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All-Star Superman #1

Posted: Monday, January 16, 2006
By: Michael Bailey



"...Faster..."

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Frank Quitely (p), Jamie Grant (i)

Publisher: DC Comics


Plot: After saving the crew of the Ray Bradbury from the machinations of Lex Luthor, Superman discovers that he has received an overdose of solar radiation and is going to die.

Commentary: Over the course of this year, I have started to read through my collection of Superman books that go back to the mid-seventies. I used to think that I wouldn't enjoy these books because I was such a fan of the John Byrne revamp and beyond, but to my surprise, I have found them to be quite enjoyable and very well written, especially if Cary Bates and Martin Pasko were involved. I was surprised at the depth of the sub-plots, especially Superman's relationship with Lois Lane and his attitude towards Lana Lang.

The one thing that always took me out of the story would be when Superman would do something that was just a little too fantastic. There were times when the plot would be resolved in a rather silly manner, and while I enjoyed the story, the mechanics of it would sometimes bother me. I seem to have a threshold in my willing suspension of disbelief, which may or may not be a good thing. I haven't decided yet.

I get that same feeling when I'm reading a comic written by Grant Morrison. They are very well written comics and have a lot of imagination, and though sometimes the plot has a tendency to overwhelm the characters, I still end up enjoying them. There is one aspect of Morrison's stories that bother me and that is when his science fiction sensibilities overwhelm the dialogue. I realize that he is probably using the little facts and theories as a tool for storytelling like any other writer would, but for some reason it just bothers me. It's almost like academic writing; sure it makes a good point and I usually enjoy it, but sometimes the writer seems to be going out of his way to use the most obscure wording possible because he or she can.

That is why as much as I really enjoyed All-Star Superman #1, there were points in the story where Morrison developed ideas that were too fantastic and out there just because he could be like the character of Leo Quantum and his group of genetically engineered workers who had set out to map the sun. It was almost as if he was trying too hard. As odd as it sounds, I can accept the fact that there is a person who flies and can change the course of mighty rivers, but when you add photosynthetic giants, Bizarro worker drones and Voyager Titans with blue skin and blood that is composed of eighty percent liquid nitrogen, my mind checks out.

In the fifties and sixties, this was fine. Now, as much as I respect Morrison's ability and right to tell whatever type of story he wants, it is too much for me to "buy" as a reader.

Other than that and Jimmy Olsen coming to work using a rocket pack, I liked what I read. The Daily Planet scenes were very well done, especially the one with Perry White. I also enjoyed his version of Lex Luthor and the motivation he instilled into the character. Morrison's Superman was a character of few words, but very enjoyable, and I really enjoyed the scenes with Clark Kent. There wasn't a whole lot done with Lois Lane, but I like what I've seen so far. Morrison also managed to put a lot of character into Lex Luthor despite his very sparse screen time.

Frank Quitely's art (with Jamie Grant's digital inks) was impressive, though I am not completely sold on his version of Superman. In certain shots Superman looked great, like the double page spread at the beginning and the scene where Superman opens up the hatch on the Ray Bradbury. Like Ed McGuinness' version of Superman, though, I think that the cape is a bit too short, but this is merely a personal opinion and not a slam against Quitely's ability. I was impressed with his version of Clark Kent and the fact that Clark and Superman looked very different from the other.

In The End: Despite some problems with specific parts of the writing, I enjoyed this first issue. It did have a very cinematic feel to it and the plot has been set in motion in fine style. This was a very good Superman story, and I think that Morrison has a solid handle on the character. While I feel that the problems (minor though they were) I had with this issue will continue, Morrison's obvious love of Superman and his ability to write the character will more than make up for it.



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