Superboy

Original / Pre-Crisis

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

NAME + ALIASES:
Kal-El, aka Clark Kent

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Jor-El (father, deceased), Lara (mother, deceased), Jonathan Kent (adoptive father, deceased), Martha Clark Kent (adoptive mother, deceased), Zor-El (uncle, deceased), Alura (aunt), Kara Zor-El (Supergirl, cousin)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes

FIRST APPEARANCE:
As Superman: Action Comics #1 (June 1938).
As Superboy: More Fun Comics #101 (Jan./Feb. 1945)

History

Superboy was created in 1945 by Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. His adventures were popular and so the character's mythos grew to include many details about Clark Kent's early years in Smallville, Kansas.

After Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986, the DC Universe was rebooted and Superman's history was completely rewritten. He was the sole survivor of Krypton (no Supergirl), and he had never used the identity of "Superboy." This totally removed Superboy's involvement from the Legion of Super-Heroes, forcing years of mind-boggling retcons.

In post-Crisis Legion continuity, Superboy's role in the Legion was eventually replaced by Mon-El, a Legionnaire with nearly identical powers. In time it was revealed that there was a so-called "Pocket Universe" where the villain called the Time Trapper had in fact saved the original Superboy's adventures and hometown. This Pocket Universe Superboy eventually died during a Legion mission.

An all-new Superboy was created in 1993, who was a clone of Kal-El and Lex Luthor. He also took the alias "Connor Kent." This Superboy joined Teen Titans and of the Legion of Earth-247.

After the events of the Infinite Crisis, the DC timeline was reordered again, and in 2007 Superman's history with the Legion (and the original Legion itself) was restored. Yet another Superboy was a major player in the Infinite Crisis, the Superboy of Earth-Prime. He was from an original parallel Earth and survived the Crisis inside a sanctuary created by Alexander Luthor. He grew bitter there, and became part of the force that restored the DC multiverse.

The Boy of Steel

From Superboy's first appearance. From More Fun Comics #101 (1945); art by Joe Shuster.

Kal-El was born on the planet Krypton, the son of Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van, in Kryptonopolis, capitol of the planet Krypton. (World's Finest #235, World of Krypton #2) The El family was heir to a proud lineage dating back almost to the beginnings of Kryptonian civilization (Krypton Chronicles #1–3)

Superbaby mitigates the mischief of Beppo, the super-monkey. From Superboy #76 (1959); art by George Papp.
A happy reunion with his best friend from Krypton, Krypto the El family dog. From Adventure Comics #210 (1955); art by Curt Swan.

Although Jor-El was one of Krypton's leading scientists and had made many significant contributions to Kryptonian society, his warnings of the planet's imminent demise were received with scorn by Krypton's governing Science Council. Unable to save his world or even convince most of his colleagues of their danger, Jor-El began working on a starship to carry his family to safety, defying a Science Council edict prohibiting space travel.

There would be no saving Krypton. By the time its end was nigh, only a scale model of Jor-El's interstellar rocket was flight-ready. In desperation, Jor-El put his two-year-old son into a tiny starship, bound for Earth and launched it just moments before Krypton was blown to radioactive fragments. (Action #1, World of Krypton #1–3) The family dog, Krypto was also lost in space during a test of an early prototype ship. Fate would one day reunite Kal-El with Krypto, on Earth. (Adventure Comics #210)

Kal-El's ship landed on Earth in a field outside the rural American town of Smallville, Kansas, where he was discovered by two middle-age farmers, Jonathan and Martha Kent. The Kents, who had no children of their own, took the boy to an orphanage — without revealing the unusual nature of his arrival — and then adopted him, naming him Clark Kent. (Superman #1) The Kents were able to fashion their adopted son's Kryptonian blankets into an invulnerable costume, which would provide him some form of disguise while using his amazing powers in public. (Superboy v.1 #8, 78)

Several other Kryptonians managed to make it off-planet as well. Jor-El's brother Zor-El and his wife Alura survived the destruction of Krypton when their home Argo City was blasted into space by the explosion. They later had a daughter, Kara Zor-El, who arrived on Earth ten years later and became Supergirl. (Action #252) And a teen-aged troublemaker named Dev-Em and his parents survived the destruction of Krypton in a lead-lined shelter. (Adventure #287)

