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Superman-Prime, originally known as Superboy-Prime, is a, DC Comics superhero turned supervillain, and one of several alternate Supermen. The character first appeared in DC Comics Presents #87 (November 1985), and was created by Elliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan.
Superman-Prime is from the universe which contained the parallel Earth known as Earth-Prime, in which Superman and the other DC superheroes only exist as characters. Unable to let go of his former life and his "destiny" as Earth's greatest hero, his convictions and morals are warped by years of solitude in a "paradise" dimension.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Superboy-Prime is from the parallel world known as Earth-Prime, a near-copy of the real world in which the DC heroes are comic book characters. He is the adopted son of Jerry and Naomi Kent. Naomi wanted to name their infant son Clark, after her maiden name, but Jerry, knowing he will also be named like Superman, a comic book character, initially refused, but finally gave in. What the Kents do not know is that the baby, found abandoned in a forest, is actually a young Kal-El, who has been teleported to Earth moments before the planet Krypton is destroyed when its sun went supernova. Superboy is the second extraterrestrial from Earth-Prime after the debut of Ultraa several years before.
Young Clark lives most of his life as a normal boy. However, one night in his mid-teens, as he attends a costume party dressed as Superboy, the passage of Halley's Comet overhead triggers his Kryptonian powers. At the same time, Kal-El, the Earth-One Superman, finds his way to Earth-Prime, and the two Supermen meet.#87 (1985)
Superboy-Prime is drawn into the Crisis on Infinite Earths after his universe is destroyed. Although the loss of everything he knows causes him anguish, he finds peace in knowing that he fights the good fight alongside other heroes.Crisis on Infinite Earths #10 (1985) During the final battle against the Anti-Monitor, Kal-L, the Earth-Two Superman, orders him to escape with Alexander Luthor Jr and the other heroes. Fearing that Kal-L will die in battle and knowing the new Earth isn't his true home, Superboy-Prime joins Kal-L in the fight against the Anti-Monitor.
In the "paradise dimension", Superboy-Prime secludes himself from the others, using crystals to replay events from his life on Earth-Prime. His favorite memory is of his ninth birthday party, which he watches repeatedly. Superboy-Prime becomes frustrated and angry, and he tries to reach out to Kal-L, whose attention is focused on Lois' failing health. Alexander comes to believe that the reason behind Lois' failing health is the paradise dimension itself, and persuades Superboy-Prime to help him return to reality. Alexander also shows Superboy-Prime the negative aspects of the post-Crisis Earth. Superboy-Prime hesitates until he overhears Kal-L say: "I wish this world would let him grow up. He'll never be Superman here". Finally, Alexander shows him the deaths of his parents and girlfriend in an car accident on the post-Crisis Earth.Infinite Crisis: Secret Files & Origins (2006)
Furious, Superboy-Prime pounds on the barrier of reality. This assault causes ripples that alter reality, which is used as an explanation for character changes and retcons in DC continuity. These changes include:
- Jason Todd's return.Batman Annual #25 (2006)Infinite Crisis: Secret Files & Origins (2006) p. 17
- Superman's multiple origins, including The Man of Steel and Superman: Birthright, combining.The Man of Steel #1-6 (1986)Superman: Birthright #1-12 (2004)
- The Doom Patrol's rebooting as new characters, including Elasti-Girl.Doom Patrol #1 (2004)
- Donna Troy's multiple origins after the first Crisis.Infinite Crisis Secret Files (2006) p. 32-33
- The different incarnations of the Legion of Super-Heroes since the first Crisis.
As a result of these actions, "punching time", and "retcon punch" have come to be internet and comic-book fan slang for retcons and changes to canon that do not make popular sense.
Countdown to Infinite Crisis
Superboy-Prime becomes frustrated; since the paradise dimension lacks a yellow sun, he isn't as powerful. Eventually, Alexander reveals that his own powers are returning, and the two combine forces to break through the barrier wall. Together, they set into motion the events that culminate in Infinite Crisis:
- After rearranging countless other planets, Superboy-Prime pushes the planet Rann into Thanagar's orbit, destroying Thanagar's ecosystem, sparking the Rann-Thanagar War. His efforts shifts the center of the universe away from OaRann-Thanagar War (2005)
- Alexander poses as Lex Luthor and forms a new Secret Society of Super Villains, using them to kidnap various people from the former Earths to use as a beacon to bring the other worlds back.Villains United #6 (2005)
- Alexander recruits the Psycho-Pirate to place Eclipso's Black Diamond in Jean Loring's cell at Arkham Asylum. As Eclipso, Loring seduces the Spectre, and convinces him to destroy all magic. His actions create a raw form of magic that Alexander uses to power his tuning fork device.Day of Vengeance #1-6 (2005)
- Superboy-Prime destroys the JLA Watchtower and abducts Martian Manhunter. #118 (2005)
- Alex takes control of Batman's Brother Eye satellite, which allows him to access Checkmate's files on Earth's metahumans and control the OMACs.
