Superboy (Kon-El)

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Superboy (The New 52), with Krypto. Art by Ken Lashley.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceAdventures of Superman #500
(June 1993)
Created byKarl Kesel
Tom Grummett
In-story information
Alter egoKon-El/Conner Kent
SpeciesKryptonian/human hybrid
Metahuman clone (1993-2003)
Place of originEarth
Team affiliationsProject Cadmus
The Ravers
Legion of Super-Heroes
Superman family
Young Justice
Teen Titans
Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (New 52)
Suicide Squad
Notable aliasesConner Kent, Carl Krummet, Experiment 13, "Superman", The Boy of Steel
AbilitiesTactile telekinesis that provide flight, speed, invulnerability, and additional abilities
Kryptonian powers (2003-2011)
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Superboy (The New 52), with Krypto. Art by Ken Lashley.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceAdventures of Superman #500
(June 1993)
Created byKarl Kesel
Tom Grummett
In-story information
Alter egoKon-El/Conner Kent
SpeciesKryptonian/human hybrid
Metahuman clone (1993-2003)
Place of originEarth
Team affiliationsProject Cadmus
The Ravers
Legion of Super-Heroes
Superman family
Young Justice
Teen Titans
Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (New 52)
Suicide Squad
Notable aliasesConner Kent, Carl Krummet, Experiment 13, "Superman", The Boy of Steel
AbilitiesTactile telekinesis that provide flight, speed, invulnerability, and additional abilities
Kryptonian powers (2003-2011)

Superboy (real name Kon-El) is a fictional character, a 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.[1]

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.

Fictional character biography[edit]


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. Failing to acquire the bodies of Superman and Doomsday by federal authority when Lex Luthor and his security force Team Luthor puts a halt to their plans, a Cadmus team secretly steals Superman's body from the tomb with Westfield overseeing the entire operation.[2][3] Superman's body was sent to the Project Cadmus genetic research facility to begin the planning stages of creating the clone in secret via a DNA sample from Superman and implanted brain pattern scans taken when Superman was alive by the genetically engineered "DNAlien" Dubbilex. After the Guardian discovered what Westfield had done, Westfield was able to convince him that it was for a noble purpose.[4] Unable to create a clone because it was impossible to obtain a direct DNA sample from Superman's indestructible body, and because the usual cloning techniques were useless on his alien physiology, Superman's body was given an electron capillary scan by the other directors of Cadmus formerly known as the Newsboy Legion. They were able to use the results of the scan along with educated guesswork to create data stored on a disc that contained a close approximation of Superman's actual genetic code data. While the scanning team wanted to test the experimental "digital DNA" and thought about a suggestion made by the Guardian to make clones of the Guardian to fill the void during the DNA testing, Westfield wanted to create the clone of Superman immediately. He sends Auron, a cybernetic super-soldier cloned from the Guardian and created by Westfield's secret genetic engineering team, to retrieve the disk by force via the code word "Sanction Blue". Before Westfield could obtain the disk, the clones of the original Newsboy Legion convinced Auron that he was just like the original Guardian based on having a link with him via his DNA. He rebels against Cadmus and departs with the digital DNA disk to protect Superman's legacy.[5]

After the Auron situation and the retrieval of Superman's body by Lois Lane, the Matrix Supergirl, and Lex Luthor, Westfield and his secret genetic engineering team went by other means to create a Superman clone that they could immediately rush into production. Instead of a direct clone of Superman, they 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. Carl Packard, the project head of Auron's creation, was the project head for the clone's creation and was given full authority to explore whatever methods to create the clone while Westfield provided him with the sole DNA cellstock that he felt would make the clone easier to control.[6][7] 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.[8] 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[edit]

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 "chaperon" would go with him. Dubbilex is chosen for the role, in part because Westfield was trying to hide the fact he had sent Payback D.N.Aliens against the Kid earlier that day (and Westfield did not mind having a mind-reader around). The last thing he takes care of before leaving is moving out of his apartment, allowing Clark Kent to move back in.

