More Fun Comics #101 - Cover date January-February 1945
Not since the launch of Superman in 1938 had there been such an important new creation in the Man of Steel’s personal franchise - the introduction of Superboy.
Siegel had previously pitched Superboy series on two other occasions, in 1938 and 1940, but it was only in 1944 - when Siegel was serving overseas - that plans were put into action. In early 1945, the Boy of Steel debuted without Siegel’s permission or management. It was a turning point in the already-contentious relationship between Siegel and Jack Liebowitz, National’s publisher, who appeared to be wresting complete control of the franchise while its co-creator was called away.
The ownership issue of Superboy eventually led to the courts, with Siegel retrieving his rights to the character from National - but allowing them to continue publishing the character as the owner. Never a savvy defender of his legal rights as much as his ethical rights, Siegel effectively signed away Superboy in the wake of having just won him back.
As for Superboy himself, he debuts to almost no fanfare at all - not only is he not featured on the cover, but he’s not even mentioned (alongside co-inhabitants Johnny Quick, Aquaman, Spectre, the comedy team of Dover and Clover, and the book’s foremost attraction, Green Arrow).
In a terse, five-page retelling of Superman’s (and now Superboy’s) origin, we see more of Krypton than any other comic has yet shown, as well as what is very likely the first image of a pleasant, aged Kent couple doting over their lovable, adopted super-infant.
Rather than being encouraged by his dying father to mask his great powers behind a meek disguise in order to better serve humanity, it’s young Clark who determines that he must hide his light under a bushel.
Although the brief tale doesn’t leave much room for nuance, it’s also insinuated that Clark invents his Superboy identity out of whole cloth - as he does his costume, which he sews himself (predating the home-ec handiness of Peter Parker by a couple of decades).
Obviously, there’s little in the way of canon in these early stories - the radio serial alone has upended Superman’s origin for its own purposes, at the very least - but Superboy’s presence will dramatically change all sorts of assumptions about the character of his older self, in short order.