For the better part of a century, the concept of Superboy has been explored through far more characters than the Man of Steel alone. For decades, Superboy was merely a teenage Clark Kent, but in the 1990s and early 2000s, that role belonged to Kon-El, aka Conner Kent, a clone created from the combined DNA from Superman and Lex Luthor. But after that character was killed (and later reinvented for the new 52), a new incarnation of the character arrived in the form of Jonathan Kent, the son of Clark and Lois Lane.
Alongside Batman's son, Robin, Jon was one of the stars of DC's Super Sons series before being aged up during the early days of Brian Michael Bendis' current run on Superman. Soon after, Bendis brought back the classic version of Conner in the pages of Young Justice. During a recent roundtable discussion with the media, including CBR, Bendis spoke about both the decision to turn Jon into a teenager, and why he wanted to bring back Conner to DC's main continuity.
"Jon Kent for those of you not reading Superman, we've aged him up," Bendis explained. "He had an adventure, and now he's seventeen. It is very controversial on the Internet, where it is interesting to be yelled at by grown people about the aging of a child. What we're doing is, we have a real story to tell with Jon. Now that we're a few stories in, it's not just a, 'Ha ha we ruined your favorite thing.' There's a story being told that we think will be additive to that thing you liked about him, a big one. And we haven't gotten to the big reveals yet, but we're getting there. By the end of the 'Unity Saga,' Jon's purpose will be fully revealed."
As for why he brought back the classic version of Conner Kent in Young Justice, despite there already being a Superboy in current DCU continuity, Bendis admitted his reasons were, well, maybe a little bit selfish. "I said [to DC] I want it. I wanted it, you wanted it, everyone wanted it! It's funny, I posted to my Twitter feed a couple times about it. When I first came to DC, the fanbases that have an agenda immediately go 'fresh meat! Hit him!! #BringBackConnerKent was all over my stuff. It was hilarious, because I'd already done it in script.
"Behind the scenes, I'd already written Conner Kent, and then these readers were really hitting me. A couple of years ago I could have side-tweeted going 'don't worry I gotcha'. You can't do that today. When you see a fan who's that big of a fan, you want them to be happy... but I can't tell you. Conner was not just fan-service, but we... I agreed with the fan-service. This is the way to go, and that cover did it in. The meme cover. That pretty much, even if you weren't a fan of Conner, you were like 'I am now.'"
Check back later for more from Brian Michael Bendis' discussion about Leviathan Rising, Batman and much more.