- Titan Books Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 16 December 2011
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I have never before written a review for a comic book. This is a new experience, to say the least. If the review is not written as well as my normal reviews, I hope the reader will grant me pardon. *All-Star Superman* is a concept whose genesis is in the effort by DC Comics to have something of their own to compare to the “new take” on the comics that Marvel created with their *Ultimate* series of titles. The difference is that these *All-Star* titles are designed to be short mini-series events, unlike Marvel’s *Ultimate* series, which are ongoing, monthly publications. The story tells the story of the last days of Superman’s life, when he learns that he is dying due to a plot by Lex Luthor to kill him. He is dying due to solar radiation overloading his cells. It’s like the “solar battery” in his cells is breaking from too much energy. Supes then undertakes various tasks in the effort to save the future by helping make as much progress as possible on the scientific, medical, and technological fields as he can, as well as ensure that the earth is always protected after he is gone. He also attempts to reveal himself to Lois Lane, who hilariously doesn’t believe him, thinking that he is pretending to be Clark as a prank on her. The book continues to deal with the relationships of Superman, and really that is the focus of the book. What does a man who knows that he is dying do in his last days? How does he handle the situation? In the end, it is really no different for Superman, than for the rest of us. His responsibilities may be a bit more dramatic, but the ultimate questions are the same. That is what this volume is really about. The storyline and plotting are superb. Comics, as a medium are obviously much more visual than narrative. Without the proper pacing and a good plot structure, the experience can be quite boring, as if one were reading a production script with pictures the conceptual drawings attached. It is difficult to successfully time the plotting against the illustrations in the comic, but Grant Morrison pulls this off brilliantly. The illustrations by artist Frank Quitely were absolutely beautiful. This is honestly some of the best artwork that I have ever seen in a comic before. Beyond the colors and drawings is the realism to it all. The characters are not drawn like supermodels or gods ascended from Mount Olympus. They are drawn realistically. Lois, for instance, is shown to be quite pretty, but not the levels in other comics. Superman is muscular and attractive, but that is all. He is not unrealistically so. Most artists forget that he *gets his energy from the sun* so his musculature has *nothing* to do with his strength. This is important to me, because I think that the artwork here fits in better with the mythic aspects of the mini-series. There are a few items that were less than desirable. First off, the monster at the end of the volume was unnecessary. They could have had the actions they had and storyline development without the monster. It felt somehow as if they figured at the end of the first volume, they had to have a monster of some kind. They couldn’t wait and stick with the fight at the end of the second volume, but had to have one now for it to be comic book-y or something. The other problem was that the book is tied to Grant Morrison’s other title, *DC One Million*. That bothers me. Even though *One Million* is an Elseworlds title, it is also connected somehow to the main DC continuity. How can this be completely *All-Star Superman* be separated from the main continuity, yet connected to a comic that is a possible future of the continuity? It makes no sense, except for Grant Morrison’s desire to make *All-Star Superman* into *Gran Morrison Superman*. Despite these quibbles, the volume does what it sets out to do as a comic book graphic novel. Is it high literature? No, obviously not. Is it a brilliantly created work of its genre that deserves a high rating and recommendation? Yes. Read this, you will *definitely* enjoy it.
the best, and only, Superman graphic novel you need to read, really.
What is Superman's most powerful attribute?It's rare when a comic book comes along that deals so well with mature themes of mortality, love, & choices. If you think this is just a story about men flying around in colorful pajamas, you probably haven't read much by Grant Morrison before. At the time of this review, the first three issues have come out and there are more to come. The series started out in January of this year, and is being released monthly. I'm eager to see what happens next. You cannot review a comic book without equally discussing the artist. Frank Quitely's figures are real. While they are overproportioned, they are also flawed and aged. I love his art for it's weight, color, and sensualness. His women are shaped like real women, not too long, not too muscular, and not too skinny. He really cares about body language, demeanor, and expression. His art has richness, thickness, and depth. In this Superman universe, Clark, as a result of a rescue attempt too close to the Sun, becomes mortal. So the series asks: If Superman knew he would only live a normal or shortened lifespan, what choices would he make in his limited time? Would he continue to keep his secrets? Would he still focus on helping others? Would anything change? And what force might make an "all powerful" person change? In issue 3, he reveals that he has spent a lifetime synthesizing a potion and creating an enabling costume to give to Lois Lane so she can experience what it feels like to have his super powers for one day. It is a beautiful act and sentiment. She gains most of his physical super powers, strength, physical invincibility, speed, and ability to fly. But even after she gains all his physical powers, she encounters a greater force that threatens to take her life. And in that crisis, Superman uses his intellect, revealing that his greatest strength may not be his physical powers or invincibility. It may be his willingness to yield or temper his fight, because someone he loves requests it or needs it, even though it is against what he personally wants. It may be his willingness to always keep searching for and trying non-lethal possible solutions. It may be his hard-experience-learned willingness to concede that physical force superiority will not solve many major problems the world faces. It may be his intellectual choice to fight for others even when he can't see if they are as willing to fight for him. Superman is sometimes like a soldier or policeman, who thinks he is more willing to put himself at risk to protect others than they appear willing to protect him. But his perception may be incorrect if he does not see how others put themselves at risk in non-violent ways for his potential benefit. For many reasons, Clark continues to love Lois even when she will not "see" or recognize him, her eyes always focused on Superman. But who can blame Lois? She understands that Clark is attracted to her and treats her well. But if she is going to get Superman, she has to dismiss Clark's attention, doesn't she? Should Clark feel incredible harm at being passed over for Superman? If so, should Clark continue to love Lois when clearly she will never choose to care for him over Superman? The complexity, flexibility, and universality of the Superman love triangle has stood the test of time for many good reasons. Should a person admire Clark more than they admire Superman? Or vice versa? I can empathize with both of their suffering and appreciate both of their beauty. And in this series by Morrison and Quitely, both Clark and Superman, when faced with mortality and the possibility of losing Lois, decide to become more honest with Lois and reveal their hidden identities. Issue #3 asks the classic question of: What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? The uncommon answer may not be what you expect, and may not be what you want, but it may be a valuable answer worth considering and appreciating.
Even though my introduction to comics were DC, somehow I ended up becoming a Marvel zombie. A friend had been trying to convince me to read some DC titles as well, and this was one of the trades she recommended to me. I decided to give it a spin, and wow.I had practically no knowledge of Superman before reading this trade, except for some vague "oh, wasn't he played by Christopher Reeve in a movie" kind of way. So I know nothing about how he's been written in the past or even in the present. However, I really like how he was written here. Even though he's been given an essential death sentence, he's still thinking of others instead of being overtaken by fear. I especially liked the issue "The Gospel According to Lex Luthor," in which Clark Kent visits Lex in prison, and he manages to save Lex's life numerous times with his "bumbling." And this is in spite of the fact that Lex Luthor is responsible for his impending death and keeps talking about how he's finally killed Superman! The art is also very good. I've never been much of a fan of Quitely, but it worked for this one.I've already ordered the second volume of All-Star Superman, and I'll definitely be picking up more to read about this character.
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