I read this book at the beginning of high school and want to reread it. This would have been around 2012. It's a YA superhero book involving a group of teen superheroes where the main character has the ability to control machines.

Their society has some sort of "rust" disease that kills everyone it touches ("Rust" is the word used in the book to describe it several times I think, but I could be off) I think the disease is some sort of nanobot? I remember that the main supervillain in the novel has a jetpack and regenerative abilities that make him difficult to kill. It's eventually discovered that the supervillain is actually the future version of the main character and his regenerative abilities are due to him controlling the rust with his mind.

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    Hello and welcome to SciFi.SE. You've got a lot of really good info here already, but if you also could take a look at this list and edit in any extra details you can remember it could help in finding what you're looking for
    – fez
    Commented Apr 26, 2021 at 13:36

1 Answer 1


I just went on my own quest to figure this out. I had the same memories as you, rust disease, the fact that it's just himself.

After a lot of research I rediscovered Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation (2010) by Matt Myklusch.

I have no idea if this is book you were looking for, or if you had already found it by now, but I hope I helped.

Jack’s hidden stash of old comic books is his only refuge from endless chores and bullying at the orphanage where he was abandoned as a baby 12 years ago. Captain Courage! Laser Girl! Evil circle-eyed Robo-Zombies who turn their victims into Robo-Zombies!

While bailing water from the orphanage’s basement, Jack hears strange noises from its sunken stairway. Suddenly a Robo-Zombie appears, aiming its rocket-cannon arm at him! Jack flees into the surrounding swamp, but can’t escape from the Robo-Zombie. Backed up against the generator shed, Jack wishes once again that he had superpowers and is shocked when he can make the generator blast his attacker.

Of course, no one at the orphanage believes Jack was attacked, instead blaming him for blowing up the generator. But the special agent who comes to question Jack about the Robo-Zombie is convinced and takes him away so he can report directly… to the Imagine Nation, where those with superpowers really do live!

Jack meets his comic book heroes there, as well as other legendary beings. Even though the agent tells Jack that this is his birthplace, the Imagine Nation’s borders are closed to outsiders because of Robo-Zombie attacks years before. When RZ nanites are detected in Jack’s blood, he’s suddenly on the run in this strange world. But why haven’t the RZ circles appeared around Jack’s eyes yet? Why is he still flesh and blood instead of cables and circuits?

Can Jack discover his superpower and learn to control it? Will he be the salvation of the Imagine Nation or its destruction? His new friends stand ready to help him prove his innocence, but superscientist Jonas Smart is ready to dissect Jack, just to make sure…

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