Pete Ross

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by Curt Swan & Jack Abel
Superboy 106.jpg

Pete Ross

A wealthy geologist (S No. 270/2, Dec 1973: "I Can't Go Home Again"; and others) who, as a youngster in Smallville, was a close friend of Superboy -- the teenager now known as Superman (SB No. 86/2, Jan 1961: "The Boy Who Betrayed Clark Kent!"; and others).

Late one night, while on an overnight camping trip with Clark Kent and other Smallville youngsters, young Pete Ross—lying awake in his tent long after the other campers had fallen asleep—chances to see his friend Clark Kent changing into Superboy and thus accidentally becomes privy to the secret of Superboy's dual identity. He secretly aides Superboy—unbeknownst to the teen superhero (SB No. 90/3, Jul 1961: "Pete Ross' Super Secret"). Then and there, Ross vowed to keep his knowledge secret, even from Superman, and never to reveal it to anyone else. On occasion, without Kent’s knowledge, Ross even masqueraded as the young Clark Kent to help him preserve his secret identity. To this day, Superman remains completely unaware that Pete Ross shares his closely guarded secret (Act No. 309/1, Feb 1964: “The Superman Super-Spectacular!”). (TGSB)

Later, Ross is made an honorary member of the 30th Century teen superhero club known as the Legion of Super-Heroes (Adv No. 323, Aug 1964: "The Eight Impossible Missions"; and others).

When Superboy and three of his Legion of Super-Heroes teammates—Mon-El, Shadow Lass and Duo Damsel—are trapped in 20th Century Smallville and made amnesiac by the sorcerer Mordru the Merciless, Pete's knowledge of Superboy's secret identity restores the memory of the Legionnaires. As a reward Mon-El hypnotizes Superboy into forgetting that Pete knows his secret because Mon-El realizes that Pete's knowledge of Clark's identity will save Superman in the future (Adv No. 369, Jun 1968: "Mordru the Merciless!"; Adv No. 370, Jul 1968: "The Devil's Jury!").

In March 1962, while in the grip of a nightmare induced by exposure to Red Kryptonite, Superman dreams that, in the distant future, the great-great- great-great-grandson of Pete Ross and the great-great-great-granddaughter of Lana Lang are husband and wife, and that they attempt to destroy him by overexposure to Green Kryptonite. These events, however, are all only a nightmare, and no such confrontation ever actually takes place (Act No. 286/1: “The Jury of Super-Enemies!”). In a recapitulation of this nightmare which appears in Action Comics No. 287/1, this descendant of Pete Ross is inconsistently referred to as Ross’s great-great-grandson (Apr 1962: “Perry White’s Manhunt for Superman!”).

When Metropolis television station WMET-TV inaugurates its new “Our American Heroes” series with a program honoring Superman, “our greatest American hero,” Pete Ross appears on the show along with Superman’s other friends and admirers to help pay tribute to the Man of Steel (Act No. 309/1, Feb 1964: “The Superman Super-Spectacular!”) (TGSB).

Ross does eventually reveal his knowledge of Kent's secret when both men are adults, in order to recruit Superman to rescue Ross's young son, Jonathan (DCCP No. 13, Sep 1979: "To Live in Peace--Nevermore!"). Jon had been kidnapped by an alien species from the planet Nyrvn in order to be trained to fight in one of their perpetual wars. Superman attempts a rescue but is dissuaded by four members of the Legion of Super-Heroes—Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Sun Boy and Dawnstar—who convince him that their historical records show that Jon Ross will eventually play a pivotal role in an interstellar war. Unable to accept the reasons, Pete Ross suffers a psychotic break and uses technology developed by Lex Luthor to reach into the past, kidnap Superboy, bring him to the present and switch minds with him (DCCP No. 14, Oct 1979: "Judge, Jury...and No Justice!"). In Superboy's body, Ross kidnaps Clark Kent's friends Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Perry White, Lana Lang and Steve Lombard and tries to compel them to act as "jury", passing a death sentence on Superman, who has been restrained in Kryptonite shackles. The intervention of Krypto the Superdog unravels the plan and Superman and Superboy (his mind in the body of the adult Pete Ross) cooperate to reverse the effects of Luthor's machines. Pete Ross is committed to a mental institution where he passes his time tearing up Superman posters.

Emotionally tormented by this result, Superman eventually decides to ignore the request of the Legion and retrieve Jon Ross, reuniting him with his father. This put Pete Ross on the road to recovery (DCCP No. 25, Sep 1980: "Judgment Night").

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