|by Samuel Hawkins /td>|
SUPERBOY ON EARTH!
Jonathan and Clark talked for a long time before he actually went out. It was like a pilot doing a walkaround before a flight. It was nothing they hadnít talked about before, but it all had to be said again. Donít be seen unless itís necessary. Use the time your speed gives you to think things through. Donít frighten anyone. And watch out for planes.
Jonathan and Martha watched as their son, for the first time, leapt into the sky wearing his costume. They both cried, though Jonathan managed to keep his tears appropriately sparse. "Oh Jonathan, are we doing the right thing?" Martha asked. "Heís just a child."
"True," Jonathan acknowledged. "But heís more than that. All that reading heís done, that brain of his ... heís wise beyond his years. Beyond my years, probably. Heíll be fine. Besides, doesnít seem like thereís much of anything that can hurt him. What kind of trouble could he get into?"
Jonathan Kent should be forgiven for the ultimate inaccuracy of his statement. At that time, who could have imagined such things as Kryptonite, the Phantom Zone, or, for that matter, Lex Luthor. Still, in the short-run, he was right. There wasnít much around Smallville then that could hurt a Superboy. Certainly not the Metropolis hoodlums who decided to take advantage of a quiet Sunday afternoon to knock over a small-time bank. They wouldnít be the last gang of thugs to try to vandalize Smallville, but they would be the last ones to see it as easy pickings.
That Chief Parker engaged them in a gunfight as they attempted to leave the bank was proof that Smallville wasnít easy pickings. Cornered, they were muttering to themselves about the probabilities of being spotted by the one cop in this one-cop town, and prepared to blast their way out. If Smallville became a no-cop town in the process, so much the better.
Then they saw the flying boy.
While their fear caused them to fire every bullet they had in his direction, the boy was, as his father had always emphasized, thinking. Before the bullets could bounce off his chest, the freshly-minted Superboy had calculated their angles of return and knew that a slight twist of his torso was necessary to keep one of them from striking Alice Crandall as she stuck her head out of the boarding house down the street. Being only 13, however, he didnít turn quite enough to save her a good scare when the bullet bounced off the wall below her.
Taking his time, he let the thieves exhaust their ammunition. He could have disarmed them, of course, but he knew he had to be extra careful when pulling things out of othersí hands. Didnít want to tear off a limb. When they were finished firing, and before they could reload and squander more lead, he moved far faster than anything organic was supposed to be able to move, and deposited them one by one in Chief Parkerís jail cells, handed Chief Parker the keys, told the Chief to let him know if he could do anything for him, and then shot off into the sky.
Not counting the time it took for three witnesses to the event to regain consciousness after fainting, it had all taken less than thirty seconds. Thirty seconds to change the world. Even though the world didnít seem to notice.
One would expect that the world would react violently to the reports of this inhumanely fast, inhumanely strong, inhumanely flying, boy. But it didnít, at least not right away. After all, any actor could explain that making oneís debut in Smallville is not quite the same as making it in New York or Metropolis. As a result, in the newsrooms of the nation, the first reports of the boy who would become the worldís most famous citizen were summarily filed with the other reports of small-town oddities, like UFO sightings and two-headed calves.
That was fine with Clark and his parents, who were pleased with the relatively quiet debut of Superboy. One of Jonathanís and Marthaís strongest fears was that revelation of his existence would cause Smallville to be overrun by the outside world. Though over time, Smallville would be unmistakably known as Superboyís home town, he attempted to delay this identification by being seen in all parts of the state. As a result, the multiple locales of sighting began to add credence to the reports, and some of the big-city papers were on the verge of sending out reporters to investigate. Until, almost three weeks after that Sunday afternoon in the Smallville square, confirming the small-town reports became a moot point.
Thatís when the sea monster came to Metropolis.
It would be years before anyone sat down and wrote a detailed analysis of just why a sea monster would come to Metropolis so soon after a super-powerful boy began to operate publicly. In that more cynical age, Super-Attraction: Why Superman Brought Us Monsters would be a moderate best-seller. At the time, all anyone cared was that shortly after the 90-feet tall flame-breathing sea monster entered Metropolis Harbor, a flying boy landed on the deck of the US destroyer that was about to fire on it, and asked for a chance to stop the creature. At the time, all anyone cared about was that the commander of the vessel agreed to let him try. At the time, all anyone cared about was that the creature was soon back at the bottom of the sea.
At the time, all anyone cared was that a god walked among them. A god whose voice hadnít yet changed, but still, a god.