After a few weeks of traveling, Superboy arrived in Hawaii during his world tour. With him came Rex Leech, Roxy Leech, and Dubbilex. After a running battle with Sidearm on the beach, Superboy learned that Tana Moon had moved to Hawaii. Superboy decided to stay on the islands, stylizing himself as the "Hero of Hawaii." Superboy met Knockout and the insane Scavenger early on—the former was a super strong stripper who thought of a fistfight as foreplay, the other was a crazy old man who seemed obsessed with acquiring weapons for his arsenal. Superboy's battle with the latter involved a fight over the mystical Spear of Lono. After the battle with Scavenger, Superboy fell ill. His condition worsened and he had to be flown back to Metropolis after a brief fight with Silver Sword, a new would-be hero turned thug who thought he knew what was best for the islands. Superboy collapsed at the end of the battle and the Navy took custody of Silver Sword.

Superboy was suffering from the Clone Plague that was ravaging most of the Underworlders and other Cadmus clones (including Lex Luthor II). 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 Dabney Donovan), but most of the staff and clones survived. Superboy stuck around in Metropolis for a while, battling the Parasite and getting caught up in the Worlds Collide storyline.

Much to his chagrin, Dubbilex was asked to take in Krypto by Bibbo. 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. This is just prior to Zero Hour, and the Kid had to join the heroes in that crisis. About this time, Superboy learned that the DNA donor for him was in fact the late Cadmus director, Paul Westfield... or so he thought. This revelation also came with one from Robert Packard that Superboy had been the thirteenth attempt by Cadmus to clone Superman. The first had utilized Dr. Teng's "Bizarro" technique, resulting in a Bizarro Superboy that was still being held by the lab. The Bizarro escaped, but died shortly thereafter. When he returns to Hawaii, Tana throws him a birthday party (making Superboy officially one year old).

After getting back to Hawaii, Superboy began to have his own rogues gallery come together. This included first appearances by King Shark, B.E.M., Techno, and the Silicon Dragons. Each of these adventures typically opened with Superboy acting immature in some way and having an "adult" moment towards the end, such as when a celebrity look-a-like of him was shot and killed by the Dragons who thought the actor was the real Superboy. Superboy also clashed with Aquaman at Pearl Harbor, with the King of the Seas putting the Kid in his place with the help of a pod of blue whales.

Thanks to Dr. Emil Hamilton, Superboy also acquired a visor that simulated Superman's x-ray, heat, and infra-vision powers. He met Hamilton while the scientist was vacationing in Hawaii and inadvertently assisted Superboy in defeating Sidearm, who had reemerged at this time. 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 (although on their first night, he had to fight off Copperhead, who had been hired to collect a debt from Rex).

At this time, Superboy became involved with Tana Moon. A special agent named Sam Makoa decided to organize a task force to go after the Silicon Dragons. This ended up being Amanda Waller's Suicide Squad. Superboy forced himself onto the team, which consisted of Knockout, Sidearm, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, and Deadshot. Despite the death of Sidearm and the apparent deaths of Knockout and King Shark, the mission successfully destroyed the lair of the Silicon Dragons, even though their leader, Lady Dragon, escaped after a solo battle against the Kid. Superboy lost his visor in this adventure, and saw more death than he cared to think about.

Superboy was also told by the state (specifically, a man named Mack Harlin) that he was required to start attending school. Superboy enrolled at a local high school where me met some new friends, including Hillary Chang, and discovered that he was reaching the end of the implanted knowledge Cadmus had given him. When he wasn't trying to impress his classmates or going out with Tana (who, again, was probably seven or eight years older than him), Superboy managed to find time for some gratuitous violence—like brawling with Loose Cannon or rounding up Loophole. When Roxy unexpectedly left for Las Vegas, Superboy followed her, sensing there was trouble. Roxy was trying to put some things in her past to rest, since she had decided to enroll as a cop in Hawaii. This meant a confrontation with an old boyfriend, a loser who called himself Neon. After a brief battle, Neon blew himself up by detonating a gas station. Superboy and Roxy then returned home.

