This week's release of DC Comics' Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds included a return that may have surprised followers of a particular lawsuit over character ownership. Spoilers for lovers of teenage superheroes ahead.
The return of Connor Kent, AKA Superboy, in this week's fourth issue of Legion came as a double surprise to many people; not only has the character been dead since 2006's Infinite Crisis, but he's rarely been mentioned as Superboy since, due - most assumed - to an ongoing lawsuit with the heirs of Jerry Siegel over the ownership of the name. Does Connor's return, to life and as Superboy, mean that DC have settled the case? Not exactly, explains Newsarama's Jeff Trexler:
The comprehensive nature of the 2006 ruling–that "any comic strip material of the nature now and heretofore sold under the title SUPERBOY" belonged exclusively to the Siegel heirs–arguably prohibited DC from publishing any material that featured a character named Superboy, whether a young Clark Kent or a derivative work featuring a character with the same name and similar powers... However, in July 2007, after the Superboy case had been transferred to a different judge, the court granted DC's motion to reconsider the 2006 ruling... Even better for DC, the 2007 order went on to indicate that DC owns at least 50% of the Superboy copyright. Because the original material in question was drawn by Joe Shuster–whose rights at this point remain vested in DC–Superboy would arguably be a joint work co-owned by DC and the Siegel heirs.
As a co-owned property, DC would have the legal right to publish new Superboy material without permission from the Siegels... which would explain not only Connor's return this week, but also the news that he will go on to star in DC's upcoming Adventure Comics revival, written by Geoff Johns:
The series will feature one of my favorite characters to write and a mainstay of my run on TEEN TITANS - SUPERBOY... But that's not all. It can't be, right? I mean, it's called ADVENTURE COMICS. It's not called SUPERBOY. That's because the series won't just be featuring Superboy, it'll be co-featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes fresh from the Crisis of the 31st Century in LEGION OF THREE WORLDS. More on the details of the book, and Superboy and the Legion, will be coming out in the following weeks, but I think it's safe to reveal that STARMAN will be the Legionnaire taking front and center stage with our first issue.
Adventure Comics #1 will be released in August; the Superboy lawsuit is ongoing.
Explaining A Mysterious Return [Newsarama.com]