DC Comics’ two Superboys are getting into a sibling rivalry in Young Justice, but Future State shows who the real winner will be.
Superboy is taking on the competition for his title. The original Superboy of the 90s and 2000s has returned to DC Comics, only to discover that the Superboy name is being used by another hero with closer ties to Superman. A moment in Young Justice #20 shows that the classic Superboy is bristling about having to share the role.
Young Justice #20 is written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker with art by Scott Godlewski, colors by Gabe Eltaeb, and lettering by Wes Abbott. The issue caps off the newest Young Justice series, which mixed brand-new characters like Teen Lantern and Jinny Hex with the team’s founding members from the 90s. That includes Superboy, aka Conner Kent or Kon-El, who was a secret clone of Superman that followed in his “dad’s” footsteps with some leather jackets and teen angst along the way. (This is the 2000s-era, T-shirt-wearing Superboy from the Young Justice animated series and season 2 of Titans.)
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The heroes of Young Justice found their Superboy in an alternate dimension, having survived the 2011 reboot in secret by being stranded outside the universe living on his own farm. The heroes recognized their old friend, even though the timeline had changed, and welcomed him back. In his absence, the Superboy name has been in use by Jon Kent, Superman’s biological son.
The two Superboys are sharing the name, but Conner isn’t totally chill about it. In Young Justice #20, the team are settling into their semi-authorized new headquarters, the old Justice League fortress of Mount Justice. Then the android Red Tornado, who had been in stasis inside Mount Justice, kicks into alert mode and threatens to beat down the intruders. Conner immediately tries to pull rank: “Red Tornado, this is Conner Kent! As the best Superboy, I order you to stand down!”
Of course, Jon isn’t anywhere nearby, so this particular bit of shade is more reflective of what’s going on in Conner’s head than any intention to taunt the other Superboy. Jon and Conner officially met in Action Comics #1022, written by Young Justice co-author Bendis, and hit it off in a “step-siblings trying to bond” sort of way. Still, Jon’s immediate reaction to seeing Conner was to ask his dad if he’d been replaced by a new, “cooler” Superboy, and it seems that Kon-El hasn’t quite gotten over that particular bit of sibling rivalry.
In the future, will the two Superboys have to settle the right to the title? It’s possible, especially with Action Comics emphasizing the “Super-Family” getting to know each other better. In the immediate future, however, that conflict is getting resolved. DC’s temporarily leaping forward in time in January 2021’s Future State event, which pushes forward to the next generation of DC’s heroes. In Future State, Jon Kent takes up the mantle of Superman, embracing his destiny to replace his dad, and Conner Kent is leading a new version of the Suicide Squad as Superboy. The once and future Superboy gets to be the sole hero with the name, but it’s hard to say watching his rival graduate counts as a win.
Young Justice #20 is now available in stores.
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