I was a bit leery of talking about the Man of Steel because so much has been written about Kal-El and there are so many experts on him here. But SUPERBOY? Except for his Legion appearances, very little of the Boy of Steel has been reprinted in the last thirty or so years so, perhaps, I can come up with some decent queries.
Have to recharge! Be Right back!
When did Superboy (of Earth-One) know that he was from Krypton? I know the Golden Age version but was there that moment with young Kal? He did invent a memory-prober so he could recall his life on Krypton as an infant but was there anything that prompted him to do so? In other worlds, when was the first time Krypton appeared in the Superboy features?
Reverse-white Kryptonite created an odd strain of mushroom which the boy of Steel accidentally dropped into Ma Kent's beef stew one day. One unintended vision-quest later, and he knew he was Kryptonian.
One of the quirky parts of the Silver Age Superboy stories was that he built a time telescope so he could view the future. That way he already knew that he would become Superman and learnt about the destines of BATMAN, LOIS LANE and even GREEN ARROW. He encountered an adult Luthor during his time travels. Does that seem right? Should he have that much knowledge of his future. The Legion prevented that in the30th century yet he had free rein to do so in the 20th.
Super short-term memory.
Obviously there was a LOT of Kryptonian/future/advanced tech in the Kent home. Remember Superboy's "Fortress" was his basement!!
They never showed the story when Pa got into a sticky situation when he mistook the corn squeezins he hid in the basement with young Clark's growth experiments...
Sorry, my laptop's battery wasn't recharging so I had to shut down, pop it out and I'm back in business!
Where were we....ah yes
Hopefully this will spark some interest among us Super-Fans!
Thank You in advance!
The very first Superboy story shows the origin on Krypton in '44. There's another issue a few years later that gives more detail. And there's one of the first Superbaby stories (circa '50, I think).
The Superman stories in the '40s didn't acknowledge the Superboy stoires. In SUPERMAN 61, near the end of '49, Superman realizes that he's from Krypton. That's also the story that introduced Kryptonite in the comics. There was Kryptonite on the radio--and there was the early K-Metal story by Jerry Siegel that was never published. The Kryptonite is what leads Superman to trace where it came from and going back in time he discovers Krypton and that this is the planet he comes from. So apparently he didn't know this before.
But soon enough, Superboy already knows he's from Krypton. Eventually, they establish that he has total recall, so he can recall everything from when he was an infant on Krypton. But exposure to green K has erased some of his memory. So he invents the device that helps him to fill in the details about Krypton. Plus there are tapes that he recovered from Krypton. In fact, Superboy is constantly finding stuff that survived from Krypton, so if you put it all together he has a pretty clear picture of what Krypton was like.
Once the Superman stories start to acknowledge the Superboy stories, in the early '50s, all of that Superboy continuity becomes part of Superman's continuity. So he always knew he was from Krypton.
I used to always think that in the '40s, Superman didn't know he's from Krypton--because that's what SUPERMAN 61 tells us. Then I started to think about that, and I realized I was making this assumption based on a story that came late in the game. Now I'm not so sure. They never dwelt on whether Superman knew he was an alien or not. So there's no reason to assume he didn't know. SUPERMAN 61 might've been a retcon--a retcon that only lasted for a few years.
As far as Superman seeing into the future, that's easily dealt with. Superman sees a possible future, but that's not the only future. Isn't there some kind of quantum law about this? There are also stories where Superman or some other character think they know the future, but then when that future event happens it turns out what they thought they knew isn't the whole story. Given how many of these adventures Superboy and Superman had, they should not have had confidence in anything they thought they knew.
This also takes care of the Legion. The Legion think they know the past, but they can't know for sure. What they think happened might not really be the whole story. There are adventures like that, too. So both the LSH and Superboy/Superman know that perceptions of the past and the future can be radically mistaken. Even if Superboy had gained knowledge in the future and took that back with him into the past, he would have no reason to trust what he thought he knew--and any action he took was the predestined action that would determine the future.
In more than one adventure, Superman thought he knew the future or the past, but it turned out he was really in an alternate reality--so what he saw wasn't true for his own timeline but for another Superman's. There's no way for Superboy/Superman to know that the Legion exist in his future--they may in fact exist in an alternate timeline.
