Possibly one of the most confusing superheroes in the DC Comics universe has to be Superboy. This is because the character has changed so many times throughout the years that it is often hard to keep track of which Superboy is which. Originally in the '40s, it was simply Superman as a child, learning how to use his powers and becoming the greatest hero that Earth had ever seen. However, after the battle with Doomsday took Superman out of the world for a short time, the first clone Superboy appeared and that opened the floodgates. That Superboy -- Kon-El -- was the first of a new wave of Superboys cloned from the Man of Steel himself.
There have been a number of Superboys since then, with multiple clones as well as alternate Earth Superboys that have shown up, fought both alongside and against the Man of Steel, and have either succeeded or faded into obscurity. Add in the ones on TV and there are even more versions of the young hero -- each with different power levels. While some have Kryptonian superpowers, others have what is known as tactile telekinesis, which gives them powers similar to Superman, but not up to his level. While all the Superboys have great powers and stand tall above most other Earthly heroes, they are clearly not all on the same level as their counterparts, with some easily more powerful and others quite easily dispensable when their time came.
Bizarro has always been a tragic character in the pages of DC Comics. The opposite of Superman in every way, Bizarro was never a true villain but was instead a very confused and misunderstood creature. This all started in the beginning with Bizarro-Superboy.
Created by Professor Dalton and his duplicate machine, Bizarro-Superboy was a very imperfect duplicate. Sadly, Superboy accidentally destroyed Bizarro-Superboy when the two collided and Bizarro-Superboy turned to dust. The blueprints for this character were later used by Lex Luthor to create Bizarro. There was yet another Bizarro-Superboy who lived in the 30th Century and started the Legion of Super-Bizarros.
19 SUPERBOY (HYPERJACKET)
During the tyranny of the second Black Zero, Superboys from all alternate universes had to team up together to try to defeat the villain and stop him. An alternate version of Superboy from a world where Superman never returned after his iconic battle with Doomsday, the Balck Zero version of Superboy matured instantly and had the power to destroy other worlds through Hypertime.
This particular Superboy led the resistance against Black Zero, and after stealing the Hyper-jacket from Project Cadmus, he traveled to New Earth to warn of Black Zero's arrival. Paul Westfield, the executive director of Project Cadmus, eliminated him using electricity in the same issue that he debuted, making his existence short-lived. Luckily, he delivered his message to Kon-El before his passing.
In Superboy #183, DC Comics presented an "imaginary" story supposing what would happen if Kal-El had his ship land in the jungles of Africa rather than Kansas in the United States. In this story, apes found the baby and raised him as their own, such that Kal-El grew up to become Karkan the Mighty -- Lord of the Jungle.
Karkan ended up battling poachers but where he falls on this list -- despite having all the basic powers of Superboy -- is that he lacks the intelligence to d0 much more than fight with raw power. He is even captured by one of the evil poachers, who somehow knew to use kryptonite, and needed rescuing by the poacher's daughter. Still, it was fun to see a Superboy-Tarzan amalgam.
Spider-Boy is an Amalgam Universe character who, as the name indicates, mixes Superboy and Spider-Man into one character. Peter Ross was created by Project Cadmus as a clone of Peter Parker, a researcher who died in a lab explosion. In this world, Pete is adopted by Thunderbolt Ross, the head of the project, and has some of the powers of Spider-Man from the start, such as wall crawling. When General Ross dies, Spider-Boy becomes a superhero.
His powers are an interesting spinoff of Spider-Man. He can manipulate gravity, which is how he can walk on walls. He also has superhuman strength and agility and uses web pistols as a weapon. His strength and agility are based on pre- and post-Crisis Superboy and the name Pete was a reference to Pete Ross (and Peter Parker, of course).
16 CLARK KENT (SECRET IDENTITY)
Secret Identity brought a hugely different look to Superboy as he was not Kal-El at all, but instead a young man named Clark Kent who was born in a small town in Kansas. Released in 1994, Secret Identity was a four-issue limited series that saw the rise of Clark from a young powerless man into a great superhero.
In these comic books, the only superheroes existed in comic books and not in the real world. However, unknown radiation from a meteor that struck Earth gave Clark the powers of the comic book hero Superman. He was the first superhero on this Earth, although he kept his existence a secret from the world. His powers are not as strong as Superman's though, as it was his subconscious that manifested the powers as a facsimile based on his knowledge of the comic book character.
15 CONNOR KENT (YOUNG JUSTICE)
The Superboy that most people know from the '90s is Connor Kent. When it comes to DC Animation, the company used this Superboy to bring to life in their insanely popular Young Justice cartoon. Much like the comic books, Connor is a clone of Superman -- created by Project Cadmus so they had an alternative if the real Superman died or turned bad.
