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.

  • 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?
  • 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 the 30th century yet he had free rein to do so in the 20th.
  • Obviously there was a LOT of Kryptonian/future/advanced tech in the Kent home. Remember Superboy's "Fortress" was his basement!!

Have to recharge! Be Right back!

Views: 2538

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Being the moral and humble people that they were, the Kents taught Clark never to use his powers for personal gain, his or theirs.

Of course, Clark did bend the rules now and then but the last time he did had tragic results, see Superman #161 (My'63) "The Last Days of Ma & Pa Kent!".

ED, don't know what happened to your link, but here it is alive: http://tv.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-smallville-comic-book-changes-fo...

I've really enjoyed Smallville, as in comic-book form from DC they had no limitations on SFX budget or characters, so they've brought in Batman, Kara, the Legion and Wonder Woman. The likenesses aren't dead-on, but I can hear the voices, so it's a Superman comic I can read and enjoy, if only because I know it's not crossing over somewhere or having key plot points come up in other comics. Plus, he doesn't have his underwear on the outside, so everyone in the whole freaking world is happy.

I'm not crazy about switching to mini-series, as I'm not a new reader who needs 20-30 pages of each new adventure to bring me up to date, thank you. I don't know that readers who haven't followed it so far will want to jump on this far into it, but maybe if they see it for the first time and it says "#2" on it, it's better than #10. Or something. But it's not that big of a problem, either, and I'm glad to hear it's continuing. It and All-Star Western are the only DC comics I'm reading.

Obviously, Kirk, the goal was to avoid attention, since allowing their secret out would no doubt ruin their lives, which might even be quite short. Getting attention for suddenly being flush is often how bank robbers get caught, and someone wondering where the Kents got so much money could be even more fatal for them.

And, of course, the Kents liked doing what they did, hard labor earning a fair return, etc. I don't actually know when the farm to general store switch got made, as it was long before I started reading and a lot of stories from that period haven't been reprinted. I imagine it was done to bring Clark more into contact with his classmates and generate more interaction and plot ideas than an isolated farm could offer. But the farm made more sense outside of that.

Of course, Superman often used his powers for personal gain, it was just never noticeable or materialistic. If the Kents were about to lose the store to foreclosure, I'm betting a piece of coal might get picked up. Besides, what's the point of having COMBINED telescopic and x-ray vision if you don't use them to look into the girls' locker room on occasion? 

-- MSA

Mr. Silver Age said:

And, of course, the Kents liked doing what they did, hard labor earning a fair return, etc. I don't actually know when the farm to general store switch got made, as it was long before I started reading and a lot of stories from that period haven't been reprinted. I imagine it was done to bring Clark more into contact with his classmates and generate more interaction and plot ideas than an isolated farm could offer. But the farm made more sense outside of that.

Actually, Mr. S.A., the concept of the Kents living on and working a farm was, more or less, a retrofit.

A couple of years ago, on another site I frequent, a fellow made the argument that the "tradition" of the Kents living on a farm was long standing, preceding the Weisinger era, and subsumed the fewer years during the Silver Age when they were seen running a general store. This is the sort of thing in which folks turn to me---as I know they do to you, when you're in the room---to validate or decry. So I researched the matter and came up with the facts. Fortunately, I remembered that I had done this, since it essentially addresses your comment; and even more fortunately, I kept a copy of that research, so I don't have to dig it up all over, again.

______________________________________________________________________

 

In the earliest Superman stories, the Kents are rarely mentioned and when they are, the description is usually that of "passing motorists", with regard to finding baby Kal-El's rocket.

They appear "on camera" for the first time in Superman # 1 (Summer, 1939), in a flashback scene showing them telling their young son of their plans for his adulthood career as a super-hero. Nothing from that appearance provides any indication of what the Kents do for a living---their clothing is standard daily attire for the time and the scene is the interior of a standard middle-class home.

In this scene, the Kents are given the first names of "John" and "Mary". Decades later, after DC established the Earth-One/-Two concept, this scene from Superman # 1 provided the basis for establishing that the first names of the Earth-Two Man of Steel's foster-parents were John and Mary.

