Follow TV Tropes

Following

Comic Book / Superboy

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/superboys_zero_hour.jpg
Don't worry, the two become friends later.note 

"The adventures of Superman when he was a boy!"
— The original Superboy comic series' tagline
Advertisement:

Originally, when Superman was created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, he was shown as having made his superhero debut 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.

Advertisement:

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.

Advertisement:

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, The Man of Steel, 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 everytime 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. Eventually, the editors decreed that the Pocket Universe and its Superboy be written out of continuity altogether (in yet another Cosmic Retcon). Then after Infinite Crisis, Clark's career as Superboy was brought back in Superman: Secret Origin, though only his adventures with the Legion. Then the New 52 Continuity Reboot happened and it was gone again, until it was implied to have been restored in DC Rebirth.

Conner Kent/Kon-El

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 has also been restored to continuity.

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.

After disappearing from DC's comics following the Cosmic Retcon Flashpoint, Conner was announced to be returning as part of the DC Rebirth relaunch. His New 52 history seems to have been removed, while his absence from the universe is noted in the aftermath of Superman Reborn. A future version of Tim Drake from the pre-Flashpoint story "Titans Tomorrow" also makes mention of him to his younger counterpart, who does not recall knowing a Conner. Of course, the Superboy name is already being used by Jonathan Kent (see below), so how this will affect him is not yet known. Conner finally made his in the January 2019 relaunch of Young Justice, revealed to have settled down in Gemworld—where he even acquired a wife and son.

New 52 Superboy

The next 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". 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, 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. 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.

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, in light of the return of the original Conner Kent (who was revealed to have always existed post-reboot).

Jonathan Samuel Kent

See the Jonathan Samuel Kent page for more details.

    open/close all folders 

    Superboy comic series 

Kal-El version:

  • More Fun Comics (1945-1946)
  • Adventure Comics (1946-1962) (the lead feature), 1962-1969 (part of the Legion of Super-Heroes feature)
  • Superboy (1949-1973), becomes Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes in 1973; 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:

Jon Kent version:

    Media spinoffs featuring Superboy 

Kal-El:

  • The 1960s Filmation animated Superman series featured Superboy cartoon segments.
  • 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.

Kon-El:

  • 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.
  • Titans (2018-present) portrayed by Joshua Orpin
  • Reign of the Supermen (2019)

Jonathan Samuel Kent:


Tropes associated with Superboy

    Clark Kent/Kal-El 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/new_adventures_superboy_1_cover.png

