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Kon-El/Conner Kent/Superboy

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/conner_kent_001.jpg
Click here to see Kon's original suit: 

"I can't say this to anyone, but there's a part of me that thinks they're all going to die — and I'm going to get kicked up into the big leagues, like it or not. I know. Thinking about promotions while they knit together Green Lantern's ribs — stepped in shallower puddles, right? But I can't help it. I keep seeing me and my guys on that front line, but the kick of it is — we don't come back either."
Kon regarding the war with Imperiex on Apokolips
After the early 1990s' The Death of Superman storyline, a new version of Superboy came into existence—this one a teenage clone artificially created by Project Cadmus. 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"; later, when staying with Ma and Pa Kent (who no longer were dead in Superman's adult years post-Crisis), he also adopted the human name "Conner Kent".

When Superman returned to life, Superboy initially settled in Hawaii and became the state's resident superhero protector. During this period he had several encounters with the (rebooted) Legion of Super-Heroes and became a reserve member, and also briefly joined a team known as the Ravers. Eventually he ended up going back to work at the now-reformed Project Cadmus, and also became a founding member of Young Justice. After his association with Cadmus ended in the aftermath of the Our Worlds at War event, he briefly relocated to Suicide Slum in Metropolis before finally going to live on the Kent farm. Soon after, Young Justice disbanded and he became a member of the Teen Titans. He also had a brief stint as a regular member of the Legion while marooned in the 31st century.

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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.

In the late 2000s, 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 can be reclaimed by them (though a subsequent ruling has stated that DC can claim rights to the concept of Superboy, the teenage clone of Superman even if the Siegel/Shuster estates have rights to the Superman-as-a-boy version of Superboy). The effect of this lawsuit has been that DC refused to use the name "Superboy", so Kon-El died, Superboy-Prime was called "Superman-Prime", and the Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon stars a "young Superman" rather than Superboy. The lawsuit is not yet over, but DC felt they could use the name again, so Kon-El is back, and Superboy-Prime gets to be called that again.

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Kon-El was substantially rebooted following the Cosmic Retcon Flashpoint, in history and personality, to the point where he was essentially an entirely different character. When Superman's pre-Flashpoint history was restored to the timeline in the aftermath of Superman Reborn, Conner was notable for his complete absence. This became a plot point when a future Conner Kent was shown to exist in the "Titans Tomorrow" timeline (which originated pre-Flashpoint) but the present-day Red Robin didn't recognise the name "Conner", with the strong implication that everyone's memories of him had been erased. Conner finally made his return in Young Justice (2019), which revealed he had been marooned in the alternate reality Gemworld during Flashpoint and so had missed the Cosmic Retcon entirely.


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    Post-Crisis 
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Played with. While he's followed by quite a bit of chaos Experiment 13 is actually the luckiest of the attempted Superman clones as 01 through 12 were failed cloning attempts. There are a number of civilians who try to flee when they see him around though due to his Destructive Savior tendencies so at least early on others may feel being around him is bad luck.
  • Adaptational Badass: During Convergence, Superboy is placed against three heroes from the Kingdom Come universe: Red Robin, The Flash, and Superman. He takes out the former two easily, and all three are arguably superior to their modern versions (we take a moment to remind readers that, in Kingdom Come, the Flash essentially became the embodiment of the Speed Force).
  • Afraid of Doctors: In Geoff Johns' Teen Titans, he and Beast Boy have a phobia of doctors, due to both of them being experimented on as kids.
  • Afraid of Needles: Superboy is afraid of needles due to his past as an experimental subject and the fact that it means he has to consciously or has unconsciously lowered his TTK field leaving him vulnerable in order to allow a needle to go through his skin. It was this fear that John's ramped up to make him afraid of doctors entirely.
  • Alliance of Alternates: Kon-El teams up with the other versions of Superboy Black Zero had captured to disable Black Zero, who is an evil alternate of the Superboys that were created at Cadmus. Not all of the alternate Superboys are alternate versions of Kon-El as some are young versions of Kal-El and one is a clone of an alternate Supergirl.
  • Alliterative Family: When Superman says he considers him family and Superboy finally gets a name the name Kal gives him is Kon-El, which fits nicely with Kal-El and Kara Zor-El.
  • Alternate Timeline Ancestry: He and the New 52 Superboy are essentially the same person, despite his lineage coming from Superman and Lex Luthor, while the latter is a clone of a future son of Lois Lane and Superman.
  • Alternate Universe: Kon-El meets and teams up with the Kal-El version Superboy in several post-Crisis storylines, including "Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!" and "Hypertension."
  • Amazon Chaser: His love interests include Knockout, Sparx, Triad/Triplicate Girl, Cassandra Cain and Wonder Girl.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Several issues of Superboy Vol. 4 start with a dream of Superboy's detailing something he's anxious about, usually with the situation becoming much worse in bizarre ways than what would actually occur which wakes him up.
