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All Star Superman #2

Posted: Saturday, January 21, 2006
By: Ray Tate



"Superman's Forbidden Room"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant(i, c)
Publisher: DC

Lex Luthor through a diabolical ambush last issue finally doomed the Man of Steel. Superman, though looking hale and in terms of power achieving warp nine, is dying. His cells are deteriorating as he speaks, as he breathes. Given this diagnosis, Superman finally reveals his secret identity to Lois Lane. This second issue of All Star Superman focuses on Lois Lane dealing with the truth.

Superman escorts Lois to the Fortress of Solitude. He then proceeds to give her a tour of the Fortress, treat her to dinner and stall for time while he works upon a secret project. That's the plot reduced in a nutshell, but as with most of Grant Morrison's projects, there is so much more going on.

Superman has told Lois that he is Clark Kent, but he now must convince her of the truth. For years, in comics and in culture, commentators have remarked on glasses and a slouch adding up to a flimsy disguise. Morrison takes the opposite approach. Although Lois herself has tried to prove Clark and Superman are one in the same, now faced with the truth, she tries to deny that she was indeed right.

Such a twist provides delightful moments of amusement, and it also sets up Lois' suspicious mood. Her mood leads to the subtle seed of the deeper story. At the same time, Morrison creates tension between the two characters. This evocation should not be overlooked. Superman and Lois should be so familiar with each other that a dinner date should be executed smoothly and without a hint of malice, but because of the story, Lois refuses to get along with the man of her dreams. Her denial generates conflict, and it just gets worse.

Quitely portrays Lois in a realistic fashion with superb illustrative gestures and body language. His portrayal of the character--which admittedly differs strongly from the traditional model of Lois--belies what's really going on in the story. Lois' behavior visually makes absolute sense, and most of the quirks seen in the book can be, wrongly, attributed to stylistic choices and more weirdness to be found in the Fortress. Instead, the truth is much more entertaining.

The Poor Grant's Superman Almanac (in order of their appearance)

The Fortress of Solitude--First coined by Lester Dent in the Doc Savage books, Superman's Fortress of Solitude here differs from his traditional Fortress. The absence of the giant key and the golden door is most notable. Instead, Morrison and Quitely create an entrance that's more subtle and in keeping with their more self-assured version of Superman. The Fortress' entrance is denoted by a simple blue door, which blends in with the surroundings, bearing the Superman shield and can be opened with a tiny key in Kal El's possession.

The Tiny Key--made of white dwarf matter, a super-dense and super-heavy real-life substance that's the corpse of a collapsed star. By harnessing a piece of white dwarf star, Ray Palmer invented his size changing apparel to become the Atom.

Superman Robots--self-explanatory really, but these artifices engineered by Superman were common during the Julius Schwartz era. These robots are unrelated to the one that killed Donna Troy in the worthless waste of trees Graduation Day. The robots in All Star Superman differ from the Julius Schwartz models. They wear blue capes and do not commonly wear a coating or clothing resembling that of the Man of Steel.

Columbia--in real-life the ill-fated shuttle that was destroyed through the result of an engineering error. The repercussions of Columbia's destruction led to an emasculated NASA and the hiatus of American manned space exploration. Superman in All Star Superman of course saved Columbia, and a grateful NASA apparently gave him the shuttle, when decommissioned, as a trophy.

The Titanic--In All Star Superman the real-life "unsinkable" ship sunk by an iceberg was found by Superman. Not really surprising given his x-ray vision.

The Bottled City of Kandor--Before Krypton exploded; Brainiac shrunk and collected the Kryptonian city of Kandor. Superman after years of failure finally found a means to return Kandor and the Kandorians to normal. A post-Crisis non-Kryptonian Kandor found its way in the Superman mythos.

Time Bubble--The Time Bubbles allowed the pre-Crisis Legion to explore the past and also recruit Superman and his cousin Supergirl into their ranks. The post-Crisis Legion also used Time Bubbles but not to recruit Superman or Supergirl, who as a result of the Crisis never existed.

Giant Joker "Bad Penny"--Clearly a joke on the giant penny from "The Case of the Penny Plunderers" that took up residence in the Batcave.

The Color Purple--Apparently Lois' favorite color. Superman is thoughtful and attentive enough to decorate the guest room of the Fortress with purple towels and purple flowers.

Time Telescope--Julius Schwartz invention that allowed Superman to peer into the past or the future.

Phantom Zone--limbo dimension where Kryptonians sent their criminals. Not a nice place to visit. Lousier to live in.

The Sun-Eater--an alien creature that devours suns; in the pre-Crisis future, a Sun-Eater will threaten the earth's sun. Ferro Lad, who dies in the explosion, will kill it. In the post-Crisis past, a Sun-Eater threatened the earth's sun in The Final Night. It was defeated by Parallax, who dies in the process. Of course, this story no longer counts.

The Unknown Superman of 4500--The bandage-faced Superman; a joke on the Unknown Soldier, whom Superman met after a fashion in DC Comics Presents.

J. Lo--the artist formerly known as Jennifer Lopez. A dubious singer who admittedly gave a decent acting performance in Anaconda.



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