Hiya, Rama Readers! Ready for a SECOND dose of Dial H for History?
But this segment is so secret — so SPOILER HEAVY — I can’t even show this to you without a cut! If you haven’t read Legion of Three Worlds #4 yet, and can’t handle any spoilers… DO NOT READ AHEAD!!!
Seriously, you’ve been warned.
Still reading? Well, then I’m excited to say…
After approximately three years of rigor mortis, Conner Kent — aka Superboy — has returned to the DCU! DC’s blog, the Source, has announced that the Teen of Steel will be starring in Adventure Comics, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Francis Manapul! The book, which will be available in August, is the latest in a long story for a hybrid clone of a once-deceased Kryptonian hero. Confused yet? Well, Dial H for History!
The original Superboy was a creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. This Superboy was supposed to reflect the childhood years of the Man of Steel, but the initial pitch was rejected by DC Comics. Only after the success of Robin did DC finally accept the idea, but at that time, Schuster executed the idea, as Siegel was overseas in World War II. This Superboy was pretty popular (getting his own series at that time was pretty rare), teaming up with the Legion of Superheroes and more. Eventually, another Superboy was created by Elliot S! Maggin just prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which the universe of this Superboy — Super-boy Prime — was destroyed, and he was sent to a “paradise” dimension after the battle across reality ended.
Still with me? Here’s the introduction that you’re looking for — that of Connor Kent. In the mid-1990s, Superman seemed to be hitting a wall against his more morally-ambiguous counterparts. Yet instead of making Superman “fit with the times,” DC did one better — they showed the world what it would be like without him. The behemoth known as Doomsday tore across the country (and through the Justice League) before killing Superman in battle. Yet nature abhors a vacuum, and lo, four Superman returned from the void: the Eradicator, a cold Kryptonian weapon who had cloned itself an imperfect body of Superman; Steel, an engineer who built himself a metal suit of armor after being rescued by Superman years before; the Cyborg, a cyberempathic villain known as Hank Henshaw, who had built himself a body out of Kryptonian metal and DNA; and, finally…
Superboy. Whereas the other four were pretenders to the shield, Superboy had somewhat of a legitimate claim — he was Superman. Or at least a clone of him. CADMUS, the cloning operation that spawned the Guardian and Dubbilex, felt the world should not be without a Superman, and tried to create one of their own. But before the clone was fully mature — and before the “code words” that controlled it could be implanted — he made his escape. Yet his powers were not an exact replica of the Man of Steel — because Kryptonian DNA was so alien to the CADMUS scientists, shortcuts were made, including splicing his DNA with human material. The result was a pseudo-Superman via tactile-telekinesis — in other words, instinctive gravity control that provided flight, superstrength, and invulnerability. When the real Superman — having rested in a Kryptonian regeneration chamber set up by the Eradicator — rose from the grave, Superboy, the Eradicator, and Steel teamed up to defeat the villainous Cyborg, who had utterly destroyed Coast City, also known as the home town of Green Lantern Hal Jordan.
Yet Superboy’s story was not finished there. While in Metropolis, he had proven to be a bit shallow, falling prey to competing media interests for the sake of pretty women. With his first love, TV reporter Tana Moon, Superboy moved to Hawaii, where he engaged in his own solo adventures. Yet Superboy was too big a phenomenon for one title to contain him — Peter David soon used the Teen of Steel to be one of the three founders of Young Justice, an action-comedy which solidified a new generation within the DC Universe. Superboy became the chauvinistic dreamboat of the team, with Wonder Girl having an immense crush on him that would only be reciprocated years down the line.
One of the most difficult periods of Superboy’s life was prior to the Sins of Youth story line. Superboy’s biggest dream was to eventually grow up to become Superman — but a flaw in his DNA pattern soon forced him to remain a teenager forever. Yet his world was rocked again when Tana Moon was brutally killed in front of him at CADMUS headquarters. While his DNA was soon fixed by a combination of science as well as the magic of Klarion the Witch Boy, his life was a little bit emptier, both by Moon’s death as well as the creation of an evil clone of himself known as Match. All this angst came to a head during Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day, when the combined forces of Young Justice and the Titans could not stop a rogue Superman robot from killing Lilith and Donna Troy. Both teams disbanded in grief.
Soon thereafter, Titan Victor Stone — or Cyborg — reinstated the Teen Titans, having himself, Starfire, and Beast Boy act as mentors for the wayward and depressed Young Justice. Connor was one of the first recruits, as he began to chafe at the idea of having a “normal” life with Ma and Pa Kent in Smallville, Kansas. Yet his status quo was turned upside-down at a sudden revelation: that the human donor behind his DNA was none other than Lex Luthor, the criminal business emperor of Metropolis. Suddenly at odds with his own nature, Superboy kept the information secret from everyone — even his new girlfriend Wonder Girl — except Robin, even forgetting about it for awhile during a five-month stint in the future battling alongside the Legion of Superheroes.
Yet Luthor eventually returned, using codewords instilled from birth to transform Superboy into a death machine, siccing him on his greatest friends. While Connor triumphed over his brainwashing, it was not without seriously injuring his comrades-in-arms: resigning from the team, Superboy tried to hide himself in isolation at the Kent Farm. This would do him little good, however, as the Infinite Crisis was fast approaching.
To take a step back from the storytelling, there was a bit more going on than meets the eye: while the DCU had a crisis brewing in their comics, there was also a legal battle rumbling. The Siegel family had been fighting in court with DC Comics as they tried to reclaim some of the copyright of the Superboy property. With it looking like the Siegels were about to succeed, it was looking like DC would have to take Superboy off the table for awhile. Infinite Crisis was how they made it happen.
Remember that Superboy-Prime I was telling you about earlier? Unfortunately, that “paradise” dimension was not as nice as people thought. Sickened by the moral ambiguity of the DC heroes, Superboy-Prime, along with a few other denizens of the Multiverse, invaded, saying they would create order out of chaos. Superboy-Prime, sickened with jealousy over the perfect life of this “clone,” attacked Connor at the Kent Farm. While Superboy was able to ward off his crazed Multiversal counterpart, the attack left him in critical condition. Convalescing a bit due to the work of Lex Luthor, Connor soon made the ultimate sacrifice: giving up his life to distract Superboy-Prime and destroy his Multiversal tuning fork.
While many people referenced Superboy as “Connor” through the upcoming years — with Wonder Girl having a fairly prolonged personal crisis after being unable to deal with Connor’s death — the character remained largely untouched from 2006 until the present. Yet with the Legion of Three Worlds story in Final Crisis, Geoff Johns decided to give life back to two fallen Titans: Bart Allen, better known as Kid Flash, and, in issue #4, the one true Superboy. In the real world, DC had won a legal victory, regaining the right to use Superboy — in this case Connor and Superboy-Prime — in print again.
But what about in the comics? I’m getting there. Legionnaire Brainiac 5 gambled that Superboy could regenerate the same way as his predecessor — in a Kryptonian regeneration chamber. The damage, however, took thousands of years to recover from, and by the time that the Teen of Steel had returned to life, the Legion was under fire by Superboy-Prime and the Legion of Supervillains, the worst of the worst from across the galaxy. While it remains to be seen how the battle will turn out, I know I speak for many fans when I say:
Welcome back, Superboy. It’s been too long.