  • Appropriated Appellation: In his early appearances, he insisted on being called Superman. It wasn't until Superman returned from the dead and told Kon that he'd be honored to let Kon use the name "Superboy" that he started to take to it. And even then, the new Superboy told Big Blue, "When I turn 21... watch out."
  • Arch-Enemy: Superboy-Prime. He hates Conner calling him a fake Superboy.
  • Artificial Human: Kon-El and many others in Cadmus like the young Newsboys were created by the project and Kon started out as a modified entirely human clone of Paul Westfield before his origin was retconned.
  • Attention Whore: He started out doing everything he could to stay in the limelight and on the news for the perfectly good reason that Cadmus would have made him disappear if they could have gotten away with it. They tried to quietly kidnap/kill him despite him making sure the public was well aware of his existence and only stopped when threatened by Superman after Supes had to save the kid.
  • Back from the Dead: Killed off in Infinite Crisis, resurrected in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds. Brainiac 5 used the Kryptonian technology that reanimated Superman after he was killed by Doomsday, combined with a lock of Lex Luthor's hair to bring him back to life to help them in the fight against Superboy-Prime and his new Legion of Super-Villains.
  • Bald of Evil: In Teen Titans, he shaved his head bald before going on an insane killer rampage and beating up the entire rest of the team. This was due to a mental command which was placed in his brain from after he was cloned in Cadmus.
  • Blond, Brunette, Redhead: He once had a Love Dodecahedron between Tana Moon (brunette), Roxy Leech (blonde) and Knockout (redhead).
  • Blue Is Heroic: The titular hero Kon-El is associated with the color blue, which wraps around his torso and arms in his costumes.
  • Born as an Adult: In his first appearances he appears to be a teen over the age of 15 but is only months old.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: As with his "dad", he's a prime target for this trope. Happened to him when he was with the Young Justice as well as another time when Poison Ivy used him for this purpose. His entire purpose for being created by Lex Luthor was to act as a sleeper agent in the superhero community, and the Black Lanterns attempted to take control of him again. Fortunately, by this time, Superboy had trained himself to retain some measure of control even while brainwashed.
  • Broad Strokes: The version of Superboy we see in Convergence is largely based on the late-'90s version where he lived at Cadmus. However, there are a few alterations. Namely, he possesses a smattering of Kryptonian powers that he never possessed during that era: Super Speed, X-Ray Vision and Freeze Breath, the latter of which was notably the last Kryptonian power he awakened during the Teen Titans era (which itself came much later); possibly justified in that a year has passed under the dome. The Info Dump at the end of the book also glosses over exactly whom Superboy is cloned from: while Paul Westfield is mentioned, it's simply stated that he mixed Kryptonian DNA with human, which is quite different from the original story.
  • Brought Down to Badass: When he temporarily loses his powers he does not stop being a hero, he just uses gadgets instead.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • During 2015's Convergence event, this version of Superboy (from the era in which he lived at Cadmus and still wore the original costume, earring and shaved fade) returned as part of a multiversal crossover.
    • In Young Justice (2019) the rest of the Core Four realize their friend has been erased from history and set out to find him. They discover Kon on Gemworld after which he rejoins the reformed Young Justice.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": "We really need to get a Titans Jet or something. Not that I don't like holding your hand, Robin — but I don't."
  • Call to Agriculture: When Conner arrived in Gemworld he became a farmer as well as pretending to be the husband of the widow who took him in after he helped her. He even mentions what Pa Kent said.
  • Character Development: Over the years, he grows from an immature, egotistical teen into a mature and responsible young man, particularly after he learned of having Lex Luthor's DNA. Also living with John and Martha Kent turned him into a Nice Guy. Makes a lot of sense since they raised the original Superman as well.
  • Chest Insignia: The S-Shield. During one storyarc, Supergirl (Matrix) telekinetically ripped it from his chest (without damaging the costume) because he wasn't behaving like someone who deserved to wear it.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Just some examples in Superman/Batman. In Public Enemies, he and Supergirl (Cir-El) are caught in a "walls closing in" Death Trap and Conner compains that would have preferred if there was Power Girl with him. Another occasion, he find some sexbots of the female Teen Titans, belonging to the teenage Toyman (not the original villainous version); Conner clearly enjoys... until Tim Drake destroys them.
    Superboy: I hate you. I hate you more than anyone I've ever known.
  • Civvie Spandex: He uses to wear a leather jacket over his spandex suit.
  • Clark Kenting: As Conner Kent since he uses the name to finally develop a secret identity but then switches to jeans and a t-shirt, the same thing he wears as the civilian Conner, for his supersuit.
  • Cloning Blues: He falls into this occasionally, after several years of being Totally Radical.
  • Clothing Damage: Superboy failing to properly protect his jacket with his TTK causes a running gag where the thing is constantly destroyed, his underlying costume is also damaged rather frequently.