The OMAC Project (2005)
The Superman of Earth-Two breaks open a portal to the DC Universe, and the four residents of the paradise dimension return,Infinite Crisis #1 (2005) making themselves known to Power Girl and Batman. When introduced to Power Girl, he calls himself Superboy-Prime for the first time. Kal-L tells Power Girl: "When the universe was reborn, Earth-One became the primary world. The scraps of the remaining worlds were folded into it. But I finally realized— we saved the wrong Earth".Infinite Crisis #2 (2005) Superboy-Prime is jealous of Conner Kent, the modern Superboy, believing him to be living the life he himself ought to have had. He also believes the Earth's heroes act more like villains. As part of Luthor's plan, Superboy-Prime abducts figures originally from the worlds that combined to form the post-Crisis Earth, including Martian Manhunter, Power Girl, Black Adam, The Ray, Lady Quark and Breach to power the vibrational tuning fork Alexander builds.Infinite Crisis #3 (2005) Superboy-Prime confronts Superboy, telling him that he is the only Superboy the Earth needs. Superboy-Prime brutally attacks Conner, but not before he can activate his Titans homing signal. The Teen Titans, the Doom Patrol, and the Justice Society of America arrive to help Conner. After accidentally killing Pantha, Superboy-Prime is shocked and horrified. The heroes try to contain Superboy-Prime, who kills and wounds several of them while sobbing: "Why are you making me? WHY?! You're ruining everything! You're ruining me! You're making me like you!"
Speedy traps Superboy-Prime in the Phantom Zone, using an "emergency Phantom Zone arrow".<ref name="tt32">Teen Titans #32 (2006) Superboy-Prime breaks free, exclaiming that the Phantom Zone is for "bad guys". Left with no other option, Jay Garrick, Wally West, and Bart Allen drive Superboy-Prime into the Speed Force, and banish him to a world bathed in red sunlight, where he remains for four years.Infinite Crisis #4 (2006)Wizard Entertainment: GEOFF JOHNS: WRITER'S WORKSHOP Rewriting, Part I: ‘Infinite Crisis’ #4
Hours later, an older Bart Allen, dressed in his grandfather's costume, emerges from the Speed Force and tells the heroine Doctor Light to warn the other heroes that Superboy-Prime has escaped.Infinite Crisis #5 (2006) Superboy-Prime reappears during a battle between Alexander Luthor and the heroes freed from his tower. Upon his return, he wears a power suit modeled after the Anti-Monitor's armor, which constantly feeds him yellow solar energy and boosts his power levels. During the battle, Black Adam discovers that his magic has little effect against Superboy-Prime. Superboy-Prime knocks Adam away from the tower, and his opponent is transported to Earth-S. Superboy-Prime insists that Luthor reinstate Earth-Prime as the only existing Earth. After Superboy-Prime attempts to kill Wonder Girl, an enraged Conner Kent attacks him, saying that he may allow Superboy-Prime to belittle him, but attacking his friends and his girlfriend is a different matter. Conner and Superboy-Prime battle until Conner's wrist is broken, making him realize that he can't match Superboy-Prime's powers, and charges Superboy-Prime, sending them both headlong into Alexander Luthor's vibrational tuning fork. The machine explodes, and the alternate Earths merge into one. Superboy dies from injuries sustained during the explosion while Superboy-Prime survives.Infinite Crisis #6 (2006)
Alexander and Superboy-Prime join the Battle of Metropolis and quarrel about their contingency plan. Since their tower has been destroyed, Alexander is prepared to settle for taking over New Earth instead of creating a perfect Earth. Upon hearing of the new plan, Superboy-Prime refuses to help Alex, as he believes New Earth to be hopelessly inferior.
When Batman, Wonder Woman, Kal-El, and Kal-L arrive to save Metropolis, Kal-L confronts Alex about his role in the destruction. Meanwhile, Superboy-Prime is attacked by Bart Allen, who is outraged by Superboy-Prime's murder of Conner. Superboy-Prime escapes Bart and flies toward Oa intending to destroy it and spark another which would recreate the universe with himself as the sole hero. Although the majority of the Earth's heroes are in pursuit, Superboy-Prime eludes capture. He is confronted by the Green Lantern Corps in deep space. Superboy-Prime breaks through a 300-mile thick wall of pure willpower generated by the Green Lantern Corps. Upon reaching the other side, he battles and slaughters thirty-two Green Lanterns. The battle provides the two Supermen time to attempt one final plan. They grab Superboy-Prime and drive him through Rao, the red sun of Krypton. The heat melts away Superboy-Prime's armor, and severely weakens all three Kryptonians, who then land on Mogo. Superboy-Prime savagely beats Kal-L, who is all but dead when Kal-El intervenes.
