by Starsky Hutch 76 and Libbylawrence
Having a name like his had made life a little strange for the young man known as Clark Kent, as it would have for anyone. After all, Clark Kent was well known as the secret identity of Superman — at least on the world of the young man now known as Superboy on Earth-Two. That was because he wasn’t from Earth-Two. He’d grown up on Earth-Prime, where the heroes of Earth-Two and other Earths were characters in popular fiction.
But even that wasn’t the world of his birth. He was from Krypton, a world previously thought fictional in his universe. He’d often pondered what a fantastic discovery it really was. It would be like discovering you were from Oz, Wonderland, or Narnia.
Since he had first discovered the truth about himself, life had been anything but ordinary for the young man known as Clark Kent. It made him appreciate any normal moments he had, moments such as the one he was currently enjoying, sharing a soda with Laurie Lemmon in the Smallville Soda Shop.
As he and Laurie shared small talk, his gaze drifted to the broadcast on the wall-mounted TV. “I still can’t believe Jay Garrick is running for president.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: The Race, Book 1: Candidacy.]
“What was that, Kal?” Laurie said.
“What?!” he exclaimed.
“Cal…? Sorry. I heard your mom call you that, and I thought it was cute,” Laurie said, grinning.
As he felt his adrenaline settle, he remembered how the name issue had been settled in the Kent household. When he and Superman were in the same room, he was Kal, and Superman was Clark. After all, Superman had a good fifty or more years getting used to being Clark. The name Kal was still unique enough to where he liked hearing it.
“So where did Cal come from, anyway?” Laurie asked.
“Um… Mary,” he said. “She still can’t quite get the grasp of Clark, so she started calling me Cal, and it sort of stuck. So now even my parents are calling me Cal.”
“Really? That’s even cuter!” Laurie exclaimed. “Hate to tell you, but I’m afraid you’re stuck with it!”
“OK with me,” Cal said, relieved that his story was acceptable. The part about Mary actually was true, so he didn’t feel like a total heel. He’d have to remember to give his little sister an extra hug for giving him the idea.
Cal’s gaze drifted back to the TV set mounted on the wall-mounted TV. The broadcast was suddenly interrupted by an emergency broadcast about a meteorite headed for nearby Midvale. “Oh, no,” he gasped.
“Superman will take care of it,” Laurie said. “He always does.”
Not this time, he thought to himself. He’s in space gathering rare elements as a favor to Rex Tyler. Power Girl was similarly tied up with the Justice Society of America. That left one person.
Faster than the eye could see, he dashed to the phone booth and quickly started dialing. He then ran back to his booth and sat down before Laurie even noticed he’d left. He picked up his soda and had taken a sip, when there was a sudden beeping.
“Your beeper’s going off,” Laurie said.
Cal pretended to be surprised, as if just noticing it. “Aw, man…” He picked it up and said, “I already know what it’s about. Mom wants me to come home and watch Mary so she can cover the story.”
“I guess those are the risks of having a working mom with a new kid,” Laurie said.
“I guess so,” Cal said. He gave her a quick kiss before dashing out of the soda shop and into an alley to change into his Superboy uniform. He then took to the skies and headed for Midvale.
Superboy was staggered by the sheer size of the meteor heading toward Earth. Not only would it level Midvale, but it could cause a significant problem for the rest of the world when it struck Earth. Somewhere in the back of his mind he thought it would make a good premise for a movie. He’d have to remember that one. In the meantime, he’d have to decide how to deal with the problem at hand.
Simply hitting it wouldn’t work. Debris would rain down and still create havoc. Pushing it out into space wouldn’t offer any permanent solution. It would just become a problem for someone else, or even Earth at some point in the future.
Finally, it came to him. Hit it, but before it enters Earth’s atmosphere and with such force that it’s almost completely destroyed. Any pieces left would be so small that they would burn up in the atmosphere.
Superboy began circling the globe, gathering more and more speed. There could be no chances taken here. Better to have more than enough momentum built up than too little. He didn’t want to go down in history as the hero who destroyed Kansas, or wherever the pieces ended up raining down, if he didn’t hit the meteor hard enough.
He began to feel the skin pull on his face as the pressure became even more than his own invulnerability could resist. It would have to be soon. He didn’t want this to end in another time-hopping fiasco like he’d gone through after being waylaid by Bluestreak. (*)
Changing directions again, Superboy rocketed up to the meteor as it flew toward Earth’s atmosphere. As he struck the enormous rock, it exploded in a shower of sparks with enough color to rival that of St. Elmo’s Fire. Newscasts from around the globe would be showing replays of it for months to come.