  • Comic-Book Time: One story during Reign of the Supermen specifically references Bill Clinton as POTUS. Furthermore, in the time since he was created, babies born within the same month have grown up into adults.
  • Copied the Morals, Too: This version of Superboy was retconned to be a sleeper clone created by Lex Luthor using a combination of his own DNA as well as Superman's. Despite being conditioned to obey Luthor, Superboy desired to be a hero like Superman and rejected Luthor's purpose for him.
  • Costume Copycat: Kal-El Superboy initially accuses Kon-El Superboy of such in their Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! crossover meeting in Superboy #8, before learning the truth about what's going on.
  • Darker and Edgier: Once he learned that he was made with Lex Luthor's DNA, the cocky, brash hero got much angstier.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Kal-El got the name Kon-El from a Kryptonian friend and honorary cousin of Jor-El's that died with the planet.
  • Destructive Saviour: Especially in his early years. He destroys so many cars and street tops that the people of Hawaii are not immediately concerned when he goes missing, thinking it might be a good thing for the islands. He was also kicked out of school after a fight on campus destroyed a good portion of it.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: "Y'know — like Superman? The Last Son of Krypton! Feared and respected across the universe! C'mon — that's supposed to intimidate you! Work with me here!"
  • Evil Knockoff: Match
  • Eye Beams: He eventually develops Kryptonian heat vision.
  • Fad Super: He was created to be a Totally Radical reimagining of the "kid Superman" concept.
    • In his debut, he had a buzzcut fade, a hoop earring, a leather jacket (which nearly every hero had at the time), sunglasses, and a costume that invoked Too Many Belts. He of course, used hip slang and made constant references to pop culture.
    • His next costume gave his jacket a new design with a red-and-blue color scheme, redesigned his earring and shades, gave him a more fashionable haircut and replaced his large-cuffed gloves with streamlined fingerless gloves. His slang got slightly toned down as well, but was still in use.
    • The third costume (which he kept up until the reboot of the New 52) was an extensive overhaul. It ditched the jacket, skintight costume, earring, shades and Totally Radical attitude (the Civvie Spandex look took a heavy turn toward "civvie", with a t-shirt and jeans). Instead, he became more dark, brooding, and angsty, which became popular around the mid-2000s.
  • Family Theme Naming: Possibly not intentional, but his civilian name, Conner, is an occupational surname, like Clark's name.
  • Fun Personified: Superboy is for the most part a bouncy cheerful teen who is always looking for fun and trying to get everyone around him to have fun.
  • Flying Brick: His original abilities were "programmed" to mimic Superman's as closely as possible, including flight, deflecting bullets and mimicking Super Strength through Telekinesis and over time he developed the usual Kryptonian power set allowing him to find more creative uses for his telekinesis.
  • Freudian Trio: The Ego to Bart's Id and Tim's Superego. Lampshaded in Young Justice.
  • Fun Personified: Before going Darker and Edgier as Conner Kent.
  • Go-to Alias: Before adopting the name Conner Kent, he would use the name "Carl Krummet" whenever he needed to pass as a normal human. In the very first appearance of the "Conner Kent" name, in an issue of Batgirl, he notes that it's more fun being Carl than being Conner.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Retconned into this during the Teen Titans run. Originally, it was stated that he was a human clone modified to mimic Kryptonian genes.
  • Hate at First Sight: In Convergence, this is how the Kingdom Come heroes see him. Where they come from, brash, arrogant young punks are the blight of the world.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With both Tim Drake and Bart Allen.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: The comics version is the biological mix of Superman and Lex Luthor. Yeah.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Luthor brainwashes him just before Infinite Crisis.
  • Hot-Blooded: He is described as what happens when you take the power of Superman and give it to someone far less reserved.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: He went through this during his early years concerning his Tactile Telekinesis. As he escaped Cadmus without being trained in what he had, he didn't know the extent of his powers and floundered his way through things, especially as he had no idea how to make things explode when he touched them.
  • Hypocrite: In Teen Titans #100, he came to the conclusion that the only way to deal with the three clones of himself created by Superboy-Prime was to murder them with kryptonite he'd been keeping in his room as a fail safe, despite all the heartache and angst he'd been going through ever since he learned he was cloned from Lex Luthor and fearing that he may have been evil all along.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Bart to Conner, just before Infinite Crisis, and then Cassie to Conner, during Blackest Night.
  • Innate Night Vision: One of his eye based powers.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: At the peak of his popularity, Conner was one of the Main Events of Marvel Vs DC. He lost to Spider-man (Ben Reilly).
