This is the third and final part of this look at Superboy.
Fast-forward to 2006 and the 7-issue mini-series Infinite Crisis. Following the murder of Maxwell Lord by Wonder Woman, Earth and the entire universe descend into a state of chaos. Observing this from the distance of a separate “heavenly dimension” are four beings who have been living in a paradise-like setting for what seems like an eternity.
Three of these individuals believe that they are capable of saving the universe. Issue #1 of the series ends with the aged Superman previously of Earth-2, stating in a clear voice “this looks like a job for Superman!”.
Issue number two of Infinite Crisis was published January 2006. On the cover are Lois Lane, Superman, Alexander Luthor, Superboy and another member of the family, Power Girl.
Power Girl, who was first introduced in All-Star Comics #58 (Feb 1976), was Supergirl’s Earth-2 counterpart. She was Superman of Earth-2’s cousin, Kara.
In this story, the Superman of Earth-2, who since the end of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, has been living in a pocket dimension somewhere, returns to New Earth and greets his cousin Power Girl. She has no idea who he is. He asks her to come with him to a place somewhere in the Arctic.
There she is greeted by Superboy and Alex Luthor. Alexander comments that Power Girl is an aberration to this universe. She is “like us,” he says and adds “she was never meant to survive”.
When Superboy asks how it was that she did survive, Alexander replies that he has several theories. One theory is that she may have literally fallen through a crack in reality as it reset itself at the end of the COIE.
Secondly, he speculates that perhaps her interaction with the Anti-Monitor left her protected from the shifting timelines. Power Girl has no idea what they are talking about. She asks what it is that she is supposed to be a survivor of and Superman replies “of the multiverse”.
He then goes on to explain literally “everything” starting with events that occurred billions of years ago, continuing with the accidental creation of the multi-verse. He explains how it was that there were multiple Earths; that there was an Earth 1 and an Earth-2. He told of the Justice Society of America on Earth-2 and the Justice League of America on Earth-1.
He explains that eventually “our” teams met during the crisis and how they learned there were more parallel worlds. He introduces Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 and Superboy of Earth-Prime. He goes on to reveal to Power Girl the details of the COIE.
He tells her how the superheroes of multiple Earths came together in teams dedicated to defeating the Anti-Monitor and their hopes of restoring Reality. He tells her that the “doppelgängers” of Earth-2 were “negated and erased from history”. He tells her of how Alexander did something that he could never repay him for. Alexander used the last of his dimensional abilities to create a heavenly place for him, Lois, and Superboy-Prime.
It was from this place that they were able to observe the New Earth as it began a new reality.
Superman says that New Earth started off so well; it was so full of hope. He was confident that Earth was in “good hands”. He says that after some time they learned that something was inherently wrong. That there was a darkness that seemed to spread warping hero’s lives. They observed that there was a loss of inspiration. Then they began to notice that the darkness that was slowly taking over New Earth, was causing their refuge to begin to warp.
The aged Superman’s statement regarding darkness having engulfed the new Earth sounded to me like a commentary on the dark age of comic books, and by that, I am referring to what some fans have labeled the Dark Age of Comic Books – the period between 1985 to 2011?.
In a rage, Superman literally busted his way out of their heavenly dimension. Alex Luthor describes their escape is nothing short of a miracle. He then reveals to her that Lois is dying. The account of Superman of Earth-2 punching out the wall of heaven seems to contradict the account given in one of the tie-ins to this series. In the one-shot Infinite Crisis: Secret Files and Origins, it is Superboy who loses it and busts through the wall; in effect, shattering reality.
When Power Girl touches Lois’s hand, she is suddenly consumed by a tidal wave of memories of a past life in a different dimension. The dimension that once was Earth-2.
Superman complains that Earth has become corrupted and joyless. He is disgusted that some heroes have done terrible things to their adversaries such as altering minds and committing murder. He questions why it was that he and Superboy-Prime survived when others such as Dick Grayson and Helena Wayne of Earth-2 did not. He states that up until now he did not know what his true purpose was. He tells Power Girl that the wrong Earth was saved and asks that she support and help him. He says that the corrupted and darkened Earth must be forgotten as ours was so that the “right Earth can return”.
