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Comic Book / Superboy (New 52)

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We all danced in fire, trapped in this machine...

The ongoing series from DC Comics starring Superboy, otherwise known as Kon-El, following the New 52 continuity reboot. The series began in September 2011, originally written by Scott Lobdell and drawn by R. B. Silva.

Kon-El was one of the clearest examples of a character being completely reimagined for the new continuity, with his history and personality completely changed and started over from the beginning. He is a clone created by the villainous organisation N.O.W.H.E.R.E. as a Living Weapon, emerging from his cloning tube in the first issue and being tasked with hunting down and capturing teenage superheroes. However, it soon becomes clear that he is a lot more self-aware and independent-minded than anyone realised – soon he breaks from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and joins with the Teen Titans, beginning his journey of learning what it means to be a real person and more than just a weapon.

The series underwent a significant Retool following the "Krypton Returns" crossover, with Kon replaced by his progenitor, Jon Lane Kent. The series ended in July 2014 with issue #34, which featured the return of Kon.

Tropes associated with Superboy (vol. 6) include:

  • 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.
  • Become a Real Boy: The basis of Kon's character arc. He starts off the series not understanding things like emotions or even why he would ever want to eat or sleep, but slowly learns to become more human throughout his story and winds up an All-Loving Hero. 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.
  • 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 as the series goes on.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Superboy, in both this series and as one of the heavy hitters of the Teen Titans (New 52) before his Character Development sets in. He's very confident in his ability to trounce any opponent and isn't one to shy away from a good fight. As he grows as a character, this side of him mellows considerably.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Most N.O.W.H.E.R.E. staff treat Kon like a science experiment at best, with almost the sole exception being Dr. Caitlin Fairchild. When he breaks out of his test tube, his first act is to slaughter the scientists in the lab holding him with his Tactile Kinesis.
  • Crossover: Several:
    • The first eight issues of the comic are told in parallel with Teen Titans, written by the same author, which shows the perspective of the teen heroes Superboy is meant to capture for N.O.W.H.E.R.E. The culminates in "The Culling", a crossover story between the series Superboy (in issue #9), Teen Titans and Legion Lost. Issue #10 then continues the crossover with Teen Titans in a story set on Dinosaur Island.
    • Technically not a straightforward crossover, but the end of issue #13 leads directly into a story arc of the series Ravagers, which in turn leads into a story arc of Legion Lost. Each of these are set before issue #14.
    • Issues #14-17 and annual #1 are part of H'el on Earth, a crossover with Superman and Supergirl.
    • Issue #25 is part of Krypton Returns, a sequel story to H'el on Earth that also crosses over with Superman and Supergirl.
    • Issues #26-29 are told in parallel with Teen Titans, while the team is in the future.
  • 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.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first issue strongly implies that Lex Luthor is one of his genetic donors. This turns out not to be the case.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the Blood: Superboy's instinctual affection for farms in rural Kansas.
  • Lack of Empathy: At first. Although in issue #6, Superboy 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: It seems that Superboy's 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.
  • Morality Chain: Enforced by Caitlin Fairchild early on. She believes that Superboy needs someone to teach him right from wrong.
  • 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 Lane Kent and the Post-Crisis Superboy were emotional and extroverted, while Match and Nu 52 Superboy are their stoic and technically superior clones. Jon Lane 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.
  • Object-Shaped Landmass: This comic introduces Mystery Island, shaped like a question mark, which is pointed out to be weird as the characters work to solve the mystery of the isle.
  • 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 Superboy 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: Superboy's eyes glow red when using his tactile kinesis abilities. In the beginning of his series, when he's far less moral and far more liberal in their application, he's quite scary.
  • Ret-Canon: This version of Superboy is much closer to the Conner Kent shown in Young Justice (2010) 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 a clone; and both had very similar attitudes and temperament, especially in their willingness to use overwhelming force and temper control issues.
  • The Stoic: Superboy is largely introspective and calmly rationalizes everything around him.
  • 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 an ability 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: Over the course of the series, Kon develops a moral compass, finds genuine friendships with the Titans, and eventually becomes an All-Loving Hero. A far cry from the emotionless clone with sociopathic tendencies that he started out as.
    • The same thing happens to Jon who, after taking Kon's place in the timeline, undergoes similar character development.
  • Tron Lines: Superboy's suit has these. A black suit with red lines that glow outward from red shoulderpads and a Superman emblem. When Jon takes over as Superboy in the present, he gains these along with Kon's costume.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: A superpowered variation occurs in issue #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: Kon was created to act as an organ donor for Jon's unstable physiology. Once Kon has proven himself to be a stable, functioning clone, Harvest has no need for anything but those organs, and is willing to kill him to get them.