Because Connor is a clone of Superman, he does not have the full powers of Kal-El, nor does he have the superhuman abilities of the other Superboys. However, he does have what is known as tactile telekinesis, which creates a telekinetic field around himself that allows him to possess similar powers as Superman but at a much smaller level. He also can't fly or use x-ray or heat vision.
14 CONNOR KENT (NEW EARTH)
Connor Kent was one of the first Superboys in DC Comics that was not actually a young Kal-El. Instead, Connor showed up after Superman perished at the hands of Doomsday. It turned out that Paul Westfield had Superman's DNA and created the clone at Project Cadmus, with Connor showing up quickly after the tragedy as The Metropolis Kid.
After the return of Superman, he began working as Superboy and then was awarded the name Kon-El from Superman himself as a sign of respect. Connor joined Young Justice and remained Superboy until Infinite Crisis. Much like his animated cartoon version, Kon-El uses a telekinetic force field to approximate Superman's powers but he gained more Kryptonian powers in Teen Titans, making him stronger over time.
13 THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY
Superboy had a life on television way before he ever appeared on the hit series Smallville. There was the Superboy from the '60s that played off the successful George Reeves Superman series. Then, after Christopher Reeve brought Superman back to popularity, a Superboy TV show hit the air.
Gerard Christopher played Superboy in this television show and it was pretty successful until the network canceled it to reboot the franchise with Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Superboy on TV wasn't up to the level of his comic book counterpart but this was still a great series while it lasted. This was despite more cringeworthy moments, like when WCW star Lex Luger showed up to challenge him for the role of Superboy -- at the age of 31.
While Clark Kent was started off in Smallville as a high school student, he was never officially called Superboy (or Superman) on the popular CW TV show. However, there was someone who ended up becoming Superboy in later years -- and it was none other than Connor Kent, who was actually a clone known as LX-15.
LX-15 was a clone of Lex Luthor using the blood of Clark Kent. All of Luthor's clones aged rapidly and Connor was no different; although, after reaching his teenage years, he was finally saved, turned good, and ended up leading the Titans. LX-15 has similar powers to Clark Kent on the show thanks to the Kryptonian DNA, but at a lesser level.
11 SUPERBOY (SUPER SEVEN)
Appearing in Adventures of Superman Annual #6, this Superboy was a superhero who decided he wanted to be Superman until he met the real one and other Justice League members. They wouldn't let him join but when he caused a lot of problems in the Rocky Mountains, they invited him to their team in order to keep him under control. This is when Superboy names the group he is in "The Super Seven."
After the death of many heroes, including Wonder Woman, Batman and the real Superman, this Superboy finally stepped up and took on the mantle of Superman to keep the dream alive. This character has flight, invulnerability and super strength thanks to tactile telekinesis. He also has the skill of disassembling something by just touching it, like many other Conners.
10 KENT CONNOR (MATCH)
While the original Bizarro-Superboy was not very powerful at all and was easily destroyed (albeit by accident), the Bizarro version of Superboy that appeared in the late '90s was much more powerful. Much like the original, Kent Connor was created using the DNA of Superboy but he was actually more powerful than Connor Kent.
Kent Connor had more information programmed into him and also had greater control over his powers than Connor. Of course, the real Superboy ended up winning when they first battled but the clone -- which became known as Match -- ended up as a deadly opponent for the Titans and Young Justice over the years, only beaten thanks to his romantic infatuation with Wonder Girl.
9 KON-EL (PRIME EARTH)
Kon-El is the New 52 rebooted version of Connor Kent. Instead of a Project Cadmus-created clone, this Superboy is a half-human and half-Kryptonian clone created by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. He was meant to be a weapon but when Kon-El met Superman and was shown respect, he became a hero.
However, when it comes to powers, Kon-El as a clone only possessed half the potential of a Kryptonian. Ha had accelerated healing, self-sustenance, the strength to lift a couple of tons and invulnerability. He also has the tactile telekinesis of most Superboys which allows flight and heat vision and it slightly increases his strength, but it is still at a lower level than earlier clones of Superman.
8 JONATHAN SAMUEL KENT
When it comes to all the Superboys over their existence in DC Comics, one thing remains consistent. Outside of very rare cases, they increase in power as they get older and never have their full level of powers until they are an adult. Jon Kent is a brand-new Superboy and he is very different from other versions because he is actually Superman's biological son.
Jon appeared after the DC Rebirth storyline as Clark and Lois' son when the pre- and post-Flashpoint timelines merged. He first appeared as Superboy in Superman Vol. 4 #6 and has teamed with Damian Wayne in Super Sons. His powers are still developing and were inconsistent at times, but Batman said in Superman #20 that he believed that he could one day become more powerful than his father.
