Saturday, May 1, 2010

Episode #124: Reign Of The Supermen Month Week IV: Superboy!

The last of the four Supermen introduced in the Superman titles with the June 1993 cover date was Superboy ("Don't call me Superboy!") in The Adventures Of Superman #501, cover dated late June 1993, Triangle #15 1993 Mike Carlin was the editor, assisted by Jennifer Frank. Tom Grummett pencilled both the regular and deluxe cutout covers. Karl Kesel inked the regular cover, while Doug Hazelwood inked the deluxe cover. The story, When He Was A Boy, was written by Karl Kesel, pencilled by Tom Grummett, inked by Doug Hazelwood, lettered by Albert DeGuzman and colored by Glenn Whitmore.

The story began when a group of thugs shot at the Superman statue after, we assume, stealing a taxi. Then they aimed to run over a femal jogger. She was saved by a teenager wearing a leather jacket and dressed like Superman (without a cape). He picked her up with one hand and stopped the taxi with the other, totaling the cab. After ripping off a car door, crushing the gun and taking a pair of shades from one of the thugs, this new Superman kissed the girl and flew away.

In Suicide Slum, Bibbo gave sandwiches to some of the homeless people living around the docks. He then dove into the water to retrieve a bag filled with puppies. They had been throuwn into the harbor by an elderly woman because she had no food to give them. Only one white puppy survived, so Bibbo adopted it and named it Krypton.

Jimmy and Lois returned to the Daily Planet offices to find the same young Superman sitting at Lois' desk, reading the Daily Planet. On the front of her desk is a clipping with the headline Ordway To Sponsor Batson Expedition (I assume referring to Jerry Ordway working on the Captain Marvel title Shazam). In the background, on another desk is taped another clipping with the headline Kesel Rejoins Team, probably a little Easter egg referring to Karl Kessel, the writer of this issue. Jimmy made the mistake of calling him Superboy. He picked Jimmy up and hung him upside down and said, "Don't call me Superboy!"

Lois was skeptical about the young superhero being Superman, when he informs her that he's actually a clone of Superman. He then told her that maybe he needed to slick back his hair and wear glasses. His eyes were then drawn to a dark skinned, beautiful young woman walkng out of the Planet offices. He followed her outside and picked her up, literally, and they talked privately on a rooftop.

This young Superman next appeared on TV ina televised interview onn GBS, conducted by the same young woman, whose name was Tana Moon. Lex, Jr. watched the interview aas he sat recovering from a broken leg. He bashed the tv screen with a baseball bat, and ordered Happersen to get Packard.

In the GBS boardroom, Vinnie Edge informed the board that Superboy was exclusive to GBS. Superboy was next shown hanging onto a GBS news helicopter. He lept off the copter to land on a street in Suicide Slum, as he went after the villain Steel Hand.

A Superboy mini-poster was in the center of the issue.

Superboy made short work of a gang that attacked him. Then manhole covers are blown off the street and geysers of flame shot out of the manholes. Then a bus with a spiked bumper hits Superboy and crashed him into a buiding before it exploded. Superboy survived the explosion, but his leather jacket didn't. That was the last straw. Superboy crashed through Steel Hand's headquarters and took out the entire gang. Tara interviewed him afterwards, while Lois Lane called Martha Kent and informed her that this new, young and brash Superman was not Clark, but a clone.

At dusk, Superboy landed on top of a building, wearing a new Superman jacket. He was met by The Guardian, who gave the young hero some professional advice.

Tara met Vinnie Edge at his apartment. Edge wanted her to cover their Superman as he fought costumed super-villains. She told him to tell her where, and she'd get it on tape. Vinnie said that it could be arranged.

At the end of the issue Luthor interrogated Packard, who was a Cadmus scientist, was also a Luthor informant. He gave Luthor the details about thie new, young Superman. Cadmus Director Westfield rushed Experiment 13 into production. The Newsboy Legion clones freed Superboy, who was Experiment 13, before safeguards could be implanted that would have made him more controllable by Cadmus. He was also released before he had reached maturity. Cadmus had no plans to recover Superboy, because a search for the young Man of Steel might threaten Cadmus' secrecy. When Luthor challenged Packard about his earlier claims that Superman couldn't be cloned. Packard answered yes and no, and that he'd tell Luthor everything.

Obviously, this Superboy was not the same silver age Superboy. This new Superboy was a modern hero for the 1990's, brash and edgy. in other words, annoying. He was also dressed in the superhero fashion of the '90's, a leather jacket, customized with a yellow Superman shield on the back. That look was cool in the 1990's but dated today, much like bell bottom jeans and tie-die t-shirts from the 1960's in my childhood.