Superboy-Prime claims that he is better than Kal-El, and that his Krypton was superior to Kal-El's. Kal-El responds: "It's not about where you were born. Or what powers you have. Or what you wear on your chest. It's about what you do... It's about action." Although nearly powerless, Kal-El knocks Superboy-Prime out before collapsing himself.
The Green Lantern Corps arrives and confine Superboy-Prime in a quantum containment field, surrounded by a red Sun-Eater and guarded by fifty Green Lanterns.
A year later, Superboy-Prime sits in his cell and is watched over by a special cadre of Green Lanterns, including Guy Gardner, when the Guardians of the Universe discuss whether they should question him.Green Lantern (vol. 4) #13
Geoff Johns stated on the scene, "It’s a subtle thing – he’s looking at his belt, and he’s contemplating who and what he is... for us, him being naked was an acknowledgment of stripping himself down to being this kid again, and being completely absorbed in what he’s done, and what he’s going to do.Geoff Johns - Green Lantern, OA, Prime & More, Newsarama, September 5, 2006
When the Sinestro Corps attack Oa, Superboy-Prime is released from his imprisonment and joins them. He becomes one of the Anti-Monitor's heralds, and wears the uniform of the Sinestro Corps along with a variant of the power suit he wore during Infinite CrisisGreen Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1 (Aug 2007) DC Comics Now called Superman-Prime (in part due to the legal disputes over the Superboy name), he arrives on Earth and battles a large group of heroes while flashing back on his life so far. He reveals that he did not believe Sinestro when he said that the Multiverse has been restored, and has only gone along with the Anti-Monitor's plans so that he may one day get revenge on him for the destruction of Earth-Prime. Superman, Power Girl, and Supergirl arrive and stop him, only to have him escape as the sun rises, restoring his powers.Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Superman-Prime (2007) Afterwards, Superman-Prime brutally battles Ion. Superman-Prime and the Green Lantern-powered Daxamite have an all out battle throughout the state of New York.Prime is already slightly more powerful than Ion but when he exposes him to lead, Superman-Prime gets the upper hand, defeating him. When the Anti-Monitor is wounded by the Guardians and the destruction of War World, Superman-Prime impatiently flies through his chest and throws him into space, then battles both the Sinestro Corps and Green Lantern Corps, until a Guardian willingly sacrifices himself to destroy Superman-Prime. However, instead of dying Prime is warped into another universe.
In Countdown to Final Crisis, following the conclusion of the Sinestro Corps War, Superman-Prime is now wearing a costume similar to the black suit worn by Superman shortly after his resurrection and has discovered the existence of the new Multiverse, traversing it in the hopes of finding Earth-Prime. He arrives on Earth-15 and attacks that world's Lex Luthor, blaming him for Alexander Luthor's failure to make the universe "perfect". He promptly kills that world's heroes and destroys the planet.Countdown to Final Crisis #24 (2007)
He then flies to his new base of operations in the Source Wall where he had been torturing Mister Mxyzptlk into helping him recreate Earth-Prime. It was revealed that Superman-Prime is 19 years old and according to Mxyzptlk, his growth is temporary and the result of his cells absorbing energy from his last "encounter".Countdown to Final Crisis #23 (2007) Mxyzptlk escapes with the help of another prisoner, Annataz Arataz, an alternate version of Zatanna from Earth-3. Annataz is killed when Superman-Prime grows angry and gives up on using magic to achieve his goals.
In issue #16, he appears on the Monitors' satellite headquarters and threatens Solomon to help him find Earth-Prime. In the following issue, Solomon tells him that if he releases Forerunner, he will show him what he wants, and in issue #14, he does so. Solomon then tells Prime that Earth-51 is his perfect Earth, and it is in ruins due to the fighting between Monarch's Army, the Earth-51 heroes, and the Challengers. Prime leaves the satellite with the intent to confront Monarch. Superman-Prime confronts and fights with Monarch in issue #13, becoming slightly injured after Monarch exposes part of his suit. In a fit of rage, Superman-Prime redoubles his attack on Monarch and while his temporarily Oan Guardian-boosted powers begin to fade he rips open the chestplate of Monarch's containment armor, resulting in a huge explosion of quantum energy that seems to destroy the entire universe of Earth-51. The status of Monarch and Superman-Prime are not currently known, although Geoff Johns has indicated that he will be using Superman-Prime in future comics.