Superboy was slammed back by the force of the collision and resulting explosion just as quickly in the opposite direction, tumbling head over heels. The last thing he said before blacking out was, “I… did it…” And then the colors were replaced by blackness.
Superboy woke up with the sun beating down on his face. He rose groggily to his feet, trying to shake off the last vestiges of slumber.
The first thing he noticed was that his surroundings seemed vaguely familiar. Had he really managed to somehow land in his own town? It certainly seemed that way, though he didn’t remember there being any dirt roads outside of Smallville. If there was one so close to where he lived, then surely he would remember it.
As he turned, he was startled to see the Kent house in the distance. “Huh?” he gasped. “If the Kent house is there, then where’s Alex’s guest house?” Alexander Lane had been living on the Kent homestead for almost as long as him. (*) “And why is the barn in the wrong place?” Even the trees didn’t seem quite right.
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Crawling from the Wreckage, Book 3, Chapter 2: A New Family.]
“Hey!” he suddenly heard a voice call out from behind him. “I didn’t expect to see you again!”
He turned and was stunned to see someone smiling amiably at him, holding out his hand toward him in greeting. Except for the fact that he was wearing a flannel shirt and jeans, he looked exactly like him.
“Um… yeah,” Superboy said with confusion as he took his hand and shook it.
Clearly, this person thought he knew him and had seen him only recently. However, he had no knowledge of such a meeting.
Suddenly, it hit him like a ton of bricks. The New Adventures of Superboy issue number 15. The lead story was called “A New Life for the Orphan from Krypton,” about a Texas millionaire who wanted Superboy to become his foster son. The back-story, though, was “Superboy Meets Clark Kent.” And this was the Clark Kent the Earth-One Superboy met. (*) He was in the past, and this was his foster-father at his age.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Superboy Meets Clark Kent,” The New Adventures of Superboy #15 (March, 1981) and “The Superboy Training of Clark Kent,” The New Adventures of Superboy #16 (April, 1981).]
Cal’s mind raced as he kept a smile on his face, listening to the younger version of his foster-father as the boy almost gushed with excitement.
I’m in the 1930s! That’s why the barn is in a different spot, he thought. This is so weird. I’m actually talking to my foster-father when he was a kid. He will go on to become Superman and usher in the whole age of super-heroes, or mystery-men as they used to call them. He assumes I’m Superboy from Earth-One, although I can’t remember now if that Superboy told him much about his true origin or not. I sure wish I hadn’t traded those issues for the foil-covered first issues of Fresh Mutants. It’s not like I ended up living on some Earth-Marvel.
The other Clark stopped talking and said, “Gosh, I’m sorry. I’ve been rattling on like one of the DAR women at one of Ma’s club meetings. I’m glad to see you. Pa and Ma are swell and all, but even they can’t really understand what it’s like to be different from other folks. That’s why I’ve really missed talking to you.”
“I’m really just here to say hello,” said Cal. “I have to get back to my own home.” He shuffled his feet slightly as he tried to avoid his father’s slightly squinting stare.
Clark lowered his eyes slightly and said, “Oh, well, sure. I was just hopeful that maybe you could stick around a bit. Ma and Pa took the truck and drove to a Grange meeting in Kansas City. I’m on my own for the next few days. Mrs. Hamilton has been bringing me supper, but other than that, we’ve got the whole place to ourselves. I’ve been working out like you suggested. Boy, that night in the big top was something else, wasn’t it?”
Cal nodded, trying to remember the plot of that two-part tale. Man, reading comics on my old Earth was always just fun, he thought. Finding them to be reasonable history lessons for things that happened here on Earth-Two makes me wish I had taken notes on them or something. I do recall a crisis at the circus led my Pa to decide to devote his life to helping others with his super-powers. I hate to do anything that might alter history, but the poor guy is so lonely. I’m lucky to have other costumed buds to hang with, like Batwing. Poor Pa was all alone in those early years. He blazed the heroic trail that everyone from Batman to Little Boy Blue followed! I can always return to about the same moment from which I left my era. I think I’ll stay here and keep him company. After all, for all I know, I did the exact same thing in history all along!
“Well, since you don’t mind my visiting, I’d be glad to stay here a while,” he said. “I’d better get some of your clothes, though. We don’t want to alert the neighbors to the fact that you have a guest who dresses rather strangely, to say the least.”
Clark laughed and said, “Great! Come on inside. You can use some of my stuff. This will be swell. There’s a fight on the radio tonight. Max Baer’s defending the title.”
Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies? Nah. Must have been his dad, thought Cal.