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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The John Byrne Revamp: Deleting Superboy from DC History

Article by Rennie Cowan

Superboy endured several decades of adventures in comic book publication up until 1986 when DC writer John Byrne revamped the Superman saga entirely. The "revamp" changed the backstory of the DC Universe and declared that Superboy never existed. Only Superman existed. DC would portray Superman's past in very much the same way Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie depicted Superman's past. Baby Kal-El was sent to Earth from a dying planet known as Krypton and landed on a farm in Smallville, Kansas. He was found by a childless couple, raised as Clark Kent, became a reporter at The Daily Planet and soon after made his debut as Superman. The revamp completely altered what fans had known of the Superman mythos for years; that before he was Superman, he was Superboy.

In one ironic act, Alexander and Ilya Salkind decided it was time to bring Superboy back to life. They had sold their rights to Superman (the film and televsion rights) to Cannon Films after the disappointing Superman III and the box-office failure Supergirl staring Helen Slater but still retained some prior rights to produce other "super" characters from the same world, for example, Superboy. So they didn't waste time. Shooting began on August 15th, 1988. Despite the 1986 revamp that neatly tied the DC comics with Superman: The movie, the show would be based on the pre-crisis Superboy and a short 4-issue limited comic book series that was published in 1984 titled Superman: The Secret Years. By the 2nd season, 'Superboy: The TV Series' would rank in the top ten of popular syndication, a show that was strikingly faithful to the original DC comics. In fact, it's popularity convinced DC to publish a title based on the show itself...Superboy: The Comic Book. What was the message to DC? The message was plain...there was still a market and cult following for The Boy of Steel, despite DC's elimination of the character.

SPECIAL NOTE: Byrne later said in interviews that he regretted not having given Clark a "Superboy" career, during which he and other writers could have shown him as a falliable youth still learning how to use his powers in combat. Retro Vision Magazine, issue #8. Copyright 1988. We know of course that in the coming years we would see a hit TV series titled Smallville and that the premise would be that exact concept...Clark's growing years but without the tights.

INFINITE CRISIS / FINAL CRISIS: As if one Crisis wasn't enough, DC decided to put the DC Universie into the way of another crisis. Final Crisis is a 7 issue limited series that takes place after the 51 issue DC series release Countdown to Final Crisis. Final Crisis was written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by J. G. Jones, Carlos Pacheco, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, and Marco Rudy. In Final Crisis, all the heroes of the DC multiverse join allegiance with one another to save the existence of the 52 Earths. The DC Universe is also known as the "multiverse" which consists of 52 alternate Earths with different histories and backgrounds. Since the time of the original Crisis on Inifite Earths Superboy had become a clone of Superman named Kon-El as a result of the popular Death of Superman saga. As the infinite Earths were revealed, it was also revealed that there were more new Superboys in the multiverse. One of them was named Superboy-Prime. Superboy-Prime (who was originally a silver age type of Superboy, a good person) went psychotic and became such a menace that the Legion of Superheroes from three different worlds has to fight together to stop Prime Superboy. Superboy-Prime destroys an entire prison planet and kills off the Green Lanterns. In the multiverse, Superman, or rather, Superboy, isn't always good. Find out more about Superboy-Prime in the limited series comic book Legion of Three Worlds. Also, watch the Superboy-Prime music video on youtube. Superboy-Prime is in some regards a reflection of the evil Superboy (Sovereign) seen in Season 3 of The Superboy TV Series.

The DC Universe updated again with another crisis... Flashpoint, a paradox that changed the DC Universe and the origins and histories of the DC characters once again. Caused by The Reverse Flash, the after-effect of this particular crisis turned Superboy into what we thought was a clone developed by an anti-meta group called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. This group hunted down youths with super powers. And Superboy, now clad in what looked like a Tron-suit, was on a quest to discover himself. Later it was revealed he was the son of Lois and Superman.

Until the next crisis, Superboy has seen many changes in the DC Universe! He is no longer just Kal-El.

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