Superboy is forced to battle against Valor, who was amnesic 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. While Knockout takes care of Mr. Gamboli, who had been manipulating Valor, Superboy helped Valor escape into the Phantom Zone to save his life.

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. On the trip, Superboy admits to the others he does not trust the Centurion—in fact, he thinks he is really the Cyborg Superman in disguise. His suspicions seem to be confirmed when the Centurion seemingly abandons them in the midst of a battle—and the Cyborg Superman arrives on scene soon thereafter. The Cyborg easily defeats the entire team and turns them over to the Tribunal. While a prisoner, Superboy is put in the same cell as the Centurion, but this is not enough to convince him he is not a double agent. Only when he later escapes and sees the two actually fighting does he admit his mistake. The team frees themselves and rallies behind Superman, who confronts the Tribunal head on. The Tribunal admits an error in their reasoning, and "exonerates" Superman for his "crime." The team returns triumphantly to Earth.

Superboy meets the Legion of Super-Heroes who 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. Together, they battle Killer Frost (part of the Underworld Unleashed saga), the Technician, and Silver Sword. 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 (which had been recovered by the Technician), 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 at SB's high school, with Superboy and Knockout (joined by Sam Makoa, Dan Turpin, and a contingent of police officers) severely outclassed. Thanks to Dubbilex, however, the Furies are driven off, leaving much of the high school in ruins (prompting the state to decide Superboy should be home schooled, thus ending his brief tenure in high school). 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, however, and after a confrontation with Snare and the SCU at the Compound, the two briefly go on the run from the law (prompting Superboy to break up with Tana Moon). This led to a battle on the beach between Supergirl and Knockout. After Sparx helps separate the two women, Supergirl rips the S-shield off Superboy's costume because of his lawlessness. Still, 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 Volcaneum, 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, having recovered his S-shield, put it back on his costume.

Superboy became one of the leading stars in a concurrent series, Superboy and the Ravers, which involved a bunch of young heroes involved in a few intergalactic adventures. The series ran 19 issues and was also mostly written by Karl Kesel. Superboy is brought by Sparx to the Event Horizon, an intergalactic rave party open to metas only. It was hosted by a being called Kindred Marx. His first night there, Superboy met Hero and got into a fight with Kaliber, which prompted the two of them to be teleported to a distant asteroid—where a police force known as I.N.T.E.R.C.E.P.T. attempted to place the two of them under arrest for being part of Event Horizon. The group also got involved with the Darkstars. Superboy and Kaliber were transported back to the event before they could be arrested, and another brawl broke out between some Khunds (and their gang, Red Shift) and Aura, which spilled out onto Earth proper (the rave itself could shift between worlds).

Superboy resumed his relationship with Tana, just before Roxy revealed to him during the Final Night that she had always loved him. Despite this confession, Superboy did not reciprocate, still loving Tana. Roxy nevertheless could not dismiss her feelings for SB so easily. While helping Dubbilex recover from an injury, 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. Match is thought to be killed, but Spence and the Directors are all taken into custody.

Unknown to the Kid, the Agenda infected Superboy with a virus that began to break down his DNA. It did not manifest itself at first, but lay dormant for weeks, until a rematch with Copperhead made it all too clear that he was sick. When S.T.A.R. Labs cannot correct his condition, Superboy is rushed back to Project Cadmus. Cadmus is able to slow the condition, but not halt it. Superman, Supergirl, and Steel came to his aid, each tracking down leads that might help. The Directors do not talk, however, and though Superman is able to locate Match (who might serve as a donor to Superboy), the clone is not interested in helping and flees. Amanda Spence, however, offers a solution, by explaining that 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. A heart-to-heart with Superman (who was in his Energy-phase at the time) helped make the Kid feel better, though not exactly thrilled.