  • Kid A Nova: Girls whom he's dated or have been attracted to him include: Tana Moon, Roxy Leech, Knockout, Sparxx, all THREE of Triad/Triplicate Girl's split selves, Cassandra Cain, Dr. Sterling Roquette, Wonder Girl, Kara Zor-El (Pre-Crisis), Lori Luthor, and Poison Ivy. Especially when you consider that he was only born a few years ago.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: His adventures were largely designed to be a cooler, hipper, Hotter and Sexier version of Clark Kent's.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire, electricity and other forms of intense energy were originally his biggest weaknesses, as his tactile telekinesis only worked if he was able to physically touch an object. At first, even touching a heated object could severely burn him. However, through training, he gained enough control to be able to withstand hot substances like lava, and slowly built up Damage Reduction to heat and energy in general. After his Kryptonian abilities kicked in, he now had Nigh-Invulnerability like Superman and no longer needed to worry.
  • Kissing Cousins:
    • This one is complicated. Back when they first met, Kon-El and Supergirl II/(Matrix) were not related, and Superboy used to hit on Matrix with impunity. He also later enjoyed mutual flirtation with the Pre-Crisis Kara Zor-El when she was torn from time and space. Most subtext between the two was dropped when it was realized that Superboy is Superman's "offspring", but in the Blackest Night crossover, a Black-Lantern-ring-possessed Superboy taunts Wonder Girl (his girlfriend at the time) by saying that when he's alone, it's his "cousin" he fantasizes about. Conner himself is horrified by what his possessed self is saying, but doesn't exactly deny it. And then there's the Power Girl thing, though that's rarely gone beyond a few jokes.
    • Later on, there was Lori Luthor, who was actually disappointed that he saw her as a cousin.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Like Superman he is as vulnerable to Kryptonite and magic.
  • The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort: He has Psychic Powers that work both subconsciously and with effort.
    • His original abilities were "programmed" to mimic Superman's as closely as possible, including deflecting bullets and mimicking Super Strength through Telekinesis. They turn "off" completely when he's asleep or unconscious, making him as vulnerable as a normal human.
    • He eventually takes effort to break the subconscious "rules' for his power so that he can use them in other ways, such as moving something as large a ship or as light as air vapor with his mind.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Between Kal-El Superboy and Kon-El Superboy in the "Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!" crossover (as this page's picture indicates).
  • Loophole Abuse: "But Batman never said anything about your teammates, right? Never a mention of Young Justice steering clear of Gotham or you'd be waxing the Batmobile?"
  • Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me: Hey, has Kon-El mentioned that he has tactile telekinesis? Because he does.
  • Manchurian Agent: Part of the arc where he discovers Lex Luthor shares half of his DNA which enabled Lex to use him via this trope as well as the Brainwashed and Crazy trope.
  • Mind over Matter: At first, Superboy's only superpower was "tactile telekinesis", a telekinetic force field that surrounds his body as a protective shield and allows him to simulate Superman-level speed, strength, flight and invulnerability. The tactile "tactile telekinesis" field also lets Superboy break free of an opponent's grip by pushing the field outward to force the opponent away.
    • The powers of the version from the Bad Future of the Titans Tomorrow story arc are upgraded from tactile telekinesis to full-blown telekinesis in the interim, which pretty much gives him the combined power of Superman and Phoenix, save only the Telepathy.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: Conner is a clone made of DNA from both Superman and Lex Luthor.
  • Morally Superior Copy: Conner Kent falls under this, in addition to Copied the Morals, Too, as he is a clone of both Superman and Lex Luthor. Luthor believed that the clone possessing his genes would be both easier to control and behave more like a "Luthor" than Superman. For added insurance, he also subconsciously conditioned the clone to act as a Manchurian Agent that he could directly control. But Superboy's desire to be a hero like Superman was far stronger than whatever was imprinted on him by Luthor.
  • Must Not Die a Virgin: Conner and Cassandra's last night together before the conclusion of Infinite Crisis. Also counts as Their First Time.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: During his Darker and Edgier years, he's all about this trope. In the earliest years, his "daddy" was Paul Westfield and later, it was retconned to be Lex Luthor instead. Neither of them are very nice people. So, Superboy constantly questions whether he was destined to become good or evil based on the genes provided by Superman or his human father.
  • Nice Guy: Not at first. The kid had a serious chip on his shoulder. But with a lot of Character Development and influence from Jon and Martha Kent, he eventually became as kind and caring as Clark albeit Younger and Hipper.
  • Never Given a Name: While he had a designation prior to Kal-El bestowing a name on him it was never treated as a name and he never responded to it since those using it considered him disposable property rather than an individual. When Superman finally gave him a name Kon cried with joy, as it reaffirmed him as a person with his own rights and the name placed him firmly in Superman's own family.
