Who is Conner, Titans' strange new Superboy? While a relatively new introduction to the world of Superman, Conner is part of a long legacy of super-powered teenage boys, spanning back all the way to the Golden Age of American Comics.
Stories focused on the adventures of a young Clark Kent using his powers to help people as 'Superboy' first began seeing print in 1949. However, when John Byrne's Man of Steel mini-series revamped Superman's backstory in 1986, it was decided that there would be no Superboy in the new timeline and that Clark Kent's powers wouldn't manifest until he was on the cusp of young adulthood. However, the Superman editorial team later decided that the Superboy concept was worth still exploring, leading to the creation of an all-new Superboy who could reach out to modern teenagers more effectively. This Superboy would later take the name Conner Kent and be officially welcomed into Superman's family.
Since that time, Conner has been a mainstay of DC Comics' teen superhero teams in comics and other media. He was one of the six founding members of the Justice League's covert team in the animated series Young Justice and appeared on Smallville in a form similar to the version of the Superboy introduced on Titans. Here is everything you need to know about Conner, including his backstory, his powers, and what this latest adaptation has changed from the comics.
Conner Kent's Comic History Explained
The Superboy who would become Conner Kent was first introduced during the Reign of the Supermen event following Superman's death in 1993. In the weeks following Superman's funeral, a mysterious new hero claiming to be a new and improved Superman began popping up around Metropolis. Clad in a body suit with Superman's familiar S-shield symbol and a leather jacket and sunglasses, this new "Superman" was revealed to be a clone of the original Superman, created by the secretive Project Cadmus, who had intended to create a fully-grown Superman under their control. Unfortunately for them, their 13th test subject was able to escape before being fully conditioned, resulting in a teenage boy with most of Superman's powers but none of his restraint.
Thankfully, nature won out over nurture and this new Superboy proved himself to be a noble spirit, if somewhat brash and egotistical. He fought along the reinvigorated original Superman to save Earth from Mongul and the Cyborg Superman. This inspired Superman to adopt the young clone into his family, giving him the Kryptonian name Kon-El. Superman allowed Kon-El his privacy and did not push to turn the young hero into his sidekick or ward, as Kon-El found his own way and built a place for himself among other young heroes, forming the team Young Justice.
Kon-El would not become Conner Kent until several years later, after Young Justice broke up and he was taken in by Clark Kent's adoptive parents, posing as a distant cousin on Pa Kent's side of the family. At Superman's urging, Conner joined a new group of Teen Titans, whom he hoped might get Conner out of the funk he had found himself in. It was around this time that two big things happened that forever changed Conner's life beyond his finally finding the family he had wanted for so long; Conner inexplicably began to manifest the powers of a full-blooded Kryptonian and he discovered that the human DNA used to create him had come from Lex Luthor.
This led to a crisis of faith for Conner, who wondered if he truly had a soul being a clone or if he was predisposed toward evil because the greater part of his genetics came from Superman's greatest enemy. This led Conner to seek out Luthor to help him learn how to control his newfound powers. Naturally, Luthor took advantage of Conner's desperation to try and turn Superboy into a weapon of his own design. In the end, Conner's better angels won out and he went on to die a hero's death during the Infinite Crisis event. Since then, Conner has undergone a series of revamps and resurrections, as the DC Comics multiverse has been reshuffled through the New 52 and DC Rebirth revivals. Currently, Conner can be seen in his classic costume in the new Young Justice comic series written by Brian Michael Bendis.
Conner Kent's Powers & Weaknesses Explained
When Conner was first introduced in Reign of the Superman, his powers were said to be based around a singular ability; tactile telekinesis. Simply put, Conner had a psychic force-field around his body, which allowed him to passively replicate most of Superman's powers. For instance, Conner was able to fly simply by lifting himself through sheer force of will. Conner was also able to extend his force-field around anything he touched, lifting large objects as if he possessed super-strength.
While Conner's telekinesis was powerful, it did have limits, particularly when it came to protecting him. Conner's force-field was able to repel most physical attacks, but was less effective against energy effects such as lasers or fire. He could, however, protect himself from the vacuum of space by creating an air-pocket and briefly survive in the depths of a volcano.
Later, in Geoff Johns' Teen Titans series, Conner began to develop superpowers common to Kryptonians. These included heat vision, x-ray vision, telescopic vision, freezing breath, super-hearing and true super-strength and invulnerability. Conner was also confirmed to have the usual Kryptonian vulnerabilities to Kryptonite and magic. Despite this, he still maintained his tactile telekinesis abilities and was later shown to be developing full telekinetic powers, allowing him to move things without touching them.
Superboy's Background And Powers On Titans
Conner's background in Titans is fairly close to his origins in Reign of the Supermen, with Conner escaping from a Cadmus Project facility in Metropolis in the season 1 finale. His appearance, however, is based on the more clean-cut and casual costume he adopted after joining the Teen Titans in the comics. It is also immediately established that Conner is a clone of both Superman and Lex Luthor.
In terms of powers, Conner's abilities seem to be wholly Kryptonian in nature so far. He possess super-strength, super-speed and invulnerability, which are displayed when he fights Lex Luthor's soldiers while trying to protect Lionel Luthor. We later see him use telescopic vision to spot an imperiled Jason Todd. And while he's not quite up to leaping tall buildings in a single bound or flying, he does manage some impressively high jumps trying to catch Jason Todd before he falls to his death. It remains to be seen if this Superboy is armed with his trademark tactile telekinesis, but this may be revealed in future episodes of Titans.