Despite what Superman had to say, Superboy is still troubled by thoughts of never growing up. Nightmares plague him, even as he hast to deal with Mo-o, and a married couple who pursue thrills by trying to get their picture taken with superheroes. He finds a magic atoll where there are some "lost boys" who seemingly never grow up, and despite the temptation to stay, he leaves it.

Things began to break down upon returning to Hawaii. The Legion of Super-Heroes turns up, angry that Superboy had given away his Legion Flight Ring to Roxy. Superboy manages to work things out with them as they fight Silver Sword. However, his constant flirting and "devil-may-care" attitude have been wearing on Tana (who was also uncomfortable with the thought that Superboy would stay a teenager forever). Despite trying to prove how responsible he is by having another fight with Silver Sword (and recovering the Spear of Lono, which SS had stolen), Tana breaks 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.

Silver Sword is finally brought down with the help of Green Lantern. He had been serving a being known as Pele, whom he believed was a native Hawaiian goddess, but during Pele's battle with SB and GL (when she threatened innocent Hawaiian bystanders), Silver Sword realized she was no benevolent goddess. He turned on her, leading to his death. Pele is defeated, but Superboy is feeling anything but heroic. More than ever, he feels isolated.

Superboy, after a failed publicity stunt (i.e. "Superboy: The Event") and wavering public opinion in Hawaii and abroad, disappears without a trace while flying back to Hawaii and getting caught in a storm. Superboy's cast largely left at this point: Rex was on the run from his past, Roxy goes to find him, Tana left the islands tracking down information on the Agenda, and Dubbilex is recalled to Cadmus. Krypto is left with Hillary Chang.

Superboy awakens amnesic in the Wild Lands, an island of anthropomorphic animal-men, a 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 did have to contend with the fallout of a coup de tat that spilled out into the world at large, but managed to work it out. 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 leaving Krypto with his friend, Hillary Chang (perhaps for the last time). In their first assignment, they traveled to Paris and battled the Agenda once again, specifically Director Alpha. They also encounter Grokk the Living Gargoyle and a supermodel named "Hex," who claims to be Jonah Hex. They take Grokk back to Project Cadmus, where Superboy meets the new Director (Mickey "the Mechanic" Cannon), new military liaison, Col. Adam Winterbourne (one of the men SB rescued from the Wild Lands), and one of the new ace scientists, Serling Roquette. Superboy is at first happy to be back at the Project, but is distraught when Mickey fires the head scientists (the original Newsboy Legion) and orders them to take their clones (the current Newsboys) with them as they leave.

Superboy was a founding member of the team Young Justice, along with Robin (Tim Drake) and Impulse. The team formed after the three boys decided to have a "camp out" in the old JLA Justice Cave, where they encountered Red Tornado (who agreed to keep an eye on them).[47] See the Young Justice entry for more details on his adventures with the team.

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, harboring a crush on Guardian. Superboy has to respond when someone steals the Whiz Wagon and enters the Demolition Run, a lethal cross country race involving all manner of high-tech vehicles. The thief turns out to be Roxy, who is desperate for money to help her father. Even with Superboy and Mickey Cannon helping her, the Whiz Wagon is totaled and Fastbak wins the race. Superboy realizes the man who set up the race, Mr. Big, set it up, knowing Fastbak would win and forfeit any prize. Rather than let Mr. Big walk away with millions, he convinces Fastbak to ask for all profits Big might have made off the deal. Big honors the deal, but promises Superboy he won't forget.

A defining moment in Superboy's life would come at the onset of the "Superman: King of the World" storyline. Superman drops by Cadmus and 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 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. He did not understand the resistance he met from the other Superboys, but one by one he captured them and brought them to his lair. Superboy (Kon-El) led these other versions in an uprising that defeated Black Zero, and then returned to his proper timeline/reality. During the trip, however, he had learned that Superman was also Clark Kent. Superboy did not reveal this at first, harboring a little shock and resentment that his closest "relative" had never told him about this.

