue also has Superboy changing to a new costume in a desperate search to be cool after his looks are dissed by some teenage girls. The new costume is similar to the old one, with a darker red, additional red over the shoulders and a similarly styled jacket and red glasses. Jimmy Palmiotti and Dan DiDio took over from Kelly starting with issue #95.

However, in the end it wasn't villains, only poor sales figures that finally did Superboy in. Superboy's own series ends with issue #100, cover dated July 2002. The final issue contains two stories. The first reunites Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett (with inks by Wade Von Grawbadger) for an 8 page recollection by Dubbilex, and is a wonderfully nostalgic look at the changes Superboy underwent throughout his series. The main story brings a close to another phase of his life and ends with Superman bringing Superboy to live with Ma & Pa Kent in Smallville for a while. Superboy adopts the identity of Conner Kent, a nephew of Ma & Pa and cousin to Clark.

Superboy's adventures continued in Young Justice, as well as the occasional guest appearance in the Superman titles. However, Young Justice itself ended one year later - but this time it was to make way for a new title for Superboy and his friends.

The transition began in a three issue miniseries - Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day. The members of Young Justice (Superboy, Robin, Impulse, Wonder Girl and Empress) and the Titans are jointly engaged in battle against an android and then a rogue Superman robot. In the process, two of the Titans are killed and members of both teams are badly injured. Nightwing announces that the Titans are disbanded, but Titans member, Vic Stone (Cyborg) approaches the Young Justice members with a proposal.

That proposal is to join a new team - the Teen Titans, under the leadership of senior Titans members, Cyborg, Changeling and Starfire (while Nightwing and Arsenal go on to form the new Outsiders team). The Young Justice members accepting the invitation are Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl and Impulse (who changes his identity to Kid Flash as of issue #5).

The assembling of the two teams is shown in Teen Titans/Outsiders: Secret Files & Origins 2003, and continues in the Teen Titans regular series, which is written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Mike McKone and Marlo Alquiza.

For this new series, the writer and artist make some changes to Superboy. No longer wearing his red and blue costume (adopted towards the end of his own series), he now wears jeans and a black T-shirt with the S emblem.

Superman pays a visit to Smallville and forwards an invitation for the bored and frustrated teen to join the new group which will meet on weekends at the new Titans Tower in San Francisco. Starfire explains that they are offering a place for younger heroes to feel accepted and to have training facilities and a place to get away from the rest of the world on weekends.

At the end of the first issue, Robin and Superboy receive an unsolicited email from someone using the name Snapdragon. Attached is a file from Cadmus Labs showing that Superboy's genetic makeup is made from equal parts Superman and Lex Luthor. Although Superboy refuses to accept the information, Robin later verifies it with an analysis of Superboy's hair. A panel of the mysterious Snapdragon shows a bald male who appears to be Luthor himself.

How this reconciles with the previous stories which had Superboy as a clone of Paul Westfield has yet to be explained. It may be a hoax or, if it is true, either Superboy was misled previously or continuity changed when all versions of Paul Westfield were removed from Hypertime.

Other developments in Superboy's life include the mutual attraction with Cassie (Wonder Girl) and the growth of his powers - including an unexpected blast of heat vision in Teen Titans #7.

Relevant Links:
  • "Superboy": Part 1 (of 2)