Superboy is the name of several fictional superheroes appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. These characters have been featured in five Superboy comic book series, along with other series, such as Adventure Comics and various series featuring teenage superhero groups. Superboy has also appeared in various animated and live-action television series. There have been three major incarnations of the character: the young Superman; a teenaged clone named Kon-El; and the son of Superman and Lois Lane, Jonathan Kent.
The first Superboy was simply Superman as a boy, acting as a superhero in Smallville, where Kal-El (Superboy's Kryptonian name) lives under his secret identity, Clark Kent. The character was featured in several series from the 1940s until the 1980s, appearing in Adventure Comics and two eponymous series, Superboy and The New Adventures of Superboy. He developed a mythos and supporting cast of his own, including foster parents Ma and Pa Kent, love interest Lana Lang, and time traveling allies the Legion of Super-Heroes.
When DC Comics rewrote much of its continuity in 1986, Superman's history was changed so that he never took a costumed identity until adulthood, erasing Superboy from the canonical history of Superman, although many aspects of the backstory created in the Superboy comics, such as Clark's friendship with Lana Lang, remained. In the last several years, some additional features of Superboy's history, such as his tenure in the Legion of Super-Heroes, have also been reintroduced into the story of Superman's youth.
The character was adapted into a Superboy television series (1988–1992), which also spawned another, short-lived Superboy comic series. A teenage Clark Kent secretly using his powers in heroic acts appeared in the highly successful TV series Smallville (2001–2011).
In 1993, DC introduced a modernized Superboy, a teenage clone, ostensibly of Superman but also including human DNA. Eventually, Superboy also becomes known by a Kryptonian name, Kon-El, and as Conner Kent, his secret identity as Clark's cousin. Superboy was featured in his own eponymous series from 1994 until 2002, and in several series devoted to teenage superhero groups. Conner made his television debut on Smallville in the episode "Scion". He is also featured in the animated series Young Justice. Conner was featured in DC's relaunch of Adventure Comics in 2009, and got his own series again in November 2010, which ran until August 2011. A revised version of Kon-El, complete with a new origin, debuted in a Superboy series as part of DC's New 52 launch in September 2011.
In 2016, a new Superboy, Jonathan Samuel Kent, was introduced by DC Comics. Unlike previous versions, this Superboy is the son of Superman and Lois Lane. Since 2017, he has co-starred with Robin (Damian Wayne) in the Super Sons comic books.
Due to DC Comics’ complex Multiverse, several other Superboys have appeared over time, with the most notable being the mentally unstable Superboy-Prime, a parallel world-version of Kal-El.
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