Superboy is ordered to revisit the Wild Lands, taking a number of personnel from Cadmus (including Col. Winterbourne) with him via the Whiz Wagon. They land in Roam and are greeted warmly by King Tuftan (and coldly by his new bride, Nosferata). Winterbourne requests to be taken to the area where he was captured, and Tuftan leads the way to the Glowing Swamp. They find Ratsputin there—and also King Shark. Tuftan and Winterbourne are almost killed by King Shark in a tough battle. Winterbourne discovers what he had come there to find—an experimental Blackbird fighter jet that he had crashed—and uses it to impale King Shark, shortly before it detonates. Tuftan returns to Roam and Superboy and the others are recalled to Cadmus.

They arrive just as the Day of Judgment event has begun. Cadmus workers had unearthed an ancient glove, Hyssa's Fist, that Guardian put on. The power of the evil glove had impaired his perceptions and he had run off into the caverns beneath the Project after attacking some guards. The Demon Etrigan emerges, explaining he is there to help them. Etrigan and Superboy manage to defeat the possessed Guardian, but SB is not wild about the idea of handing the artifact over to the Demon, who attacks him for his obstinacy. Superboy puts on the glove and easily defeats Etrigan, but Dabney Donovan (whom Guardian had freed from Cadmus' holding cells) steps out and compliments the Kid on his new look. The glove had changed SB's costume to resemble Black Zero's. Horrified, Superboy destroys the glove, causing a huge cave-in. Etrigan saves Donovan before leaving. Superboy decides he wants to return to Hawaii to tie up some loose ends.

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, 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).

Superboy (accompanied by Serling) take the Whiz Wagon to Hawaii. Superboy discovers that he is no longer well thought of among the locals there, and that a new hero, Kana is the local favorite. Kana, however, sites Superboy as being his inspiration for being a hero. Superboy catches up with Sam Makoa and Hillary Chang, and even visits Knockout in prison (who tries unsuccessfully to manipulate the Kid into letting her go). After one last visit to The Compound, Superboy realizes nothing will ever be like it once was. He decides to take Krypto back with him to Cadmus.

Still frustrated that he has not been able to come out and acknowledge to Superman he knows the truth of his dual identity, Superboy heads to Metropolis. He meets up with Lois Lane and takes her to Locomotive Park, where the Man of Steel is battling a four-armed monster (but unfortunately, suffers some allergic reaction to its skin). The two put the creature down. Afterwards, Superboy is still unable to come out with what he knows, but he 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 he leaves, Superboy hints to Lois that he knows, but Lois merely replies that everyone—even Superman—needs a little privacy in life.

Upon arriving back at Cadmus, Superboy is quickly knocked out. The Agenda, using Simyan and Mokkari to create an army of clones, have seized control of the Project (during "The Evil Factory" story arc). Dubbilex, manipulated through a being known as the Gene Gnome, is helping the Agenda. Superboy and the rest of the good guys are placed in holding under the eye of Amanda Spence, now harboring a special hatred of the Kid. Superboy rallies the forces of Cadmus, along with Grokk the Living Gargoyle, Hex, and even Krypto, in a desperate struggle to win back Cadmus. All they can do, however, is temporarily retreat, as the Gene Gnome not only can read their minds, but also coordinate the clone armies. As they flee, they run into the Wild Men (Gorr, Growler, and Howler) who had escaped the Agenda's clutches in Alaska—where they had also rescued Tana Moon, whom they have with them. Realizing the Gene Gnome cannot read the minds of non-humans, they decide to launch a counterattack on the Project, leaving Serling, Tana, and Krypto behind. After they leave, Dubbilex and the Gene Gnome emerge on the three, but Dubbilex manages to break the Gnome's control and knock him out. The strike force (Superboy, Guardian, Mickey Cannon, Hex, Grokk the Living Gargoyle, Angry Charlie, and the Wild Men trio) put the Agenda's army to rout, wrestling control back from Amanda Spence. A holographic message from the Agenda's Director Beta (the Contessa Erica Alexandra del Portenza) alerts them to a contingency plan in Washington, D.C. While suspecting a trap, Superboy takes off to investigate anyway.