Even as a toddler, Clark displayed super-human powers, which his adoptive parents quickly taught him to conceal along with his extraterrestrial origins. (Action Comics #500) He possessed super-powers because Krypton's sun had been red and their planet had a higher gravity, so a Kryptonian under Earth's yellow sun could fly and do other fantastic things. (For this reason, red sun radiation could also nullify his super-powers.) At age three, Clark became known as Superbaby. (Superboy #26) Baby Kal-El soon met a stowaway from his rocket, Jor-El's lab monkey, known as Beppo the Super-Monkey. (#76)

Clark grew up on the Kents' Smallville farm, working in the Kents' general store in town. At age six, Clark entered public school (#75), and two years later he stepped up his crime fighting efforts, becoming Superboy. (More Fun #101)

By the time Clark was a teenager, Superboy was a familiar figure around the world, although few knew his secret identity other than his adoptive parents and (unbeknown to Clark) his friend Pete Ross. (Superboy #86, 90) Clark's neighbor Lana Lang also suspected that Clark was secretly Superboy (#10), but was never able to prove it. Note: In post-Infinite Crisis continuity, Lana was privy to his secret.

Clark Kent's age was marked at various points in his adventures (aging about a year for every five publishing years). He turned ten in Adventure #103 (1946), and was reunited with his dog Krypto during these years. By Adventure #240 (1957), Clark was twelve years old (noted in DC Super-Stars #12, 1977). And a 14-year-old Clark met the alien called Qor Sulor (the story stated that it had been 12 years since his arrival on Earth, at age two). (Superboy #137, 1967)

Superboy learned of his Kryptonian origins by outrunning and intercepting light that had left Krypton years earlier. (Superman #146) For a time, he believed himself Krypton's last survivor but he encountered a slew of other survivors — many of them criminals. These people had either been exiled into space or imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, a dimension discovered by Jor-El years earlier. (Adventure Comics #283)

At this young age, he first discovered his greatest weakness — Kryptonite, a radioactive fragment of the planet Krypton that was lethal to him. (Adventure #251, 1958; first appeared Superman #61)

As a young man, Superboy encountered many people who would later become his close friends. Some, like Bruce Wayne (World's Finest Comics #84), Oliver Queen (Adventure Comics #258), and Hal Jordan (New Adventures of Superboy #13), he met as teenagers. Others he encountered via time travel, including Robin (Adventure Comics #253) and Jimmy Olsen. (Superboy #55) A time-lost Superboy also met and actually trained his Earth-Two counterpart as a boy. (New Adventures of Superboy #15–16) When Superboy brought the Crystal of Catastrophe back from the 30th century, it temporarily endowed young Barbara Gordon (the future Batgirl) with super-powers, transforming her into Mighty Girl. (Adventure #453)

Superboy's Adventures with the Legion

Left: Superboy's original meeting with the Legion, from Adventure Comics #247 (1958); art by Al Plastino. Right: Post-Infinite Crisis version. From Action Comics #858 (2007); at by Gary Frank and John Sibal.
There's no hair club for boys. From Adventure Comics #271 (1960); art by Al Plastino.
Top and left: Mon-El's original appearance. From Superboy v.1 #89 (1961); art by George Papp. Right: Post-Infinite Crisis version. From Action Comics Annual #10 (2007); art by Eric Wight.
Superboy shows leadership initiative. From Adventure Comics #346 (1966); art by Sheldon Moldoff.
One of Luornu's several crushes. From Adventure Comics #348 (1966); art by George Papp.
Superboy and Supergirl (in their first mission together) are forced to resign; their memories are wiped before returning to the 20th century. From Adventure Comics #350 (1966); art by Curt Swan and George Klein.
Lana Lang (as Insect Queen) and Pete Ross get involved during a battle with Mordru. From Adventure Comics #370 (1968); art by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan.
Felled in a surprise attack by the Fatal Five in the 20th century. From Superboy #198 (1973); art by Dave Cockrum.

