Not sure if The Inferior Five is the first super-hero parody book, but it has to be one of the best remembered.
Introduced in three issues of Showcase, the I5 got ten, increasingly odd, issues of their own book in 1968, then vanished.
Only to come back in 1972 for another two issues, with a slight title change, reprinting the first couple of Showcase appearances, which is where I first encountered them.
Bizarrely, I remember being frightened of the Woody Allen-esque leader of the team, Merryman, as a child, and not really knowing what to make of the whole thing, and re-reading the series as an adult, I can see why I was puzzled.
There's appearances by Supes, and parodies of the Marvel gang, as you'd expect ( The Cobweb Kid, Iron Pants, The Sub-Moron etc. ), but there's also a whole issue where writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Mike Sekowsky become the main characters, and The Five stand around constantly asking when the story's going to start. The Inferior Five isn't quite as funny as it could've been, but it does have a frenetic energy where things are moving so fast, you don't have time to care. There are jokes and whole scenes that make no sense at all, and I put this down to Bridwell ( who was an extremely smart and well-read man ) being much cleverer than me, and I just need to catch up.
Anyway, here's the first appearance of the gang, with art supposedly by Joe Orlando & Mike Esposito, but which actually looks more like Jerry Grandenetti.
Compared to the rest of the run, this is a relatively sane issue, believe me.
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