Since the start of Rebirth, just over a year ago, there have been a handful of characters fans just can’t stop asking about. Even DC Comics co-publisher Dan DiDio is quick and open about listing them off in interviews and at conventions: Fans want to know about the JSA, the Legion of Super-Heroes and Conner Kent.
The first two items on the list have been hinted at pretty heavily in Rebirth from the very beginning, with characters like Johnny Thunder and Saturn Girl making their return at the starting gun in DC Universe Rebirth #1. But Conner? Well, he’s been a different story.
For a year and a half, the name Conner Kent never came up in any capacity in Rebirth storylines. There were no tease, no hints, no passing references. Creators on convention panels would duck and weave around questions regarding the Rebirth of the fan-favorite Superboy with playful ease. It seemed — for lack of a better word — that fans of Kon-El might be waiting forever for the return of their favorite character.
That is, until Detective Comics #966 made it’s move.
Who the Hell is Conner Kent?
To say that Conner is actually “back” would be inaccurate, but it is the first time we’ve seen him on the comic page page in Rebirth, in any capacity. More specifically, we see him on a screen, during a flashback to the alternate Tim Drake’s — the one who is older and currently Batman — timeline, but he introduces himself as “Superman.”
This is the “Titans of Tomorrow” timeline where the Teen Titans of the pre-New 52 continuity became a sort of worst case scenario Justice League. Here, Conner grew up to graduate from Superboy to Superman the same way Tim took on the mantle of Batman. However, as we learn from Tim’s narration and flashbacks, there are some distinct differences from the “Titans of Tomorrow” story we got from Johns and McKone back in their Teen Titans run in the early 2000s — namely, that this incarnation of the timeline, Tim has completely severed his ties with the Titans-turned-Justice League and is now working completely alone.
This positions the timeline overlap in a pretty ambiguous area, meaning it’s hard to say just what, exactly, from the pre-New 52 Teen Titans is actually still on the table. However, one thing is still absolutely certain: this was a timeline where Conner and Tim were best friends.
But Rebirth Tim doesn’t seem to know or even recall the name “Conner Kent” at all, which come come as a surprise to some fans, considering that the New 52 did include a version of Kon-El as Superboy who even ended up joining the New 52’s incarnation of the Teen Titans.
However, it’s important to note that the New 52 version of Kon-El was not, in fact, Conner Kent — both in a literal and figurative sense. The New 52 Superboy never adopted Conner Kent as a civilian identity, which is one reason Tim may not recognize the name — but more than that, during the New 52, the two of them were never really all that close.
With only a handful of small exceptions, Tim and Superboy’s relationship during the New 52 Teen Titans was hardly anything more than friendly rivals stuck together on a team. So, it makes sense for this version of Tim to not really know who Conner is or why he’s important…Which, of course, begs the question: why is Conner Kent important?
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