Roy Thomas in All Star Squadron postulates that the Earth-Two Superman didn't know that he was from Krypton until 1948 but must have suspected that he wasn't from Earth. Presumably John and Mary Kent showed Kal-L the rocket he arrived in.
As for Superboy seeing alternate futures, if he did they weren't alternate enough because he saw his relationship with Lois and the heroics careers of Batman and Green Arrow.
There was one clue that the Legion was in his future timeline: Mon-El. He was projected into the Phantom Zone in Superboy's time and released in the Legion's time. Unless it's an alternate Mon-El as well!
The Cary Bates story, in ACTION 484 (June '78), where Earth-Two Superman marries Lois, established that Superman had just found out he was from Krypton--and that then leads to the Mr. and Mrs. Superman stories. So this is what Roy Thomas is working from. Of course, this is Earth-Two which is a different animal.
In the '30s and '40s stories (I'm not sure about the novel--which I haven't read), it's established that a passing motorist discovered the baby and brought him to the foundling home. The kindly Kents later adopted the child. So based on those stories, they wouldn't have known about the rocket. But the new origin for '48 changes the details so now the Kents have discovered the rocket (which burns up after they've got Kal-El out of it).
I have scans for early issues of SUPERBOY, but unfotunatelly the files for issue 8 are corrupted and I don't know how to fix it so I can open the file. But I know that when I could open it that issue has a story about Superbaby (the first one) and it gives some details of Clark's origin, retelling how the Kents found the rocket.
All of this was after Siegel and Shuster had left in '47. Siegel rarely did stories about Superman's origin (except that first Superboy story, which became a legal matter)--so I wonder if all the things we saw happen after his departure were what he would have done.
A lot of alternate timelines that Superman encountered were very close to his own, so they could be virtually the same. There's also the concept that time keeps splitting. So there are many possible futures. But there might also be many possible pasts. It's a Schroedinger's cat effect. All possible outcomes are equally true. So until Mon-El is released from the Phantom Zone any other possibility also exists.
Another rule--not always stuck to--was that Superman couldn't change the past. No matter how many times he tried, history always had a way of working out how it should work out. But if Superman goes to the future, then everything before that moment in time is also his past--so the same rule should apply and Superman shouldn't be able to change that past, either. It's Schroedinger's cat--he's let it out and seen whether it's dead or not--so now that period of time is written. But as long as a moment isn't observed, it's in a quantum state of possibility. So maybe Superman knows that and doesn't observe certain parts of the time-space continuum because he wants to maintain a state of random possibility.
The Kent home. The tech inside made it probably the most dangerous place on the planet
I don’t know that Superboy brought home so many alien artifacts, the way he did when he was grown up and had the Fortress of Storage and Jimmy to amuse him. As you note, having it sitting around next to the washing machine wouldn’t be good for anyone, and I don’t know that he had a lot of secret compartments, except for his robots. They weren’t always benign, but they were a risk worth taking.
Was there any reasoning behind why Superboy based himself in Smallville?
That’s where he lived (he had to live somewhere, and his parents' skill sets weren't extensive), and he began showing up pretty early. A small town made it much easier to figure out who he was, since he was always doing things for the schools, etc., but it made for picturesque stories. We probably weren’t supposed to think too hard about how much it made Smallville and its small high school stand out.
Did Clark really need the "meek & mild" act?
He was a big, strapping kid, so unless he was meek and mild, he’d be badgered into trying out for the football team for sure. Baseball would be easy to handle, but not football, which was more likely the sport coaches would tag him for. And he had to make it seem so ludicrous that he could be Superboy that it wouldn’t come up, even though he so fit the profile. Often, he was more clumsy than just meek.
Was Clark considered a friend of Superboy's like the older Clark was to Superman? Were Lana Lang and Pete Ross known to be his friends as well?
I don’t think Clark was his friend, since they were never seen together. Likewise with Pete—he probably went out of his way to avoid hanging around Superboy, since he didn’t want anyone to associate Clark-Pete-Superboy. Lana was always around him, but she tried to insinuate herself into his business. They occasionally even had dates, so I would guess people thought *she* wanted to be friends and he wanted to be friendly.
I feel bad for the Kents.
As you note, I can’t believe they lived as long as they did. I like the idea that Clark got his powers only after puberty and they came on gradually at that point. The notion of a super-tot who never did anyone harm or wasn’t discovered is too much for me to believe, and I can believe six impossible things before breakfast.
