Reign of the Supermen #242: Hercules Jr.

Source: Adventure Comics #223 (1956)
Type: DisguiseThere's a theory here at Reign headquarters that the reason the Silver Age Superman was always pulling off complicated hoaxes, is that he had so much power, he was constantly bored. Well, it looks like the boredom set in in his teens.

In the story of Hercules Junior, Superboy (for reasons only made clear later, see below) disguises himself as a blond yet Greek young man and hides himself into an iceberg so he can be found by Captain Neptoone (I kid you not).
Hercules Jr. has massive strength, of course, and "learns" English rather quickly. Neptoone wasn't born yesterday however, and he plays the Lana Lang role in the story, continually suspecting Hercules Jr. of being Superboy. To repay the Captain for rescuing him from the iceberg, Junior offers to fish treasures from the sea. Neptoone uses each opportunity to test Junior and prove whether he's Superboy or not. Good thing our Boy of Steel is already an accomplished hoaxer. Here he is, pushing a fish out of the water to simulate his being saved from drowning:
Neptoone gives Junior half the booty however (another test?), which Superboy can't keep, so he does the only logical thing: He fashions a golden spear out of archeologically significant doubloons and throws it into the sea to be "found" by other treasure hunters.
Life on the high seas puts Superboy's secret identity in jeopardy a number of times, such as when he has to save a ship in trouble as his Kryptonian self (and keep the stranded sailors warm by taking a lungful of engine steam and blowing it on the deck), but each time, he finds a way to trick Neptoone. The treasure hunt goes on...
...though Superboy's lucky Aquaman's not active yet.
Eventually, and even though Neptoone always divides up the loot with him, Superboy gets the Captain's share up to ONE MILLION DOLLARS (a number that can't be said without a booming voice). Achievement unlocked. But why? Well, it seems Neptoone is on the side of the angels. The previous year, he had saved a yachting crew from a volcanic eruption at the cost of his own ship, the S.S. Barnacle. Offered a reward of ONE MILLION DOLLARS, he refused, giving all the credit to Superboy (who was sailing on the yacht as Clark Kent and had saved the island's village, but NOT the yacht). Though Neptoone evidently found a way to buy the Barnacle II without the money (though it's admittedly rubbish), Superboy still wanted him to get his just reward, leaving him no other choice but to create the Hercules Junior fiction. One more piece of the puzzle though: Junior has to come off the ship SOMEtime. Again, only one solution presents itself: Superboy uses super-ventriloquism to fake a radio call announcing they've found foster parents for Junior and that Superboy will come and get him. And Superboy's made a life-like Hercules Jr. dummy for just this occasion.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I love that theory about him being bored. Since Morrison will be writing him at the beginning of his career, I would love to see him do all these pranks on the citizens. (Not really, but imagine if the First Super-Hero acted like he was from the Mortimer era?)

Craig Oxbrow said...

... And people say a character this powerful is hard to write for...


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