This leads into the Young Justice: Sins of Youth. A public outcry 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 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 SB. 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. She gloats about how now Superboy knows the pain she knew when her father, Paul Westfield, died. Before Superboy can strike Spence down, she teleports away.

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 lost his powers as well. Guardian encourages him to take some time to grieve and see the world as a "normal" kid. He tries to do just that, though everything keeps changing around him: Tana's death, his powers gone, and Dubbilex decides to leave the Project on sabbatical. The Wild Men depart for places unknown, Hex decides to take Grokk the Living Gargoyle and become a bounty hunter, and Heat Wave is now working for Guardian. Superboy decides he still wants to continue the good fight, so he turns to the Gadget Guru to help him be Superboy once again.

He still had his Legionnaire flight ring and had some special training with Guardian. Gadget Guru fashions a shield for him to use: the shield is nearly indestructible, but can shrink in size. He barely has begun his new training when Superboy (along with Mickey Cannon and Gadget Guru) are kidnapped and taken into orbit by Kossak the Slaver. Superboy and his friends manage to rally the slaves in a successful uprising against their hated master. After battling all over Kossak's slave ship, the rebellion is successful. Kossak flees on a shuttle heading straight for Earth. Superboy pursues him back to the Project, where he learns Kossak's true intent for coming to Earth is to retrieve an escaped slave—one that has fused with Roxy Leech! The alien has solar/heat based powers and restores Superboy to full power, allowing the Kid to take down Kossak. Superboy gives Guardian a new shield—one that can shrink the way his could. Karl Kesel left the series as lead writer for a second and final time with issue #79.

Roxy is still bound by the alien lifeform. Using her body, it breaks free from Cadmus and arrives in the nearby town of Kurtzberg. The newly reformed Titans arrive on scene to contain the situation, but Superboy puts himself between them and Roxy. When Guardian and Heat Wave arrive, a brief battle breaks out. When the heroes all manage to cool it, the alien (identified as Pyra) breaks free of Roxy's body and flies off into space. Kon tells Roxy how he thinks of her as family, and she tells him the same. She and her dad are going off for a while to really get to know one another, but she promises to come back some day.

After the battle, Guardian realized that the man he was cloned from (Jim Harper) was related to Roy Harper, the Titan now known as Arsenal. Superboy later takes Guardian to New York City to meet with Roy and Liam Harper at Warrior's. While they have their "family" reunion, Superboy takes down a villain named Negative G.

After being teased by some teenage girls and feeling despondent, Superboy feels like he is in a rut. A talk with Superman helps him realize he just needs to shake things up a bit. He 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 the Project. After some more training with Guardian, Superboy and Serling head to Los Angeles per Waller's orders to size up a situation involving alien activity. Superboy meets up with Lobo there and deals with an alien named Scizmore that feeds off rage. Kon has to deal with some rage issues himself—when a gang war refuses to die down in front of him, he releases his powers in an incredible burst that destroys nearly every gun in L.A.

Exhausted from a recent adventure with Batman and Batgirl, Superboy asks Guardian to go to Detroit to fight Shrapnel in his place. Superboy heads to a Florida bayou where he encounters Gorgeous Gilly (and is nearly forced to marry her). Fleeing the scene, he returns to Cadmus and receives startling news—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. The D.N.Angels are sent to recover the baby, but Superboy fights them off at a supermarket 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. The site is empty—save for the rest of Young Justice, who insist Superboy give them some answers.

After straightening things out with his teammates, Superboy is called to Metropolis by Lois Lane to join Supergirl and Steel (really Kelex) to head to Pokolikstan, after Superman insisted on heading there alone to confront a mysterious general. The team meets up with Superman and battle Faora, Ignition, and Kancer until the general arrives and sucker punches Superman hard enough to break his jaw! The team quickly retreats from the scene. All of this is a prelude to "Our Worlds at War".

