Superboy #125, "The Bald Boy of Steel"

Superboy #125, "The Bald Boy of Steel"

Published December 1965

Writer: Otto Binder
Artist: George Papp
Editor: Mort Weisinger

"We all know that Superboy's arch-enemy, Lex Luthor, was once his
friend... before he became bald! Strangely enough, in those days,
someone else lost his hair - yes, Clark (Superboy) Kent himself,
through one of the strange and unpredictable effects caused by Red
Kryptonite! And the 'bald' truth is that, as hairless Superboy strives
to keep himself from being identified as 'Baldy' Kenty, he has many
a 'hair-breadth' escape... and wishes one of his 'hair-raising'
experiences would really raise hair on... the Bald Boy of Steel!"

The Smallville Fair has arrived, and patrons are flocking to one
incredible attraction: a performance of "Samson and Delilah" by the
Smallville Playhouse, with proceeds going to charity, and none other
than Superboy playing the role of the Biblical strongman. Who else is
better suited for the task? The play is running smoothly, and Superboy
carries his part perfectly. Unfortunately, Lana Lang, who had been
cast as Delilah, is feeling faint, and her understudy Trudy must take
over for her. As she heads onto stage for her scene, the director
warns her against making the same mistake she did in rehearsals...

Out on stage, "Delilah" prepares to cut a lock of the
sleeping "Samson's" hair, robbing him of his strength. But as she
makes the clip, the scissors break! She'd forgotten to cut the fake
hair hidden under the pillow - it's impossible to cut Superboy's hair;
his follicles are indestructible! The audience is laughing wildly over
the mistake, though the director sees nothing funny about his ruined
performance. To make up for the mistake, Superboy offers to treat the
patrons to a special act at the animal exhibit. Smallville's teenage
savior delivers on his promise by playing a game of tug-of-war with a
pair of elephants - and winning! The crowd cheers, having taken in a
truly incredible show.

Later, outside the playhouse, Lana comments to Lex Luthor (who still
had hair and was Superboy's friend at the time of this story) that she
didn't see Clark Kent at the performance, and remarks at how odd it is
that Clark is always missing when Superboy makes public appearances.
Luckily, Clark happens to be changing back into his civilian attire in
the dressing room and overhears them, quickly putting on his disguise
to rejoin his friends. Rushing up to his friends, he tells them to
hurry since Superboy will be performing as Samson in a few minutes.
Lana tells him that his wach must be slow; the show's already over.
But they decide to take in the other attractions at the fair.

Passing by a carnival barker, the huckster attempts to sweet-talk the
teens with his "miracle" products. He compliments Lana on her beauty,
then offers her a free pack of "Beauty Pills." Clark warns her that
there has to be a catch - salesmen like that never give away products
for free. The barker, in an attempt to silence the doubtful do-gooder,
splashes a few drops of his "Wonder Hair Tonic" on the young Kent's
head, promising it will make his hair grow twice as fast. He even
throws in the bottle as a free gift, not that it will do any good -
Clark's hair never grows in the Earth's atmosphere. Leaving the fair,
Lex rushes off to work on one of his experiments. Clark makes a mental
note to stop by later on his patrol and see what his friend is working
on. But before that, he tosses the useless hair tonic in a trash pile.

Later that day, Superboy does stop by Lex's lab, where his genius
friend announces he's made an amazing discovery. He asks the Boy of
Steel to focus his telescopic vision 330 miles into space and see if
he can spot anything. Superboy complies, but finds nothing visible.
But there is something there, and Lex's new Space Monitor shows it.
It's an invisible probe, and it's gradually becoming visible as it
approaches Earth. Fearing it may be dangerous, Superboy decides to
dispose of it. Flying off into the cosmos, he comes across the probe
and hurtles it into the sun, but not before it's struck by a meteor -
a meteor of Red Kryptonite! Clark thinks back on his previous
encounters with the rock, and how his exposure to it always causes
affects him in strange ways for 24 to 48 hours. Flying back to Earth,
he ponders how it will affect him this time. Little does he know that
the red rock is already working its wicked magic, for as he re-enters
the Earth's atmosphere, his hair begins to fall out!

Still unaware of the change that came over him, Superboy changes back
into Clark Kent and heads over to Lana's to help her with some
homework. When he arrives, Lana can't help but laugh. Looking in the
mirror, Clark can see why - he's as bald as a cueball! But rather than
his lack of hair, he's more concerned that Lana might figure out how
it happened. Thankfully, she assumes that it was the hair tonic from
the carnival that caused his hair loss. To cover up his dome, she
gives him a tribal mask her father has as a souvenir. Of course, the
mask is so outlandish, people will still be staring at him. Back at
home, Clark borrows a wig from one of his robot duplicates to go on
patrol. His father Jonathan is wary, though; if anyone sees that both
Clark Kent and Superboy are bald, it will be easy to make the
connection between the two.

