This is a sequel to “The New Superman” as chosen by my patrons as part of the 5 Years of Cavanaugh event!
Superboy was concerned. There had been something different about his mentor, the Man of Steel, for several weeks and it made him feel unnerved, like there was something very wrong. Fearing ridicule, the young upstart hero kept his concerns to himself and decided to investigate. He didn’t want to believe that some part of Superman had been corrupted but there was a newfound aggression that seemingly had no explanation and his training of his young charge had fallen by the wayside.
Investigating mysteries wasn’t exactly the kryptonian clone’s forte so he was quick to call upon the assistance of his best friend, Tim Drake, better known as Robin. With deduction skills that rivalled even Batman’s, Tim was the perfect person to turn to and sure enough within just a few days he had uncovered a number of leads that Superboy could follow. “Conner, be careful,” the young sidekick warned him, concern lacing his expression. “If something’s messed with Superman… it could just as easily mess with you.”
Bearing his friend’s warning in mind, Superboy took off for Lex Luthor’s skyscraper in the heart of Metropolis. The chaotic businessman himself hadn’t been seen in several weeks but his absence didn’t sit easily with anyone. No doubt he was concocting some new plan to rule the city under an iron fist, likely attempting to punish Superman in the process too. With the Man of Steel undergoing some bizarre shift in focus, Superboy simply wasn’t overly confident that a new Luthor was something they’d be able to work through with ease.
Scanning the building with his X-Ray vision was useless - Luthor had the infrastructure lined with lead to keep nosy Kryptonian eyes out a long time ago. Superboy knew that he’d have to go in somewhat blind and while that didn’t exactly fill him with joy, he was certain that the answers to the strange changes in his mentor could be found in that building. For better or for worse, it was something he needed to do.
Truthfully, Superboy hadn’t been prepared for what he would find in Luthor’s science labs. He had expected the creation of some new superweapon but he most certainly hadn’t expected to find Superman in the thick of things, not even fighting off hired goons but rather ordering the scientists around like he was in a position of authority. Any doubt left that there was something very wrong quickly dissipated within moments because there was simply no way Clark would ever willingly help his arch enemy, let alone be an authority in his corporation.
Unfortunately before the young hero could retreat from his hiding spot and report back to the Teen Titans and Justice League, he was caught out by a duo of security guards. Both men were impossibly large, with bulging muscles and a hunger in their eyes that made Conner incredibly uncomfortable. The men had been experimented upon to improve their efficiency, that much was clear, and he was willing to bet that the experimentation had led to increased strength and heightened rage at a minimum.
The ensuing fight was short as the numbers game put Superboy at a disadvantage and resulted with him down on his knees and trapped with cuffs laced with kryptonite. Weakened and humiliated by his quick defeat, the young hero merely glared as he was thrown down at Clark’s feet to stare at his polished leather shoes. Even such a minor detail didn’t sit right with Conner. This Clark was dressed up in a smart business suit that clung to his muscular body for dear life, and yet Conner couldn’t ever remember Clark wearing a suit before, much less one that looked like it was worth more than a few thousand dollars.
“You didn’t think I was blind to your suspicions, did you, dear boy?” the supposed Superman asked, a cold edge to his voice that easily revealed him to be an impostor. The real Clark would never have referred to Connor as ‘dear boy’ in such a patronising tone, especially with such a smirk crossing over his handsome face. The combination finally clued Superboy in to who he was looking at - Lex Luthor. Somehow Luthor had the body and power of Superman and had done for seemingly several weeks.
“You’re not going to– agh!” Superboy’s attempts at a defiant response were cut short as the corrupt businessman lifted up his watch to display a small golden rock in the center of it. Gold Kryptonite. The young hero had never personally come across it before but he’d heard stories that it could drain Kryptonians of ‘their very essences’. He hadn’t been brave enough to ask what that exactly meant but he had the uncomfortable feeling that he was going to be finding out very shortly.
“Not going to what?” the impostor asked, patrolling around him like a predator toying with its prey. “Get away with this? Dear boy, I already have. I’m Superman - totally untouchable. You think anybody’s stupid enough to mess with the Man of Steel? Even a dimwitted teenager like you should have known better.”
Conner loathed the man stood above him. Lex Luthor had always been on the unstable side but this was crossing a bridge too far. If he had stolen Superman’s identity then where was the real Clark? Concern for his mentor became Conner’s main focus and he struggled against his shackles to little avail. The kryptonite had weakened him already and continued exposure would surely only make things much worse for him. “What are you planning?” he asked through gritted teeth, uncomfortable aware of the guards’ continued presence behind him making any potential escape rather difficult.
“Oh, lots. With you though, something very special,” the villain responded cryptically, his lips spreading into a smile that prompted a shiver down Conner’s spine. “Before you pass out though, I must thank you for delivering yourself to my lab. It made everything a lot easier.” The last thing Conner saw before he sunk to the floor and let the darkness overwhelm him was a bright gold flash from the other’s watch…
“Get him loaded up into the tubes,” Lex instructed, admiring the captured young hero’s body. He was the perfect individual for Lex’s latest plan at revenge, only this time he wasn’t seeking for revenge against Superman. The real Clark Kent was in a well-hidden maximum security prison out of state, severely drugged out of his mind and diagnosed with an identity disorder as he couldn’t stop insisting that he was really Superman. It had taken a lot of money to get ‘Lex Luthor’ hidden away from the prying eyes of the press but when money was hardly an object, nothing was impossible.
