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All-Star Superman #3

Posted: Saturday, April 1, 2006
By: Ray Tate



"Sweet Dreams Superwoman"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Frank Quitely with Jamie Grant
Publisher: DC

In All-Star Superman Grant Morrison offers a nice tag-team of two classic Superman stories. In a Silver Age issue of Action Comics, while Superman watched, the Biblical hero Samson and the Greek Hero Hercules swept Lois and Lana off their feet. Thanks to Morrison's assured prose, you don't need to know this historical esoterica, but I always feel that it's nice to know from whence ideas come. This story is also not the first that gives Lois Lane super-powers, but Morrison comes up with a much more stronger and resonant way she acquires the abilities. That said, she really doesn't use them enough.

Last issue, in his lab at the Fortress of Solitude, Superman concocted Lois' birthday gift. This turned out to be the very definition of a "potent potable." Upon drinking, Lois gains the powers of Superman for a day. Their birthday date is interrupted by a Sauroid invasion, which Lois now empowered believes to be a fun topper on the cake, but before either Superman or Superwoman can make a move, the Sauroid invasion is interrupted by Samson.

As portrayed in All-Star Superman Samson arguably has ties to the Biblical edition, but Morrison and Quitely add their own wacky spin. They imagine the Biblical Samson as if he had never been killed, became immortal and continued to fight injustice through all time. As Quitely designs a thoroughly modern costume for the hero, Morrison gives him a comprehensive savvy of the period. He's not an ancient hero fresh off the barge. In fact, he's a time traveler, but he's still not the curliest lock among the tresses. Morrison writes Atlas, here taking the place of Hercules who in the more familiar DC Universe is a villain, pretty much the same way.

Morrison next takes the logical move of pitting the three heroes against each other in a contest for Lois' affections, but he also uses the contest to characterize Lois more naturally. Last issue she was under the paranoid influence of some of the chemicals used to make her Superwoman formula. This issue she shows her softer, nicer side, yet she still does not believe nor accept that Superman is Clark Kent, which is a howl. Quitely also gives her little artistic moments of character such as when she plays with the gems made of a uranium isotope, when she crosses her legs to indulge in Superman's amusing arm-wrestling match against Samson and Atlas or when getting comfortable as her powers wane with the Man of Steel on a rooftop.

Morrison furthermore offers more conflict and intrigue beyond the promise of Samson and Atlas. He introduces an updated Egyptian deity whose powers seem indeed god-like, and Superman defeats this being with his intelligence not his all-mighty punching ability. He also with this god characterizes Samson and Atlas as a pair of less than perfect, but lovable, heroes.

The dialogue can be quite beautiful at times as can the artwork. Morrison and Quitely have a forte for expressing super-heroes. Perhaps it's because they actually like them.



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