Adventure Comics 290

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Adventure Comics #290
Preboot » Pre-Crisis
Cover by Curt Swan, Stan Kaye and Ira Schnapp.
Story title The Secret of the Seventh Super-Hero
Previous story Superboy v1 #89: Superboy's Big Brother
Next story Superboy v1 #93: Lana Lang's Superboy Identity Detection Kit
Publication date September 28, 1961
Cover date November 1961
Writer ???
Penciller George Papp
Inker George Papp
Letterer Joe Letterese
Colourist(s) ???
Editor Mort Weisinger
Cover artist(s) Curt Swan, Stan Kaye, Ira Schnapp

A juvenile delinquent lookalike for Clark Kent tries to take over his life, while a teenager from the future needs Superboy's help...

The Secret of the Seventh Super-Hero

(14 pages/76 panels)

A Clark Kent lookalike on the lam from reform school rides the train, hobo-style, into Smallville. He soon finds that everyone mistakes him for Clark, and he's given a ride to the Kent house by Chief Parker.

Meanwhile, Superboy hears a radio report of a strange globe landing just outside of town. He tries to activate his robots, but they don't work, so he flies off to investigate on his own. In his absence, the lookalike is let inside the house by Ma Kent, who, not suspecting the difference, feeds the boy and sends him off to school.

Superboy arrives at the globe to find it is a Legion Time Bubble manned by a previously unknown member, to him at least, named Sun Boy. The Legionnaire says he was sent to recover a weapon the Legion hid in this time in six pieces (each in a lead box with the face of a Legionnaire on the end). Superboy offers to collect the parts.

While Superboy is collecting the boxes from all over the globe, he sees the Clark Lookalike fool ever-suspicious Lana Lang and, so unlike Clark, actually stand up to a bully. The lookalike finds he actually enjoys school, leading him to threaten blackmail to take over his new Clark Kent role permanently when he discovers the real Clark is Superboy.

Sun Boy, now also revealed to be an imposter, rebuilds the robot from the parts collected by Superboy, sending it and its good/evil personality reversal ray off to work on Clark. Unfortunately, the robot finds the lookalike and turns him permanently good, while also wiping his memory of Superboy's secret. The lookalike vows to serve out his time at reform school and then find a real home, leaving Superboy to melt down the robot and ship the fake Sun Boy through time to a meeting of the Legion of Super-Heroes.

He was on to the ruse the whole time, he says, because the fake Sun Boy did not use the secret Legion handshake.

Roll Call


In order of appearance:

  • Superboy (cover, 52 panels - 13 as Clark Kent)
  • Sun Boy (cover, 29 panels - 26 as a disguised criminal)
  • Saturn Girl (cover, 7 panels - 6 in flashbacks, 2 as pictures)
  • Cosmic Boy (cover, 7 panels - 6 in flashback, 4 as pictures)
  • Lightning Lad (cover, 8 panels - 7 as flashback, 2 as pictures)
  • Chameleon Boy (cover, 5 panels - all in flashback, 1 as picture)
  • Brainiac 5 (cover, 6 panels - all in flashback, 1 as picture)
  • Phantom Girl (cover, 5 panels - all in flashback, 3 as pictures)
  • Two unnamed Legionnaires (possibly Triplicate Girl and Invisible Kid, based on profiles)


  • Tom Tanner (33 panels)
    • A Clark Kent lookalike, Tanner makes his first and only appearance here.
  • An unnamed Sun Boy impersonator (26 panels)
    • Only appearance.

Supporting characters

  • Martha "Ma" Kent (13 panels)
  • Lana Lang (9 panels)
  • Krypto, the Super-Dog (2 panels)

Other characters

  • Citizens of Smallville, including:
    • An unnamed railroad worker (2 panels)
    • Chief Parker (4 panels)
    • An unnamed milkman (4 panels)
    • Eddie (a Smallville High student, 3 panels)
    • Several unnamed students at Smallville High (6 panels)
    • An unnamed Smallville High history teacher (1 panels)
  • Two unnamed South Pacific sea monsters (1 panel)

Planets and Settings

Smallville, Earth, in both the 20th and 30th centuries

Technology, Gadgets & Stuff

  • Legion Time Bubble (12 panels)
  • Legion Clubhouse (1 panel)
  • Legion nameplates (1 panel)
  • A Cyclops Robot (9 panels)
  • Three Superboy Robots (2 panels)
    • Also seen are robots of Ma Kent, Pa Kent and Lana Lang


First Appearances

  • This issue marks the first cover appearance of Sun Boy, Chameleon Boy, Brainiac 5 and Phantom Girl.
  • First and only appearance to date of Tom Tanner, the mind-altering Cyclops Robot, and Smallville High student Eddie.
  • First appearance and only mention in comics of a secret Legion Handshake.


This story, in which Superboy does not recognize Sun Boy, eliminates Sun Boy as the Legionnaire inducted in Supergirl's place in Action Comics 267 because Superboy joined after Supergirl.

Twice-Told Tales

This tale is based on the cover story, "The Two Clark Kents!" from Adventure Comics #191 (August, 1953).

Other stories in this issue

There is an additional story that does not feature the Legion - "The Invasion of the Bizarro World"


This Legion story has been reprinted in the following:

See also

« Previous    Next »Adventure Comics #290
Superboy v1 #89 
By continuity
Superboy v1 #93

Adventure Comics #289 
By series
Adventure Comics #293

Superman v1 #147 
By publication
Superboy v1 #93