Flying above Smallville, Superboy finds that the Monarch Movie Studio
is on fire. Luckily, the staff is out on a location shot and no lives
are at risk, but the studio still needs to be saved. He rushes in to
put out the blaze, but some of the flares catch on his wig and burn it
off - he forgot that the materials he used to make his mechanical
doubles can be destroyed. Inside the studio, Clark extinguishes the
fire with a mighty gust of breath, but since he's bald again, he can't
risk leaving without people seeing him and guessing his secret
identity. Thinking quickly, he heads to the prop room and trims a
black wig with his heat vision, sticking it to his scalp with spirit
gum. With his head covered again, he can head off to his next
appointment with Colonel Hobart.

On a field at the outskirts of Smallville, Hobart asks Superboy to
test a newly designed parachute that is supposed to open at merely 100
feet above the ground and still provide a safe landing. That's what
the claim is, but they need proof. And since Superboy can't be hurt by
the fall, he's the perfect test subject. With the chute equipped,
Clark leaps from the plane and pulls the ripcord... and the paracute
is ripped apart by the pressure of the uprising air. To make matters
worse, the spirit gum on his scalp can't stand up to the pressure
either and his wig flies off as well. As his parents watch from a
distance while Superboy falls through the branches of a tree, Jonathan
is grateful that his son wasn't hurt by the fall, but has no idea how
Clark will hide his baldness. Yet when the Boy of steel returns to
Hobart, he has a full head of hair again! The colonel is grateful that
the parachute was proven a failure without putting anyone's life at
risk, and the Kents are baffled by where Clark's new wig came from.
The answer comes as Jonathan peers up into the tree and sees his son
remove a black horsehair bird's nest from his head and return it to
the branch. Now he's off to find his other wig.

Meanwhile, at the Luthor home, Lana has come to ask Lex a question for
her science homework. Curious about how fast meteors travel, she's
informed that they can fly at a rate of at least 10 miles per second.
The coincidental topic leads Lex to relate the story of how Superboy
destroyed a space probe that had been struck by a meteor. This tidbit
grabs Lana's curiosity: what if the meteor had been made of Red
Kryptonite, and what if it's effect on Superboy was to make him bald?
Determined to test her theory, Lana stops by the junk pile where Clark
tossed the bottle of hair-tonic earlier. If Clark is Superboy, then
the tonic didn' cause his hair to fall out. She splashes the tonic on
a black Angora cat, though it manages to get away. Still, her test is
ready. If the cat's fur hasn't fallen out by tomorrow morning, that
will prove that Clark became bald due to the Red Kryptonite, and that
he is secretely Superboy.

At the Smallville Zoo, Superboy is putting on another animal act for
orphans by pretending to tame tigers. The act goes awry, however, when
one of the great cats swipes the wig off his head. He flies after his
hairpiece which lands in the goat pen... and is quickly devoured by a
hungry goat. Now how can he cover up his hairless head? Moments later,
the orphans are drawn to another section of the zoo, where they see
Superboy with his head in a lion's mouth! The children cheer his
display and compliment his bravery, while the true purpose was for
Clark to cover up his baldness. And since he doesn't have any hair, it
isn't irritating the lion's throat, so the beast's mouth stays closed
around his head. Clark puts on an impromptu aerial display, flying off
with the lion still clamped onto his head. When he's out of view of
the children, he spots a stray black cat furiously scratching itself,
and decides to solve both of their problems. Using his heat vision, he
removes the fur from the cat's body, stopping its itch and giving him
material for a new wig. Disaster again averted, Superboy returns to
the zoo, pulling his freshly-coiffed head from the lion's mouth and
astounding the children.

The next day isn't so enjoyable, however. Lana confronts Clark and
tells him of her experiment. She shows him a cat that she poured the
hair tonic on yesterday, and yet it still has all its fur. So then, if
the tonic didn't cause Clark's hair to fall out, what did? Clark is
truly caught in a tough spot, but is saved when another cat arrives,
this one missing all of the fur on its body! Lana assumes that she had
the wrong cat with her and that the hair tonic did work on the cat she
treated. Another one of her efforts to prove that Clark Kent is
Superboy has failed, though in a rather convoluted manner. The
hairless cat is the one she treated yesterday, the same cat that Clark
removed the itchy fur from to make a new wig. The cat she had was its
mate. After the effect of the Red Kryptonite wore off, Clark's hair
grew back after visiting another world where the atmosphere
accelerated its growth. But for a while, the bald Boy of Steel had a
series of "close shaves" to protect his secret identity.

This story features a comical cavalcade of cosmic forces conspiring to
expose Clark as a cueball. Try saying that five times fast.

In the Silver Age, Lex Luthor became Superboy's enemy after he lost
his hair. One has to wonder if Superboy had stayed bald, perhaps Lex
wouldn't have been so upset since his friend was in the same
condition. They could have remained friends... at least until reality
was rebooted in the 80s during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Lana Lang again attempts to prove that Clark Kent is Superboy, only to
fail in her efforts once more. In "Superman: The Animated Series"
which ran in the late 1990s, Lana, voiced by Joely Fisher was far more
observant and managed to correctly link the two: Clark Kent leaves
Smallville for Metropolis, and almost instantly after his arrival
Metropolis has a super-powered defender. She managed to keep his
identity secret, and served as a good friend and ally. Lana even dated
Luthor and informed Superman of any of Lex's criminal plots she had