Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Primer on Earth-Prime Superboy!

This post possibly includes spoilers for Infinite Crisis, so if you're a comic reader who cares about that sort of thing, you may not want to read this... yet.


So, if you've been reading DC's epic Infinite Crisis, you know by now that the mastermind behind it all is Alexander Luthor, and his (for want of a better term) lackey, Superboy of Earth-Prime. In this little article I am going to talk about said Superboy and try to come to terms with the way the story is going. It's great, mind you, I am really enjoying it and everything, but I am having a hard time coming to terms with how they changed Superboy so much. (see figure 1A/1B)

Back in the mid 1980's, DC Comics had what were called 'multiple earths'. It was a nice story device that let them have different 'playgrounds' for different types of characters. On one of these Earths, Earth-Prime, Superheroes like Superman, Batman and the like were fictional characters that appeared in comic books just like our own earth! In the universe that contained Earth-Prime, there was also a Krypton-Prime, and it was just as doomed as any other version of Krypton. Jor-El, sent his only son to Earth, like in so many other realities, except for the fact that baby Kal-El was sent by way of a matter transporter and not a rocket. Kal-El was found in the woods, by (who else) the Kents. These Kents were not farmers though, they were Jerry Kent, who owns a computer business, and his (as far as I know) unnamed mother, who was in a successful law firm. Make a note of that, because I'll get back to it later. Clark Kent grows up, and he's no different from the other boys he grows up with, and in fact, is incredibly average. One day, he goes to a beach costume party dressed up as Superboy, to play off of his being named after a comic book character! In a set of circumstances that could only happen in a comic book, a comet passes by as the Superman revenge squad sends Earth-1 (the 'main' Earth) Superman to Earth-Prime, this somehow activates Earth-Prime Superboy's powers (he is Kryptonian, after all), the two Superman meet and have an adventure together.




Shortly thereafter, the still relatively inexperienced Superboy is thrust into the Crisis on Infinite Earths. I wont go into details regarding that, as time is short and others have done it much better than I could. In the aftermath of the Crisis, The 'good' Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 (everyone good is evil, everyone evil is good) takes himself, Superman and Lois Lane of Earth-2 (the 'originals') and Earth-Prime Superboy to a pocket dimension where they are to have their reward for services rendered in the saving of the universe.

Cut to 20 years later and Infinite Crisis, the "sequel" to the original Crisis finds the now singular earth in dire staits, and Earth-2 Superman (who is watching from his 'paradise') thinks that if the merged earth were based off of Earth-2 and not Earth-1 like it was, things would have been better, so he sets off to make things right. Meanwhile, it's revealed that a lot of the things that have been going haywire lately are directly because of Alex Luthor and Earth-Prime Superboy.

This was a shock to me, maybe not Luthor so much, because hey, he's a Luthor. Superboy is another matter entirely. I was thinking to myself, where can he have gone wrong, and then, Infinite Crisis #4 hit the stands, and I was aghast at what happened, but I realized the why and how of Superboy's behavior. I am not a psychoanalyst or anything, but it seems plausible to me that Superboy went kind of nutty for a few reasons. First of all, he was not raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, two kindly farmers who in every other reality taught Superman what was important in life and to never use his powers for personal gain. This Superboy on the other hand was raised by two parents who had the type of jobs that would keep them busy most of the time, not to mention the fact that they had no idea their son was from the planet Krypton, and therefore couldn't teach him how he should use them in the aid of humanity. Secondly, he has next to no experience in being a hero. He met Superman in his first adventure, and learned the ropes, but he was still incredibly green, and someone who has the power to move planets, but not the experience to use it properly is a powderkeg just waiting to explode. Lastly, and probably most importantly, he has been cooped up with Luthor for 20 years (probably not that long in comic book time), and has likely been led astray by him (Luthors are notoriously manipulative). Since he pretty much now amounts to Alex's soldier-boy, where he doesn't really do his own thinking, I can see how this has come to be. I don't necessarily like it, but I can see how it happened. I can only hope that before the series is over he can somehow redeem himself, but considering his armor plated, zombie-like visage in figure 1-B, I doubt it.

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