Reign of the Supermen #492: Man of Rust

Source: Man of Rust #1 (1986)
Type: Spoof
When Cliff MacGillivray was asked to do a parody of John Byrne's then-upcoming Man of Steel reboot mini-series for Blackthorne Publishing, it seemed like an impossible task. Byrne's writing style wasn't necessarily recognizable or spoofable (at least, back then, though a couple of regrettable sexist jokes seem to accidentally touch on it), and well, the series wasn't out yet! His solution was a good one: To spoof the changeability of Superman's origins and portrayal itself, and hope Rick Burchett's Mad Comics-inspired art, filled with background jokes and cameos from tons of characters from all media, would elevate the final product (it does). So though the people of Creepton apparently get turned into eunuchs, which kind of relates to Byrne's take on Krypton, again perhaps accidentally, the parody origin is more Silver Age than anything, and includes the family dog:
Jerk-El puts his baby on the rocket by accident, and then pushes the self-destruct button on the planet instead of the rocket recall button (a dangerous remote control function, you'll agree). But this is a story being told in the far future, and a wizened Man of Rust, invited to speak seems to remember it differently.
Is his memory going? Have the spin doctors retroactively changed the records? Or are there multiple realities at work? Well, the Lex Luthor of this world, Tex Toother, shows up with a transworld transdimensional transporter and claims it was his plan all along to introduce Men of Rust from different realities to undermine fans' interest in the character because they would be too confused to follow his adventures.
That's a dig at DC that remains relevant to this day, isn't it?
"Confused" fans didn't lose interest, of course. History has shown that the Byrne reboot was good for the Man of Steel and led to renewed popularity. If we were to tweak the script today, we might change "confused" with "betrayed". Fans aren't confused by continuity, but they do express outrage when a favorite version of a character is replaced by one they like less. By now, anyone rewriting the Superman legend has a number of choices from past iterations, and it's more dangerous to add something completely new to it (say, Kryptonian armor).
Man of Rust ends on a big battle between the various Supermen, until the "real" Man of Rust - the Clark Kent figure in the background all along - steps up and absorbs them into himself. His conclusion:
Who would have believed a parody comic would take the mature view at the end?



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