My Son, The Boy of Steel!
Every dad is proud of his boy, but none more so than that
lucky Smallville resident who calls himself the father of
Superboy; that's right, I'm talking about
In Adventure Comics #314 (Nov. 1963), Mort
Weisinger and George Papp present
the story of Fred Carter, a nice, average guy living a nice,
average life in a nice, average town with his nice, average
family. What he'd much prefer is something more above-average.
"Amos!" he calls to his clean-cut
teenage son, "Why can't you do something colorful?
I don't say you have to be Superboy -- but at least go out
for the football team?" Amos replies that he's much
too busy with his chemistry lessons.
Mom tells Dad to give the boy a break. "He's a mental
genius and that's good enough for me!" Giving up for
the moment, Fred asks young Amos what he's working on currently.
I don't know, as a parent I'd be a little leery of my kid
drinking a concoction he just whipped up with his chemistry
set. And as a general rule, whenever someone says, "er..."
in a comic book, it's a good bet they're hiding something.
Anyway, Amos declines the invitation to join Fred for some
outdoor sport, preferring to work on his self-made electro-magnet.
Fred grabs his horseshoes and goes out to play with some
of the other dads.
Normally lousy at horseshoes, Fred unexpectedly pitches
both horseshoes perfectly to score a double-ringer, to the
astonishment of his friends. Suddenly Superboy is spotted
flying over town, carrying a huge water tank to fill a pool
for some kids in the next town. One of Fred's friends decides
Superboy is behind Fred's sudden prowess at horseshoes...
In the very next panel, Fred's friends relent and admit
they're just joking, but an idea has been planted. When
Fred gets home, he tells Amos the story and Amos deduces
that the horseshoes have been magnetized by exposure to
his electro-magnet, attracting them to the metal peg in
the game of horseshoes and making it easier for his dad
to win. He decides to keep the information to himself.
Later Fred is listening to the radio when a special announcement
You have to wonder: would residents of Smallville really
say "the local bank" or wouldn't they call it
by name? Did the anonymous tipster call the media as well
as the bank? If they want to catch the crooks, why announce
Superboy's trap? And...though you'd think I'd know by now
that it's pointless to ask...where are the police in all
Anyway, Amos picks this very moment to announce he's going
to the bank to deposit his allowance money, so Fred begins
to suspect perhaps his son is Superboy, after all.
At Smallville High, Clark Kent has just
learned he has to stay late at school, making it necessary
for him to get a Superboy robot to substitute for him at
the bank. However, a group of lumberjacks is working in
the forest around the exit to his secret tunnel, so the
robot is unable to leave the Kents' basement. Superboy has
a sudden inspiration, deciding to enlist the aid of Amos
Carter, since he "has a habit of going to the bank
this time each week with his allowance!" (Okay, I don't
know which is more disturbing; the fact that Superboy knows
the personal habits of everyone in Smallville, or the fact
that Fred knows so little about his own son).
Superboy flies to the bank with a plan:
Amos is thrilled to help. The would-be bank robbers drive
by right on schedule (again, the cops can't be bothered
to show up and nab them), and seeing what they think is
the Boy of Steel guarding the front steps (surprise! Don't
you crooks have a radio?), they decide to drive on. Lucky
for Amos they're not in that 50% of crooks who always open
fire on Superboy with a sub-machine gun just for the heck
Superboy sends Amos a message via super-ventriloquism and
tells him to take off the costume and take it home. As a
reward for his help, he'll be given "a specimen of
artificial green kryptonite!" Wow, a rock spray-painted
green, thanks Superboy. And how weird can you get: "Thanks
for helping me out, pal. He's a facsimile of something that
can kill me!" Anyway, right at that moment, who should
drive by to see Amos changing but his dad, who is now convinced
his son is the Boy of Steel.
Back at home, Fred observes Amos chugging down another
beaker of his homemade formula and decides the potion must
be the source of his super-powers. "He probably invented
that story about coming from Krypton as a cover-up!"