  • Not Growing Up Sucks: To clone him, a group of evil scientists "unzipped" his DNA, thus causing Superboy to slowly degenerate. The only way Cadmus's scientists could stop it was to halt his aging at physically 16 years old. Afterward, they couldn't find the aging genome to turn it back on until some time later, during the Young Justice Crisis Crossover "Sins of Youth," when the spell that aged the rest of his teammates to adults started tearing him apart at the genetic level once again. Cadmus reactivated Superboy's aging, only to have him lose all his powers when the aging spell was lifted.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Before Superman gave him a Kryptonian name and then an earth name, both of which placed Kon in his family, Superboy didn't have a name outside of a nickname or a number.
  • Only Sane Man: In Convergence: Superboy #1, Dubbilex narrates that Superboy is the only person in the domed Metropolis who hasn't moved on and accepted their new life.
  • Pretender Diss: Constantly on the receiving end of this from anyone who knows or knew of Superman. The worry of not living up to the name is Conner's biggest fear.
  • The Power of the Sun: Like Superman, derives his Kryptonian powers from the absorption of solar energy from the Earth's yellow sun.
  • Properly Paranoid: His concern about Cadmus wanting their incomplete experiment off the streets is brushed off as him being ridiculous, but Superman ends up rescuing him from a kidnapping attempt and Guardian makes it clear that Superman's reassurances that Cadmus isn't trying to kill or lock S.B. up don't fit with reality. Superman quickly lets Cadmus know S.B. is under his protection in response.
  • Puberty Superpower: Also like Superman he develops his Kryptonian powers as he ages, starting out with only his tactile telekinesis which comes from his human DNA.
  • Raised in a Lab: In his New 52 origins, Superboy was raised in a lab as an Artificial Human with Superman's DNA and later released as a Human Weapon.
  • Really Was Born Yesterday: He set out to be a superhero at a very young age, it helps that Cadmus created him as a teen.
  • Retcon: Superboy was initially 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 as a Kryptonian/human hybrid of Superman and Lex Luthor.
  • Ret-Gone: DC Rebirth stated that Conner was wiped from history, though various people vaguely remembered him. The reformed Young Justice managed to find him and bring him back to the main reality, although he was still considered a stranger. Dark Nights: Death Metal then finally restored his complete history to continuity.
  • Secret Project Refugee Family: Kon-El is considered like a cousin to the newsboys' clones' makeshift family as a fellow Cadmus clone whom they helped escape.
  • Secret Public Identity: Superboy initially has no secret identity and until Superman gives him a name he's just "Superboy" or "The Kid". He even goes to school as Superboy.
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: Early on, and mostly at Rex Leech's prompting, S.B. does everything he can to promote himself, in order to make himself enough a part of the public consciousness that Cadmus can't grab him and lock him back up in a lab for the rest of his life without causing a public outcry.
  • Signature Move: Kon frequently lets attackers with super strength pin him to the ground so he can use his TTK to push off it and fling them far away. He does this less and less and he further refines his control to be able to use his TTK in more effective and less direct ways, and once his Kryptonian powers come in he rarely has need to supplement his strength this way.
  • Skipping School: In Superboy (1994) he gets detention for repeatedly skipping school in order to do hero work.
  • Stepford Smiler: Long before his mopey out of left field Teen Titans days Kon-El would occasionally show that he was deeply concerned about his origin, freedom, the rights of clones and living up to Superman's legacy despite his near constant light hearted antics during the period. Heck, even before he got his own book he showed signs of his hidden turmoil when Superman had to rescue him from the underworlders and the only way for him to get answers as to his creation without being locked back up in Cadmus was for Superman to accompany him and threaten Cadmus to keep their hands off him.
  • Suicide by Sea: When he realizes he can't take out Knockout in a regular fight he uses his TTK to pin both of them to the sinking island they're on in order to drown. Luckily she passes out before him so he's able to hand her to the authorities for arrest instead.
  • Super Powered Date: He's done this numerous times. Most notably for Cassandra Cain (where he built a castle in the sky made out of clouds), and Cassie Sandsmark, where he levitated a picnic bench during a romantic dinner.
  • Superpower Lottery: During Teen Titans, Superboy developed Kryptonian powers including heat vision, x-ray vision and super-hearing. He also developed Kryptonian invulnerability and super strength as shown when he battled the hugely powerful Superboy-Prime.
  • Super Strength: As stated above Kon-El developed Kryptonian super strength as he aged, and could mimic super strength using his TTK before that.
  • Super Toughness: Prior to developing Kryptonian powers as he aged Kon claimed to be invulnerable already, due to his use of his TTK field as a personal force field, though he was still shown to be less invulnerable than Superman. He could also wrap this field around others so long as he was touching them but was just as vulnerable as a normal human when asleep or other times the field was down.
  • Surfer Dude: Kon-El learns to surf while living in Hawaii and incorporates some surfer lingo and local pidgin into his already odd vocabulary.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • He decides this is the only way to deal with Knockout, but since she passes out before him he's able to hand her over to the authorities for arrest instead.