How vast was Superboy's patrols?
I’d guess the tri-county area. That’d probably be enough to keep him busy, although illegalities probably dropped off. “Patrolling” the state seems a bit much. No doubt he kept his eye out for major disasters like earthquakes or forest fires occurring elsewhere, but they had to look after their own banks.
And was the world less protected during school hours?
Sure, there was no way he could take off to stop every crime he could confront during the day as he could at night. That was true for most super-heroes, who had jobs they couldn't just leave at any moment. But most crimes take place at night. Maybe not in Smallville, but it’s tougher to get away with stuff in broad daylight.
Was it a testing ground for new concepts that would later show up in Superman and Action Comics?
I don’t know that it was deliberately, but they had a real problem: Every Superboy story, even those told in the 1980s, took place before the very first Earth-1 Superman story from the 1950s. So once they told it in Superboy, it was part of his history, even if he hadn’t been aware of it. So on the one hand, they had to be careful what they introduced that might have impacted him.
But on the other, anything they introduced was the first time Superman encountered it. So they might have gone out of their way to find new things to be “firsts” there, which could then be picked up for Superman. At the same time, if it was a "first" for Superman, that precluded it from being used for Superboy (unless he'd lost his memory). As you note, he "met" a number of people he'd later meet as Superman, so that was one way of creating firsts.
There is one concept that I never liked
Only one? You’re pretty generous! The Super-legend is so extensive, broad and deep that I can probably come up with half a dozen quickly, because they had so many things to kick-start plots or get them out of unworkable situations.
Beppo is definitely one, but the difference between him, Krypto, Streaky and Super-Tot is negligible to me. How Earth-1 survived until 1986 is a miracle.
I like Suprbaby. This is a chance for the writers to go nuts and just have a lot of fun. It's kind of on the same level as the Bizarro family. But Superbaby is even funner because he's a baby. There's no secret identity, there's no complicated plot with Clark trying to protect his secret identity. it's juat a lot of goofy fun.
The only thing maybe I didn't like was that Kal-El was sometimes shown to have come from Krypton when he was three or four and not an infant. This was so Kal-El could have more baby adventures on Krypton, but I preferred that he was already on Earth by that time.
As far as powers go, it works either way. If you accept that Kal-El had almost full strength super-powers from the time he arrived on Earth, then you have to accept that he had super-intelligence, as part of those powers. And Kryptonians were already highly advanced intellectually and the infant was on board a computer driven advanced pieced of technology [think of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, where Jor-El is feeding him advanced learning as his star-ship rockets through the galaxy].
So if Kal-El is super-powerful, he's also so smart that he can figure out when to use his powers and when not. Of course, he still acts like a baby and talks funny--but that's just because he's so absurdly smart that he chooses to act that way. And it's funny.
As far as continuity goes for Superboy and Superman and everyone else--there was a lot that was forgotten. Forgetting that something had ever happened was pretty routine. And most stories weren't meant to be of any importance other than at the time you read them. There was no reason to assume that one story would ever be referenced in another story. This only happened when a certain story had become part of dogma--such as Pete Ross discovering that Clark was Superboy.
Going with Jimmm's Superman: The Movie scenario, it's possible that Jor-El programmed the rocket to subliminally condition Baby Kal not to crush living creatures to death!
"Ma, I was petting the goat and he don't move no more!"
If you combine that with super-intelligence, the Superbaby stories make more sense!
After all, he wasn't sent with a set of instructions!
Actually, was it canon that Jor-El knew his offspring would gain super-powers the minute he entered the Sun's yellow rays? It would explain why Jor wasn't that worried over blasting his infant son across space.
I had no problem with Krypto. Every boy needs a dog!
Superbaby? I'm with Jimmm. Those stories had a certain charm.
Streaky? Acceptable for four reasons: 1) his powers were temporary, 2) he was imprinted with Supergirl and would stay by her, 3) his adventures were mostly with the Legion of Super-Pets and 4) as a cat, he probably didn't roam far from his territory and either slept or wasn't overly concerned about things that didn't interest him.
But Beppo was NOT Superbaby/Boy/Man's pet. He wasn't emotionally bonded to him. He was a super-powered wild card, capable of great destruction at a whim. Monkeys have tempers. They can get angry and attack. Yes, there's super-intelligence again but there is also instinct. I can't see anyone happy about having Beppo flying around.
