Superboy (Jonathan Kent)
+ Superman Reborn
Created by Dan Jurgens
NAME + ALIASES:
Jonathan Samuel Kent
Kal-El (alias Clark Kent, Superman, father), Lois Lane (mother), Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van (grandparents, deceased), Major Samuel Lane (grandfather, deceased), Zor-El and Allura (uncle and aunt, deceased), Kara Zor-El (Supergirl, first cousin once removed)
Legion of Super-Heroes
Convergence: Superman #2 (July 2015)
The Legacy of "Superboy"
Jonathan Samuel Kent is the Superboy of the "Rebirth" era of DC publishing (post-2016). He is the son of Superman and Lois Lane. He is at least the seventh character to use that name.
DC (Detective Comics, Inc.) secured the copyright to the name "Superboy" in 1941 by publishing a black-and-white "ashcan" comic. Like most ashcans, the interior of this comic did not feature any hero by that name.
Of the many heroes known as "Superboy," a number of these were "imaginary," or from "Elseworlds" or parallel realities. The following Superboys have been considered part of the mainstream DC Universe.
The original Superboy of DC Comics was the Superman (Silver Age/Earth-One) himself — a youthful version dreamt up by Jerry Siegel in More Fun Comics #101 (Jan./Feb. 1945). His adventures were popular enough to merit his own title in 1949. Note: The original Superman (Golden Age/Earth-Two) never had a career as Superboy.
The Earth-One Superman met Superboy Prime who came from the parallel universe of Earth-Prime, in DC Comics Presents #87 (Nov. 1985). Superboy Prime survived the Crisis on Infinite Earths and decades later returned as a twisted villain, in Infinite Crisis.
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-86), Superman's history was altered such that he never went by the name "Superboy." This created continuity problems related to the Legion of Super-Heroes. To solve it, a "Pocket Universe" was created where the Legion's Superboy could live (and 30th century continuity could be maintained). This Superboy died in Legion of Super-Heroes #38 (Sept. 1987).
The post-Crisis Superboy was a clone, created with DNA from Superman and Lex Luthor. He first appeared in Adventures of Superman #500 (Early June 1993). He was later given the names Conner Kent and Kon-El, and was a member of the Teen Titans and the Reboot Legion. This Superboy starred in Superboy vol. 3 (1994) and Superboy vol. 4 (2011). After "Rebirth" in 2016, Conner has also returned to mainstream continuity, in Young Justice vol. 3 #1 (Mar. 2019).
When DC rebooted its entire universe as the New 52, it was unclear whether Superman's history included his use of the name "Superboy." There was a different Superboy in this continuity who was also a clone. This Superboy starred in Superboy vol. 5 (2011). He was the star of the New 52's Superboy series and was cloned from Jon Lane Kent, the future son of Superman and Lois Lane. Jon Kent became evil and died at a time in his own past.
Convergence and the Pre-Flashpoint Superman
Jonathan Samuel Kent is the son of Superman and Lois Lane. The character's early history is complicated because his birth actually took place outside of mainstream DC continuity. In DC's Convergence (2015), a cosmically-large Brainiac was revealed to have saved cities from a multitude of former timelines. These included characters and times from throughout DC's entire publishing history. This occurred during the New 52 era of DC publishing.
In Convergence: Superman, the post-Crisis/pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois Lane lived in a Metropolis surrounded by an impenetrable bubble on a planet called Telos. All super-heroes on Telos were rendered powerless. In this life, Lois became pregnant without concern for the problems of carrying a super-powered baby. She gave birth to Jon Kent there, just before the cities of Telos were freed. (Convergence #8)
This Super-family was unique among Brainiac's prisoners — they actually reentered the mainstream DC universe (called Earth-0).
The "Superman Reborn" story (2017) eliminated the New 52 Superman's existence and the Convergence Superman assumed his role. None of the events of Convergence remained in continuity. A new version of Jon's birth was created in Action Comics #978 (2017, see below).
Superman: Clark & Lois
Clark and Lois were finally free from captivity on Telos but on Earth-0 there was already a Superman and Lois. The Kent family chose not to interact with other super-heroes or reveal themselves in any way. They assumed the surname "White" and settled on a farm in Salinas, California. (Superman: Clark & Lois #1)
Clark performed undercover super-heroics while Lois obtained a writing deal and published a series of exposé books under the name "Author X."