    • This becomes straight in the fight Conner has with Superboy-Prime where he grabs him and smash to the Anti-Monitor tower in Infinite Crisis, also making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Tears of Joy:
    • After Kal-El bestows him with the name Kon-El he tears up out of joy at being given his own name outside of a designation (13), superhero name (Superboy), or nickname (The Kid, S.B.).
    • Infinite Crisis: After realizing his Heroic Sacrifice of destroying the Anti-Monitor tower brings back the world and multiverse to normality.
    Cassie: You did it, Conner. You saved Earth. You saved everyone.
    Conner: I know, Cass. (a tear falls from his cheek and he smiles) Isn't it cool?
  • Temporal Mutability: Continuity seems to place it somewhere between Types I - IV. The modern Superboy technically became a time traveler, every bit as out of place in this era as Booster Gold. His "current" self is still a corpse, slowly recovering within the Fortress of Solitude. Kon-El is careful not to disturb the body resting there, as he isn't quite sure what will happen to himself if he does. Other than that, though, the DC universe's rules on time travel are malleable enough to allow Conner to exist in the present without worrying too much about screwing up the timestream.
  • The Bus Came Back: The one true Conner Kent, not the New 52 Kon-El, is finally returning to the DC Universe and reforming Young Justice with Tim Drake, Bart Allen, and Cassie Sandsmark as part of the new Wonder Comics imprint.
  • There Was a Door: Early on he had a bad habit of entering and exiting buildings through walls, though he only really did so during fights when he was in a hurry.
  • They Would Cut You Up: The Agenda certainly would, and does. What they do to him in order to create Match nearly kills him several times over despite Cadmus and S.T.A.R. Labs scientists working to save his life.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Kon-El believes very much in operating on this principal but comes close to breaking it to deal with Knockout, thinking the only way to do so is to take her out with himself before finding a way around it and later shows that when the situation is grave enough he follows it more closely to it's original meaning of thou shall not murder even if he detests killing.
  • Throwing Your Shield Always Works: During the brief period Kon was without powers he used a thrown shield to destroy some slave collars and take out bad guys as trained to by Guardian. Unlike many examples that take from Captain America and return like a boomerang Kon always had to go grab the thing from wherever it landed instead.
  • Time Travel: Like Kal-El, Conner has had many adventures with the Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • Totally Radical: He started out like this, and even had good excuses like being regularly exposed to Hawaiian pidgin and surfer lingo, before he was retooled into Mr. Cloning Blues.
  • The Trope Kid: Before the original Superman returned while he was still refusing to be called Superboy he was called the Metropolis Kid.
  • True Companions: With Tim Drake, Bart Allen and Cassandra Sandsmark.
  • Two-Donor Clone: Is a clone of Superman with human DNA since the Kryptonian DNA was two complicated. At first the human half came from Paul Westfield of Cadmus but was later retcon to Lex Luthor.
  • The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: He once tussled with Spider-man (Ben Reilly) during the Marvel Vs DC event.
  • Unequal Pairing: Knockout, who is much older and has inserted herself into Superboy's life as a trainer/teacher in order to try to corrupt him and turn him into her lackey, and the less than a year old "teenaged" Superboy.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: Superboy finds himself being used as an unwilling experimental subject by Agenda.
  • Utility Belt: After Kon loses his powers he keeps crimefighting gadgets in a utility belt and uses his Legion ring to fly.
  • Valley Girl: Kon starts out as an unquestionable male example even though he was like grown in a jar in Metropolis and never lived in the valley. Presumably he picked up the mannerisms through the Neural Implanting Cadmus did, and he definitely cares quite a bit about fashion.
  • The Villain Knows Where You Live: Kon starts to realize that this a significant downside to having no secret identity.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: S.B. was attending Ilupani High School while working as Hawaii's hero and found himself in trouble when school caught up to and surpassed the knowledge Cadmus had implanted in his brain. He got kicked out for unrelated reasons soon after but his school teachers still expect him to keep up with at home schooling. This later is also seen in vol.5 where he attends Smallville High School after being revived in Final Crisis.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The Kid does not like sharks. They're not really physically a problem for him but this interactions with King Shark have left him unnerved by actual sharks.
  • Win Your Freedom: On the Wild Men's island Superboy wins his freedom in a contest.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Several of Superboy's defeats and near defeats are only able to happen because he's already injured or ill.
  • Working Through the Cold: While suffering degeneration from Agenda's experiments he continues to act as "Hawaii's Hero". Unfortunately this only accelerates the issue till he can't even stand on his own and has to be rushed to Cadmus to save his life.
  • X-Ray Vision: One of the last powers he develops.
  • You Are Number 6: Conner Kent was designated "S-13" at Cadmus, in relation to being the thirteenth (and only successful) clone of Superman.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good!: The Kid's irritated response to realizing Knockout has been playing him for a fool.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After realizing just how wrong he was about Knockout her subsequent approval of his violence while fighting her does not make him pleased.