7 CHRIS KENT
Lor-Zod, who was known through much of his existence in comics as Chris Kent, is the biological son of General Zod and Ursa. Lor-Zod first appeared when his spacecraft headed towards Earth and was found by Superman. When Superman learned he was from Krypton, he and Lois Lane took the boy in and named him Chris Kent, raising him as their foster son.
Chris has the same powers as Superman but at a much lower level. He is more akin to an average Kryptonian, which includes flight, heat vision, x-ray vision, invulnerability and superhuman strength. However, in Action Comics #876, Chris admits that he is not as strong as other Kryptonians. On the other hand, he is not affected by kryptonite as harshly as others.
6 JON LANE KENT
Jon Lane Kent is a Superboy from the Possible Futures storyline. Much like Jon Samuel Kent, this Superboy was also the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. However, Jon was taken in and turned into a weapon by Harvest after his family thought he died as a child. He then became the second Superboy when Kon-El fell.
He first battled the Teen Titans when they were sent to the future and found a world where all superheroes fell at the hands of Superman's son. He ends up sent back in time with the Titans and ended up eventually sacrificing his own life to end his timeline. His powers are similar to other Superboys and his leadership makes him strong as well. However, an illness that almost ended him as a child keeps him from ever developing his full powers.
5 CLARK KENT (SMALLVILLE)
While he never uses the name Superboy, and by the end of the series he is truly Superman, Clark Kent was a high school student when Smallville began, and this was the re-telling of the origin story of Superboy. The show was a huge success that lasted 10 seasons and took Superboy from his teenage years to his late 20s.
As Smallville showed, Clark Kent did not have his powers on their own. Instead, they were reliant on certain neuron pathways in his brain and those neurons activate powers when needed. There were times (such as when Hudson went into his mind), where Clark could not activate his powers at all. When activated, he is one of the strongest heroes in the world but there were limitations.
4 KAL BRANDE
Kal Brande is an Elseworlds version of Superboy. He appeared in the comic book Superboy's Legion in 2001 and shows a Superboy who was never discovered until the year 2987. In this story, the richest man in the galaxy discovers the life-pod of baby Kal-El and he takes him in, adopting the child. When the Earth's sun gives him powers, he takes on the name Superboy based on heroes from the 20th century.
When the Science Police try to get him under control, Kal leaves Earth and meets a member of the Green Lantern Corps, who explains they protect parts of the universe not under police protection. Inspired, he starts his own Legion. This Superboy has the basic powers of others but has a lack of confidence and the allure of fame that holds him back at first.
3 KAL-EL (EARTH-ONE)
This is the original version of Superboy. It is Kal-El, who would grow up to become Superman, although while he is the child version of the Man of Steel, this Superboy is nowhere near as strong as he would become. He started out his superhero career as a pre-teen and his first solo comic book title debuted in 1949.
Over time, Superboy would travel to the future as a member of the Legion of Superheroes and for a time he also came to present day (at the time) DC Comics and existed in the same world as his adult-self. Superboy has the same powers as Superman, but as with all Kryptonians, his powers strengthened as he aged and he was not at full power until he was an adult.
2 BLACK ZERO
In the Hypertime storyline, there were a ton of alternate versions of Superboy not included on this list. Everyone from a cowboy Superboy to a Superboy who served as Batman's sidekick instead of Robin showed up to help fight and try to stop the evil Black Zero. It took all these Superboys working together to win the fight because Black Zero was one of the most powerful alternate Superboys in existence.
In his timeline, Superman never returned after falling to Doomsday and Black Zero was able to grow up and develop the powers to replace him. This meant that his natural tactile telekinesis was supplemented by his fully developed Kryptonian powers -- something other Superboys lacked. He took over his world and then set out to take over other worlds, using the ability to jump through hypertime. He is more powerful than almost any single Superboy in any timeline. Almost...
1 SUPERBOY - PRIME
On Prime Earth, Kal-El was sent to the planet to save his life and he was found by a couple in New England named Jerry and Naomi Kent. They named him Clark, despite the fact there was a comic book character named Clark Kent who was the fictional character of Superman. The difference was that this Clark Kent of Prime Earth had no powers.
However, when Earth One's Superman ended up on Clark's alternate Earth, his powers manifested themselves and he quickly followed Superman out of his own world. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, he ended up trapped in a "paradise dimension" where he slowly went mad. When Alexander Luthor gave him Anti-Matter powers, Superboy-Prime became the most powerful metahuman in the universe, and it took a combined effort of Earth's strongest heroes to finally stop him and end his reign of terror.