Other parts of the Superman Legend that I have problems with are
I suppose that you have to do a lot of reading between the lines to understand why Jimmy Olsen is so enjoyable and why Lucy was a part of that. And I don't mean reading stuff into the comics that wasn't there in the first place. On some level, Jimmy's stories come across as the writers deliberately mocking everything and everyone.
Jimmy loves Lucy and Lucy loves Jimmy yet they are continually playing around with others. Jimmy goes for every beauty he sees--and thinks that every woman wants him. Lucy--a stewardess--seems to be hooking up with businessmen and pilots old enough to be her father, whenever she's out of town, which is often. Also with Jimmy's age being undefined, it's hard to tell if he's a teenager or in his twenties, but Lucy seems the more mature of the two.
The height of lunacy was when they both fell in love with each other while in disguise. And in those disguises they got married. So they even made a mockery of marriage. Nothing was sacred in a Jimmy Olsen story.
If Billy Wilder had written comic books, he would have written Jimmy Olsen.
"But Beppo was NOT Superbaby/Boy/Man's pet. He wasn't emotionally bonded to him. He was a super-powered wild card, capable of great destruction at a whim. Monkeys have tempers. They can get angry and attack. Yes, there's super-intelligence again but there is also instinct. I can't see anyone happy about having Beppo flying around."
I never thought about it before, Philip, but damned if I'm not forced to agree with you.
The basic problem here is Otto Binder, who created the Super-Monkey in Superboy # 76 (Oct., 1959), (and I feel obliged to point out, did not name the Simian of Steel "Beppo"; in fact, the little ape was not given a name, at all) and the other writers to use him did not understand the nature of monkeys.
True, very young monkeys are cute and mischievous. But as you alluded, Philip, once they reach the age of sexual maturity---between five to ten years, depending on the species---they can turn vicious and hostile. And I rather doubt that super-intelligence could hold up under the influence of super-hormones.
As for some of the other items in the Superman/boy Legend that you mentioned . . . .
Kandor's Look-Alike Squad. I can buy into this, so long as it includes the unspoken circumstance that some of the members had some Kryptonian plastic surgery along the way. Yes, granted, Van-Zee and Vol-Don were established as being natural doubles for Superman/Clark Kent. But the others who were characters specifically created to be Look-Alike Squad members could have been Kandorians who bore a basic superficial resemblence to Superman's friends and volunteered to undergo cosmetic surgery to make them exact doubles.
That makes the idea a bit more palatable.
Lucy Lane. As you probably remember from reading my Deck Log entry on the Magi and Sandra romance, I hold Lucy Lane in utter distain. About the best thing one can say about Lucy Lane is that she makes her sister Lois look not quite so bad.
Htrae (Bizarro World). Here, again, I feel obliged to point out something. Htrae was not a cube-shaped world naturally. When it was first populated by Bizarro № 1 and his family, in Action Comics # 263 (Apr., 1960), Htrae was typically globe shaped, just like any other planet.
It's not until the following issue, # 264, that Superman, in order to avoid the capital punishment of being turned in a Bizarro (long story), terraforms the world into its more-familiar cube shape.
Jimmm Kelly said:
Also with Jimmy's age being undefined, it's hard to tell if he's a teenager or in his twenties . . . .
Actually, Mr. Kelly, Jimmy Olsen was one of the few characters in the Superman mythos whose age was specifically established.
The matter of Jimmy's age is addressed in the story "Jimmy Olsen's Wildest Nightmare", from Jimmy Olsen # 61 (Jun., 1962). Not just addressed; you can't miss it!
The caption on the splash panel announces:
Today's the day! Today, Jimmy Olsen is twenty-one! Today, Jimmy Olsen is a man!!---officially, that is. Unofficially, Jimmy is still the same, slightly whacky youngster he's always been!
Just to make sure the readers got it, the caption to the opening panel of the story proper reads:
Morning over Metropolis---and it is the dawn of a very special day for Jimmy Olsen . . . .
And Jimmy is apparently talking to himself, because while undertaking his morning ablution, his dialogue reads:
"Today is my birthday . . . I've got one special present I'm looking forward to---Superman promised to give me a Jimmy Olsen robot when I'm twenty-one---and today's the day!"
Hope this helps.