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Why Superman's Clone Superboy is Only a Teenager | Screen Rant

While originally just a younger version of Superman brought to life through advanced cloning technology, Superboy has become a prominent character in DC Comics in his own right. One aspect of his character that has been brought into question, is if Superboy is a clone of Superman, why is he only a teenager? The answer to that question depends entirely on which universe within the DC multiverse one is referring to. 

Kon-El AKA Conner Kent was brought to life after Superman supposedly died after his battle with the hulking creature Doomsday. When Superboy was freed from his cloning pod, he insisted on being called Superman as he believed himself to be the heir to that particular moniker as the original Man of Steel was out of commission. Superboy’s origins are tied directly to one of the most epic Superman stories, the Reign of the Supermen which had Superboy duke it out with other versions of the Justice League leader before Superman eventually returned, at which point Conner accepted ‘Superboy’ as his superhero name. 

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The reason Superboy is only a teenager when he was being created to replace Superman and therefore would need to be a fully grown adult to properly do so is all because of an act of teenage rebellion. A group of middle-aged children who go by the name Newsboy Legion broke into the lab in which Superboy was being grown. As Kon-El was floating in his cloning pod, preparing to be experimented on further, the Newsboy Legion broke in and shattered the containment vessel, freeing Superboy and releasing him upon the world

The previously stated origin of Superboy happened on Prime Earth, though an entirely different and much more malignant origin exists in DC’s New 52 which ties the birth of Superboy directly to Krypton’s own shameful past. Just like the original story, Superboy was a clone of Superman mixed with human DNA that was being grown in a lab. When his brain activity seemed non-existent, the scientists were ready to pull the plug on the project and end Superboy’s life before it began. Reacting to the threat of death, Superboy came to life and murdered many scientists in the process of breaking out of his cloning pod. His birth in this version is reminiscent of the clones on Krypton that rebelled against their masters which created a war that shifted the planet in the direction of extinction. Just as his clone ancestors, Superboy’s first instinct when brought to life was violence and rebellion. 

From being rescued by a group of rebellious teenagers to escaping like his life depended on it, both origin stories of Superboy point to premature release from the cloning pod as to why he is a teenager. While the character could have been in danger of being written into obscurity for being a Superman redundancy, fans took to Superboy immediately and some of his stories went on to greatly influence the direction in which DC Comics was taken. One Superboy comic was even the first introduction of King Shark, a character that has since gained mass amounts of popularity. Superman’s clone Superboy is just like the Man of Steel in nearly every way, including mass popularity.

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