Impersonating Superman had been easy, just as Luthor had expected. He had spent so much time in the other’s presence analysing him that emulating the other’s mannerisms and speech came with relative ease. He had expected there to be some hesitation from the Man of Steel’s more observant allies such as Batman but it had been Superboy that had figured him out first and Lex had quickly caught on the other’s suspicions and decided to manipulate them for his own benefit. After all, he could quite easily take out two birds with one stone using Conner, and it was delightfully easy to lure him into a trap.
Staring at the two men firmly strapped into the pod-like devices his scientists had constructed, Lex merely smiled at the differences between the two. Superboy was young and strong with perfectly smooth tanned skin and bulging muscles. The man in the other tube though was old and frail with loose worn skin and thin straggly hair. In his prime he had been strong and handsome but age and experimentation had not treated him kindly, leaving his body to break down while his mind remained alert.
“We’re ready, sir,” one of the lead scientists announced from his place at a nearby console. The statistical details of both men were present on the screen, highlighting all of their differences and everything that would be exchanged between the two of them. It was enough for Lex to start getting excited.
“Begin,” he instructed. Within moments the tubes connecting both pods began to fill with a glittering gold liquid - melted gold kryptonite, the very same material that had allowed Lex to steal Superman’s power, body and identity from him. Back then Lex had been too busy dealing with the pleasurable experience of inheriting the body of an adonis and as a result he hadn’t quite been able to truly appreciate the visual elements of the transformation. Watching from an outsider’s perspective allowed him quite the view and it was an arousing sight to say the very least.
The transformation of the two men began in tandem, starting with their hair. Superboy’s hair grew down past his ears but in the process thinned out considerably, leaving his scalp exposed while the remaining hair became a light shade of grey. Meanwhile the man’s long hair retreated into his scalp, becoming thicker and darker until it resembled the short black cut of the young hero. It was bizarre to see even the smallest change between the two, with the undeniably handsome Superboy now having the hair of an old man, but barely moments had passed until the exchange continued to their bodies.
Both men had been strapped down into the pods with thick leather and Superboy’s had even ben doused in kryptonite to keep him docile. The straps had been tight around his muscular body but as Lex watched closely, he noted that the straps didn’t seem quite as stretched around his broad chest and even his wrists appeared to be a little more on the slender side. A glance over at the other pod confirmed that the opposite was becoming a problem for the other, with the loose straps filling up as the other’s chest began to swell.
“Extraordinary,” Lex muttered to himself, admiring his handiwork. Perfecting this process had been his goal since stealing Superman’s body for himself as it would allow him to gain control quickly and easily. He had every intention of getting the likes of Batman and Green Arrow into the pods, giving their bodies to people who would be more willing to serve him as his own personal superhero army. Nobody would dare oppose him after that.
It took mere seconds for the changes to become far more obvious, as Superboy’s body was depleted of muscle, leaving him looking uncharacteristically frail. Even with his own facial features remaining, it was clear that he had been drained of all of his power and authority. His perfect hair and strong muscles were gone, leaving him weak and tainted. It was at this point that the young hero became aware of what was happening and began to struggle against the restraints but there was no escaping the pod. Lex instead merely smirked and waved towards the other, enjoying watching his struggle.
As the final changes began to take a hold, finally replacing Superboy’s handsome visage with that of the older man in the pod across from him, Conner’s fight fizzled out and he appeared visibly drained. Turning his attention the man in the other pod, Lex was greeted by the unmistakable body of Superboy, although there was something different in his eyes. It was a look that Lex was all too familiar with but he had a plan to stop the other from gaining any sort of independence.
Releasing the new Superboy from his pod, Lex collected the syringe from his lead scientist, hid it behind his back, and stepped forward. The other man stared at him, confusion soon turning to bitter resentment as he settled into a glare. “Superman,” he drawled, voice thick with loathing. It was a tone that sounded rather unnatural coming from Superboy, but was enough to jolt a number of uncomfortable thoughts from Lex’s past.
“Not quite.” Lex took great pride in outsmarting the other, considering how often he had been spoken down to throughout his life. “Hello father,” he greeted the other, stepping in closer as if attempting to embrace him. With mere inches between them, Lex instead used his enhanced speed to jab the syringe into Lionel Luthor’s neck, pumping him full of drugs that would put his independence in a box at the back of the mind, leaving him a mindless servant.
Watching the fire die in the other’s eye, Lex basked in the defeat of the only other man who had truly been able to get under his skin. Now both Superman and his abusive father were in his past and there was nobody that would be able to oppose him. The transfer process had been a total success and now all he would need was to lure the Justice League in one by one to replace them with faithful employees and close friends. His plan was finally coming to fruition!
“Sir, what do you want us to do with Superboy?” the lead scientist asked, glancing towards the pod that contained the former Teen Titan, now existing in the broken down body of Lionel Luthor.
“Reunite him with his mentor,” Lex instructed, turning to take one last look at his father’s body. “It’s only right for father and son to be together, after all.” Clark and Conner would have plenty of time to work through any issues in their relationship when they were imprisoned together for the rest of their days, while Lex exerted his control over his own father, now his mindless slave.
As his father’s body was escorted out, the businessman-turned-superhero turned to his newest acquirement. “Now, Superboy, who is your master?”
The other’s answer came without hesitation and was music to Lex’s ears - “It’s you, sir! Superman is my master!”