Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Don't worry, the two become friends later[1].
"The adventures of Superman when he was a boy!"
—The original Superboy comic series' Tagline.

Originally, when Superman was created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, he was shown as having debuted as a superhero as a full-grown adult. Eventually, after rejecting a few proposals for such from Siegel and Shuster, someone at DC decided to create the character of Superboy, Superman's adventures as a youth before becoming Superman. This came without input or approval from Siegel (which helped strain the relations between DC and Siegel and Shuster even further). Superboy's first appearance was in More Fun Comics #101 (January-February, 1945).

As shown, Superboy fought crime in and around his small home town of Smallville, and was raised by his foster parents, Ma and Pa Kent. Like his adult self, he also had a secret identity as Clark Kent. Other supporting characters included his best friend, Pete Ross, who had accidentally found Clark's secret and aided him without his knowledge; his female friend next door, Lana Lang, who, like Lois Lane years later, tried to become Superboy's girlfriend and/or find out his secret identity; Smallville's chief of police, Chief Parker; and Krypto, Superboy's pet dog from Krypton.

While some of Smallville's threats came from a rather high number of gangsters and bank robbers, some actual supervillains would also show up, including the Kryptonite Kid and most famously, young Lex Luthor (who was initially friends with Superboy; however, a laboratory accident [one that rendered him bald] and a series of disastrous, humiliating attempts to improve Smallville's life with his inventions -- requiring Superboy to intervene each time -- made him vow that the only way he'd be able to prove his intellectual prowess to the world would be to destroy Superboy... and later, Superman).

In 1958, Superboy was invited by three youths from the 30th century to join their superhero group, the Legion of Super-Heroes, whose stories became a recurring feature (before graduating to their own comic) in Superboy and Superman comics.

Various stories would show how Ma and Pa Kent eventually died shortly after Clark's graduation from high school, an event that affected him greatly, along with Superboy attending college and how he changed his name to Superman.

Then came Crisis on Infinite Earths and the subsequent Post-Crisis Byrne revamp in 1986, which after 40+ years of existence retconned Superboy out of existence. Under Byrne's origin, Superman was once again shown as having started his career as an adult. This caused a Continuity Snarl with the Legion comics, which was fixed by stating that a separate Superboy character was created in a "pocket universe" by the Legion villain known as the Time Trapper just to preserve the Legion's history; the Legion was redirected there every time they traveled to what they thought was Superboy's time. The Pocket Universe became a major recurring storyline for both the Legion and for the Post-Crisis Superman. Pocket Superboy sacrificed himself to save both his universe and the Legion from the Time Trapper. Superman eventually violated Thou Shalt Not Kill to execute the Pocket Universe equivalents of General Zod and his henchmen for killing everyone on their Earth except for the "Matrix" Supergirl. Finally, the editors decreed that the Pocket Universe and its Superboy be written out of continuity altogether (in yet another Cosmic Retcon).

After the early 1990s' The Death of Superman storyline, a new version of Superboy came into existence -- this one an artificially created teenage clone. The character first appeared in The Adventures of Superman #500 (June, 1993), created by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett. Exactly who he is a clone of was retconned, but he is currently a combination of Superman and Lex Luthor. This version eventually was befriended by Superman, who gave him an honorary Kryptonian name, "Kon-El." Kon also met and stayed briefly with Ma and Pa Kent (who no longer were dead in Superman's adult years post-Crisis), where he gained an identity of "Conner Kent".

Several alternate versions of Superboy were also seen over the years (including the aforementioned "Pocket Universe" version). The most prominent one is Superboy-Prime, a formerly heroic alternate-Earth Superboy seen in Crisis On Infinite Earths who reappeared in modern continuity as an Evil Twin of Superman/Superboy. The original Superman-as-a-boy was also restored to continuity for a few years until the start of the New 52.

In the late 2000s-early 2010s, DC Comics fought a legal battle with the surviving family of Superman's creators over the rights to Superboy, which due to a quirk of copyright law might have been reclaimable by them. The Siegel heirs eventually lost their last lawsuit in 2013, but because of it, there was a period of time where DC refused to use the name "Superboy", so Kon-El died, Superboy-Prime was called "Superman-Prime", and the Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon starred a "young Superman" rather than Superboy.

The most recent change in Superboy's status quo came in the aftermath of the Crisis Crossover Flashpoint, as part of the line-wide reboot known as either "The New 52" or "The DCnU". Right now, "Superboy" is a biological experiment of the conspiracy known as N.O.W.H.E.R.E, made from Superman's DNA and that of several others, both human and alien. He is currently being used by them as a living weapon, under the supervision of both "Red", a.k.a. Dr. Caitlin Fairchild (the last survivor of the team of scientists working on him) and Rose Wilson, a young mercenary hired to make sure that he stays under control. This Superboy has Kon-El's tactile telekinesis, but virtually none of the empathy of his earlier incarnation; he just wants to escape N.O.W.H.E.R.E., and he's not picky about what he has to do until he can.

