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Superboy is a fictional character published by DC Comics which was originally intended to be Superman as a boy. The character was created without the permission of Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, a fact which increased an already-growing rift between them and the publisher, DC Comics. Superboy was essentially treated as a junior version of Superman. To that end, Superboy wore the Superman costume and his alter ego Clark Kent wore glasses as a disguise for his civilian identity.

Superboy first appeared in More Fun Comics #101 (1944), and the feature soon moved to Adventure Comics. In 1949 Superboy was given his own self-titled comic-book. It was at this point that a supporting cast began to grow up around the character. The only major characters to appear in the early years were Jonathan and Martha (or "Ma and Pa") Kent. The 8th issue of Superboy saw the first adventure of "Superbaby," a character which extended the "Junior Superman" concept to that of a super-powered toddler. The 10th issue of Superboy featured the first appearance of Lana Lang, a character which would become a romantic foil for both Superboy and for the grown-up Superman. In the early 1960s, Clark Kent's best friend Pete Ross and Smallville Police Chief Parker rounded out the supporting cast.

Beginning in Superboy #2, the adventures of Superboy took place in Smallville, USA, a midwestern town whose exact location was never specified in the Superboy stories, though it was placed in Kansas much later.

Some of Superman's foes, such as the Phantom Zone villains, made their first appearance in Superboy stories, and some (such as Mr. Mxyzptlk) also appeared as younger versions of themselves in the Superboy stories. The most famous example of this is the young Lex Luthor. In a story purporting to reveal the origin of the enmity between Luthor and Superman, Lex Luthor was a teenage boy the same age as Superboy, and the two became best friends after Lex moved to Smallville. Superboy built a fully-stocked laboratory for Lex in order for the latter to conduct his experiments, while Lex searched for a cure for Superboy's weakness to Kryptonite. However, when a fire in Lex's lab forced Superboy to destroy an important experiment Lex was working on in order to save his life, the chemicals used caused Lex to lose all of his hair. He blamed Superboy, accusing him of jealousy for his brilliance, and he swore to destroy him. Thereafter, Lex Luthor and Superboy were arch-enemies.

A Superboy story called "The Legion of Super-Heroes" in a 1958 issue of Adventure Comics featured three super-powered teenagers from the 30th century who offered Superboy membership in their super-hero club, the Legion of Super-Heroes. Although this was intended as nothing more than a one-shot tale, the characters went on to spin off into their own series in Adventure Comics beginning in 1962. In the mid-1970s the Superboy comic began regularly featuring the Legion until the title was officially renamed first Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes and finally Legion of Super-Heroes in 1980, ousting Superboy from the comic altogether. It was the most successful spin-off of the Superman titles and has endured throughout various incarnations over the years.

A new series called New Adventures of Superboy ran from 1980 to 1984, after which the character of Superboy was discarded from Superman's continuity.

A new Superboy who is a clone of Superman (as opposed to a younger version) was introduced in 1993. A Superboy series featuring this character continues to this day.

Adaptations in other media

The Superboy character has made the transition to television and film on multiple occasions, both in live action and animated series.