Superboy's world expanded immeasurably the day he met three members from the Legion of Super-Heroes: Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl. This was 1958, the Silver Age of comics, and readership began to rise with the reintroduction of super-heroes to the marketplace. Lots of popular characters and concepts were introduced to the Superman mythos, including the Legion. The Legion's early adventures always included Superboy or Supergirl, and many were set in the 20th century. It wasn't until Adventure Comics #301 (Oct. 1962) that the Legion appeared without either Superboy or Supergirl.

Superboy traveled with the Legionnaires to 30th century Smallville and visited their clubhouse, where he met other members of their group. After a trial, he was admitted as an official member of the Legion. (NOTE: This story described the Legion as existing in the 30th century, although some subsequent stories placed it in the 21st century. Most Legion stories were meant to take place exactly 1,000 years in the future.) (Adventure #247) The next time he saw the Legion, they tried to stop him from going on a rampage; they were unaware that he was actually on a secret mission for the President. (Adventure #267) After every trip to the future, Superboy underwent a "post-hypnotic suggestion" to erase any detailed memories about life in the 30th century. (#334)

Superboy had his first encounter with red Kryptonite, an isotope of Kryptonite altered by its passage through a cosmic cloud, causing it to have weird, unpredictable (though fortunately temporary) effect on Kryptonians. (Adventure #252, 255) Gold Kryptonite had the power to strip a Kryptonian of his or her super-powers forever. (Adventure #299)

He battled Bizarro-Superboy, an imperfect duplicate of himself created by a flawed duplicator machine. (Superboy #68) Years later a similar device was used to create an adult Bizarro. (Action Comics #254) The Legion battled the 30th century version of Bizarro Superboy (distinct from the original), who created the Legion of Stupor-Bizarros. (Adventure #329)

Superboy and the boy genius Lex Luthor might have become the best of friends; instead Lex became his greatest enemy. Luthor was a gifted young scientist and inventor and Superboy built a lab for him so that Lex could search for an immunization against Kryptonite. In the process, Luthor inadvertently created a primitive protoplasmic life form. As he marveled at his creation, he accidentally triggered a chemical fire. When Superboy extinguished the fire with his super-breath, the fumes killed Luthor's protoplasmic creation and left Luthor himself permanently bald. (Adventure Comics #271, 1st app. Action #23) This inescapable reminder of the accident (and blow to his vanity) enraged Luthor, who vowed to destroy Superboy. Lex became a twisted criminal mastermind whose own family changed its name to disown him. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #23)

Instead Clark Kent became best friends with Pete Ross. (Superboy #86) Pete Ross learned that Clark Kent was secretly Superboy, (#90) but didn't inform Clark of his discovery until they were both adults. (DC Comics Presents #13) Pete also met the Legionnaire Ultra Boy when he visited the 20th century as part of his Legion initiation: to uncover Superboy's secret identity. Afterwards, Ultra Boy awarded Pete an honorary Legionnaire membership as a reward for being Superboy's loyal friend. (Superboy #98) Ultra Boy returned to help Pete while Superboy was in the 30th century; Pete was having problems with a malfunctioning Superboy robot. (#100) He finally got the chance to visit the Legion in the 30th century and actually participated in a contest to determine the new Legion leader. (Adventure #323)

The Legion regularly visited Clark in the 20th century. Once Lightning Lad saved Superboy from Luthor's living Kryptonite men. (Superboy #86) The next Legionnaire he met was Star Boy, whom Lana Lang tried to use in a plot to make Superboy jealous. (Adventure #282) Superboy was momentarily fooled by a 30th century criminal who posed as Sun Boy. (Adventure #290) Chameleon Boy visited Superboy to write an article for the Legion newspaper. (Superboy #93) Brainiac 5 helped Superboy capture Blackie Burke. (Adventure #309) Colossal Boy helped Superboy protect his secret identity. (#315) And Polar Boy, leader of the Legion of Substitute-Heroes, helped Superboy battle a race of flame creatures. (Superboy #148)

Superboy was most excited when he met a kindred alien, the amnesiac space traveler named Lar Gand. Gand had once landed on Krypton and met Jor-El and Lara, shortly before Krypton's destruction. This led Superboy to the erroneous conclusion that Gand was not only a Kryptonian, but also his older brother. Superboy gave Gand the name Mon-El and the visitor moved into the Kents' home. Mon-El (a moniker he would retain even after regaining his memory and explaining his real origins) contracted lead poisoning and remembered that he was actually from Daxam. To save his life, Superboy was forced to send him to the Phantom Zone, where he would remain for a thousand years. (World of Krypton #3, Superboy #89) Mon-El was cured and released by the Legion, whose ranks he then joined. (Adventure #300, 305)