  • Already Met Everyone: Superboy met the teenaged versions of Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen, Bruce Wayne, Aquaman, and Lois Lane. Thanks to time travel, he also met the first Robin and Jimmy Olsen.
  • Alternate Self: The post-Crisis Pocket Universe and pre-Crisis Earth-Prime versions of Superboy (both young Clark Kents from Alternate Universes).
  • Bathtub Mermaid: Lori Lemaris, whom Clark meets in college. She is in a wheelchair, but secretly she's a mermaid and spends her time at home in the bathtub. Clark finds out when he peeks at her using his X-ray vision.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Lois Lane and Lana Lang are 2/3rds of this.
  • 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 '30s, The '50s (largely skipping The '40s), The '60s, and even The '70s (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.
    • Following several 2000s storylines that saw his restoration to Post-Crisis continuity (though with Superboy now operating mainly in the Legion's era), Superboy/teenage Clark Kent's time-era became The '90s (skipping The '80s).
    • Superboy's mentioned in the 2017 Bugs Bunny / Legion of Super-Heroes crossover as living in the 21st century, which would put the Boy of Steel's time-era in the 2000s.
  • Continuity Snarl: Inverted; while removing Superboy from canon after Crisis didn't affect Superman, it did affect the Legion of the Super-Heroes big time.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Legion of Super-Heroes was the cause of this for him. They originally appeared as supporting characters in a 1958 Superboy story, then starting in 1962 they appeared as the backup feature in Adventure Comics where Superboy had been the star since 1946. Within a year they had taken over the comic, reducing Superboy to the back up in what had been his title, and not long after solo Superboy stories stopped appearing altogether (though he continued to appear as a member of the Legion). A decade later they repeated the feat when they started appearing in Superboy as a backup feature, which was renamed Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes and eventually just Legion of Super-Heroes as they again took over the comic. Fortunately, this time, Superboy also gained a new solo series, though the Legion made a guest appearance late in its run.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: This happened once due to Superbaby's desire for a pet, as shown on the cover of Superboy #130 on Superdickery here.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: Clark Kent, Lana Lang, Pete Ross, and (until his turn to villainy) Lex Luthor all attended Smallville High.
  • Expy:
  • Incest Subtext: In Superboy #80, Kara travels to the past to meet Superboy, and Clark looks a tad smitten of his cousin. And then you have this scene. In the words of a reviewer "The rather phallic look of the alien ships added a little bit to my 'Clark hopes they could be kissing cousins' theory. I mean ... those ships could have been drawn any shape in the world."
  • The Interregnum: Superboy first appeared late in The Golden Age of Comic Books but really hit his peak in The '50s where he was one of the few superheroes to thrive, holding down two titles when the superhero market generally was at its lowest ebb. Ironically he actually suffered in popularity once the Silver Age dawned and he got Demoted to Extra in the early Seventies thanks to the surge in popularity of The Legion of Super-Heroes.
  • Jerk Jock: Bradley "Bash" Bashford.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: The reason for his creation.
  • Kid Hero: Of course.
  • Letters 2 Numbers: Superboy does this in order to remove Luthor's fifth dimensional powers (siphoned off of Mr. Mxyzptlk) in Superboy #131.
  • Meaningful Rename: Superboy changed his name to Superman at some point during his college years, with several different stories published explaining how this happened. However, all the versions agree that Clark realized he's not a kid anymore, and felt it was time he had a more adult name.
  • Multilayer Façade: 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.
  • Mysterious Protector: In 1981's Superman #362 and #365-366, a flashback to Clark's early days at Metropolis University show he operated in secret as Superboy, to avoid anyone noticing Clark and Superboy both moving from Smallville to Metropolis. During this time, the whole country's abuzz and wondering what city Superboy had moved to. One scene even shows gamblers in Las Vegas making bets on which city the Boy of Steel had picked. The cities guessed at included Metropolis, Gotham City, New York (future home of the Teen Titans), Washington, D.C. (future pre-Crisis home of Wonder Woman), Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit (future home of a short-lived version of the Justice League), New Orleans, and Chicago (a future pre-Crisis home of Supergirl). Oddly, other than Metropolis and Gotham, none of the other fictional DCU cities were guessed at by anyone. Adding to the hype, each city claimed they'd found (false) "proof" of Superboy secretly doing super-feats there. The ex-Smallville Sensation finally comes out in the open, thanks in part to then-reporter Perry White deducing the Boy of Steel was in Metropolis.
  • Put on a Bus/Ret Gone: He was written out of Superman's backstory as of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
    • The Bus Came Back: And brought back following Infinite Crisis. In the mini-series Superman: Secret Origin Clark is depicted as donning his costume for the first time, working in secret (and in costume) as a superhero in and around Smallville, joining the Legion of Super-Heroes as Superboy, and finding Krypto when the super dog lands on Earth.
  • Silicon-Based Life: Superboy had to save a race of silicon-based aliens called the Vulxans in The New Adventures of Superboy #7 (1980).
  • Spinoff Babies: Probably the first example of this, with Superboy first appearing in 1945's More Fun Comics #101.
  • Stern Teacher: The "Super-Teacher from Krypton", a robot designed by Jor-El to teach Superboy how to use his powers responsibly.
  • 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.
  • Superhero Sobriquets: The Boy of Steel, the Boy of Tomorrow (more often in Golden Age stories), and the Smallville Sensation.
  • The Multiverse: An early 80s story (1981's New Adventures of Superboy #15-16) saw Superboy accidentally end up on Earth-2 in its early 1930s, where he met the teenaged Clark Kent of Earth-2. Since the Golden Age/Earth-2 Superman didn't have a Superboy career, Clark was merely a youth living on his adoptive parents' farm outside Smallville, though he was still learning about his developing powers.
  • The Only One: Superboy was not only Earth-1's first prominent superhero, but also largely its only one during his day, with other superheroes not appearing until (at earliest) sometime during his college years, when he became Superman. The only other major hero operating during Superboy's time-era was the teenaged Aquaman (or "Aquaboy").
    • While that's largely true (most of DC's Golden Age heroes officially lived on Earth-2, and it was frequently lampshaded that Superboy inaugurated Earth-1's superheroic age), there were a few other early heroes, mostly ones who had to have existed on Earth-1 for their legacy carriers to make sense. An encounter with Zatanna's father Zatara the Magician taught Clark that he had no special defense against magic. The original Guardian and the Newsboy Legion defended Metropolis's Suicide Slum back in the Forties, decades before the Guardian's clone and the Newsboys' sons would team with Jimmy Olsen. And the Bronze Age Airwave was the son of the Golden Age Airwave.
  • Time Travel:
    • A constant for all Superboys, since the character is closely connected to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
    • 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.

