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Reign of the Superboys: Does the DCU Really Need Two Teens of Steel?

WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Superman #7 by Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis, and Young Justice #1 by Bendis and Patrick Gleason, on sale now.

Brian Michael Bendis and Patrick Gleason's Young Justice #1 featured the return of DC's junior Justice League team, cementing the existence of the young superhero group in Rebirth continuity. Among the returning familiar faces was that of Conner Kent, aka Superboy. That is, the teenage Superboy who was once the clone of Superman, then retconned to be the illegitimate love clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, and then retconned again to actually be the clone of Lois Lane and Clark Kent's son from an alternate timeline.

One week later, Bendis and Ivan Reis' Superman #7 features the return of another character calling himself Superboy. This time, though, it's the "real" Jon Kent, son of Lois and Clark. Young Jon's parents had agreed to allow him to take a deep space journey with his grandfather Jor-El, but Jon has returned, less than a month later - but somehow, he's aged approximately seven years. Meaning that, where there were previously none, the DC Universe now has two teenage Superboys in as many weeks.

Though he's been missed by fans, Rebirth had been chugging along fine without Conner. It had also established a firm family dynamic with a younger Jon. All of which leads to the question: Is there then really a need for one teen Superboy in the DC Universe, let alone two?

RELATED: Jon Kent is Back, But He’s Not the Superboy Anyone Remembers

Reign of the Superboys

What Rebirth does or doesn't "need" is a rather arbitrary and dubious concept. There's a whole multiverse out there once again, and with dozens of, if not more, duplicates of characters already known to exist, what are a couple of additional ones, even if they're sharing a reality? It's not like Superman is the only Kryptonian around anymore, either – Supergirl, Zod, Krypto and others have co-existed with Superman for quite awhile now. Needed or not, variations on the Super-theme have long been a part of Superman's extensive legacy, and if there's room for multiple Supermen, then surely a Superboy or two can fit in as well.

The bottom line is, fans like teenage heroes, as decades of various incarnations of the Teen Titans has shown. A 10-year-old boy – even one with superpowers – going off on his own adventures seems a little irresponsible by today's standards. A 17-year-old wanting to do the same, though, powered or not, can't be stopped, as any parent knows. And two of them, well – that's one potentially interesting dynamic that's never been explored, but most certainly begs to be.

Superboy's Pal, Superboy

Even if the pair don't form their own team truly worthy of the name Super Sons, that's not to say each couldn't stand uniquely on their own. Despite the outward similarities, the origins and backgrounds of both are radically different. And even after brief reappearances by both, each has already demonstrated some unique traits that belie anything overly derivative of each other, their shared namesake notwithstanding.

RELATED: Superboy's New Look Poses a Crisis for Superman

After seven years in space with his apparently insane granddad, Jon has already been shown to have developed a maturity and sense of responsibility worthy of his own father. His new costume, clearly derived from Superman's but with no shortage of his own touches, has an almost regal look that proclaims an old-school kind of goodness that he shares with his dad. Raised with old-fashioned Kent family values, Jon is poised to be a true chip off the ol' Super-block.

Conner vs. Jon

Just as Jon's upbringing has been traditional, Conner's has been anything but. The character's history has been convoluted, sure, but as a clone with Kryptonian DNA and raised in a lab, his behavior and values stand to be wildly different from Jon's. He's most certainly one of the good guys, but one who didn't enjoy the benefit of a warm, loving family. The presence vs. lack of positive parental role models play a large part in shaping a kid, and that's the kind of dynamic worth examining. And Conner's scruffy beard and spiked leather jacket certainly evokes a far different demeanor than Superman's son's.

Plus, Conner's history is far too extensive to simply be thrown away. The character had originally met his end during the "New 52" incarnation of Superboy, but was ultimately brought back in that series' final issue. Conner later joined the Teen Titans, but that franchise became even more hopelessly convoluted than Conner's own history. That series ran up until it was restarted – again – with the advent of Rebirth, but Conner was inexplicably absent. That absence, though, will likely be addressed in future issues of Young Justice.

RELATED: Young Justice Solicit Offers An Intriguing Clue About Superboy's Return

Two Superboys, yes. But also two different looks, origins and histories. The DC Universe might survive without them, but it looks to be a lot more interesting with them.

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