Legion of Three Worlds
Superman-Prime will next appear in the Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds limited series, leading a new version of the Legion of Super-Villains.Action Comics #863 "Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds" teaser
Powers and abilities
Superman-Prime has all the basic abilities of a Kryptonian exposed to yellow sunlight: super-strength, speed, breath, and hearing; the power of flight; X-ray, heat, microscopic, and telescopic visions; and invulnerability with his powers nearly at the same level as the Silver Age Superman, which makes him one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe. As his Krypton never exploded, his only weakness is an increased need of a yellow sun for his powers. His fight with the Guardians caused him to absorb large quantities of Oan energy. It is unknown as to what other energies Superman-Prime can absorb and metabolize for his powers. The Guardian's energy temporarily ages his body and gives him the ability to travel the multiverse at will.
While imprisoned by the Flashes on an alternate Earth,Infinite Crisis #4 (2006) Superman-Prime builds a power suit based on the one worn by the Anti-Monitor, which collects and feeds him yellow solar energy, to maintain his power levels even when exposed to a red sun. Although he claims to have made it himself,Infinite Crisis #6 (2006) Bart Allen remembers him stealing it following his escape.The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #6 (2006) It is destroyed when the two Supermen fly Superman-Prime through Krypton's red sun.After his escape from Oa, Superman-Prime is given a new power suit built by the Sinestro Corps and reveals he created the original after seeing how the Anti-Monitor's armor acted as a giant energy collector.
Whereas most versions of Superman have a weakness to magic, Superman-Prime appears to be highly resilient against it.Additionally, most versions are affected by Kryptonite; however, Kryptonite does not affect Kryptonians from other universes, and the Krypton of Earth-Prime's universe—unlike other versions of the planet—was swallowed up by its sun Rao, rather than destroyed in an explosion that might have created kryptonite, so there is no known kryptonite that can affect Superman-Prime.His reaction to psionics has not been fully explored, although Martian Manhunter is shown to be able to read his mind. When Nightshade attacks Superboy-Prime with darkness, he shows fear.
After the Flashes push Superman-Prime into the Speed Force, they imprison him under red sunlight to depower him for several years until he breaks out. Kal-El and Kal-L defeat Superboy-Prime by flying him directly through Krypton's red sun Rao, destroying his armor and diminishing their powers in the process.
According to Infinite Crisis writer Geoff Johns, "Superboy-Prime's really frustrated with what his life has turned into and, unfortunately, that frustration is going to be taken out on the world." He also mentioned that "He's been wanting to show the world what he can do, because he barely had a chance to be Superboy. He was Superboy a little bit before Crisis on Infinite Earths and then—BOOM!—his world was wiped out and that was it."Wizard: The Guide to Comics #172 (2005)
When asked how Superboy-Prime's battle with the Teen Titans got out of control so quickly, editor Dan DiDio said, "Superboy is a teenager raised in isolation, with raging hormones, a huge chip on his shoulder, and the powers of a god. He never learned how to keep his powers or emotions in check, so when confronted, the situation escalated and he had no idea on how to defuse it. Think of a situation where you, as a teenager, lost your temper. Now imagine you have the power to crush a planet. Do you think that situation would have ended differently? This is the moment where Superboy-Prime crosses the point of no return and becomes the greatest threat the universe will ever know."
After the publication of Infinite Crisis #5, Johns said at the Wizard World LA convention: "That took me a long time to break, because I thought Superboy-Prime needed to view the world so narrow. You can see how his world view is so narrow and so black and white and realistically that is not going to work anymore." Originally, Superboy-Prime started out coming into Crisis as corrupted and evil, but the take on the character didn’t work for Johns. "I said to Dan I think Prime does it by accident and is horrified. That panel where’s he’s looking at his hands and goes 'I didn’t mean to do it,' that for me is the entire story for Superboy-Prime. He didn’t mean to do this stuff. What’s worse... making a mistake and fessing up to it or doing something bad and saying ‘You made me do it?’ Superboy-Prime is a very simplistic character who has become very complex."WWLA Day One: Out of Crisis a Nation is Born In The DCU Nation Tour, Comic Book Resources, March 17, 2006
When asked if Superboy-Prime was irredeemable or not, Johns replied "I think it’s a split. You saw his reaction when he did what he did in Infinite Crisis, but at that same time, he’s walked over that line. Does he think he can walk back? Should he? Does this universe even matter to him anymore? Is it the fact that, now that he’s got a big dent on his car, another one won’t matter? If he’s already on that path, is he going to continue on it, or is he going to really try and work and go back?"