Sunday, January 02, 2011

Superboy #108

As the cover story begins, Superboy receives a mental request from another planet, asking him to come help them. It turns out a super-powered youth named Mighto had stolen a statue of one of their most famous leaders. Superboy tracks him down, but is startled to discover that the boy knows his secret identity as Superboy. And when he uses his X-ray vision to scope out the lad's HQ, he gets an even bigger surprise:

Unable to defeat the lad and fearing for his secret identity, Superboy returns home to ask his parents about Mighto. They deny any knowledge of the youth, but that night, he observes them going up into the attic:

It turns out (as shown on the cover) that they have been hypnotized into forgetting all about Mighto. Superboy removes the hypnotic block and they tell him about how Mighto and his parents had shown up at their farm looking for work. Shortly afterwards, the parents died in a quicksand bog, and the Kents had adopted their son. They quickly learned that the toddler had superpowers and planned to bring him up much like they did Superboy. However, the boy turned out to be bad, stealing lots of chemicals. Chemicals? At that age? Well, apparently he was smarter than he pretended to be:

Superboy flies to the cave where Mighto had stored the chemicals, only to find that his adoptive brother has already arrived there. He gives a long explanation. He and his parents were banned from their homeworld, Ulbar, for being evil. In addition, they would lose their super-powers eventually as they required periodic doses of a secret serum. The parents plotted to take over their homeworld by blackmailing the citizens; they would destroy Earth via "Experiment X", and threaten the Ulbarians with the same doom. Mighto was supposed to complete the experiment while his parents hid from the space police, but while searching on another planet for an ingredient, he suffered amnesia. It wasn't until his teen years that he recovered his memory and resumed his task. But now Experiment X is ready, and Mighto sets it in motion:

Purple haze all around? Jimi sang about that as I recall. The Kents are threatened by the beasts and Superboy and Mighto temporarily drop their battle to save them. It turns out Mighto loves them and craves their affection (despite the fact that he is bent on destroying their home planet). When he comes up with some Green Kryptonite, they note that, gee, he sure is more powerful than Superboy. Pa Kent even gives him a music box that the tyke had wanted years earlier. But:

It turns out that Superboy had whispered to his parents to praise Mighto and give him the music box. He had realized that the reason Mighto had done some things--like breaking that childhood trumpet and destroying a record player--was because he couldn't stand music. Superboy destroys Experiment X and returns Mighto to his home planet, where he's imprisoned with his parents in a cell that has ultrasonic music playing to keep his powers at bay.
Comments: The story seems to have been constructed backwards, from the concept of the Kents having an earlier super-son to the actual plot. Hence things like the hypnotic suggestion that the Kents forget Mighto, and the subsequent amnesia affecting the boy. It never is really explained why he possessed such a precocious intellect other than the obvious: that it was required by the plot.

One thing does stick out. The Kents certainly adopted a lot of children albeit briefly over the years. Let's see, there's Mon-El, that kid from Titan, Mighto, Lana Lang on one or two occasions, Supergirl and the girl in this story:

The backup story follows one of DC's standard plots:

So the hero goes back in time to find out why he had appeared in the distant past. Simple, it's because he went back in time to find out why he had appeared in the distant past.

The story is interesting because it gives us a look at the Kent ancestry:

I have been working on a genealogy chart for Pa Kent and will have to add this information. We also learn of the Kent family founder in the US: Jonas Kent, who had a traveling puppet show in Massachusetts. Superboy goes back in time to that era and is temporarily adopted by Jonas and his wife, Maria. Clark likes the couple, but finds their jokes a little stale:

So he comes up with an idea. Why not have a puppet show about a boy with fantastic powers wearing a blue, red and yellow costume? He could have a yellow S on his chest for... Sorcery Boy, suggests Jonas. The show does boffo box office and before you know it, Clark is dressed up as Superboy, acting as a town crier to get the customers. But he is a trifle too enthusiastic:

Yea and verily, the people of New England commonly talked about super-powers. Fortunately Superboy is able to convince them that his voice had echoed in a nearby well (called Echo Well). The performance does great and Jonas Kent has enough money to make the final payment on his wagon the next day. Yep, they had installment loans back in New England. But an evil villain named Bald Pate (two guesses as to whom he resembles) steals the money. Superboy trails him and:

But as he's flying away, the justice catches sight of him and realizes... no, not that he has super-powers, but that he's using witchcraft. That's more like it! Superboy puts on a puppet show exposing Bald Pate, but the justice thinks quickly:

The justice has planned ahead and shows that Superboy is invulnerable by firing a blank pistol at him, thus proving the boy's witchcraft. Oh, and did we mention that the town in Massachusetts that Jonas Kent was traveling through is Salem? So the boy is put on trial and convicted of being a sorcerer. He can't escape or the people will execute Jonas and Maria in his stead. The justice attempts to kill Superboy with silver bullets. Clark pretends to be shot and falls off a cliff to his apparent death. The Kent ancestors discover two odd coins:

Yes, of course the bullets would flatten and form an image of Superboy, complete to the S on his chest.

Comments: God-awful. There's an enormous plot hole. Superboy reasons that it's okay for him to leave since history shows that Jonas and Maria lived long and prospered. Um, in that case, couldn't Superboy have just left when accused of being a sorceror? At the end, Bald Pate gets away with his crimes. About the only redeeming feature of the story is the information on the Kent family tree.

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