Even Superboy's super-pets got in on the action. When the Brain Globes of Rambat mentally enslaved Superboy and the Legion and threatened to take over the Earth, Krypto, Beppo, Streaky the Super-Cat, and Comet the Super-Horse joined forces as the Legion of Super-Pets to save the day. NOTE: Streaky (Action #261) and Comet were from Supergirl's era, not Superboy's. (Adventure #293)

In a rare case, Superboy and Supergirl appeared together in the future, but they were forced to leave the Legion when the Earth was surrounded by a cloud of green Kryptonite. (#350) Dream Girl and her sister the White Witch helped defeat Evillo , the mastermind, and the k-cloud was neutralized. Superboy and Supergirl were allowed to rejoin the Legion. (#351)

Superboy and the Legion traveled to a "parallel Earth" (of which an infinite number existed) and met evil counterparts of the Legion. Superboy turned them all over to that Earth's Superboy for justice. (Superboy #117) » SEE: Superboy of Earth-117

Like Pete Ross, Lana Lang also had more encounters with the Legion. She gained super-powers and became the Insect Queen. (Superboy #124) Several times, she visited the 30th century in that guise, and became a reserve Legionnaire. (Adventure #355, Superboy #205) Both Pete and Lana were captured along with other Legionnaires in an by the evil mage, Mordru. (Adventure #370)

When Mordru returned, Mon-El, Duo Damsel, and Shadow Lass took refuge with in the 20th century and posed as distant relatives of various Smallville residents. (Adventure #369) Superboy clashed again with Mordru in the 20th century and imprisoned him within the Earth. He tossed Mordru's magical Blood Crystals into deep space, where they were discovered in the 30th century by the Legion. Chameleon Boy was afflicted by them and developed an irrational hatred of Superboy. He traveled back in time to attempt to destroy the Boy of Steel. (Superboy #188)

The idea to destroy Superboy in the 20th century spread and the Fatal Five also made an attempt to kill him (and thus eliminate the Legion from history). (Superboy #198)

When the United Planets informed the Legion that they could have no more than 25 members, Superboy resigned to maintain the limit. (Action #387) Mon-El soon asked Superboy to return after Duo Damsel and Bouncing Boy married and retired. (Superboy v.1 #200-201) Duo Damsel once admitted to having a crush on Superboy. (#348) She eventually realized it was fruitless and pursued a true romance.

About the Time Paradoxes

The Legion uses a Hypnosis Ray on their 20th century friends to make them forget details about the future. From Adventure Comics #370 (1966); art by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan.
Superboy meets his descendant, Laurel Kent! From Superboy v.1 #217 (1976); art by Mike Grell.
Superboy's leaves the Legion. From Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #259 (1980); art by Joe Staton and Dave Hunt.

With all the time travel there was always the possibility that Clark would discover details about his destiny; this was discouraged because such knowledge could adversely affect the events of the 20th century. The major question at hand: "If Superboy met Supergirl for the first time in the 30th century, how come he doesn't remember her when she lands on Earth in the 20th?"

"If Superboy met Supergirl for the first time in the 30th century, how come he doesn't remember her when she lands on Earth in the 20th?" The short answer is: their memories were selectively wiped after each visit. The two first met in a Legion story in Adventure Comics #304 (Jan. 1963), and in issue #333 editor Mort Weisinger explained, "Supergirl uses post-hypnotic suggestion to make the Boy of Steel forget about her when he returns to twentieth-century Smallville." After a similar meeting in Adventure #350, Brainiac 5 tried implanting a microscopic dose of kryptonite in both their brains to accomplish the task. READ MORE »The Comics Roundtable: Deck Log Entry # 99

In Superboy & the Legion #235 (Jan. 1978), he learned that the Legion had been brainwashing him periodically to keep him from remembering sensitive information.

