I used to love Superboy. When I was a kid, a teenage Superboy seemed all sexy and cool to me. He had all the powers, but none of the savvy. He was innocent, not cynical, and didn't have all these lovers hanging off him. He was brave, naive, and sometimes silly, and enjoyed just being a kid.
Then they went and changed him, and killed him off.
In 1992, DC Comics decided to run the "Death of Superman" story. IT was a multi-issue story involving multiple comic books, and part of their strategy was to keep Superman dead for almost a year. During this time, the superhero Eradicator (a bioengineered alien who once visited ancient Krypton) impersonated Superman for a time. The supervillain Hank Henshaw (who inhabits a robotic body) cloned some of Superman's skin and covered himself with it. He tried to besmirch Superman's legacy by impersonating Superman and committing crimes, but was also exposed. (The skin dies, and leaves him only partly covered.) The superhero Steel (who wears all-over armor) also impersonated Superman for a time, too, to defend Metropolis but is also exposed.
Meanwhile, friends of Superman known as the Newsboy Legion have been running a DNA bioengineering project since the early 1970s. Their efforts, known as Project Cadmus, have featured in DC Comics for years.
Cadmus creates Conner Kent/Kon-El from a partial scan of Superman's DNA, as well as good scientific guesses made by its scientists. This clone grows to maturity within weeks, and is given implanted memories. However, he emerges from the cloning tube too early, as a teenager rather than an adult male in his late 30s.
At first he calls himself the Metropolis Kid, and wears tight red pants, a blue-and-red Superman shirt, a black leather jacket, red gloves, and small circular sunglasses. He has his hair in an alternative side-shave cut. It turns out he has all of Superman's powers except for the vision ones, which are provided by the sunglasses. At first, poor Conner Kent/Kon-El is told that he's a clone of Superman mixed with DNA taken from a girl named Roxy Leech. He also learns that he because he's not a full Kryptonian, his powers all come from telekinesis.
Superman is not dead, of course, and the Metropolis Kid adopts the name Superboy as soon as the real Superman comes back from the dead. (DC Comics had removed Superboy from all their comic book lines in the 1980s out of a fear that they would lose the copyrights to the character.)
In 1998, DC Comics had Superboy adopt a new costume -- the black shirt and jeans seen in the original post. He is sent to live in Smallville with Ma Kent, where he adopts the name "Conner Kent" (Clark's cousin) and the name Kon-El (similar to Kal-El). Then he's told he's a clone made from DNA taken from Superman and Cadmus director Paul Westfield. It later turns out he's a clone made from DNA taken from Superman and Lex Luthor.
In 2006, DC Comics killed Conner Kent/Kon-El off. A character they had created back in the 1980s, Superboy-Prime (the Clark Kent from "our" Earth, where superheroes only exist in comic books), returns -- psychotic and convinced heroes go too easy on villains. He kills Conner for "impersonating" him and "stealing" the life as Superboy that he should have had.
However, in 2008, DC Comics revived Conner Kent/Kon-El. (This is because they largely won their copyright lawsuit over the character.) It turns out he was placed in the same Kryptonian healing chamber in the Fortress of Solitude that saved Superman in 1992's "Death of Superman" storyline. He was awakened in the 30th Century by the Legion of Super-Heroes, but travels back in time to the 20th century.
In 2011, Conner Kent/Kon-El was retconned YET AGAIN. DC Comics soft-booted their entire comic universe YET AGAIN (for what, the sixth time in 20 years?) and writers could sort of pick and choose which continuity they liked. None of them liked Conner/Kon-El's origin story. So while he's still a half-human, half-Kryptonian clone with telekinetic powers that mimic Superman's, he is no longer created by Project Cadmus but by the villainous organization NOWHERE. It's Supergirl who gives him the name Kon-El (Kon for "abomination" and el for "star") -- for all Kryptonians loathe clones.
In 2013, Conner is thrown forward in time by the supervillain Johnny Quick. He meets Jon Lane Kent, the villainous son of Superman and Lois Lane. Conner/Kon-El is RETCONNED YET AGAIN when he learns that he isn't a half-breed clone but actually a bioengineered clone of Jon Lane Kent. Kent is a "meta-human", DC Comics' version of a mutant. His half-human, half-Kryptonian physiology isn't healthy, and he appeared to die at the age of four. Superman, grossly stupid, doens't realize this is just a coma and buries his son. A super-villain from the 30th century, Harvest, comes back in time and retrieves the boy's body. He revives Jon, and teaches him to hate all meta-humans. They wage successful a genocidal war against Earth's heroes, but Jon once more falls ill. Harvest travels back in time to the 20th century again, and combines the DNA from Superman, Lois Lane, and Jon Lane Kent to create a new clone -- that's Conner/Kon-El -- whom Harvest hopes to experiment on so that he can find a permanent cure for Jon.
Conner/Kon-El joins the Teen Titans. A time-traveling Kryptonian clone named H'El attacks and defeats Kon-El, and takes his unconscious body to Superman to be killed. Superman can't bring himself to kill Kon-El, and they begin a friendship.
Conner/Kon-El and the Titans then travel in time to the 30th century. Kon-El meets Jon, who is seriously injured in a battle with the Titans. Jon opens a time portal, and hurls Conner through time and space -- back 1,000 years to Krypton a few days before its destruction. Conner meets Jor-El and Lara, and is deeply touched by their kindness, intelligence, and compassion. Knowing he cannot change history by saving Krypton or interfering with Kal-El's journey to Earth as a baby, Conner/Kon-El decides instead to become part of it: He covers Argo City in a shield, rips it from the surface of Krypton, and hurls it into space to save it -- allowing Supergirl to come to Earth. (Her father is a scientist in Argo City.) Conner/Kon-El dies on Krypton, finally feeling a sense of redemption. ("My name is Superboy. I'm not a living weapon. I am just a kid who tried.")
For reasons which remain obscure, Beast Boy (a hero and member of the Teen Titans) and Rose Wilson (a villain with NOWHERE) disguise Jon Lane Kent as Kon-El. Jon pretends to be Superboy, and he is curently fighting crime alongside the Teen Titans. Superman and Supergirl know that Kon-El is dead, but they have not told the rest of the Titans.
BUT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kon-El is still alive, for reasons which are never, ever explained. A mysterious being called the Oracle now has him traveling through the past, present, and future, solving crime. (I kid you not.) Suddenly, and for no good reason whatsoever, Conner/Kon-El's conscience is pulled in a pocket universe. This pocket universe has a Jon Lane Kent, too, but he's a hero and wants to destroy all his evil selves throughout time, space, and the multiverse. He has, however, a psychotic future self, and this psycho-Jon merges with all Kon-Els and Jon Lane Kents of all parts of the multiverse -- except for the two in the pocket dimension. The heroic, young Jon sacrifices himself and destroys the older psycho-Jon. Conner/Kon-El, however, is now jettisoned from the pocket universe to our world, and suddenly takes the place of the evil Jon Lane Kent/Superboy.
For the past couple months, Conner/Kon-El has been traveling the world and engaging in meditation to achieve inner peace. He now, at least, has rejoined the Teen Titans.
Jebus he'p me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This completely sucks.