Character Issues: Superboy-Prime

The Stats:
Name: Kal-El (Earth Prime)
Height: 5’11
Weight: 170 lbs
Powers: Superman’s Powers at a higher multiple
Type:  Flying Brick
Excels at:  Reality Punching, Narrative Destroying
Fails at:  Subtlety, Being Sympathetic.

The Character:

Superboy-Prime is the lone survivor of Earth-Prime.  He possess the story crippling power level of the Silver Age Superman.  His Earth was destroyed in the Crisis on the Infinite Earths.  This version of Superboy didn’t get to have much of a career as Superboy before his world was destroyed by the Anti-Monitor as such, he is constantly attempting to prove himself to be a  hero.  His status as a hero was never seriously established.  This contributes to the confounding motivation of this character.  After the Crisis on the Infinite Earth, Superboy-Prime spent years in a paradise dimension with Earth-Two’s Superman and Lois and Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three.  Living an a utopia didn’t do much to mellow out Superboy-Prime.  He spent his time leering at the events on New Earth and randomly punching the walls that separated his dimension from the New Earth.   Every one of those punches ruined a story


He was featured in the Infinite Crisis crossover form the mid 2000’s.  From the first few panels of him fighting the Teen Titans, Superboy-Prime established himself a supremely destructive imbecile



See the carnage…Click here to buy the Infinite Crisis
The Issues:

He was the whiny, self-absorbed Superboy that NOBODY wanted. His temper tantrums destroy worlds.  His insecurities cost the lives of characters that the writers are mishandling.  His inability to cope with change ruin decades of plot development.  What makes this character so frustrating is that he isn’t an Evil Superman.  He’s completely inept.  He fails as a hero and fails as a villain.  He is a hapless destroyer of worlds.  Rarely have you seen a more incompetent antagonist.  The real issue with Superboy-Prime is that he exists solely as an insult to fans who are critical of many of DC’s editorial decisions since Zero Hour.  Buy Zero Hour here. Superboy-Prime is an exceptionally ugly portrayal of a fanbase that cares enough to express discontent with the books they are spending their money to purchase.  It is particularly mean-spirited when you realize that many of the characters Superboy-Prime killed were fan favorite characters that the Editorial Department hated.   Originally Superboy-Prime was supposed to kill Nightwing in the Infinite Crisis but the editors decided that Conner Kent (Modern Superboy) would take Nightwing’s place.  Superboy-Prime exists as a cynical editorial mandate that targets characters that fans have connected with.

I’m not taking issue with how poorly he’s been written,


I’m not taking issues with his story breaking levels of powers,


I’m take issue with how he was used as a means to troll the fans.


And the fact that he won’t go away.   He’s appeared as a Titans villain.  He’s been a Green Lantern Villain.  He’s even appeared in the Legion of Superheroes….twice.  Once as Superboy-Prime and once as the Time Trapper.

I'm not even going to pretend that this makes sense.
I’m not even going to pretend that this makes sense.

Readers can’t escape this character.  He shows up, massacres up your favorite characters and is incapacitated in some open-ended fashion like Jason Voorhees.  In fact, he’s a movie slasher villain with the personalities of the obnoxious assholes that you are rooting for the slasher villain to kill .  Superboy-Prime has no personality outside being petulant. The motivations for his actions since the Infinite Crisis are completely nonsensical.

The Fix:

This one is tough. Superboy-Prime is nearly irredeemable as a hero and to stupid to be an effective recurring villain.  The Evil Superboy trope has been done before and done better by Black Zero.  I think giving Superboy-Prime a clear motivation for being a villain and a personality would go a long way towards making this character easier to endure.  Maybe a vicious sense of humor, a grandiose sense of self, a flair for the dramatic or a haunted/tortured/brooding personality.  Make him something more than a pissed off idiot who lashes out indiscriminately.  Having a godlike power level, isn’t enough to make a compelling villain.  The reason why the Anti-Monitor works as a villain while Nekron does not, is, the Anti-Monitor has a clear and simple motivation while Nekron does not.   Superboy-Prime’s motivation is neither clear nor simple.  He started out with a simple reason for doing what he does in Infinite Crisis, he believes that he can recreate his world.  After Infinite Crisis his motivation became a mix of wanting to destroy the Universe and a bunch of other plot dependent goals.   The fix begins with giving him a consistent and overarching motivation and defining personality.  Truly develop this character if he is to be used as a recurring villain or simplify his motivation if he is going to be a Big Bad that is brought out every few years as a crossover villain.

We hate you too.

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