22 May 2013

Super History of Superman: Superboy (1988-92)

The wacky Superboy series ran for four seasons from 1988-1992 and over the course of those four years it went through two Superboys and two titles, being renamed The Adventures of Superboy in the third year. While the series was still popular after its fourth season, it ran into rights issues leading to its ultimate early demise. And as goofy and random as the stories sometimes were, the show had a certain charm and light-heartedness that was endearing... if you could get past the extremely poor production values and bad writing.

During the ultra low budget first year, John Haymes Newton played Superboy. Lex Luthor was a preppy college classmate of Clark Kent, and CK hang with a Jimmy Olsen type photographer named TJ and of course Lana Lang. But beginning in season 2, the formula was tweaked.

For the final three seasons,Gerard Christopher played the lead, Lex Luthor was body swapped into an older businessman who wanted to marry Lana, Clark got a new roommate Andy and the already goofy show got even goofier.

Compared to a more grounded show like Smallville, Superboy embraced some of the wackier elements including villains from the comics with little modification. Bizarro Superboy AKA Kent Clark (and eventually Bizarro Lana), Metallo, and the purple and Orange wearing Mr. Mxyzptlk all made multiple appearances as did a Toyman wannabe, Nick Knack.

By the third season, the series took on a bit darker, almost X-Filesesque tone with Clark and Lana as interns for a government bureau investigating the paranormal. The series began exploring alternate universes as well with the Boy of Steel meeting a despotic version of himself named the Sovereign, a version that looked like the Metropolis Kid which would debut in comics years later, and an old retired version of Superman. While the planned 5th and 6th seasons never got made, Superman fans wouldn't have to wait too long before the Last Son of Krypton returned to the small screen.

Check back next week for another chapter in The Super History of Superman.

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