They withheld the truth of their situation from young Jonathan, but eventually their hand was forced. By age five, Jon was exhibiting the first of his super-powers: super-hearing along with some strength and invulnerability. He saved his mother from Intergang thugs.
The Demise of the New 52 Superman
While, the "Whites" were living in secret, the Superman of Earth-0 endured a series of traumas (including kryptonite poisoning) that led to his death. In the end, this Superman knew that he was dying, and sacrificed him life to absorb a tremendous amount of energy. When his body released it, he was turned to stone. Some of this energy infused the Lana Lang and Lois Lane of Earth-0 (who became heroic "Superwomen"), and Kong Kenan in China (the "New Superman"). (Superman vol. 3 #52)
"Rebirth" followed the death of the New 52 Superman and the California Kents replaced him in mainstream continuity. The process happened in stages, first with the pre-Flashpoint Superman assuming his counterpart's duties. Over time, a story was built to totally erase the New 52 Superman (in "Superman Reborn," see below).
In the retconned timeline, the events of Superman: Clark & Lois were (loosely) kept in continuity. Basically, it was explained that everybody knew that Lois had given birth to a son. After Jon's birth, the family had to go undercover in California to hide Lois from Intergang. These revisions were clearly defined in Action Comics #978 (June 2017).
Dan Jurgens, writer of Action Comics at the time, explained that there was a big problem with reestablishing the pre-Flashpoint Superman as the primary one. The New 52 Superman's identity had been exposed to the public, so the pre-Flashpoint Superman could not simply step into the role without any issue. The solution was to use Mister Mxyzptlk to impersonate Clark Kent, thus casting doubt in the public about Superman's identity. This snowballed toward "Superman Reborn" and the total reboot of Superman in the mainstream DCU.
Rebirth: Life in Hamilton County
In 2016, DC editorial leadership invented "Rebirth" to retool the continuity of the New 52. Jon Kent's father, the pre-Flashpoint Superman, was reinstated as the primary (or canonical) Superman in the continuity of Earth-0. This change happened in stages... not through a hard reboot, but through story.
The death of his counterpart spurred the secretive Superman to return to public life. He even investigated whether the New 52 Superman could be revived in a manner similar to his own rebirth after his death to Doomsday. (Superman: Rebirth #1)
The public did not know that their Superman had died. This allowed the other Superman to don his uniform and 'replace' him. He also joined the Justice League. (Justice League: Rebirth #1) The public's notion that Clark Kent was Superman was thrown into serious doubt when a new Clark Kent mysteriously appeared. (Action Comics #957) At the time, no one knew that this was Mister Mxyzptlk in disguise, but it helped to debunk Lex Luthor's claims that Superman had died and been replaced. (#963)
While Clark returned to the Daily Planet, Lois and Jon stayed hidden — because Lois and Clark's predecessors were not married. Around this time, the New 52 Lois Lane, who had gained super-powers and come out as Superwoman, died in battle. (Superwoman #1) Jon's mother made the bold decision for Lois to return to the Daily Planet. (#965)
The Kents moved to rural Hamilton County, about 300 miles north of Metropolis, where young Jon came of age at the old Smith Farm. At the age of 10, his heat vision and super-hearing powers manifested — and he accidentally killed his cat. There Jon met his first new friend, Kathy Branden (Superman vol. 4 #1) and her grandfather Cobb. (#2)
After an battle to escape the Kryptonian entity called the Eradicator, Superman decided to introduce his son to the Justice League — as Superboy. (#6)
The Batman was monitoring Jon's development, and as the boy manifested his freeze breath powers, Robin (Batman's son, Damian Wayne) and his friend Nobody swooped into Hamilton County and abducted Jon to the Batcave. The boys got off to an rough start with Robin taunting Superboy into a fight. (#10) Their fathers decided to put Superboy and Robin through a super-boot camp, and through these trials the boys started becoming good friends. (#11)
The Superman writers were interviewed by Comics Alliance and confirmed the intent of "Superman Reborn":
"The events of Action #976 reset and reshape the entire Superman timeline. Where there had been two Superman, their realities have now been fused into one timeline with just one of them. And, yes, Clark and Lois are back at the Daily Planet. Not only does everyone know they had a child; they were there shortly after Jon was born. The Daily Planet crew has known Jon his entire life."