Superboy comic series

Kal-El version:

  • More Fun Comics (1945-1946)
  • Adventure Comics (1946-1962) (as the lead feature), 1962-1969 (as part of the Legion of Super-Heroes feature)
  • Superboy (1949-1973), becomes Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes; Superboy leaves the Legion in 1979
  • Adventure Comics (1977-1978)
  • Superman Family (1978-1979)
  • The New Adventures of Superboy (1980-1984)
  • Superboy: The Comic Book (based on the live-action Superboy series)

Kon-El version:

  • The Adventures of Superman (1993 - 1994, during Reign of the Supermen)
  • Superboy (vol. 4) (1994-2002)
  • Superboy and the Ravers (1996-1998)
  • Adventure Comics (2009 - 2010)
  • Superboy (vol. 5): (2010 - 2011)
  • Superboy (vol. 6): (2011 - ongoing)

Media spinoffs featuring Superboy


  • The 1960s Filmation animated Superman series featured Superboy cartoon segments.
  • Superboy/The Adventures of Superboy (1988-1992 live-action series)
  • Smallville (though this centers around a costumeless teenage Clark Kent)
  • Legion of Super-Heroes features a teenage Clark wearing the Super-costume, but because of the legal issues mentioned above he was called Superman instead of Superboy, as was originally intended.


  • Young Justice (2011 animated series)
  • Season 10 of Smallville
  • While not a direct adaptation, Legion of Super-Heroes has a similar teenage Superman clone called Superman X/Kell-El, who wears a costume similar to Kon-El's.

Tropes associated with Superboy

Clark Kent/Kal-El

  • Already Met Everyone: He even met Batman and the first Robin.
  • Alternate Universe: The post-Crisis Pocket Universe and pre-Crisis Earth-Prime versions of Superboy (both young Clark Kents).
  • Blond Brunette Redhead: Lois and Lana Lang are 2/3rds of this.
  • In a story (based on a script from the Superboy Live Action TV series that wasn't, apparently) Superboy flies out into space in order to make a home movie type film to show his friend that the friend's father was a hero during the war. Superboy goes faster than light so he can film the light coming from earth which shows what happened in the past.
  • Comic Book Time: The pre-Crisis Superboy's time-era varied over the decades as taking place in the relative past of Superman, and thus the Boy of Steel was shown as operating in The Thirties, The Fifties (largely skipping The Forties), The Sixties, and even The Seventies (by the end of Superboy's pre-Crisis run/the 1985 "Superman: The Secret Years" miniseries), until being retconned out of existence in the Byrne Superman revamp.
    • When he was back in continuity for a few years before the New 52 (though with Superboy operating mainly in the Legion's era), Superboy/teenage Clark Kent's time-era was The Nineties (skipping The Eighties).
  • Continuity Snarl: Inverted; while removing Superboy from canon after Crisis didn't affect Superman, it did affect the Legion of Super-Heroes big time.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Legion of Super-Heroes quickly became more popular than Superboy and in each series the two have both shared, have always ended up taking the book away from Superboy.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: Superboy does this in order to remove Luthor's fifth dimensional powers (siphoned off of Mr. Mxyzptlk) in Superboy #131.
  • Multilayer Facade: In #107, Red Kryptonite makes Clark jealous of himself as Superboy. He proceeds to reveal his superpowers and starts doing his fantastic feats openly. Some out-of-town criminals who arrived in Smallville to kill Superboy with Green Kryptonite learn of this and make plans to strike Clark at his home. Eventually the Red K's effect wears off and Clark proceeds to extricate himself from the crisis via the trope. He makes up a story explaining that he knew that the criminals wanted to kill Superboy but didn't know when they'd strike, so he posed as Clark in cooperation with the Kents to force their hand.
  • Put on a Bus/Ret-Gone: He was written out of Superman's backstory as of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  • Spinoff Babies: Probably the first example of this, with Superboy first appearing in 1945's More Fun Comics #101.
  • Super Dickery: A staple. Adventures ranged from Lana Lang constantly getting powers, trying to find out Superboy's identity, or something along the lines of Smallville going through an obesity epidemic due to radioactive milk.
  • The Presidents: He met FDR and John F. Kennedy... both while they were in office.
  • Time Travel: A constant for all Superboys, since the character is closely connected to the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Conner Kent/Kon-El

Superboy, Post-Flashpoint Reboot (New 52)

  1. Left: Kon-El/Conner Kent. Right: Kal-El/Clark Kent