The original concept for the character of “Superboy” was he was Superman as a kid. The idea was supposedly originally pitched by Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster as a new line, but DC declined to go that route, then proceeded to create the younger version of the character anyway while Siegel and Shuster were off in World War II. The two returned and promptly sued their employer, a lawsuit they won, but they also made themselves persona non grata at DC and what damages they gained were eaten up by the legal fees. As it was, the adventures of Superboy, a teenage Clark Kent/Kal-El, continued to be published for many years until the post-Crisis work of John Byrne eliminated that aspect of the character’s history.
But then someone came up with another version of Superboy who lasted for a while and then seems to have vanished.
This Superboy was a product of the Death of Superman story. Superman was killed in battle against Doomsday and before he returned, four replacement Supermen appeared. One of them was a kid who said he was a clone of the original, a refugee from Project Cadmus. He insisted, at first, that his name was “Superman” because what self-respecting teenager wants to be called “Superboy”?
Also, given his fade haircut, leather jacket, shades, and a pieced ear, he was the most 90s possible version of Superman.
But, well, he wasn’t really Superman, and let’s face it, Superman wasn’t staying dead. Once Superman returned, the younger clone was convinced to change his name to “Superboy”. Only later would he be given the Kryptonian name of Kon-El and later still the human name of Connor Kent.
By the by, he wasn’t completely Superman’s clone. Only half of his DNA came from the Man of Steel. Kryptonian DNA was a bit beyond Project Cadmus, so Superboy’s DNA was spliced with a human, ultimately revealed to be Lex Luthor. It also meant he didn’t actually have Superman’s powers. He just had powers that looked like Superman’s powers.
Yes, Superboy’s powers were something called “tactile telekensis,” which basically meant he could move things with his mind but he had to make physical contact with whatever it was. That meant he did things that looked like superstrength, but he wasn’t really moving anything with his muscles as he was with his mind. He could use the power to fly, and he was invulnerable to physical attacks like bullets and punches, but he was vulnerable to things like fire and electricity that weren’t physical. Superboy, as he was known, moved first to Hawaii and then later to the Kent Farm, joining the teams Young Justice and the Teen Titans. It was during that last team that he changed his costume to more of a black T-shirt and jeans look.
You know, it occurs to me that of the original Young Justice line-up, Tim Drake’s Robin is the only one who still seems to be all that active.
At any rate, this Superboy would die in Infinite Crisis, come back from the dead around the time of Final Crisis, and eventually make the leap to the New 52.
And then, oddly enough, when Rebirth rolled around, he disappeared. A new Superboy in the form of Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s son Jon was hanging around, and there must not have been much room for Connor Kent.
Now, there have been a few hints of that Superboy coming back in the pages of, of all things, Detective Comics, but for now, he’s gone. That’s too bad. He even got to be in the Young Justice animated series.
Maybe there’s only room for one Superboy at a time. He’s not the Flash for crying out loud. But for a character that seemed popular enough to get multiple solo series, it sure is odd that he seems to have disappeared with a trace.