As Fred turns on the radio, another special bulletin comes
through (poor Fred will never get to hear Fibber McGee!).
This time the announcer pleads, "If anybody sees Superboy,
tell him that the west bridge is about to collapse!"
As luck would have it, Superboy is at this very moment sneaking
into the Carter home to leave the promised fake Kryptonite
on an end table. Hearing the broadcast appeal, he zips off
to save the bridge...
Hey, it's a logical assumption, right? I mean, if Superboy
doesn't live here, why would he be in our house, uninvited?
Unless he's some kind of sneaky busybody who keeps tabs
on people, making notes of when they go to the bank and
stuff, right? And that's just crazy, haha.
At dinner that night, Fred insists on stuffing Amos with
extra helpings of food, figuring he needs it after all the
work he's done (as Superboy). Amos goes to bed and Fred
enjoys a game of bridge with his friends...until another
announcement comes on the radio (just turn that thing off,
already!). This time the thwarted bank robbers have attacked
an armored car.
Going to summon Amos, Fred finds him doubled over in pain.
"I've got a stomach-ache, dad! I told you I was eating
too much!" Amos thinks there's another explanation...
So if the "survivor of Krypton" story was made
up, as Fred believes, why would Kryptonite hurt Amos? And
how stupid would Superboy have to be to keep Green-K on
With Amos incapacitated, Fred decides to take the potion
himself to fight the crooks (because that's so much easier
than just taking the Kryptonite to another room). As it
happens, Clark Kent is at the scene of the gun battle between
police (Hey, they DO have police) and the robbers. (When
the confrontation erupted, he'd been out shopping with Lana
Lang). "Now let's see Superboy appear," Lana crows,
"while you're right beside me!" You go, girl.
What's a few human lives compared to the satisfaction of
proving your suspicions?
Standing nearby, Fred swallows the formula and strides
boldly into the gunfire.
Well, of course that's the only logical conclusion, right?
Note that "Big Brother" Clark not only knows Amos
is conducting experiments in his home, he can also identify
the formula from a glimpse of a test tube several feet away,
on the streets of Smallville. Incidentally, he also knows
that the guy in the hat, Pete Jorgensen, is on his way to
pick up take-out from Pop's Pizza, as he does every Thursday
night. He and his wife, Mildred (who suffers from neuralgia
in her left leg) like to eat it in the living room while
listening to the radio pre-empt Gunsmoke with disaster
bulletins. Then they retire to the bedroom, where Mildred
is a total freak. Superboy needs to know stuff like that.
As Fred places himself between the crooks and the cops,
the crowd is astonished to see him unharmed by the hail
of bullets (cool, I've wanted to say "hail of bullets"
ever since journalism school). No one realizes Clark is
melting the bullets with heat vision from a distance, so
it appears Fred is invulnerable. Fred gives the crooks a
tap and Clark bowls them over with super-breath, making
it appear Fred has clobbered them. Fred tells the grateful
police "I can't tell you all, but I can tell you that
through Superboy I received super-powers! Now, I've got
to fly home!" Clark makes that possible...
Back at the Carter home, Superboy and Amos explain to Fred
about the masquerade at the bank, and prove they are not
the same person. Fred insists the formula must give super-powers
since it worked for him. He asks for more, but Amos says,
"You drank the last of the serum...and I've forgotten
the mixture!" Uh-huh. So Mr Mental Genius suddenly
can't remember what he put in a potion he's been drinking
all week? Face it, Fred, your boy is an alcoholic, and that
"chemistry set" is his still.
All that's left now is the "ironic" denouement,
which we get as Fred Carter takes a walk with Jonathan Kent.
"You can't imagine," says Fred, "how it feels
to have Superboy for a son!" Here's where I notice
that all the parents in Smallville are senior citizens.
Add in cops that hide when you tip them off to crimes, banks
and bridges that don't even rate names, radios that only
pick up the "special bulletin" channel and an
omniscient superbeing who monitors your every move, and
it's no wonder the teenagers of Smallville brew up their