  • Younger than They Look: As a result of being made as a teenager he starts his series much younger than he looks.
    New 52 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sb_cv4_aksdhjfas6df98asd.jpg
Superboy was given a very different origin in the aftermath of the Crisis Crossover Flashpoint, as part of the line-wide reboot known as either "The New 52" or "The DCnU". This Superboy was 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. Or so we were told: he is eventually revealed to be a clone of Superman and Lois Lane's child Jon Lane Kent from the same future the leader of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. comes from. He was 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.

At first, this Superboy had virtually none of the empathy of his earlier incarnation; he just wanted to escape N.O.W.H.E.R.E., and was not picky about what he has to do until he could. After succeeding in his escape, a stint with the Teen Titans and undergoing a series of humbling adventures and ordeals, he became considerably more heroic. Afterward, he was Put on a Bus with his whereabouts and status unknown.


  • Adaptation Name Change: To the extent that he's the same character as Conner, it's notable that he's never named that. The only name he has is "Superboy". When he gets called "Kon" by Supergirl, it turns out to be a Kryptonian Fantastic Slur, because Kryptonians really don't like clones, though it becomes an Appropriated Appellation.
  • Alternate Timeline Ancestry: His ancestry is all kinds of muddled up. In addition to being the Alternate Self of the post-Crisis Conner Kent, he's also a clone of Jon Lane Kent, who was the son of Superman and Lois Lane. And since the two of them later merge, it also means he's an Alternate Self to Jonathan Samuel Kent, who is also Superman and Lois's son from different universes (who merged with their alternate selves).
  • Anti-Hero: Initially, of the Nominal Hero kind. This version of Superboy has no interest in heroics beyond what it takes to survive/gain his freedom. Between the first and second issues, he kills many of his captors by reflex and feels no remorse or guilt, tortures a group of soldiers who hold him at gunpoint, and flat out threatens to kill anyone who stands in his way. Issue #4 steers him towards being a Knight in Sour Armor, and he eventually becomes an All-Loving Hero.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: He taught himself to talk and communicate by watching others do it.
  • Bald of Evil: Depending on how you view his "anti-hero" antics, Superboy is this when fresh out of the test tube.
  • Become a Real Boy: His character development seems to be headed in this direction. In fact, he uses these exact words in issue #6.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Superboy and Rose Wilson
    • The fight between Superboy and Wonder Girl in Teen Titans is even more blatant. All the two talk about is how cute they find each other while trying to smear their faces into the sidewalk.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: In addition to the Kryptonian side of his DNA, Superboy states that his "brain" is, in fact, every single atom of his body.
  • Blood Knight: Rose Wilson
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Superboy sometimes has trouble understanding moral issues, as he hasn't really had much time to learn about it. He honestly doesn't understand why robbing a bank gets him complaints.
    • He gets better about it over time, eventually becoming as much of a hero as his father.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Definitely. Rose Wilson even moreso.
  • Bullying a Dragon: How most N.O.W.H.E.R.E. staff and mooks treat Superboy.
  • Cloning Blues: The New 52 version of Superboy. Even more so than his pre-Flashpoint incarnation. Supergirl and H'el treat him like a monster at first because of a clone rebellion in Krypton's past. The name "Kon-El" is Kryptonian for "abomination of the house of El". The only reason he even exists is because Harvest wanted a guinea pig he could experiment on to find a cure for his "son's" (Jonathan Kent, the future son of Superman and Lois Lane) genetic problems. Having apparently done so, Harvest now wants Superboy dead.
    • Unlike H'El, Supergirl got over her hatred (finding out just why the rebellion happened, and helping to lead it, helped), and she even defended him during the storyline "Crucible".
  • Consummate Liar: Zaniel Templar. Superboy acknowledges it, but knows he has to play along.
  • Didn't See That Coming: See "Neck Lift" below.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Becomes a source of angst when he realizes that he can't be around ordinary people without killing them.
  • Expy: Being a Hot-Blooded clone/Artificial Human and a Living Weapon (actually, he was a guinea pig) with enormous Psychic Powers, occasional initial vagueness on morals when it came to things like stealing, '90s Anti-Hero morality that eventually developed into that of an All-Loving Hero and a tempestuous relationship with his counterpart that mellowed out over time, he comes across rather like a version of Nate Grey.
  • Faking Amnesia: Superboy's cover story in the "small town" simulation.
  • False Flag Operation: Templar arranged for one of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s own bases to be attacked in order to set up his agenda.
  • Fiery Redhead: Dr. Caitlin Fairchild. Aka, "Red".
  • Fun with Acronyms: There has been no indication as to what N.O.W.H.E.R.E. stands for.
  • Future Spandex: N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s uniforms, and Superboy's "Containment Suit".
  • Genius Bruiser: Superboy has shown to possess superior intellect to what humans could ever have. His mind works with incredible speeds, and combined with his TTK-powers, it might be one of his greatest assets.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: To blast Argo into space, allowing Kara to escape Krypton. He survives... somehow.
