|"Whatcha thinkin' about?"|
Superman has never faced a shortage of "evil duplicates" in his never-ending battle for truth and justice. Naturally, there's Bizarro, the Cyborg Superman, Ultraman of Earth-3, the Superman of Earth-A, Negative Superman, assorted evil Superman robots and clones and shapeshifters, the Super-Sandman, Neil Gaiman's Super-Sandman, the Punk Rock Superman of Earth-(Anarchy Symbol), Evil Puppet Superman, the Reverse Superman, the Inverse Superman, the Converse Superman (aka AAU Shuperstar), Super-Evil Man, Evil Superman, the Superman from Superman III who gets drunk and hangs around in junkyards and dozens more, at least the last half of which I basically made up right now.
|They really should stop and trade information.|
Debuting in Superman vol.1 No.137 (May 1960, "Superman vs Super-Menace"), Super-Menace is the product of Kryptonian doomsday scientist Jor-El's abominably shitty skills at celestial navigation. Having plotted a course for his infant son's rocket which should take him safely to Earth, what happens instead is that baby Kal-El's ship careens off the hull of a mysterious, lime-green vessel emerging from "another universe, a ship which is equipped with a multitude of weird scientific devices." Like an autoclave maybe, possibly a Nintendo.
Naturally, the collision results in Superbaby's spaceship crumpling like a Dixie cup and he dies in space, the end. Or, wait, no, what actually happens is that the alien vessel fires an incomprehensible raybeam at the tiny ship, creating a perfect duplicate of it - and its soon-to-be-superpowered inhabitant, right down to the swaddling clothes provided by his parents.
|Super-Brat's been watching the news lately.|
The plan works out well, although it's laden with off coincidences. The Dereks, for instance, despite their merely-feigned love, manage to stitch together a super-suit for their titanically-powerful toddler which is identical to the same one worn by the law-abiding Superbaby (although they hide his identity by having him don a domino mask. No one else is around, so I guess they're just getting the kid used to it).
As "Super-Brat" grows up into a teenage "Super-Bully," he learns about the existence of - and learns to loathe - Superboy. Such is his hatred that, despite having been ordered to keep his existence a secret, he routinely harasses Superboy's home of Smallville in order to mess with Superboy's head. These efforts sometimes backfire - a swarm of meteors dropped on Smallville does keep Superboy busy, but an attempt to creep up on Lana Lang just reinforces the illusion of Superboy's dual identity, thanks to Super-Bully's immunity to kryptonite and the fact that Lana Lang likes to go around springing Kryptonite on Clark Kent for no reason. Nice girl, she'll go far.
|A benefit to keeping Super-Menace around is Superman|
could blame stuff like this on him.
Superman reveals to Super-Menace the lie that is his life by hitting him with x-ray vision and revealing that the villainous dupe possesses no bones or organs - just wriggly gross energy! His super-memory suddenly spurred to recall how his parents are actually dumb criminal assholes, Super-Menace punishes them for their false love by "abandon(ing) this human form, and return(ing) to ... pure force!" The Dereks are killed in the process, which is pretty gruesome for a Silver Age Superman story.
As Superman muses, "So vanishes the most dangerous menace to law-and-order the world has ever known," but he doesn't know the half of it. As unlikely a character as Super-Menace may have been, his existence answered a problematic issue in the Superman universe - namely, why was rural, out-of-the-way, unimportant Smallville always the target of alien attacks, destructive weather, roving crooks and assorted unfortunate happenstance? And for that matter, why couldn't Metropolis go a week without a tidal wave or an earthquake? Well, according to this story, it's because Super-Menace was farting around with Superman's free time, just trying to make life difficult for the Man of Tomorrow by throwing every threat he could find at him, for giggles.
Frankly, for such an unlikely character, it's a pretty good solution to the problem. Which is why I say - bring back Super-Menace!
|This is a little dark.|