Here in the Fortress of Solitude, Superboy-Prime confronts Power Girl and questions her reluctance to join in with their campaign to bring back Earth-2. She is reluctant to join in because of her concern about what will happen to the residents of New Earth. Superboy tells her not to be concerned about those “awful people” and their heroes who are just as bad. He complains about the new Superboy, Conner Kent and then he hands her one of Lois’s journals, encouraging her to read it. Saying that it might help her to understand.
Having grown up in the 1960s reading the stories of Superboy in Adventure Comics and Action Comics, I can totally relate to what Superboy-Prime was ranting about. There is a saying that “times change and we must change with them”. However, when you get older you have possibly gone through many periods of change; some are better, some are worse, and nostalgia can be a powerful force.
Superboy-Prime is literally a “timeless character” living outside of the space-time continuum. Yet, he belongs to another time; specifically, the gold and silver ages of comic books. He is the embodiment of a period of time that could be described as “kinder and gentler” or at least that is the way that Superboy sees it.
Off by herself, Power Girl reads Lois’s journal and is moved to tears. Suddenly she has an idea and tells Superboy-Prime and Alex that they need to talk to the Justice Society and the Superman of this earth, believing that together they can figure out a way to save both Earth-1 and Earth-2.
Superboy becomes impatient when Kara falters in her attempt. After Superboy-Prime and Alexander witness the destruction of a suburb of Gotham city, we are shown one of the Monitor’s golden towers, inside which the Anti-Monitor is embedded. On the outer wall of the tower, Alexander has strung-up four heroes that he has captured. One of them is Power Girl and she pleads with Alexander to tell her why he is doing this. Alexander reveals that he and Superboy are involved in a conspiracy. He tells her that they have been coming to this “bleak universe” for quite some time. He explains how they were behind a number of events such as the Rann-Thanagar war, the end of magic, and cause of Batman’s satellite, known as Brother Eye, becoming sentient and turning against humanity.
Suddenly, Superboy is no longer the savior of the Universe; he is now more like an Anti-Christ. “Say it isn’t so, Superboy!”
Between Infinite Crisis #4 and Infinite Crisis #5, in the one-shot Infinite Crisis Secret Files and Origins” (Apr 2006), we get another peek at what was going in the “heavenly” dimension inhabited by only four individuals. In one scene, Superboy confesses to Superman that he is angry all of the time. Then goaded by Alex Luthor, Superboy explodes in a rage and busts a hole in the wall of reality. By breaking out of their pocket universe, the reality was changed.
In Infinite Crisis #5, Superboy from Earth-Prime searches out and attacks the current “Superboy” of New Earth, Connor Kent. They fight and then Superboy-Prime eventually kills Connor.
Before Connor’s death, Superboy takes on the Teen Titans and accidentally kills one of them. He defends himself from attacks on all sides and more heroes die. Following this, he is attacked by the speedsters Flash (Bart Allen) and Flash (Jay Garrick).
Meanwhile, Alex causes the universe to fracture. This eventually results is a reestablishment of the multiverse, Superboy-Prime goes on a rampage killing everyone who opposed him. In one battle he killed 32 Green Lanterns.
In the end, Superboy-Prime is captured by the Green Lantern Corps and imprisoned in a specially built prison run by the guardians of the universe and guarded by 50 Green Lanterns.
This was the end of Superboy-Prime. When he reappeared later in the Sinestro Corps Wars and in Final Crisis he now was calling himself Superman-Prime.
Today, I am frankly a little bored by the current Superman series. On the other hand, I have read every issue of the current Supergirl series and I am a huge fan of the Supergirl TV series.
When I read of Superboy-Prime, at the end of COIE, going off into the sunset to the heavenly dimension along with Superman, Lois, and Alex Luthor, the thing that immediately came to mind was the cliché fib often told by parents to their children whose beloved pet has just died. It is a tale that evokes the vision of the aged pet now transformed into a puppy running free and happy on a farm somewhere. I thought of Superboy-Primer as a “Peter Pan”, a boy who never grew up. I wonder if that was the author’s intent.
The image of Superboy-Prime losing his temper in Infinite Crisis and then going on a rampage reminded me of ‘me’. When I was a kid I had a terrible temper but I eventually learned to manage anger. This was just one more thing that made me find the Superboy character more relatable than Superman.