Superboy: 1967: Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 4: Enter Clark Kent

by ManOMight1974

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From Superboy’s secret diary, supplemental entry, April 23rd, 1967:

I have now been here for nearly a full twenty-four hours. I do have to say this is certainly not how I envisioned spending Spring Break this year, trapped along with Krypto on a parallel Earth by an evil counterpart of myself with little hope of getting home, and having to rely on heroic counterparts of some of my greatest enemies.

I have spent the past twelve hours becoming fully acquainted with this world, its history, culture, science, et cetera. From what I have been able to gather from my conversations with Alex Luthor, Dav-Im, and this world’s equivalent of the Kryptonite Kid, as well as history books and the copies of Ultraboy’s journals that I read last night while secreted away in his version of the Cave of Silence, this world has roughly the same technological development as my world; its history is where it seems to diverge greatly from my universe.

The history of Earth-33 (the name that Ultraboy had christened his world the night before) seems to be a somewhat topsy-turvy mirror image of my Earth. Here, it seems, Christopher Columbus was an American explorer who discovered Europe in the year 1492; England, an American colonial territory, won its freedom in a reversed form of the Revolutionary War, with George Washington surrendering his sword to General Cornwallis; and it was actor Abraham Lincoln who assassinated President John Wilkes Booth at the end of the Civil War. Were I not in the midst of trying to get myself and Krypto home, I might be fascinated by the scientific, cultural, political, and societal differences of our two worlds.

Alex Luthor seems to be the most interesting and also heartbreaking of the differences. His mannerisms, his intelligence, his sense of humor — all remind me greatly of Lex, at least the way he was before that stupid accident. (*) It just goes to show that, without my actions, Lex could quite possibly have become a great force for good. I know Pa is always saying that what happened to Lex was not my fault, that it was his own choice to go down the path that he chose, but I still wonder if maybe I am partly to blame for what happened. I have all these powers, and I couldn’t even save my friend… from himself. Working alongside Alex is going to be extremely difficult, but I will have to swallow my feelings of guilt and regret for the next few days so that we can work together to get myself and Krypto home.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “How Luthor Met Superboy,” Adventure Comics #271 (April, 1960).]

Alex and I have been wracking our brains trying to come up with some way — any way — to defeat Ultraboy, but so far we have only one slim chance of an idea that I am extremely reticent to try, and not merely because it most likely will not work, but rather because it will work, and that is what scares me. There are too many indeterminate variables in this plan, and I am very hesitant to try it, mostly because of the possible consequences that I do not think Alex has fully contemplated.

There is indeed something very odd about this universe, and I don’t mean the whole topsy-turvy history thing, but that is a part of it. This world is like the other side of the mirror: good is evil, right is wrong, black is white. I hate to admit it, but I’m getting the distinct impression that nothing we do will have much of an effect on this world. Here, it seems, evil always wins, no matter what. And that, in and of itself, is like a fundamental law of nature in this universe. So how can I fight a fundamental law of nature?

***

Alex Luthor’s secret laboratory, Earth-33, 9:33 P.M.:

Superboy sat stiffly at the desk in the dimly lit basement laboratory, his chin propped on his right fist while he stroked the fur on top of Krypto’s head ever so gently with his free hand. He was lost in thought and did not hear Alex’s soft footsteps behind him.

“Superboy?” Alex said as he tapped the Boy of Steel on the shoulder

“Huh? What? Oh, Alex,” Superboy began, jumping in his seat, “sorry, I was completely lost in thought for a moment. What’s up?”

Alex Luthor took a slow, deep breath, as he ran his hand back through his dark brown hair before he began talking. “I was wondering if you had given any further thought to that plan we were discussing earlier.”

“I have, Alex, but I don’t think you’re going to like what I have to say.”

“Superboy, we need a weapon against Ultraboy. This red kryptonite that you talked about might just be our only hope of defeating him.”

“I’m not denying that, Alex, nor am I saying that we shouldn’t use it against the Smallville scoundrel. It’s the other part of the plan that I am a good deal concerned with.”

“Superboy, you yourself said that in your second encounter with your universe’s version of the Kryptonite Kid, you tricked him into flying through a strange radiation cloud that temporarily turned his green kryptonite powers into red kryptonite powers. (*) Don’t you see? This would be the perfect way to stop Ultraboy, with a Kryptonite Kid whose powers wouldn’t act upon Ultraboy to make him stronger or gain temporary added powers.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Kryptonite Kid,” Superboy #99 (September, 1962).]

