The premise of Second Coming involves Jesus Christ returning to Earth and moving in with a Superman stand-in character named Sunstar, initiating an Odd Couple-like clash of personalities and worldviews. Jesus does so at the insistence of his dad, God, who wants to try and toughen up Jesus, since the last time Jesus came to Earth, things didn't seem so great for him. That too seemed to ring a bell, at which point I remembered The Superman Stories, a 48-page, self-published, prose pamphlet in which a purposefully, amusingly non-canonical version of Superman navigates the day-to-day stresses of being a volunteer freelance policeman with god-like powers.
In one of the later chapters of The Superman Stories, Superman goes to Heaven and talks with God and Jesus.
I remembered interviewing the writer of The Superman Stories shortly after I read it, but couldn't remember his name. It couldn't have been Mark Russell himself, could it, back before he became a famous comic book writer...? So I checked my blog, and discovered that the guy who wrote The Superman Stories was a man named...Mark Russell!
So despite having read several of Russell's DC Comics over the course of the last few years—Prez, The Flintstones, some Harley Quinn—and despite having had his Second Coming on my radar since it was first announced as the most promising of a new batch of Vertigo titles, only to be canceled, I somehow never realized that this Mark Russell guy who has been writing weird parody comics for DC was the same guy who wrote that awesome Superman Stories zine I read forever ago.
You can read my interview with Russell from 2006 here, if you like.
It was only after I re-read my own interview with Russell that I realized just how much DNA Second Coming shared with The Superman Stories, and it goes away to explaining the particular version of Superman/Sunstar that appeared in the comic; Sunstar isn't so much a straight analogue of DC Comics' Superman as he is an analogue of Russell's Superman Stories Superman.
I addition to the bit with the robots, which Russell mentions in the interview, and the interactions between Superman, God and Jesus, Second Coming also features a villain named Dr. Simius, who is a character in The Superman Stories too.
Re-reading it some 14 years later and after having just finished reading Second Coming, I found this to be the most interesting part of my interview with Russell though:
You mentioned that you’re working on a sequel? Can you tell me anything about that?I think it's safe to say that Russell has been living with many of the ideas in Second Coming for a while now, then. In addition to the above, there's a dedication to a Lucas McCain immediately following the conclusion of the story in Second Coming, which notes that McCain played the character Night Justice in a play that Russell wrote entitled Group Therapy. The scenes of Sunstar, Night Justice, Lady Razor and other characters were based on Russell's play.
Superman’s relationship with Lois Lane undergoes some changes. Lex Luthor starts working out in order to compensate for his lack of hair. The supernatural storyline continues. God, who sees Superman sort of as the popular, good-looking, varsity-quarterback son he never had, asks Superman to take Jesus under his wing in hopes that Superman’s manliness and derring-do will rub off on him a little.