The Legion recruited Superboy and Supergirl nearly simultaneously. The cousins traveled to the 30th century from different points in the 20th century, about a decade apart. In fact, in Supergirl's first meeting with the Legion (Action #267, Aug. 1960), the Legionnaires told her that they were the children of the Legionnaires that Superboy knew. This revelation was very soon ignored, and it was edited out of some reprints of this story. Generally Legion adventures featured one or the other of the cousins. Their first Legion adventure together was Adventure #350 (Nov. 1966); neither of them remarked upon the peculiarity of the occasion.

Superboy felt the impact of his legacy upon meeting Legion Academy student Laurel Kent — his descendant from the direct line of Superman and Lois Lane! (#217) Another time Superboy met his adult self as he raced the Flash through time; they briefly appeared in the 30th century. (DC Comics Presents #2)

Other accounts maintained that the same individual from two different periods could not occupy the same moment in time (this was a general principle at DC Comics). Superboy learned this when he and the Legionnaires visited Superman's era. He was forced to remain in their Time Bubble's "stasis field" to prevent the paradox. (Limited Collectors Edition #C-55)

Clark was certain to learn upsetting things about his own life during his visits to the future. During a Legion case, he came across the graves of his parents, a painful realization for which he was unprepared. In order to spare him from reliving this pain, Saturn Girl compelled Superboy to return to his own era — and never return. (Legion v.2 #259)

The Legion's popularity continued to grow and they were awarded sole billing of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes effective with issue #259 (Jan. 1980). Superboy moved into a new solo book, titled The New Adventures of Superboy.

Graduation Days

Switcheroo! Reflecto is revealed to be Superboy (not Ultra Boy). From Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #280 (1981); art by Jim Janes and Bruce Patterson.
It takes a family to defeat the dark side. From Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #294 (1982); art by Keith Giffen.
Clark's last visit to the future as Superboy. From Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #11 (1985); art by Ernie Colón and Larry Mahlstedt.

Back home, Superboy celebrated his 16th birthday. (New Adventures of Superboy #1)
It wasn't long before he was united with the Legion, despite Saturn Girl's plot. When Ultra Boy was thrown back to the 20th century and trapped in the Phantom Zone, his mind was transferred into Superboy's body. Superboy was then afflicted with amnesia, adopted a new costumed identity as Reflecto, and returned to the 30th century, where he re-applied for Legion membership.

The Legion soon discovered the truth behind Reflecto and traveled back to the 20th century to investigate Superboy's involvement. (Legion v.2 #280) They eventually traced Ultra Boy to the Phantom Zone (#281) and afterwards Superboy decided to resume active membership in the Legion. (#282)

Regardless of this, Superboy participated in only a few more Legion cases. He returned to help the Science Police apprehend a mad bomber. (Legion v.2 #312) He discussed rejoining the team but Bouncing Boy told him that history recorded that he never returned to active membership. (Legion v.3 #11)

Age 18 was a time of significant transitions. Clark Kent graduated from Smallville High and prepared to study at Metropolis University. This excitement was tempered by the death of his adoptive parents, the Kents. John and Martha had succumbed to this rare tropical plague. Superboy suffered great guilt because they had contracted the disease on a journey into the past, where the family investigated an old pirate's diary they had found while vacationing in the Caribbean. Superboy went to extraordinary lengths to find a cure, but it was to no avail. Just before his death, Jonathan Kent made Clark promise to use his abilities only for good. (Superman #161) His friend Saturn Girl empathized with Superboy; one day when Superboy was preparing to return to the 20th century, she realized that this was just before the Kents were destined to die. (Legion v.2 #291)

Krypto helped Superboy and the Legion apprehend future-thief Nylor Truggs, who had stolen the H-Dial from the Metropolis Museum of Heroes and Legends and allied himself with Lex Luthor. (New Adventures of Superboy #50)

Superman and the Legion

Kal-El's two groups of friends team up at last! From Justice League of America #148 (1977); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

Clark left Smallville permanently for Metropolis, and his new responsibilities left little time for the Legion. Later in his college career, he look on his greatest challenge by becoming Superman. (Superman: The Secret Years #1-4, Superman #129)

The Legionnaires staged a good-natured prank on Superman and Supergirl to celebrate the anniversary of Supergirl's arrival on Earth. (Superman v.1 #152) When Superman believed that he was dying of Virus X, Brainiac 5 worked feverishly to find a cure. (#156) When Superman temporarily lost his own powers, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Invisible Kid imbued him with their powers and a dose of Jimmy Olsen's Elastic Lad powers. (#172)