“Alex,” Superboy interjected calmly but forcefully, “first of all, we don’t even know if the theory that red kryptonite will work on Ultraboy like green kryptonite does on me is a sound one. We will need to test it out first. Second, when I tricked my Kryptonite Kid into flying through that radiation cloud, it also temporarily turned him good. If things run the way I think they do here, that cloud will have the equal and opposite effect on your Kryptonite Kid and turn him evil.”

“That is true, Superboy, but we can’t afford to not take the risk.”

“You didn’t… oh, my God, you did. I can’t believe you would act so recklessly. If that radiation cloud turns him evil, even if it is only for a short period of time, he could still kill Dav-Im. Do you want that on your conscience?”

“Certainly not. That’s why, when I sent Dav-Im and K.K. up to try and locate a chunk of red kryptonite, I told them to use one of my devices to collect the radiation of the cloud for study. I don’t want to take any chances here.”

Superboy sighed. “I’m sorry Alex, I shouldn’t have snapped at you and made accusations without first hearing you out.”

“It’s all right, Superboy. If our places were reversed, I might have reacted the same way. Besides, Dav-Im and K.K. are my friends, and I wouldn’t want to risk their lives without fully understanding the ramifications of my actions. I want to know what the end result would be before I make that kind of decision, and also, I wouldn’t make that decision for either of them… or you, for that matter. I would give them the choice and stand by their decision, no matter what it is in the matter, because they are my friends.”

Superboy was definitely gaining a grudging respect for this young man. Unlike his own Luthor, Alex thought through every possible action before he took even one step. He was a scientist, but a scientist with a conscience. “Indeed. How long before they get back?”

“Well, they left about twenty minutes ago, so I would say they should return in about an hour and a half, give or take.”

From behind the two teenagers, Superboy could hear the distinct creaking of the basement stairs as someone descended the steps. Superboy surmised that it was probably Chief Luthor come to check up on his son and his son’s allies, so he paid it no attention as whoever it was entered the darkened basement.

“Alex,” came the slightly high-pitched, youthful voice that made Superboy’s blood run cold, because he knew it all too well, “can you turn on the blasted lights before I trip?”

“Oh,” Alex replied rather sheepishly, “sorry, Clark. I sometimes forget. Lights on.”

Superboy stood in silent shock as the room blazed into full illumination. Standing at the foot of the stairs that led from the first floor of the house to the basement level, roughly five feet from where Alex and the Boy of Steel were standing, was the one person that Superboy hadn’t expected to show up here in the Luthor basement: Clark Kent.

***

Elsewhere:

Hourglass briskly walked down the metallic corridor of his secret installation, each of his steps reverberating with a distinctive metallic clank. His arms were clasped behind his back; he was lost in thought. All of his plans seemed to be progressing along nicely at an extremely fluid pace of late. He had already collected three very formidable allies to assist him in his destruction of Superboy. Mighto would be able to give him the brute strength, Cyber would give him alien robotic technology, and Luthor would give him the sheer tactical and inventive genius he needed in combat with the Kryptonian. Not to say that Hourglass himself could not have performed each of these things on his own, but he was not about to make the same mistake as others had over the years and let his own overconfidence lead to a major miscalculation, and thus his own defeat.

This reason, above all else, was why he had been assembling a team of beings who had not only faced off against the Boy of Steel before, but ones who knew how he operated in battle and could assist him in outmaneuvering the teenage Kryptonian. The three he had so far collected were a good start, but he needed more.

Hourglass stopped in front of one particular black doorway, his right hand depressing a small green button on the wall plate alongside the door. As he pressed the button, the black door slid upward, and Hourglass stepped inside the darkened room, the door sliding shut behind him. These were his private quarters in the installation, and thus completely off limits to his associates. This was the only place in the entire installation where he might have even a moment’s peace and quiet, relatively speaking.

Hourglass was only in the room for a fraction of a second when the cerebral pain and the seizures began. He held his head with both hands, writhing in the corner, moaning and screeching in pain. “S-s-stop… please,” he called out in agony.

“When you do exactly what I tell you to do,” came a deep voice from the darkened room in response, “then we shall forego the pain. Am I understood?”

“Yes, Time Trapper. You are understood.”

“Good,” replied the Time Trapper as he stepped from the shadows to reveal himself. The Time Trapper stood about five feet away from Hourglass and was approximately six feet tall. He wore a full-length, dark maroon monk’s robe with a full hood that obscured his features. He wore no gloves, and the skin on his hands appeared to be the hue of a typical Caucasian male from Earth. “Report, Hourglass.”

“I have so far collected three of the beings you recommended for this endeavor: Mighto, Cyber, and the teenage Lex Luthor. I was about to go collect the next on the list — Vic Munster, AKA the Rainbow Raider — when you inflicted me with the pain.”

“Very good, Hourglass, very good. What is the current location of the Kryptonian?”