(The evolution of the Kents' forenames is a tortuous one that really has no bearing on the subject of when they lived on a farm---except in one instance, which I'll mention in the next paragraph.)

The only other time in this early period when the Kents take speaking rôles occurs not in the comics, but in George Lowther's novel, The Adventures of Superman (Random House, 1942). And, yes, in this novel, the Kents are depicted as farmers throughout the entirety of young Clark's boyhood. However, the canon of this story is questionable, as the Kents are given the first names of "Eben" and "Sarah".

(Undoubtedly, it is from Lowther's novel that the scenes of Clark Kent as a boy were taken in the debut episode of the television series Adventures of Superman---"Superman on Earth", originally aired on 19 September 1952. Here, too, the Kents are given the first names of Eben and Sarah, and the background suggests they are farmers.)

The character of Superboy was introduced in More Fun Comics # 101 (Jan.-Feb., 1945). A little over a year later, the Boy of Steel's series shifted to Adventure Comics, with issue # 103 (Apr., 1946). Three years later, Superboy received his own title---# 1 (Mar.-Apr., 1949)---which ran concurrently with his series in Adventure.

Throughout this four-year period, the Kents made only three or four appearances. They were marginal characters, used only when exposition was necessary. However, many times Clark Kent's life was shown and he clearly lived in a small town (named "Smallville" in Superboy # 2 [May-Jun., 1949]). His house was situated on a neighbourhood street---which rules out any idea of a farm being a significant portion of his boyhood in that era.

Starting with Superboy # 6 (Jan.-Feb., 1950), the Kents began to appear more often, quickly assuming the status of regular supporting characters. One story from that issue---"Superboy, Storekeeper"---established Pa Kent's occupation as the proprietor of a general store.

Meanwhile, over in Superman and Action Comics, the Kents had made a few more appearances, always in reference to finding baby Kal-El's rocket ship, and nothing in these appearances established or even suggested that the Kents were farmers. In fact, one story---"His Lordship Clark Kent", from Action Comics # 106 (Mar., 1947)---stated that baby Kal-El's rocket landed on the outskirts of Metropolis, and another---"The Mighty Mite", from Superman # 73 (Nov.-Dec., 1951)---asserted that the Kents were living in Metropolis when they found Kal-El.

My point is: nothing in the first two decades of Superman's existence puts the Kents on a farm, and there was no reason to believe they were farmers. Except for the novel by George Lowther.

Going on . . . .

While a few stories had shown flashbacks to incidents in Clark Kent's babyhood on Earth, none of these depicted that babyhood being spent on a farm. When it was possible to determine the locale of Clark's babyhood residence, it was strictly that of a suburban neighbourhood.

Then, in 1959, a series of Superbaby's "misadventures" was published, in Superboy # 71, 73, 76, and 77. As with the earlier Superbaby flashbacks, nothing in them established that the Kents were living on a farm at that time. However, they did prompt a fan to write in, asking how the Kents were able to conceal their baby son's super-powers from neighbours, passers-by, and so forth. To this, editor Mort Weisinger responded that the Kents lived on a farm, safely away from prying eyes, during Clark's babyhood. Mort added that Pa Kent sold the farm, moved to Smallville, and bought a general store just before Clark became old enough to attend public school.

And, as so often happened when Weisinger addressed a tricky question posed by a reader in the letter column, his answer became canon in a subsequent story. In this case, it was "The Origin of Superboy's Super-Costume", from Superboy # 78 (Jan., 1960). Here, for the first time in a comic-book story, it was established that the Kents had been farmers for part of Clark Kent's life, and that they had moved to Smallville just before Clark entered the first grade.

And from that point on, Superbaby stories made it very clear that the Kents were farmers at the time.

So, actually, the farm portion of Superboy/man's life was a minimal element in his mythos. From 1938 to 1960, nothing in the comics established that Clark Kent spent any part of his boyhood on a farm. And then, from 1960 on, the only time that the Kent farm was mentioned was in the occasional Superbaby tale.

______________________________________________________________________

 

The upshot of all of that is, with the exception of two non-canon efforts---George Lowther's novel and the first episode of the television series---the Kents were never established as having lived on a farm until Superboy # 78, when it was added to the mythos to provide a reasonable explaination as to how Superbaby's impulsive use of his super-powers didn't compromise his existence on Earth.