After college, Kent was hired by Perry White as a reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet. (Superman v.1 #133) And as Superman, Clark's was a founding member of the iconic Justice League of America. The group's case load further removed him from the Legion. (Brave and the Bold #28)

The two groups teamed up one time to battle Mordru. The mage drew Superman, the Justice League of America, and Earth-Two's Justice Society to the 30th century. Using the Legionnaires as hostages, he forced the JLA to retrieve mystical talismans for him. (Justice League of America #147) The super-teams were pitted against each other, but the heroes managed to entrap the demons that were released. (#148)

One of the Legion's greatest foes took a great interest in Superman. The Time Trapper wiped out all future timelines and Superman worked with Xenofobe, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 in the 30th century, to restore history to its proper place. (Superman v.1 #295) The Time Trapper later trapped Superman in the year 101,970 in revenge for their earlier battles with the Legion. (Action #385-387)

The Legion returned when Pete Ross's son, Jon, had been kidnapped by the warlike alien Nyrvnian race. The Legion had to convince Superman not to rescue Jon because he was destined to be trained by them and to one day save the Earth. When Superman failed to return with Jon, his friendship with Pete was destroyed. (DC Comics Presents #13)

The Legion also helped Superman and Batman defeat Amalgamax. (World's Finest #284)

The group's last recorded visit to the (pre-Crisis) past was when Phantom Girl, Ultra Boy, Chameleon Boy, Element Lad, and Shrinking Violet were lost in time. They helped him battle Brainiac. (DC Comics Presents #80)

The Adult Legion + Imaginary Stories

The Legion of Super-Villains troubled Superman just as the heroes visited Superboy. From Superman v.1 #147 (1961); art by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff.

Some of the Legion's earliest appearances were "Adult Legion" stories. In these, grownup Legionnaires had adventures with Superman, not Superboy. Their names were updated to use "man" and "woman" instead of "boy" and "girl." At the time of their publication, the Adult Legion stories were considered a valid part of Superman continuity. Over time, however, they became regarded as non-canonical because the future they presented did not mesh with the teen Legion history that unfolded over the years. The stories were officially delegitimized in Legion of Super-Heroes v.2 #300 (June 1983), which described the Adult Legion as coming from an alternate future timeline.

"Imaginary Stories" were published throughout the mid-1970s and were usually labeled as such.

The biggest players in the Adult Legion saga were the Legion of Super-Villains (Cosmic King, Saturn Queen, and Lightning Lord). (Superman v.1 #147) This was the same time period as Supergirl's early career; she and Jimmy Olsen also battled the LSV. (Jimmy Olsen #63) The Villains brainwashed Douglas Nolan (twin brother of deceased Legionnaire Ferro Lad) (Adventure #354) and were defeated with the help of the benevolent 30th century descendants of Lex Luthor and Mr. Mxyzptlk — who joined the Legion. (#355)

Other adult adventures included: Saturn Woman and Proty II helping Superman against the Superman Revenge Squad (Superman v.1 #165); Supergirl trying to fix Superman up with Saturn Woman (Action #289); Cosmic Man and Lightning Man posing as Hercules and Samson to help Superman fool a criminal (Superman v.1 #155); Brainiac 5 helping Superman and Batman defeat Xan, the second Composite Superman (World's Finest #168); and Supergirl and Brainiac 5 tricking Lex Luthor into helping free Superman from a trap set by Mordru. (Superman v.1 #213)

In two notable Imaginary Stories: Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent were raised as brothers. Batman moved to the 30th century and joined the Adult Legion. (World's Finest #172) And when Lex Luthor succeeded in killing Superman, the three founding Legionnaires attended his funeral. (Superman v.1 #149)

Notes

Jim Shooter on Superboy: "This could take volumes. But it won't. He is the most complex character, and the best. Not for nothing is this guy the greatest hero ever. He is control of himself, his life and his power, incredibly so. A fantastic person." —Interlac (1976)

Tom & Mary Bierbaum on Superboy: "He's basically what we tried to turn Mon-El/Valor into—the greatest hero of them all, the standard by which all that follows would be measured. For the Legionnaires, his presence is something akin to a contemporary club of U.S. presidents being joined by Abraham Lincoln."

