This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the movie Bonnie and Clyde. And, since comic books back then loved to jump on the proverbial bandwagon whenever anything was popular, it made perfect sense that DC Comics would eventually use Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow as characters in at least one comic book story.
Only problem was, Bonnie and Clyde had operated in the early 1930s, roughly thirty-five years before the movie was released.
So, as it turned out, the only contemporary DC title which could have a guest-star appearance by the notorious outlaws was Superboy. Why? Well, it gets complicated...
Y'see, the original Superboy series -- not to be confused with whatever the hell they're doing with Superboy in modern comics -- featured "the adventures of Superman when he was a boy." And since Superman had debuted as a character in 1938's Action Comics #1, for years DC treated the Superboy stories as having taken place in the late 1920s or early 1930s (depending on the age of Superboy in the individual story itself).
However, somewhere along the line, the editors at DC Comics realized that sticking to this would establish a birthdate for Superman which was somewhere around 1920, or even earlier. But "comic book time" is much more complicated than "real world time," and Superman was not aging at the same rate as his readers! (That's why, when Superman -- actually the Earth-2 Superman, don't ask! -- finally married Lois Lane in 1978's Action Comics #484, real-world reporters were writing things like "It's about time! They've only been dating for forty years!" But no, not really, because in "comic book time," Lois Lane and Clark (Superman) Kent hadn't known each other for anywhere near that long!)
Somewhere in the early 1970s, DC's editors made up their ever-changing minds that the character of Superman would be twenty-nine years old "forever," meaning that every Superboy story would have to be written as if it were taking place ten to twenty years before the year it was actually published! This established a "sliding scale" of sorts, so Superboy stories published in the 1970s would have to take place in the 1950s, and Superboy stories published in the 1980s would have to have happened in the 1960s...
Told you it was complicated!
So, back to Superboy #149, cover-dated July, 1968 (which means it was actually released in May of 1968), a story written and printed before DC's editors developed that "sliding scale" approach.
Uh-oh! All of us readers know that Clark Kent is really Superboy, but he can't let anyone else know! How is he going to save that guard without exposing his all-too-important secret identity?
Well, that keeps Bonnie from killing the guard, and luckily, the guard drops his gun and gives up so Clyde doesn't have to shoot him.
As Clyde threatens the old woman, Clark's friend Lana Lang jumps into action. (Lana, by the way, is a pain in the ass whose main reason to exist seems to be trying to prove that Clark is really Superboy.)
Yeah, quick thinking, Superboy. Clark just happened to be wearing a costume under his street clothes, for that conveniently-timed costume party.
Bonnie and Clyde take both Lana and Clark as hostages, and travel to their next intended robbery, the home of recluse "Looney Looey," an old codger who has a fortune in solid gold ingots in his home.
Oh, cute. Clark's confused as to who he is, Lana's confused as to who she is, and the story's writer is confused as to who they both are...!
Of course it could cause amnesia. Funny how that happens so often, innit? Wonder if Clark (who sheds his "Clyde" duds to reveal his supposedly-phony Superboy costume again) is correct...?
Yep, Clark certainly appears to have been right! How prescient of him!
Hm. The real Bonnie didn't even know who Superboy was, remember? But the amnesiac Lana seems to. And hey! Where did Superboy's cape disappear to in that third panel above?
Having the advantage of surprise, Clyde and Lana/Bonnie tie up the guards, and then...
Oh, crap. We know Superboy can't be hurt by a mere bullet, but how will "Clark Kent" get out of this one?
Oh, come on! It sure looked to me like Clyde shot Clark right between the eyes, and Clark was not holding any "soft gold ingot" in front of his face.
Nahhh, I'm not buying it. If, as we can assume, the real and the fake ingots were all mixed together, how did Clark/Superboy carry his phony ones without doing a lot of painfully-obvious shuffling of all those ingots first?
I also love how we're left to think that Bonnie and Clyde ended up in jail (because the Comics Code Authority had strict rules that criminals could never get away with their crimes).
Even at eleven years old, I thought this story was kind of lame. What do you think, fellow babies?
Thanks for your time.