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

I hate to disagree Commander, but...oh, who am I kidding, I LOVE to disagree, especially if I think I can flummox you.

First, it needs to be noted that, as you mentioned, anything that doesn't depict the adventures of Superman as a young super-boy didn't take place on Earth-1, which is what we care about when discussing Superboy. So early Superman and Action stories showing the Kents, plus the TV show, and the Lowther book are about different people.

Second, it's true that the Kents barely show up early on. And while Clark spends a lot of time with his pals and at school, that makes sense--but it doesn't mean he lives in town, only that it's a more likely location from which to start stories.

So what you have to explain away are two panels in the VERY FIRST Superboy story, "Superboy!" in More Fun Comics #101 (Jan-Feb 45).

In the first panel, he's carrying in gigantic logs for Ma. I won't say that no houses in town were using wood-fired stoves at that time, and they could have been for their fireplace, but I would say that it would be difficult for Clark to find wood of that size nearby and carry it into the house unless he had a large, isolated property like a farm.

The smoking gun, of course, is the next panel, where Clark is shown, um, "leaping" over a barn, It's in quotes because he's either become an enormously large boy, it's a tiny little barn, or he's leaping in the air well in front of the barn and so not leaping over it at all. Regardless, it's a barn. 

It's possible I suppose that Clark was jumping over someone else's barn on an abandoned property somewhere, but it's not very likely, especially combined with the farmhouse-like look of Ma's kitchen. 

Ipso facto, QED and habeus corpus, the facts speak for themselves: Clark Kent, farmboy.

It could be that the Kents were used so seldom that having them in town was easier to work with--Clark spent a lot of time wandering the streets in any event. When it started to matter, the writers forgot where the Kents lived until Mort made it specific and threw in the farm to be on the safe side. Consistency was not a key concern for these hobgoblins.

-- MSA

No question about it, you caught something I had missed----which is why you get paid the big bucks for being Mr. Silver Age, and I just hack out columns in my spare time.  Heh.

 

Clearly, there was an in-comics reference to the Kents living on a farm before Superboy # 78.  No getting around that.  I wouldn't be so hair-splitting as to argue that it was some other family's barn.

 

However, I do have two points---one in rebuttal and one in mitigation.

 

"Second, it's true that the Kents barely show up early on. And while Clark spends a lot of time with his pals and at school, that makes sense--but it doesn't mean he lives in town, only that it's a more likely location from which to start stories."

 

True, scenes with his buds at school or in town doesn't mean young Clark lives in town.  But the scenes showing him going into a neighbourhood home and yelling out something like "Mom, I'm home!" do.  And there were a few scenes of this sort---him coming home or leaving the house---in those early tales.

 

 

As for the mitigating part, while it's true---there he is, Clark on a farm (and a good catch on that, by the way)---it's also a school-aged Clark.   As we know, the distinctions between the Supermen of Earth-One and -Two were largely retrofitted, and DC insisted that the Earth-Two Superman never had a Superboy career; he was simply Clark Kent in his boyhood.

 

But those distinctions were drawn decades after those two panels appeared in More Fun Comics # 101.  What that means is---those two panels can be lumped with every other contradictory scene which appeared in Superboy/man stories over the years until Mort Weisinger took editorship and said, "Let's straighten all this out!"

 

I mentioned other early scenes of Clark's baby/boyhood which didn't show the Kents on a farm, or in one case, living in Metropolis.  For that matter, I'll even toss in Superboy # 6, which showed Pa Kent running a general store, to be one of those contradictory scenes.

 

Point being, up until Weisinger took over, one could feasibly argue that young Clark grew up on a farm, or in the city, or in a small town where his dad ran the general store.  Because it was all so inconsistent.  It wasn't until Weisinger codified Kal-El's babyhood and boyhood on Earth that one could specifically state that baby Clark lived on a farm.

 

So, yep, you showed that the idea that Clark lived on a farm came real early in stories---and I am woefully shamed that I missed that---but it wasn't set in concrete until Mort said so.

 

Thank's for keeping me straight, Craig.