Post-Crisis: The Pocket Universe Superboy

In the post-Crisis universe, Superman doesn't know the Legion; he is visited by Superboy, who comes from a "Pocket Universe." From Action Comics #591 (1987); art by John Byrne.
The Time Trapper reveals the extend of his manipulations. From Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #38 (1987); art by Greg LaRocque and Larry Mahlstedt.
Superboy uses his own body to repair the machine that keeps the Pocket Universe stabilized. From Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #38 (1987); art by Greg LaRocque and Larry Mahlstedt.

In the restructured post-Crisis DC universe, Superman's history was totally rewritten and he had never been "Superboy." He never met the Legion at all. A great deal of retroactive continuity was necessary to fix this, as the Legion's activities continued. There were two waves of this retconning. First, it was said that the Time Trapper "saved" a slice of the original universe and used it to seed a so-called "Pocket Universe." This is the place that the Legionnaires traveled to and from when they visited Superboy.

After the red skies of the Crisis on Infinite Earths subsided, Legionnaire Cosmic Boy was left vacationing in the 20th century. An avid historian, he noticed some strange things that didn't add up to the history he remembered. (Cosmic Boy #1-4)

He gathered a group of Legionnaires and prepared a Time Bubble to return and investigate. They found the journey more perilous than usual but managed to arrive in Superboy's Smallville intact. They didn't realize it, but they had not traveled to the true past, but had been directed by the Time Trapper to the Pocket Universe. (Legion v.3 #37)

A subset of this team fled after a warning from Pete Ross and found themselves in the true/mainstream universe. Superman did not recognize them. (Superman v.2 #8) Superboy was being blackmailed by the Time Trapper and struck out to kidnap Superman and the remaining Legionnaires. (Action #591)

Ultimately Superboy could not bring himself to do the Trapper's bidding and kill his friends. He turned on the Trapper and in their clash, a great machine was damaged. This machine kept the Pocket Universe stable and the only solution was for Superboy to use his own body to channel the energies to restabilize the machine. He barely managed to get the Legionnaires back into their Time Bubble and return to the 30th century. Superboy died there in Mon-El's arms. His funeral on Earth was attended by billions, and he was interred on Shanghalla, the heroes' grave-world. (Legion v.3 #38, 49)

Glorith Reality

After this "fix," there were still too many inconsistencies in the Legion's timeline and a more permanent solution was manufactured. In the "Glorith reality," Lar Gand (called "Valor" in this reality) took the place of Superboy in every analogous event in Legion history. This left no need for Superboy in the Legion.

It began when Mon-El seemingly killed the Time Trapper, which caused the universe to be rewritten. (Legion v.4 #4) Without the Trapper to keep the power of the sorcerer Mordru in check, Mordru dominated the universe. A group of conspirators rose up and used mystic means to divine the Trapper's fate. Led by Rond Vidar, they cast a spell to install Glorith of Baaldur in the Time Trapper's place. History was recreated as such, with Glorith playing the Trapper's role in the Legion's history. (Legion v.4 #5, Annual #3)

The Legion in this new history was largely the same as the original, and still inspired by a 20th century hero — but it was Lar Gand, now called "Valor." (Legion v.4 Annual #2) Additionally, Supergirl's role in Legion history was assumed by Laurel Gand, a 30th century Daxamite and direct descendant of Valor. (#6)

In the Glorith reality, the Legion did meet Superboy and even visited his native time, unaware that it was actually the Pocket Universe. However, Superboy was only briefly a Legionnaire before his encounter with Superman and tragic death (which occurred in the same way as in the post-Crisis tale, described above). The Legion met the Time Trapper at that time, but assumed he was Glorith in disguise. (Adventures of Superman #491) 2995: The Legion of Super-Heroes Sourcebook, a reference for Mayfair Games' licensed DC Heroes Role-Playing Game, includes an excerpt of Glorith's diary explaining that while her Legion no longer needed Superboy as an inspirational figure, she had been obliged to preserve the existence of the Trapper's Pocket Universe to avoid disrupting Superman's history. The sourcebook was written by Tom and Mary Bierbaum, then the writers of the Legion books, so its contents can probably be considered canon.

