Oct 27, 2009

[Comics] All Star Superman

I was never really big Superman fan. I’m sorry, but I’m just not. The guy is practically omnipotent in superhero terms apart from the weaknesses to Kryptonite and magic. He can fly, he can shoot heat vision beams out of his eyes and he can freeze things with his breath. He has super strength and is invulnerable to harm. Heck, he even generates some sort of a protection field around him, thus the reason his clothes hardly every get damaged in fights. The guy is just too perfect to be really fun as a hero.


And yet Superman will always have such a major fan following and I doubt that DC Comics will ever truly get rid of him as a character. They tried that a few years back and of course eventually brought him back to life despite supposedly dying. What can I say? It’s a comic book thing after all, and DC doesn’t have the sole license on doing that.

So I guess it takes a lot for me to really appreciate a Superman story, whether in the context of a group like the JLA or as part of a major multi-title crossover, and yet this particular title managed to remain pretty interesting.

grant-morrison-2
Image by food_in_mouth via Flickr
All Star Superman is a 12-issue comic book series written by Grant Morrison that explores various aspects or elements of the Superman mythos (if you can call it that) but outside the confines of normal continuity. It's certainly an interesting effort and not too far away from the Elseworlds concept that DC likes to play around with so much, but not as extreme. Art was handled by Frank Quitely.

The loose story that the storyline follows involves Superman getting exposed to an extreme amount of solar radiation that apparently overwhelms his cells and causes them to slowly die out while at the same time giving him increased super powers. While this happened during a rescue attempt, the entire series of events was orchestrated by none other than Lex Luthor, who pretty much spends much of the series watching and waiting for Superman's eventual demise. With all this going on, Superman then tries to fulfill a lot of items on his personal wish list like making his feelings (and his identity) clearly known to Lois Lane and a series of trials of some sort that also come his way. Each issue covers a different story within the Superman universe touching on various elements and story plots that have been revisited in many ways over the years in various Superman titles.


At first, the whole thing just seemed to me like another typical Superman story. But then as things progressed and his new (lethal) powers were revealed, the story was certainly brought into a significantly new direction. You have a super powered version of Superman who is now faster, stronger and even smarter than he used to be, and thus he's able to do a lot of things that he couldn't manage before. He invents a serum that gives Lois super powers for a day or he is now immune to green kryptonite, and many other crazy concepts.


Each issue largely stands alone except for the overall theme that Superman is dying. Thus each one is a solid story on its own and it tackles all the things that have made up the Superman universe one at a time. There's time for Lois and even for Jimmy Olsen to shine in their own ways. Naturally he needs to confront Luthor and he also has to face fellow Kryptonians coming to Earth. Oh, and how I could I forget the Bizarro story? It may not seem like a tightly-knit series of stories leading to one powerful story arc by instead it's a diverse series of shorter stories set in the same Superman universe. This probably the greatest strength of the comic and to some people it's probably one of the downsides too, depending on your perspective.


The series certainly accomplished its main goal of being able to explore Superman as a character without dealing with the restraints of the decades worth of storylines and plot developments. What we got was Superman more powerful than ever, thus almost a caricature of what his powers have come to represent, but at the same time at his most vulnerable given the certainty of his death. that in itself is quite a powerful topic to have tackled in the span of 12 issues and Morrison certainly handled things quite well.


All Star Superman gets 4 high tech ray guns out of a possible 5.







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