 

 

 

 

 

In the early 1900s, many cities and towns would have had barns and considerable trees. So I don't consider that a smoking gun. On the other hand, I think there was a certain inconsistency about just where young Clark grew up. In any event both eventualitiies could be true. I had many relations who maintained a home in town, while also having a farm outside town. If the Kents were trying to make ends meet, they probably did run a general store, while also running their farm (just like my Uncle Pete and Aunt Barb).

No question about it, you caught something I had missed-

banana photo banana.gif

-- MSA

Also, if someone had a wood stove and a fireplace--quite common in the early 1900s--even if they lived in town they would have a woodpile outside and might have either taken delivery or driven out to pick up their wood.

I kind of wonder what deprived urban hellscapes that Mr. Silver Age and Commander Benson have lived in that they make such sharp distinctions between urban, rural and country surroundings. Heck, in Vancouver there are still parts of the city where people have wood fuel and barns--a hundred years ago it was a lot more common in the city.

Mr. Silver Age said:

I hate to disagree Commander, but...oh, who am I kidding, I LOVE to disagree, especially if I think I can flummox you.

First, it needs to be noted that, as you mentioned, anything that doesn't depict the adventures of Superman as a young super-boy didn't take place on Earth-1, which is what we care about when discussing Superboy. So early Superman and Action stories showing the Kents, plus the TV show, and the Lowther book are about different people.

Second, it's true that the Kents barely show up early on. And while Clark spends a lot of time with his pals and at school, that makes sense--but it doesn't mean he lives in town, only that it's a more likely location from which to start stories.

So what you have to explain away are two panels in the VERY FIRST Superboy story, "Superboy!" in More Fun Comics #101 (Jan-Feb 45).

 

In the first panel, he's carrying in gigantic logs for Ma. I won't say that no houses in town were using wood-fired stoves at that time, and they could have been for their fireplace, but I would say that it would be difficult for Clark to find wood of that size nearby and carry it into the house unless he had a large, isolated property like a farm.

 

"Difficult for Clark to find wood of that size"? This IS Superboy we're talking about. He could have gotten it from Yellowstone Park or the Cedars of Lebanon for all we know. 

I kind of wonder what deprived urban hellscapes that Mr. Silver Age and Commander Benson have lived in that they make such sharp distinctions between urban, rural and country surroundings.

I often felt deprived when my quarter only bought two comics, but I don't remember complaining about central heating or not having a barn in the backyard.

I think suggesting that the artists were showing Clark hopping over the barn his parents had in the backyard of their home down the block from the schoolyard may be stretching things. There's HAY in that barn.

Likewise, the notion that those logs were laying outside the Kent's in-town home after a delivery and Clark was just bringing them inside is iffy. And whether they ran a general store AND had a farm is beside the point, since the point was whether he was ever living on a Kent farm.

I think those panels show he was living on a farm, regardless of whether there exists some magical Canadian land of rainbows, unicorns, gigantic log home deliveries and backyard barns that I missed out on in my youth.

This IS Superboy we're talking about. He could have gotten it from Yellowstone Park or the Cedars of Lebanon for all we know. 

Well, yes, but the key is to do it without being seen. Plus, Ma isn't worried about where he got them from. If he's living in the city and flying out into the nearby Kansas forest to chop a few trees and fly them home, Ma might've said, "Land o' Goshen, where DID you get those logs!"

I suggest that Clark did not steal them, they were on the Kent property, which also had a barn and hay, making it (wait for it) a farm.

-- MSA

It looks like comic book artists in the '30s and '40s were harkening back to a time, maybe from their own childhood or maybe one that never really existed, where all good things could be found.

That's one of the nice things I like about such comics--I don't know if they are historical or realistic--but it's a fun fantasy world for the characters.

Anyway, I have a hunch that Cleveland and Toronto didn't have as much urban blight as New York in the 1910s and 20s, when Jerry and Joe were kids.

Jimmm Kelly said:

Also, if someone had a wood stove and a fireplace--quite common in the early 1900s--even if they lived in town they would have a woodpile outside and might have either taken delivery or driven out to pick up their wood.

I think toddler Clark carrying all that wood in from outside works better in a farm setting. It is more likely in a town that a neighbor would have seen him pick it up and carry it inside.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2020   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service