Zero Hour + Infinite Crisis

The first mention of the name "Superboy" in post-Crisis continuity. From Adventure Comics #515 (2010); art by Kevin Sharpe and Marc Deering.
The retelling of the Legion's battle with Zaryan, and the death of Lightning Lad. From Adventure Comics #520 (2011); art by Kevin Sharpe.

Changing the Legion's continuity resulted in a certain amount of fatigue among longtime fans, and a general impression among new readers that the Legion was "hard to follow." With 1996's Zero Hour, DC editors used the "Crisis in Time" to completely "reboot" the Legion. Their entire timeline was scrapped and rebuilt from square one. (Legion v.4 #60-61, Legionnaires #17-18, Valor #22-23, Zero Hour #1-0)

The post-Zero Hour Legion did not include a Superboy. Instead this new reality perpetuated the tenet that Lar Gand was their great 20th century inspiration. This Legion remained in publication for ten years until the second great Crisis…

The Crisis on Infinite Earths had left only one DC timeline, and the Infinite Crisis restored the DC multiverse. Fifty-two universes were created by the near-limitless powers of of Alexander Luthor and the Superboy of Earth-Prime. This new multiverse had room for multiple Legions. Now the original Legion (said to be from Earth-0) coexisted with at least two others, from the extinct Earth-247, and from Earth-Prime.

Superman's continuity had also changed incrementally since the first Crisis. After Infinite Crisis, his boyhood history with the Legion was restored. This new continuity was not without its hiccups but essentially, the history of the Legion of Earth-0 was considered largely the same as DC's original Silver Age/pre-Crisis Legion.

There was one complicating factor during this time period in regards to Superboy. DC was in the midst of a court battle with the heirs of Jerry Siegel over the rights to Superboy. During this, the corporation forbade anyone at DC from using the name "Superboy," lest it complicate the litigation. So while teen Clark and the Legion were back together, writers dodged the issue of his name.

The Legion's early days were retold for the post-Infinite Crisis era in the six-part Legion: Secret Origin (2012), but that series did not feature Clark. Bringing Superman to the 30th century was the idea of Ren Daggle, who later became R.J. Brande, founder of the Legion. He hoped that Superman could teach the people tolerance, and so he also founded the Time Institute to develop time travel technology. (Adventure #516)

Young Clark Kent of Earth-0 wore a costume but remained relatively unseen. He was visited by the three founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who traveled back in time to meet their idol, Superman. Instead, they found 14-year-old Clark Kent who was of course, oblivious to his legend. They reluctantly allowed him to return to the future with them, where he visited their clubhouse in 30th century Smallville. He joined the Legion during that trip. (Superman: Secret Origin #2, Action #858)

Clark's first meeting with Lar Gand of Daxam was retold in Action Comics Annual #10 and Superman Annual #14 (2007).

More of his early adventures with the Legion were told in the revival of Adventure Comics, in #515-520 (2010–11). In this story arc, Clark was finally called Superboy again. In this reality, the Legionnaires gave him that name and he flew in space for the first time. (Adventure Comics v.2 #515)

+ Powers

Superboy possessed the same powers as all Kryptonians under a yellow sun: flight, super-strength, super-speed, invulnerability, x-ray vision, heat vision, and freezing breath.

Superboy could survive unaided in space. He was also capable of flying faster than light, allowing him to traverse interstellar distances or even travel through time under his own power (which the post-Crisis Superman could not).

These powers can be negated primarily by red sunlight, kryptonite, and magic.

The Pocket Universe Superboy was as powerful as his pre-Crisis counterpart, which made him considerably stronger than the post-Crisis Superman.

Superboy's costume was made of Kryptonian materials, so it was also invulnerable under a yellow sun. It would lose its invulnerability under red sun radiation, but could protect him if he temporarily lost his powers for other reasons.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:  

  • More Fun Comics #101–107 (1945–46)
  • Adventure Comics #103–380 (1946–69)

» SERIES:

  • Superboy v.1, 230 issues (1949–77)
  • Superboy & the Legion of Super-Heroes #231–258 (1977–79)
  • New Adventures of Superboy, issues (1980–84)