What I Remember:
The clone of Superman was a way to introduce a new Superboy without him being Superman as a kid. I always had a hard time accepting that Superboy would be based in Smallville with Clark Kent and then move with him to Metropolis without raising any eyebrows. Plus, pre-Crisis Superboy would meet villains like Lex Luthor before meeting him in Metropolis, even causing him to lose his hair.
I’ve never liked those types of Smallville or now Gotham-style stories, where everyone knows each other throughout their lives. It is improbable that an entire group of friends from childhood, would wind up close throughout adulthood. How many people do you hang out with on a regular basis throughout your life from childhood through adulthood, despite changing cities?
The clone of Superman was Superman with a 90s attitude, basically if the Image guys created Superman. Young, brash, trendy haircut and a leather jacket instead of a cape. Oh, and he had belts everywhere.
The Adventures of Superman #501 “The Adventures of Superman...When He Was a Boy!”
Writer: Karl Kesel
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Doug Hazelwood
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Albert DeGuzman
Assistant Editor: Jennifer Frank
Editor: Mike Carlin
Superman Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: June 1993
Cover Price: $1.95
Re-Collection Price: Beaten Up Original
Some hoods stole a cab and and are using Superman’s memorial as target practice. As they turn their sights on an attractive jogger they run head first into…
The jogger doubts his claim that he’s the Man of Steel and he runs through the checklist and even gets a nifty pair of shades from one of the car thieves.
In Suicide Slum, Bibbo, tries to fill the void left by his Fav-rit's death, giving out food to the poor at the docks when he discovers that a lady crying over the docks. She drowned her puppies because she didn’t have the money to feed them. Bibbo dives in to save them but only one lives, a white dog that he names Krypton.
The new teen Superman shows up at Lois Lane’s desk to complain about the coverage he got in The Daily Planet.
Superman flips out on Jimmy for calling him Superboy but admits that he’s actually a clone of Superman. Lois doesn’t buy it until he puts on the glasses and slicks his hair back.
The conversation is ended when Superman is distracted by Tana Moon who’s just quit her job, not wanting to cover a bake-off. She’s going back to her job at WGBS when Superman literally sweeps her off her feet.
Tana gets him on TV immediately to tell the world his story and station head Vincent Edge makes him the official Superman of WGBS.
He wants to use the new Superman to stage stories. They decide to use him to take out Steel Hand who’s barricaded himself in Suicide Slum.
Superman runs the Double Dragon-like gauntlet easily, although we do learn that the clone of Superman is not as invulnerable as the original and he loses his jacket, but he takes out Steel Hand quickly.
Lois is watching the melee on tv while talking with Martha Kent. Lois wonders what Clark would have been like as a teen if Martha and Jonathan hadn’t raised him.
Guardian, Cadmus’ personal superhero, meets up with Superman on a roof and informs him that he was acting as his guardian angel back on Easy Street, taking out thugs with poison gas, Superman doesn’t believe him, because he was locked in and would have noticed. As he finishes the sentence, Guardian is gone, slipping away without Superman noticing, proving Guardian's point.
Luthor is incensed that Superman's clone doesn't belong to him and that his man at Cadmus didn't inform him of the project's success. Looks like Lex has yet another Superman to destroy.
Continued After Ad:
Yes, the 90s Superboy gets a lot of flack for being too 90s and coming off as dated but I would say that this story was actually ahead of its time.
Sure, the costume is very 90s with the belts in weird places but a cool leather jacket never goes out of style and his fade haircut, that he often gets flack for, would today fit right in any coffee shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
WGBS wanting to create the news with their own personal Superman foreshadows reality TV, which was in its infancy back in 1993. Back in the early 90s, we only had The Real World. In today’s age of Real Housewives and Kardashians, where writers are employed on reality shows, makes Vincent Edge seem ahead of his time, by arranging to pit his Superman against villains while cameras roll.
I also really liked the conversation between Martha Kent and Lois, where Martha says that no child raised by her would act like the clone. It reinforces that Superman is more than his powers, it’s his morality that comes from his earth parents.
I liked seeing the glimpses of Clark’s personality peek through this ball of Kryptonian hormones. When Superman pulls his hair back for Lois, you could see a young Clark. He also shows that he has a preference for reporters although he likes them a bit younger than the 30-something Lois.
The clone of Superman is a hormonal teen that can do whatever he wants to whomever he wants. He takes sunglasses off of a man he just beat up, something Superman would never do. He also chases tail like no one’s business. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that when he saves the jogger that he picks her up by the butt and even plants a kiss on her.
He’s like Donald Trump with superpowers. He proves over and over that he’s Superman without the moral compass planted by the Kents. This book was an enjoyable read, that wasn't nearly as dated as I thought it would be.