Superboy #183

Superboy #183, March 1972

This fairly bizarre comic is an early attempt an ‘Elseworlds’-type scenario. The tale, by writer Leo Dorfman and artists Bob Brown and Murphy Anderson, asks the question what would have happened if the rocketship from Krypton had landed not in Metropolis, but the jungle.

The answer, apparently, is that Superman would’ve grown up to be a flying Tarzan in a blue vest and red trunks! Hey — it could happen.

Having found the crashed rocketship, a group of gorillas claim baby Kal-El as their own. Called “the hairless one” by his hirsute brethren, Kal is none too pleased with his lot and one day uses his heat vision to fashion the Kryptonian blankets from the rocket into a snazzy new outfit. He christens himself “Karkan the Conqueror”.


As he starts flying around the jungle doing super-deeds, the gorillas come to realise that “the hairless one” is not like them. Later some trappers arrive and begin rounding up young animals, including baby gorillas. Due a misunderstanding Karkan helps the trappers, earning him the ire of the gorillas — including his surrogate mum. Oops.

The trappers stumble across the rocketship and quickly realise that Karkan is not of this world. They decide a flying alien raised by gorillas might just be a better draw than a baby giraffe, so decide to trap him instead. And they succeed using a Kryptonite rock they handily find. A female trapper, Toni, falls for Karkan’s manly charms and teaches him rudimentary English: “Me Karkan, you Toni” etc…

When Toni is attacked by a jealous fellow trapper, Karkan loses his cool and smashes up the trappers’ boat. All the baby animals are freed, but the gorillas reject Karkan. Left alone with Toni, Karkan flies off to find his destiny. Oh, and he discovers sex — so all’s well that ends well.


The cover is by the incomparable Nick Cardy.

©2008 DC Comics