Clark Kent, Super Show-Off!

This month we've seen Superman forget he's Clark Kent, Clark Kent forget he's Superman and an impostor convince Clark he was never Superman at all. Now we investigate Superboy #107 (Sept. 1963), wherein Clark simply discards his super alter-ego so he can hog the glory for himself.

Writer Jerry Seigel and artist George Papp start us off at Smallville High School, where Clark and Lana Lang are attending their Geology class. Clark's x-ray vision reveals that "through a student's error, a chemical mixture is about to explode!" (Make that two errors; the student is doing his Chemistry experiment in Geology class).

Clark's first impulse is to slip away and change to Superboy, but then he experiences a sudden change of heart. "I'm fed up always pretending to be weak and cowardly in my Clark Kent identity!" he thinks, "There are going to be some changes made, right now!"

Clark warns the other students that "one of my super-powers reveals an explosion coming," and steps in front of the bubbling brew to absorb the blast.

Meanwhile, a band of crooks has arrived in Smallville with evil in their hearts and Green Kryptonite in the trunk of their car. Krypto happens to fly over their car and crashes to Earth due to the Green-K's effects, so they know it's a "live" sample.

Arriving at his parents' general store, Clark again uses his super-powers openly when Pa's "slicing machine" breaks down.

PA KENT: "Uhm...I uh...I guess you're wondering how Clark could move at super-speed. Well, you see..."
CUSTOMER: "Actually, I'm more concerned that he didn't put on gloves first! I hope you don't think I'm going to pay for that!"

You've got to love "super-feats" like this one. I don't care how fast his hand is moving, unless he can change its shape so it's thin as a blade, it's only going to pound that roast out of shape, not slice it into deli meat.

It doesn't take long for Clark's revelation to spread through town, and soon Chief Parker drives over to the store to get confirmation from the horse's mouth. Having turned into quite the showoff, Clark answers him in dramatic fashion, while the visiting gangsters look on.

I don't know, would crooks really refer to themselves as "us racket guys" and their superiors as "crime big shots"? Somehow I always figured nobody really sees themselves as crooks, even when they are.

Anyway, Clark flies off (in his street clothes) to a stone quarry, where he fashions a giant Clark Kent statue to place next to the Superboy statue in front of the Superboy Museum (thus demonstrating that his obsession with statue tributes to himself began at an early age).

The criminal element wastes no time in exploiting the new status quo, as one of the visiting crooks barges into the Kent store and opens fire on Ma and Pa.

Tragedy is averted, but Pa points out that he and Ma will always be at risk now from Superboy's old foes. "Stop whining," says Clark, "I'll take you where it's safe!" Sure enough, he flies the couple to a "deserted South Pacific island" that "isn't even on any maps! No crooks will find you here! And there's plenty of food on those banana and mango trees!"

That night, Clark is off to the big school dance, where he ditches Lana to dance with five other girls at the same time (through super-speed). Lana sobs, "I guess Clark will never forgive me for not showing more interest in him before he revealed himself to be Superboy!"

This brings up an interesting point, by the way. If Lana and later Lois are so convinced Clark is Superman, and if they want to marry Superman, wouldn't it therefore be logical to treat Clark really nicely, in hopes he'll propose to such a "swell girl"? Surely it makes more sense than badgering, spying on and try to expose him, which only makes the girls come off the last any man in his right mind would want to wed.

Anyway, after entertaining his classmates by simultaneously playing every instrument in the dance hall band, Clark makes a patrol of Smallville and suddenly comes to his senses, realizing he's been a jerk, marooning his parents on a desert isle and giving away his most precious secret. Only now does his super-recall remind him that there was a glowing, red rock in that Geology class, a rock that must have been Red Kryptonite, the substance which always affects him in a different way.

See, this is why I love these old stories; you always learn something. Turns out intense jealousy can prevent you from feeling a tingling sensation. So if I ever find myself in the path of a jellyfish, I'll just think of how much richer Bill Gates is than me and I should be okay.

Clark rescues Ma and Pa from the uncharted island faster than you can say "Dharma Project" and soon comes up with a plan to extricate himself from his self-made crisis. When the out-of-town crooks at last show up at the Kent home bearing their chunk of Green-K, they are surprised to see it has no effect on Clark. And now we see the "brilliant solution" to Clark's dilemma.

When Chief Parker arrives, Superboy explains "You see, I had learned these crooks planned to attack me with Kryptonite, but I didn't know when they'd strike! So with the cooperation of the Kent family, I wore this 'Clark Kent' disguise to lure them into striking me at the Kent home!"

But what, you ask, about that Green Kryptonite that had no effect? For that, you can thank an ingenious invention by Clark:

And so the secret is safe once more. Uh-huh.

Siegel comes close to getting this one right, but muffs it at the end. If Superboy isn't affected by the crooks' Green Kryptonite -- and he deliberately gives the crooks and Chief Parker the impression that he isn't -- then why bother with the "Clark Kent masquerade"? It really doesn't matter where and when the crooks attack him with a powerless green rock.

What would have made a lot more sense would have been to say, "I engineered it so the crooks would use the Kryptonite on my friend Clark, who as an Earth boy is of course unaffected by its rays." Chief Parker could have been waiting in the bushes to nab the gangsters and Superboy needn't have appeared at all (although maybe a robot could fly in and say, "Thanks for your help, pal!" to seal the deal).

The other issue here is Clark's Kryptonite-neutralizing belt buckle. If it works this well, then why not include a version in every Clark and Superboy belt he wears for the rest of his life?

Oh well, with all the amnesia that's been going around, maybe it just slipped his mind.