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. Guardian—psychically linked to the other clones still in their pods—knows their wishes are the same as his. He did not want to be brought back, but that choice was stolen from him, but it will not be from them. The clones are then 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. Impulse is traumatized when one of his "speed scouts" is killed right in front of him. 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 (see the Young Justice entry for more information regarding Superboy's exploits in the war). Superboy decides to go to the Kent's to rest, but is troubled by nightmares for some time.

A new team takes over with issue #94, but this direction was short lived, however, as the series was canceled with issue #100. With Cadmus shut down, Superboy has no job and no place to stay. After Wonder Girl insists he has to find a place of his own, Superboy relocates to Metropolis, becoming the "super" at a tenement building called Calvin Gardens. A local gang called the Run Riot Boys keeps harassing the neighborhood. He also meets a young woman named Trixie.

Superboy decides to throw a housewarming party. Wonder Girl shows up, but Superboy is enamored with Trixie, not realizing her boyfriend, Wipeout, leads the Run Riot Boys. Wipeout instructs one of the new gang members, Cooper, to kill Superboy. Cooper befriends Superboy, initially intending to betray him, but cannot go through with it when the gang attacks the building. Scavenger also resurfaces, and after a brief fight, Superboy convinces him to call a truce. Superboy agrees to meet up with him at the Ace O' Clubs, but the fight with the Run Riot Boys makes him miss the meeting[75] and actually involved the tenement block being destroyed in a battle. A few other loose ends were tied up—Dubbilex was still on sabbatical, though Superboy managed to finally convince Scavenger that he was not working for his enemy. Superboy was taken by Superman to stay with his parents in Smallville, which he did for some time.

Young Justice and Teen Titans (1998–2005)[edit]

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.

Cover of Teen Titans (vol. 3) #2 (2006). Art by Mike McKone.

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13][14]

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".[15]

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.[16][17] 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.[18]

Infinite Crisis, death and return (2005–2011)[edit]

In the DC Comics' limited series Infinite Crisis, the other-dimensional Superboy-Prime watches Conner during his seclusion in Smallville.[19][20][21] 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.[22][23] 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.[24] 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.[25]

The death of Superboy. Art by Phil Jimenez from Infinite Crisis #6 (2006).

Luthor later grants Conner the means to find Alexander Luthor, a sliver of the crystalline construct[25][26][27] 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.[26][27] 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.[28] 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".[29] 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).[30] Wonder Girl later encounters the strange, enigmatic hero called Supernova.[31] 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.[32] These become the character's standard costumes thereafter. Superboy memorial statues are erected in Metropolis[33] next to Superman's statue and in San Francisco outside of Titans Tower.[34] One year later, Lex Luthor still mourns Conner's death as he considers him his own son.[35] Meanwhile, unknown to his teammates or even Superman, Robin is attempting secretly to recreate Superboy using DNA from Superman and Luthor.[27] 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,[citation needed] 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.

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.[36] 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.[37] 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.[38]

The New 52: reboot (2011–present)[edit]

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.

Powers, abilities, and equipment[edit]

Tactile telekinesis[edit]

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.[39] He can also use his telekinetic field to deflect lava and prevent himself from being burned.[40] 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 like 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.[41]

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.[42]

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.[43][44]

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.[43][44] He has since seemingly recovered with his power returned to normal.

Kryptonian powers[edit]

During Teen Titans, Superboy developed Kryptonian powers including heat vision,[45] x-ray vision,[46] and super-hearing.[47] 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.[15] Superboy later states that he has developed telescopic vision[25] and eventually figures out how to use his freeze breath.[48] 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.[49] 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.[11]

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.[15]

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.[48]

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.[24]

Costumes and equipment[edit]


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.

Legal dispute[edit]

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.[51]

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.[citation needed] 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".[52]

In the Teen Titans' Secret Origins, a back-up story in the weekly 52 series, an illustration of Superboy had to be changed to one of Wonder Girl because of the legal dispute.[53]

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,[citation needed] 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.

