Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Superboy Meets Bonnie and Clyde! ~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post... Finally!

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.


  1. really fun. Never thought in super boy meet with Bonnie and Clyde !!!

    1. It was quite an interesting team-up, wasn't it?

  2. You kept me waiting a long time, but it was worth the wait. It's hilarious, especially with your commentary. When I bump my head, I always get amnesia. I bet you wear your Batman costume under your clothes. Well done.


    1. I always wondered about those superheroes who wore their costumes under their street clothes. How did they keep from sweating to death?

    2. They wear full-body antiperspirant.

  3. lol sure seems like it was rather forced. Super quick to block that bullet. Keeping Superman at 29 forever may not fly with Lois.

    1. Well, she wouldn't mind, because she aged at the same rate as Superman.

      I've read that DC's current depiction of Superman is thirty-five, if it matters.

  4. It's stretching the limits of my plausibility meter, and I'm not even a huge comic book fan. But I love your explanation of comic book time v. real time. Convoluted and perfect.

    1. Comic book and comic strip time has always been difficult to deal with. Gasoline Alley was always talked about as an example of comic strip characters aging in "real time," but even those characters' aging rate slowed down over the years.

  5. Man I loved reading this and as someone who speaks the lingo...or is in the know...or...gets inside baseball with you on this one?..I have to say this made me really happy.

    When the clone Superboy came out I pretty much hated him, but he grew on me in a Teen Titans run. Still the best stories of Superboy are of a young Clark.

    1. I figured you'd like the Superboy/Superman connection, Brandon.

  6. True students pf science (fiction) know all about alternative time-lines and how they can be incorporated into any situation. You really do need to get out more. Sorry.

    1. What does this story have to do with alternative time-lines, other than the fact that it's a fictional story based on historical characters? I tend to think of many time travel stories having the effect of creating alternate realities, and this story doesn't deal with time travel.

    2. I suppose it doesn't. I was just trying to make a funny about the varied time-lines, which I obviously failed miserably at. Sorry.

      Speaking of failing miserably, it took us all of two minutes to decide that we would not be watching the new Star Trek Discovery series on CBS. It baffles me why the creators/producers of the show would try to redo what so many are already so fanatical about as is when they could have simply moved the Star Fleet exploration to another galaxy filled with all sorts of new species. Yeah, I am actually the one who needs to get out more. Sigh.

    3. Oops. Sorry I missed the joke.

      I probably won't get to see the new Star Trek series, but from a couple of informal reviews I've readI gather I won't be missing much.


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