  • Hired Guns: Rose Wilson.
  • In the Blood: Superboy's instinctual affection for farms in rural Kansas.
  • Lack of Empathy: At first. Although in issue #6, he suspects that he's starting to feel a spark of it. By the time his series gets into the twenties, he's got it in full, to All-Loving Hero levels.
  • Mind over Matter: 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. He also uses this to simulate some Kryptonian powers.
  • Mind Screw: the series is perfectly straight forward at first, but the introduction of Jon Lane Kent, the two Superboys switching costumes and being mistaken for one another and a considerable amount of time travel has led to even other characters being confused. There's actually an In-Universe flow chart.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: It's implied that this version of Superboy isn't just Kryptonian and human, but a mix of other alien species. He's eventually revealed to be a clone of Superman and Lois Lane's future child, Jon.
  • The Mole: Umber, who is a spy for Lois Lane.
  • Morality Chain: Fairchild acts as this for Superboy early on. In fact, she insists on it.
  • Mythology Gag: Jon Lane Kent, the son of Superman and Lois from a possible future and template for Superboy, wears a costume that looks a lot like the 90s Superboy costume.
    • Adding on to that, Superboy's status as an opposite morality clone of another Superboy makes him the Nu 52 version of Match. Jon Kent and the Post-Crisis Superboy were emotional and extroverted, while Match and Nu 52 Superboy are their stoic and technically superior clones. Jon Kent was even mentioned as having genetic issues, a common problem for the first version of Kon-El.
  • The Needless: Superboy states that he doesn't need to eat or sleep.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: N.O.W.H.E.R.E.
  • Outlaw Couple: The young couple that appear in issue 3.
  • Neck Lift: Fairchild surprises Superboy with on of these when she Reveals her powers for the first time.
  • Only Sane Woman: Dr. Caitlin Fairchild, the only one who bothers trying to treat Superboy like he's not a thing.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Used at first to help differentiate him from Superman. In the new DC universe it was intended to make him look sinister in comparison to the Teen Titans, but since they also wore a lot of red and black - to the point where if you take away the wings and domino mask and S-shield respectively, it can be quite hard to tell Superboy and Red Robin apart - it didn't really work.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: When using his telekinetic abilities.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: Dr. Caitlin Fairchild
  • Ret-Canon: This version of Superboy is much closer to the Conner Kent shown in Young Justice than he is to his pre-New-52 counterpart. Both were secretly created as a Living Weapon and have to deal with doubt about their personhood; both were shunned by Kryptonians for their status as clones; and both had very similar attitudes and temperament, especially in their willingness to use overwhelming force and temper control issues.
  • Simulated Urban Combat Area: Where Superboy spends the majority of his time after being released from the tank.
  • The Stoic: He's largely introspective and calmly rationalizes everything around him.
    • Not So Stoic: When he starts getting a no-holds-barred beatdown in issue #2.
  • Super Strength: Kon-El displayed strength enough to bench press a couple tons. His upper limit has fluctuated over time however.
  • Superpower Lottery: Subverted. It seems that this Superboy has not yet obtained all of his Kryptonian powers and his only abilities are his tactile telekinesis and a degree of superhuman strength as well as a superhuman healing factor (something Harvest pointed out after Superboy's fight with Grunge) and is even able to bend light around him to turn invisible.
  • Telepathy: Superboy can at least see and erase memories. Though it takes him quite a while to realise that he actually has this.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Thanks to this, Kon's pretty much become a one man Grey-Summers family. After sort-of dying, he teamed up with the original he's cloned from, who had pulled a Heel–Face Turn, after accidentally merging with that original in order to fight a past version of his original who hasn't yet pulled a Heel–Face Turn, then that original seemed to die, which altered the fight with his past self, somehow bringing Kon back to life.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Though it takes him a while, he becomes much, much nicer as time goes by and much more heroic.
    • The same thing happens to Jon.
  • Vitriolic Best Friends: Turns out that Rose and Fairchild are this, to the point that Fairchild left something behind for Rose to find if anything happened to her.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: A superpowered variation occurs in Superboy #10: Superboy calls out that he's started their campfire, but when she doesn't answer, he searches and is stunned to walk in on Wonder Girl (Cassandra Sandsmark) bathing in a lake. Wonder Girl angrily calls him a pervert and tells him to turn around. Superboy turns around, but puts his hand on the ground and smiles. Wonder Girl remembers that he can "see" through what he is touching and angrily throws a rock at the back of his head to get him to cut it out.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Only "Red" thinks of Superboy (who is half-alien and a clone) as a human. (Although Rose may have a soft spot for him, too.)
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Rose Wilson has beautiful white hair, but is an unrepentant Professional Killer and Blood Knight.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Harvest wants him dead for this reason.

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