Other versions[edit]

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."[54]

In other media[edit]


Superboy as he appears in Young Justice.
Lucas Grabeel as Alexander Luthor/Conner Kent on Smallville.


Video games[edit]



This version of Superboy has been ranked as the 196th greatest comic book character of all time by Wizard Magazine.[61] 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."[62]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ Action Comics #685
  3. ^ Superman Vol. 2, #76
  4. ^ Action Comics #686
  5. ^ Legacy of Superman #1
  6. ^ Superboy Vol. 3, Annual #2
  7. ^ Team Superman Secret Files #1 (1998)
  8. ^ Adventures of Superman #506 (1993)
  9. ^ Superboy-Robin WF3: World's Finest Three 1-2
  10. ^ Superboy Plus The Power of Shazam
  11. ^ a b Teen Titans (vol. 3) #1 (2003)
  12. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #15 (2004)
  13. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #16 (2004)
  14. ^ Teen Titans/The Legion Special (2004)
  15. ^ a b c "Titans Tomorrow:" Teen Titans (vol. 3) #17-19 (2004)
  16. ^ "The Insiders": Teen Titans (vol. 3) #24-25 (2005)
  17. ^ "The Insiders": Outsiders (vol. 3) #24-25 (2005)
  18. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #26 (2005)
  19. ^ Infinite Crisis Secret Files & Origins 2006
  20. ^ Infinite Crisis #2 (2006)
  21. ^ Infinite Crisis #3 (2006)
  22. ^ Infinite Crisis #4 (2006)
  23. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #32 (2006)
  24. ^ a b Robin #147 (2006)
  25. ^ a b c Teen Titans Annual #1 (2006)
  26. ^ a b Infinite Crisis #5 (2006)
  27. ^ a b c Teen Titans (vol. 3) #33 (2006)
  28. ^ Infinite Crisis #6 (2006)
  29. ^ 52: Week Thirty-One (2006)
  30. ^ 52: Week Two
  31. ^ 52: Week Nineteen
  32. ^ 52: Week Fifty-One (2006)
  33. ^ 52: Week One (2006)
  34. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #34 (2006)
  35. ^ Superman #650 (2006)
  36. ^ Superman #694
  37. ^ Teen Titans #81
  38. ^ DC Comics Co Publishers. "A Note from the DC Comics Co-Publishers: We Hate Secrets". Retrieved 27 June 2011. 
  39. ^ Superboy Vol. 3, #32 (1996)
  40. ^ Superboy Vol. 3, #47 (1998)
  41. ^ Superboy Vol. 3, #33 (1996)
  42. ^ "Sins of Youth: Superman Jr & Superboy Sr." (2000)
  43. ^ a b Superboy Vol. 5, #1 (2011)
  44. ^ a b Superboy Vol. 5, #2 (2011)
  45. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #9 (2003)
  46. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #16
  47. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #17 (2004)
  48. ^ a b Adventure Comics (vol. 2) #7 (February 2010)
  49. ^ Teen Titans (vol. 3) #33
  50. ^ Superboy Vol. 3, #0
  51. ^ Judge Says Siegels Own Superboy. Will It Affect Smallville?,
  52. ^ DC Nation One Year Later
  53. ^ Comic Book Legends Revealed,
  55. ^ Journey Into Comics
  56. ^
  57. ^ Fitzpatrick, Kevin (2010-07-23). "Comic-Con 2010: Young Justice Goes Under Cover". UGO Networks. Retrieved 2010-07-23. 
  58. ^
  59. ^ Smallville Finale part 2
  60. ^ Superman Doomsday DVD Official Site (DC Universe)
  61. ^ "Wizard's top 200 characters. External link consists of a forum site summing up the top 200 characters of Wizard Magazine since the real site that contains the list is broken.". Wizard magazine. Retrieved May 7, 2011. 
  62. ^ "Superboy is number 83". IGN. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 

External links[edit]