    13/Kon-El/Conner Kent 
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

  • 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.
  • 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 at least one is 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 Universe: Kon-El meets and teams up with the Kal-El version Superboy in several post-Crisis storylines, including "Zero Hour!" 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).
  • 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 (namely, 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). 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 than 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chest Insignia: 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. Once he and Supergirl (Cir-El) are caught in a "walls closing in" Death Trap and Conner compain 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 (Robin) destroys them!
    Superboy: I hate you. I hate you more than anyone I've ever known.
  • Civvie Spandex: Currently the trope poster boy.
  • 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.
  • 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 and become legal.
  • Costume Copycat: Kal-El Superboy initially accuses Kon-El Superboy of such in their Zero Hour! 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 kept the jacket, earring and shades (although with a new design and color scheme), but his hairstyle was radically changed since a fade had been way past dated by that point and he had Fingerless Gloves instead of his bulky red ones. 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 following the late 2000s.
  • Family Theme Naming: Possibly not intentional, but his civilian name, Conner, is an occupational surname, like Clark's name.
  • Fingerless Gloves: His second streamlined costume dropped the red gloves and instead had his sleeves end in these.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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's, born 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.
    • 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!" 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.
  • Mix-and-Match Man: Conner is a clone made of DNA from both Superman and Lex 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 vs. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 has made it clear that Conner has been wiped from history, though both Superman and Tim's current iterations have realized someone is missing and Tim and Steph are trying to figure out what happened to the timeline to erase someone named Conner.
  • 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 for his cheek and 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.
  • 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.

    Kon-El (New 52) 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/sb_cv4_aksdhjfas6df98asd.jpg

  • Amazonian Beauty:
    • Dr. Caitlin Fairchild, who is drawn with far more muscular frame than back in her Gen¹³ days.
    • The unnamed female antagonist in Issue #3 also counts.
  • Anti-Hero: 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 seems to be steering him towards being a Knight In Sour Armor.
    • While he still has his issues, he quickly becomes a full blown 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's been getting better about it.
  • 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, 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: While not technically an expy, this version of Superboy has attitudes more in line and a temperament much closer to the Conner Kent shown in Young Justice, especially in his willingness to use overwhelming force and temper control issues, though his tendency to kill and torture is unique (and in any case it goes away fairly quickly).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Telekinesis: 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 Kyptonyan powers.
  • 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
  • Reverse Mole: Umber, who is a spy for Lois Lane.
  • 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.

Top

Example of:

/

Feedback