This new Superboy's story began before the introduction of the four new Supermen. Director Westfield was foiled in his attempt to gain custody of Superman's body, thanks to Lex Luthor Jr.'s influence. In the Superman titles cover dated January and February, 1993, Westfield tunneled into Superman's tomb and stole his body. After a number of setbacks Cadmus would succeed with experiment 13 in cloning Superman. In the Superman titles cover dated Merch 1993 Lois discovered Cadmus' theft and Superman's body would be returned to his tomb.

At the end of Adventures Of Superman #500, Early June 1993, the Newsboy Legion freed Experiment 13 and helped him escape Cadmus. He thanked the Newsboys for helping him escape by telling them not to call him Superboy.

After he was revealed to the world in Adventures #501, Superboy would play a role in the defeat of the Cyborg Superman, as noted in the other three episodes this month.

Superboy would hire the aptly named Rex Leech as his agent, who would trademark the Superman name. (When the real Superman was resurrected, he made a deal with Leech over the use of his name.) Superboy would be part of a tense romantic triangle with Tana Moon and Rex's daughter Roxy. Tana would leave GBS to work at a Hawaiian TV station. Like Steel, Superboy would star in his own title for 100 issues, from cover dates February 1994 - July 2002. Dubbilex, from Project Cadmus, served as a chaperone. At the end of his own series, Superboy moved into an apartment in Metropolis and worked as the building's superintendant. He would later move to Smallville to live with the Kents.

Superboy would become ill with the clone virus, along with Lex Luthor, Jr., which would eventually be revealed to have been created by Cadmus renegade Dabney Donovan. Lex, Jr. blamed Cadmus for his illness and attacked the Project. Cadmus would find a cure for the clone disease, and Superboywould be the first one to receive the treatment, in The Adventures Of Superman #513, June 1994.

In Superboy Annual #2, 1995, Superboy would discover that the human DNA that was combined with Superman's genes to create him came from Director Westfield himself. That detailed would be retconned later, as will be discussed later.

Superboy would team up with the Legion of Super-Heroes in their titles with the cover dates of October and November 1995. Because of his actions, he was made an honorary member of the Legion and given a flight ring.

After Westfield's death at the hands of Dabney Donovan, ssuperboy would become a field agent for the new management of Cadmus, in Superboy #55, September 1998. Superboy would also join Young Justice, a group of teen heroes that was creted after the Teen Titans became Titan, as the Titan members became adults. Young Justice ran for 55 issues, from cover dates September 1998 - May 2003. Superboy would then join the Titans, with some of the former members of Young Justice: Tim Drake/Robin, Impulse and Wonder Girl. They joined Titans veterans Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy in Teen Titans #1, September 2003. In this issue, it was revealed that Superboy's human DNA came not from the late Dir. Westfield, but Lex Luthor himself.

At some point Superboy became known as Conner Kent, but since I stopped buying comic books for a few years at the beginning of the millenium, I'm not sure when that happened.

The new Teen Titans would be transported to the future to team up with the Legion of Super-Heroes in Teen Titans #15 and 16, October and November 2005. They would return to their own time, but ten years in the future, and face their adult selves. In issues 17 - 19, December 2004 - February 2005, they discovered that their adult selves were almost villains. Superboy had replaced the late superman, and Tim Drake replaced Batman. He used the gun that had murdered Bruce Wayne's parents to exact vengence on villains. When they finally returned to their correct time, Superboy and Robin vowed not to become the dark versions of their adult selves they had seen.

Conner Kent would be killed by Superboy Prime in Infinite Crisis #6, May 2006. He would be resurrected in Legion Of 3 Worlds #4, June 2009, a Final Crisis tie-in (which was one of only two parts of that event series I read, along with Superman Beyond 3-D.) It would be revealed that his body was put in the same rejuvination matrix that had revived Superman, but Conner's injuries took 1,000 years to heal.

Superboy would become the featured character of the new Adventure Comics. He would settle once again in Smallville, to live with the recently widowed Ma Kent. Conner would attempt to come to terms with his dual Superman / Lex Luthor heritage.

During the recent Blackest Night event series, Superboy would join the Man of Steel in battling the Black Lantern Superman. Both heroes would become Black Lanterns themselves when Nekron took control of the previously resurrected heroes. These heroes, including Superboy, would break free and become White Lanterns. I did not read Blackest Night or any of its tie-ins.

Superboy would also be a major character in Superman, helping Mon-El protect Metropolis while Superman was on New Krypton. He joined some members of the Legion of Super-Heroes to help New Krypton fight Brainiac.

Next Episode: Happy Birthday, Dennis O'Neil & Free Comic Book Day!

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