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All Star Superman #4

Posted: Friday, June 23, 2006
By: Michael Aronson



Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely

Publisher: DC Comics


While All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder continues to boldly go beyond expectations, as well as below them, in a seemingly point-free story arc made even longer by unending delays, All Star Superman matches it for number of issues while continuing its trend of one-shot stories that pay homage to themes from the Silver Age. This issue: black kryptonite produces a Bizarro effect on the Man of Steel and only Jimmy Olsen can stop him!

Letís get my gripe out of the way first: Grantís bag of ideas. Sometimes Morrison likes to see how many zany ideas he can toss onto the page before moving along with the plot, and in his past work Iíve been really turned off by this self-indulgence. Heís doing it again in All Star Superman, though to a lesser degree, but when it becomes noticeable enough, it also becomes obnoxious. ďThe Electrokind are tungsten gas life forms with a brittle glass exoskeleton. Their language is purely optical.Ē Wow, I guess sign language is an alien concept to the All Star DCU. This bit and the ďsolid timeĒ which is mined by ďbizzaro infra-techniciansĒ serve no purpose to the story. Come on Grant, stop tooling around and get on with it.

When he does get on with the story, he constructs something familiar yet fresh and fun. All Star Jimmy Olsen is much more complex than his DCU counterpart, walking the fine line between egocentrism and intellectual curiosity. He participates in some daring feats in order to deliver the best ďI Was __ For a DayĒ column possible, but itís ambiguous whether his intent is self-glorification or the desire to dazzle his readers as best possible. Either way, this is a Jimmy Olsen with some visible cojones Ė and I really only mean that figuratively.

Iím still not quite in love with Superman as a character (what happened to Clark Kent?), but I appreciate the attempts to flesh out his world. The Daily Planet, the signal watch, the resident entrepreneurs, Bizarros and Doomdays; a new facet gets added in each issue, and while there isnít a connective thread linking each issue (at least, not up to this point), thereís enough variety to feed the bimonthly wait between issues.

Speaking of which, Iím still not convinced that Quitely is the only artist suitable for this series, as he doesnít render anything that fully utilizes his abilities. In fact, there isnít a single splash page this issue. I find that kind of conservatism in panel space admirable, actually, but considering this was the first issue so far to be hit with delays Ė five weeks Ė I canít say itís entirely worth it. Still, weíre going to end up waiting for this book no matter what, and even if itís not spectacular, itís undeniably pretty.

The next issue seems to be, once again, a change of pace with a new character dynamic in a new setting. Thatís what Iíve come to expect from this series, and itís thus far delivered.



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