“As you determined, this is the brief period during which he was abducted to Earth-33 by his evil counterpart, Ultraboy. He will be no trouble during these next couple of days, and I will have carte blanche to collect the rest of those destined to form my Anti-Superboy Army. I see virtually no complications in the completion of the timetable.”

“Good.”

“Is there anything else, sir?” Hourglass spoke that last word with almost tangible venom.

“Watch your tone, Hourglass, or so help me, you will find yourself right back where I found you in the thirtieth century — dead.”

“Yes, sir.”

The Time Trapper seemed to meld into the darkness from whence he had stepped only moments before, disappearing from sight so swiftly that it was almost as if he had not been there at all.

Hourglass stepped into the small washroom and stared intently at his masked reflection in the mirror over the sink. He was truly beginning to regret this bargain that he had struck with the Time Trapper, despite the fact that it had been the actions of the Time Trapper that had restored him to life in a new body. And all of this — the pain, the suffering, the garish costume — because the Time Trapper wanted to destroy the thirtieth century’s Legion of Super-Heroes. Hourglass himself also hated the Legion, specifically Superboy and the late Ferro Lad, the latter of which had not only destroyed his greatest creation, but had returned as a ghost to take from Hourglass his first life. (*) Now he was consumed only with vengeance.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Fatal Five,” Adventure Comics #352 (January, 1967), “The Doomed Legionnaire,” Adventure Comics #353 (February, 1967), and “The Ghost of Ferro Lad,” Adventure Comics #357 (June, 1967).]

Hourglass pulled off his mask and peered into the face that stared back it him. Not quite the face he had once had, but still the face of one of the Controllers, and he would have his revenge.

***

Alex Luthor’s secret laboratory, Earth-33, 9:40 P.M.:

Superboy stood dumbfounded and in complete shock five feet away from this world’s version of Clark Kent. His doppelgänger stood with the good-natured grin on his face that Superboy himself as Clark Kent back on Earth-One always had, yet Ultraboy’s version of Clark seemed different. Why was he here? What the heck was going on? Krypto had assumed the guard dog stance at his master’s side and was growling at the impostor, but Superboy motioned for him to stand down. “Easy now, boy,” Superboy quietly whispered in Krypto’s ear using his super-ventriloquism, “let’s figure out what he’s up to.” Krypto complied with his master and sat down, but still stared at Clark with a gaze of daggers.

“Oh,” said Alex after a few moments of tense silence, “Superboy, allow me to introduce you to my best friend, Clark Kent. Clark, this is Superboy.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Superboy. Alex tells me you’re going to help us to defeat Ultraboy,” Clark said as he offered the Boy of Steel his hand.

“That’s right, Clark,” Superboy replied as he took his doppelgänger’s hand and shook it firmly, though he was completely taken off guard by the amount of power that Clark put into the handshake; obviously, Clark was attempting a subtle contest of strength and will. Superboy was not about to give in. “We’ve met, though, Alex — at least we have sort of. There is a Clark Kent on my Earth.”

“Of course,” Alex replied, slapping his forehead, “I should have realized that, parallel Earths and all that. Give me a moment, gentlemen. I have to retrieve something from the garage. Be right back.”

As Alex ran up the stairs, the grin on Clark’s face quickly turned to an obnoxious smirk. “Figured it out, yet?”

“You use your friendship with him to stay one step ahead of the police.”

“Very good, there. You really are just as smart as I am.”

“That is very cold, Ultraboy — faking a friendship with him just so you can break the law.”

“Oh,” began Clark, “I’m not ‘faking a friendship’ with him. Alex actually is my best friend, next to Pete Ross, of course. I just use what is available to me to stay one step ahead of the cops, as I’m sure you do to prevent Lana Lang from discovering the truth about your connection to Clark Kent.”

That statement stung to the core of Superboy’s being, but that didn’t mean that what Clark had said wasn’t the truth. Superboy did indeed use whatever methods he could find around him to prevent his version of Lana from uncovering the fact that Superboy and Clark Kent were indeed one and the same.

“I see that I’ve hit a nerve. So sorry.”

“What do you want here, Clark?”

“Lots of things, but we really don’t have the time to discuss them right now, what with Alex only a couple of minutes away from returning. What say we take care of that by going somewhere that time moves a bit differently, and Alex will never know that we’ve even gone?” Moving faster than the blink of an eye at super-speed, Clark produced the silver cigar-shaped cylinder that he had used on Superboy and Krypto the night before in his Ultraboy identity to bring them here to Earth-33. Pressing the crimson button atop the device once more, Clark teleported himself, Superboy, and Krypto from the basement in a blinding flash of light.

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