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CSBG Archive

Drawing Crazy Patterns – Superboy’s Tactile Telekinesis!

In this feature, I spotlight five scenes/moments from within comic book stories that fit under a specific theme (basically, stuff that happens frequently in comics).

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Adam F., we follow up yesterday’s examination of five instances where Psylocke described her psychic knife as the “focused totality of my telepathic powers” with five instances where Superboy described his powers as “tactile telekinesis.”


Tactile telekinesis, by the way, is when you can affect something telekinetically only by touching it. So Superboy could manipulate things in many different ways (including lifting them, exploding them, etc.) so long as he is in contact with them.

Amusingly enough, Karl Kesel had Superboy mention his powers in each of the first five issues of his ongoing series…

From #1…

From issue #2…

From issue #3….

#4 is a bit different, as it shows Superboy and his supporting cast watching the pilot for the Superboy Animated Series (with the late, great Mike Parobeck doing the art for the animated series), so the phrase is used in the animated show within the comic…

From issue #5…

#6, amusingly enough, does not use the phrase (it mentions telekinesis, but not the tactile part).

And here, as a bonus, is Peter David poking a little fun at the practice in the pages of Young Justice #1…

E-mail me suggestions for future installments at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!


I really miss this Superboy, period stereotype that he was.

Karl Kesel is a good writer. He also built a compelling supporting cast in, like, an INSTANT. Which is quite impressive.

Hi, you rule, BC.

May I suggest:
Wolverine using two claws to frame a bad guy’s head, threatening to pull out the middle clay to impale the bad guy?
Beast’s “My stars and garters”
Rob Liefeld introducing plot points that go nowhere on X Force.
Scott Summer’s preference for telepathic ladies.

That really was a cool supporting cast. Tana could be a little bland, but Rex, Roxy, and Dubbilex more than made up for it.

Oh yeah, Tana was kind of awful, really. But pretty much everyone introduced in Hawaii was cool, plus Dubbilex.

The Crazed Spruce

July 9, 2011 at 1:02 am

Good article. I’m a little disappointed you didn’t use the first time Superboy’s power was actually called “tactile telekinesis” (from “Adventures of Superman 506″), but otherwise, not bad.

Hey, how about you do one for every time somebody other than Colossus and Wolverine did the “Fastball Special”? (And yes, that includes Wolverine throwing Colossus. :D)

The Crazed Spruce

July 9, 2011 at 1:11 am

And sorry for not emailing that suggestion. That was rude of me. But hey, it’s out there, so how ’bout it?

I could’ve done without seeing this. No offense to Brian. It’s not the article–it’s the comics themselves. Much as I’ve enjoyed DC Comics over the last five or six years, what they’ve done to Superboy is tragic. I miss the guy Karl Kesel and PAD wrote about. He was fun.

Yeah, that Superboy was an example from when DC comics could still be funny AND thrilling at the same time. I miss it too. :(

Btw Cronin I think you should have explained what the whole ‘tactile telekinesis’ deal was all about, for those who don’t know about it (he doesn’t seem to have that power in the Young Justice TV show.) So I’ll do it:

When DC reinvented Superman in 1986, thy decided to use John Byrne’s idea that Superman could lift buildings and other such enormous things without having them collapse under their own weight because he was using the same power (revealed to be telekinesis) that he used to fly when doing it. (Byrne had in fact used this same explanation for Gladiator, a Superman expy, in a story he wrote for Marvel Comics.) So when Project Cadmus created Superboy (who was a simulation of the real Superman, using someone else’s DNA since they couldn’t correctly copy Superman’s alien genetic code) they ended up giving him ‘tactile telekinesis’ in the process, which was a logical (and interesting) version of Superman’s own power. None of this may apply now that they are robooting the DC Universe, however, we’ll see.

it sucks that the tactile tk aspect of superboy has been phased out over the years.

I miss these comics! Kesel and Grummett on Superboy is one of my all-time favorite comic runs. The Superboy around now is barely the same character anymore.

Yeah, the look is very entrenched in the 90s, but the character isn’t– this Superboy is my Superboy.

I know people call Superboy’s look “90s,” but to be honest when it came out it was ALREADY dated, something people forget. Skinny Giorgio Brutini type belts and John Lennon style glasses, both of those went out of style by the late 80s. It was very blatantly two older guys trying to draw what they thought urban teenagers wore and missing the mark.

That said, I loved those comics and that character, and it sucked when he and Bart Allen were “Geoffed” into boring grim angsty emo characters. Geoff had a raging boner for introducing his pet retcon onto the character and making him boring and dull. I’d love to have the old Superboy personality back. Now it seems like Young Justice cartoon is going to make him even more angsty, and that interpretation is going to color the comics even more.

It’s funny, someone on Facebook just pointed out that Pete Campbell on Mad Men is the same actor as Connor from Angel, and that got me wondering why the heck half the young characters created in the ’90s and early ’00s were named either Cass or Connor (however they chose to spell it, in Superboy’s case Conner). It got pretty confusing after a while.

I liked the one YJ issue, where Superboy did the “tactile telekinesis” spiel, followed by Impulse stripping a guy and calling it “textile telekinesis.”

Ah, the Kesel Superboy. He might still be my favorite comic book character ever–I keep trying to write in lightly disguised versions of him in original stories I come up with. The Teen Titans retcon of the Young Justice characters’ personalities were the one thing that made me out and out dislike Geoff Johns. That said, I am enjoying the version from the Young Justice animated series: after fearing that he’d be all “I have no father” angsty, he’s come into his own as an interesting and original take on the character. He’s not the Kesel/PAD version, but interesting nevertheless.

And yeah, Kesel kinda had a gift for quickly introducing supporting casts. His second run on Superboy did pretty much the same thing.

I miss that book.

I miss the Kesel era Superboy too. Alas, sometimes there comes a time when we must just let the superheroes we like go, though. It’s sad but true.

Damn I miss this series, one of the few first issues I read where I was legitimately laughing at the wisecracks the hero made (I was like, 11 or 12 at the time). Can’t believe how badly DC and Johns specifically gutted this character and made him really boring.

Thanks Brian!

Like Bill Reed, this is the Superboy I enjoyed. A neat supporting cast in a new setting that could be the book’s own. And it gave us King Shark. Just a fun book.

It gave us King Shark AND Knockout! I was always hoping that some other Superboy villains would show up in Secret Six. What about Scavenger? Or Silver Sword? And now I’m getting depressed, because I just remembered no more Secret Six, and all of the Hawaii Superboy stuff will probably be gone in the DCnU.

I think I need to pull out this run and reread some of these comics!

Dang, I want to chime in on the Superboy love. I thought this character (while having a dated look even at the outset) was incredibly fascinating. I loved the original Young Justice lines and the Peter David adventures. Really well-done stuff.

Don’t forget the many times that Superboy has said it in the New 52

It’s refreshing to see that there are so many people that like and love this version of “Don’t call me…” Superboy aka SB (before Conner Kent/Geoff Johns turned him into a wannabe Clark Kent). This version is one of my top 10 favorite characters of all time.

reminds e of anime how it reminds you of previous revelations over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over over and over and over and over and over.

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