Superman Annual #2 (1988)
Remember Sleez, the Apokaliptian sex dwarf who took over Superman’s mind and forced him to star in a porno? He’s back, and this time they’re letting him hang out around children.
After his supposed death in Metropolis’ sewers, Sleez ended up in Project Cadmus, an underground government installation dedicated to cloning people and making outrageous shit (it’s probably like 90% the country’s annual budget). Sleez takes control of the five directors of Project Cadmus and makes them create younger clones of themselves to be used as spare parts. The clones escape, however, and start doing exactly what the Cadmus directors did when they were kids: selling newspapers and getting into shenanigans as The Newsboy Legion.
Superman soon stumbles across those kids and their protector, the Captain America self-ripoff (same creators) known as The Guardian, also a clone of the original since he should be like 80 by now. Guardian gives Superman a good run for his money, but eventually they all go back to Project Cadmus and Superman confronts Sleez. Sleez disintegrates into a cloud of depravity and the Cadmus directors go back to normal, except they’re now left with a bunch of rowdy young versions of themselves to take care of.
There’s also a wonderfully awkward short tale about the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. After Dan “Terrible” Turpin gets hurt fighting a supervillain, Captain Maggie Sawyer visits him on the hospital every day and Turpin starts thinking she’s into him. As soon as he’s out of the hospital, Turpin goes to Maggie’s apartment and proposes to her, even after meeting the attractive female “roommate” with whom Maggie was sunbathing naked on the roof. Upon learning that Maggie is (gasp!) a lesbian, Turpin feels embarrassed and tries to quit the MSCU, but Maggie goes “Cut that out, ya big goof!” and they run off to fight another supervillain.
This annual re-introduces in one issue all the crazy concepts Jack Kirby invented during his entire run on Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen in the ’70s: Project Cadmus, the Newsboy clones, Dubbilex (a DNAlien with mind powers), the Haires (super-smart hippies who live in a city on wheels), the tree city of Habitat, the Whiz Wagon (the Newsboys’ flying car) and so on. We’re gonna be seeing a lot of this merry gang in the future.
In the second story, we see Maggie’s girlfriend Toby Raines again. Also, the generic villain that puts Turpin in the hospital, a guy with an arm cannon called Barrage, will eventually be back to seek revenge (shouldn’t it be the other way around?).
Besides the whole “using clones for spare parts” thing and how it echoes Krypton’s doomed history (Superman even comments on that), the existence of The Guardian sets an important precedent: It is possible to clone a person and transfer their consciousness into the younger body. That’s gonna come in pretty handy later.