In the story, Superman's perennial nemesis, Mister Mxyzptlk was revealed to have been trapped outside of mainstream reality after Flashpoint. When he found his way back to Earth-0, he first posed as Clark Kent and later kidnapped Jonathan Kent and retreated to the Fifth Dimension. (Superman vol. 4 #18, Action Comics #975)
There, both sets of Lois and Clark converged and the two versions were essentially merged into one. This plus Mxyzptlk's magic realigned Superman's history and reality to his pre-Flashpoint experiences: "Everything solidified. Locked in so it all fits." (Superman vol. 4 #19, Action Comics #976)
This event retroactively eliminated most of the New 52 Superman's history, and the Kent family did not retain any memories of their previous existences — but they did remember their "odd" encounter with Mxyzptlk. The flashbacks shown in "Reborn" reference many pre-Flashpoint Superman events. The resulting Superman, however, had supposedly never met the Legion of Super-Heroes.
The Dark Knight claimed that Superboy's powers should have been at their full potential; was something in his environment affecting that? It was related to a mysterious dark force that was popping up around town... (#20-22) They soon learned that Superman's foe, Manchester Black, was running a secret operation beneath the town. His Super Elite were a large group of aliens (including neighbors Kathy and Cobb!) who came to Earth in a spaceship. (#23)
The aliens were now stranded on Earth and their ship was a base where they defended against a dark force on the other side of a "rift." Manchester Black claimed that Jon Kent's powers would surpass those of Superman's, and he kidnapped Superboy and enslaved him. Kathy's uncle sacrificed himself in defiance of Black, which led more of the aliens siding with Superman. (#24)
Manchester used his mental abilities to make "Superboy Black" fight his own father, until a quantum explosion shook Jon free of the influence. (During this, Jon also had a vision of the future; he saw himself as Superman, Damian as Batman, and Kathy with them too.) Kathy's own formidable psionic powers surged and Black was incapacitated. After this, Jon had the ability to fly — the last of his powers to manifest. (#25)
Jon was very sad when his parents decided to move back to Metropolis. (Superman vol. 4 #45, Action Comics #980) For some time, Superman had been bedeviled by the mysterious Mister Oz, who was revealed as Superman's father, Jor-El! (Action Comics #987, 989) Jor-El had been plucked (by Doctor Manhattan) from the time of Krypton's destruction and traveled the galaxy in secret. He now wanted to make a home for his grandson where he did not have hide his identity as a Kryptonian. Jor-El delivered a dire prophesy that the Earth would be destroyed, (#990) but before he could elaborate, Jor-El was spirited away once again by an unseen cosmic hand. (#991)
Jon also met his other grandfather around this time, General Sam Lane. (#999)
Super Sons of Tomorrow
When a future version of Tim Drake (the former Robin, now as Batman) arrived from the future, he was on a mission to kill Superboy. (Superman vol. 4 #37) Jon and the Teen Titans learned that in Drake's future, Jon Kent had released a solar flare that killed millions. When Drake attacked Superboy, he provoked exactly that power, which partially destroyed the Titans Tower. (Super Sons #11) Robin failed to keep Superboy safe and in hiding, (Teen Titans vol. 6 #15) and Jon unleashed another a solar flare, whose power was siphoned into Drake himself (now calling himself Savior). This gave him the power to travel through time, and he disappeared. (Superman vol. 4 #38)
The affair left everyone uneasy about Superboy's control over his own abilities. Jon managed to convince his father that his partnership with Robin was helping them to become better heroes. But the Titans were not so forgiving; they voted against Superboy's bid to join the team. (Super Sons #12)
On the anniversary of Krypton's death, Superman took Jon into space for the first time. They ventured to the water world of Galymayne to save it from a similar doomed. (Superman vol. 4 #40-41)
Superboy kept in touch with Kathy, whose duties in Hamilton gave her access to lots of fun technology. They used it to pay a brief visit to the planet Thrae (the so-called "Bizarro World"), where Jon met Boyzarro —and he followed them back to Earth. (#42) Bizarro and the Bizarro-Robin came through next, which naturally drew Superman into the fracas. (#43) Boyzarro and "Robzarro" were left stranded on Earth when the Bizarro world collapsed into a black hole. (#44)
The House of El
When Jor-El returned to Earth, he insisted that Jon should come with him into space, to learn more about galaxy and his lost culture. Jon vehemently wanted to go, and his father relented only when Lois agreed to accompany them. However, Lois returned within days after they left Earth, after Jor-El's ship was attacked by the Dominators. (Superman vol. 5 #7)
