Comics Ate My Brain

September 15, 2004

Scary Superboy?

Filed under: superman — Tom Bondurant @ 5:02 pm
A big part of my thinking about Superboy — the Kal-El Superboy of Earth-1, that is — involves the general public’s reaction to this flying teenager from the Midwest. If I understand Earth-1 history correctly, Superboy was its first superhero. Contrast that with the Earth-2 Justice Society heroes (Justice Socialites?), who were for the most part in their twenties and thirties when they burst on the scene; or even Marvel’s World War II-era heroes, who were around the same age. In that light, Superboy’s situation on Earth-1 was unusual, if not unique.
Put another way, it’s one thing to see adult men and women dashing around in colorful costumes, performing amazing feats — and it’s quite another to see a kid who can fly, shrug off high explosives, lift tanks, and melt them with his eyes, and realize he’s just going to get older and more powerful. Because those Superboy stories were by definition flashbacks, we know that he made it through puberty without lashing out at the world during some teenaged tantrum, but at the time the world didn’t know he wouldn’t go nuts. (And if he did, who’d stop him…?)
Don’t know how much more this bears exploring, but I’ve already gotten about half a draft of a “Doing Superboy Right” essay written. So there you go.


  1. Actually, both J’onn J’onzz and Captain Comet were considered to be ‘Earth One’ heroes, so they predated Superboy (if only just, in Captain Comet’s case).I’d be interested in reading that essay. I have to say now that I don’t think the answer would be to have Superboy act like a young punk or a conflicted, angry teenager, or even Peter Parker. But maybe I should write my own damn essay.

    Comment by Matthew_Rossi — September 15, 2004 @ 7:42 pm

  2. Actually, the essay I’ve drafted refers to your Superboy/Legion post from back in May, so I hope you like it whenever it does appear!I’ll have to check the timeline with regard to Captain Comet, but I thought he appeared about the same time as J’Onn — shortly before the formation of the JLA.

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — September 15, 2004 @ 7:53 pm

  3. You could be right: it’s been a long time, and I may be remembering some old story where an adult J’onn J’onzz is watching Superboy on TV or something.

    Comment by Matthew_Rossi — September 15, 2004 @ 9:38 pm

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