Over breakfast this morning I was flipping through my trade of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s “All Star Superman” and I was struck again by what a fantastic book it is. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, I must insist you go out and buy it. Right now. It’s been fully collected in two hardcover volumes now (sadly, I haven’t gotten the second half yet, because DC’s trade program is terrible – but that’s a discussion for another time).
It’s everything a Superman story should be. There’s action, insanely jacked up science, humor, sweet romance, tragedy, and probably some other stuff I can’t think of. Quitely is at the top of his game here. I hear people say they can’t identify with Superman, or that he’s a “bad character” because he’s so powerful, but forget all that noise. Those people just haven’t read the right Superman story. Or, more likely, haven’t read any Superman stories at all.
The basic premise is that Lex Luthor (whose portrayal here as an arrogant genius who simply cannot stand the fact that someone like Superman exists, and a narcissist whose belief in his own superiority is his greatest weakness, is dead on) succeeds in, basically, giving Superman cancer. Suddenly faced with mortality, Supes has to decide what to do with the time remaining him.
There’s an issue about Pa Kent which, well, if you don’t tear up a little it proves only that you have a heart of stone and metal, driven by gears and pistons.
What “All Star Superman” does most of all is inject a sense of breathtaking wonder to the Superman world. It should be awesome to see Superman fly through the sun, or Lex Luthor pull off a trap from millions of miles away. These are amazing feats, and they should amaze us.
In the rush to be gritty and realistic, a lot of writers neglect that a wonderous story can be just as powerful.