Jon discovered that the House of El was revered across the galaxy, but also that open space was a very dangerous place. He had difficulty relating to his grandfather, and after a skirmish with the Thanagarians, Jon asked Green Lanterns Kilowog and Arisia for a "ride home." This hurt Jor-El's feelings and he didn't speak to Jon for weeks. Before they could reconcile, their ship was pulled into a black hole and Jon became lost on Earth-3, appearing right in front of the Crime Syndicate of Amerika! (#8)
Superboy was swiftly kidnapped by that world's version of his father, Ultraman, who imprisoned Jon inside a volcano — and away from the empowering rays of the sun. The cruel despot visited him frequently but he gave Jon no hope of leaving. Superboy was trapped there for years with no indication of the passage of time. He eventually decided to risk riding a lava flow out of the volcano; he survived but it took time for him to heal. He made his way to the CSA headquarters, where he was discovered by the evil version of his mother, Superwoman. (#9)
Just then he was finally located and rescued by Jor-El, who had been searching the whole time for a trace of his grandson. When Jon learned that he’d been gone for years (while only a short time had passed in his universe), his first thought was his parents, and he demanded to return to Earth. They were then attacked by Rogol Zaar, the monster who destroyed Krypton. Jor-El would take no further chances with Superboy's safety; he gave Jon a special new uniform equipped with "galactic teleportation slide" technology, and activated it to immediately return the boy to Earth. (#10)
Clark and Lois were shocked and saddened to see their son return, now seventeen years old! This worsened Clark's relationship with Jor-El, whom he blamed for missing his son's formative years. But before they could properly catch up, Jor-El returned to Earth-space in battle with Rogol Zaar and other alien races. (#10)
The United Planets and the Legion of Super-Heroes
Jor-El believed that the universe did not want unity or peace and that was the reason they warred against him. (#12) This stemmed from the fact that Jor-El had once allied with the universe's greatest powers: the Guardians of the Universe, Rann, Thanagar, and Tamaran. But their secret circle eventually turned against one another. (#13)
The battle between these forces, Krypton's refugees from the Phantom Zone, and Rogol Zaar converged on Thanagar. Superboy urged them all to call a "time out" — which flummoxed the large delegation of galactic leaders. Just then, the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared from one thousand years in the future. They claimed that this was the day the United Nations was founded, but they'd arrived a bit too soon. Regardless, they invited Superboy to join them in the spirit of exchanging goodwill. (#14)
The future teens' testimony that the United Planets was a success helped to actually push the adoption of its own formation. A ceasefire was declared and the day was proclaimed the first "Unity Day." The Legion departed and Saturn Girl vowed to return the next day to hear Jon's decision: would he venture to the 31st century? Jor-El was sentenced to death by the new collective, in part for having created Rogol Zaar. (#15)
When Saturn Girl, Superboy went with his parents' blessing into the future. They left Superman with a device capable of recalling Jon at any time. (#16)
There have been many stories about the children of Superman, but Jonathan Kent is the only one to exist in mainstream continuity. The concept of "Super-Sons" dates back to the 1960s, when first Superman Jr. (Clark Kent Jr.) and Batman Jr. (Bruce Wayne Jr.) were introduced for a series of stories starting in World's Finest Comics #215 (Jan. 1973). They appeared semi-regularly in that title for a total of 12 stories.
These characters returned twice in homage, in Elseworlds 80-Page Giant #1 (1999) and Infinite Crisis #6 (May 2006). Read more at Wikipedia.
Jon Kent has demonstrated all the powers generally possessed by Kryptonians who live under a yellow sun. He has has super-heightened senses, heat vision, x-ray vision and freeze breath. He is invulnerable, can fly, possesses super-strength and super-speed.
Several people have hypothesized that Jon's hybrid Kryptonian/human DNA will make him more powerful than a pureblood Krytponian. Jon also the 'solar flare' power, which was so powerful it had to be funneled away to another reality to prevent it destroying the Earth.
Jon's uniform was made by his grandfather, Jor-El, and it's equipped with "galactic teleportation slide" technology. It remembers anywhere he has been, can return him there, and only works for Kryptonian physiology.
» FEATURED APPEARANCES:
- Teen Titans v. #
- Superman: Lois and Clark, 8-issue limited series (2015–16)
- Action Comics #957– current (2016–)
- Superman vol. 4, 45 issues (2016–18)
- Super Sons, 16 issues (2017–18)
- Adventures of the Super Sons, 12-issue limited series (2018)
- Superman vol. 5, current (2018–)
- Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 8, 12 issues (2019–2021)