The Kid gets smitten by Supergirl in Adventures of Superman #502.

Superboy meets Supergirl on the cover of Adventures of Superman #502 by Tom Grummett, Doug Hazlewood and Glenn Whitmore

Adventures of Superman #502

Triangle Number 1993 – 19

Writer: Karl Kesel
Penciler: Tom Grummett
Inker: Doug Hazlewood
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Letterer: Albert De Guzman

While it was difficult for me to find every issue of “Reign of the Supermen” as a kid, the one series I never missed was Adventures of Superman. I was just completely enamored with the Kid and would be for years to come.

While the Kid seemed to have taken the Man of Steel’s words to heart at the end of that issue, that doesn’t seem to be the case as this issue opens and he’s back to showboating while saving a car of teenagers from going over the Hob’s Bay bridge. To impress Supergirl, he drops the car just to catch it again.

Here is where the naïveté and hormonal angst of the character comes into play, as Superboy is courted by Lex Luthor via Supergirl. Lex has wanted his own personal Superman since the original Man of Tomorrow arrived in Metropolis all those years ago, and with four to choose from now, he’s not going to rest until he has one on the payroll. The problem here though is that the Kid is already exclusive to WGBS, including being followed around by their news crews all day long.

Remember Rex Leech? The guy who desperately wanted to buy the photos of Superman’s death off of Jimmy Olsen? Well, now he’s been hired by somebody to play middleman and hire an assassin to attempt to take out the Kid.

On Bibbo-Watch, he’s getting a dog tag for his new puppy, but the limit on the tag is six letters, so now he has a tag that reads “Krypto” and not “Krypton” like he wanted. It boggles the mind that he settles for this since surely this isn’t the only guy in town that sells engraved dog tags. It’s a clear shortcut to reintroducing a dog named Krypto into the Superman mythos, but in the end, it just feels rushed and a little lazy.

Playing straight to the Kid’s raging hormones, Lex invites him to a fancy dinner with Supergirl wearing the slinkiest dress possible, and because this is a 16-year-old with no moral compass to speak of yet, it works almost immediately.

But what Luthor did not count on is WGBS and Rex Leech playing to those same hormones. Leech and Vinnie Edge have set Superboy up with Clark Kent’s old apartment at 344 Clinton Street (remember it was packed up and moved out of in the last issue of Superman). But more importantly, Rex introduces the Kid to his daughter Roxie, and the Kid, drunk on hormones, immediately signs the contract. If Rex had not already been established as the slimiest man in Metropolis, this sequence would do that on its own, as he uses his daughter’s sex appeal to make money. It is incredibly creepy and reading it 30 years later it’s hard to see how they ever made Rex a likeable character in Superboy. Rex also sets up the ongoing subplot of the Kid’s trademark on both the Superman “S” shield and the Superman name, while Tana Moon privately objects to Vinnie Edge taking advantage of the Kid.

The second half of the issue is the Kid’s encounter with the assassin that Leech hired, a man named Stinger. Once Supergirl arrives to help out, and also to see about getting the Kid over to WLEX, the Stinger makes his escape by blowing up the Hob’s Bay bridge.

The issue closes with a tease, much like the issues leading up to the Doomsday conflict did. An alien ship approaches Earth, bent on war.

Miss any previous entries in The Never-Ending Battle? The early entries can be found at Comfort Food Comics, while more recent ones can be found here at The Beat.