Friday, September 19, 2008
All-Star Superman #12
Superman? SUPERMAN?!? Really?!? One of the best comic books in recent memory is a fucking SUPERMAN run?
You bet your ass, buddy. Listen:
Grant Morrison has crafted science fiction gold here; every alien race, every gleaming ray gun is wrought with with metaphor and deep connections to the human condition. Nothing is accidental, nothing is glitz without substance and all the while Morrison isn't beating us over the head with it. I'm talking about explosions with SOUL here, people. One could easily read every one of these dozen issues and enjoy them on a visceral, surface level but you only have to look a little deeper to see the messages of love, brotherhood and other such beautiful, perfectly cheesy bullshit.
Morrison understands Superman in ways that the rest of us do not. A common complaint of the Man of Steel is his tendency to have a solution for everything, the fact that over the course of sixty-some years his abilities have inflated and exaggerated to the point that there is nothing he cannot do: he has limitless strength, limitless speed and so on. This is, obviously, boring. Morrison takes this complaint, this expectation, and turns it on its head. What if the source of Superman's power became the source of absurd power AND the cause of his death?All-Star Superman DOES have all those powers we've come to yawn at over the years and NONE OF THEM MATTER! They will not save him, but he might save everyone else in the meantime.
I could go on and on. Remember Earth Q? His double arm-wrestle with Samson and Atlas? What about Jimmy Olsen as Doomsday? Clark Kent and Lex Luthor having a chat in the middle of a super-human prison riot? Lex Luthor' s final revelation? Were you there? Will you REMEMBER?
Morrison has said that this will be the end of his work on the title as both he and the brilliant Frank Quitely (whose praises would take another blog in and of themselves) have other projects in the making that will require their respective attentions. So aside from one-shots and perhaps some special issues, this is the end of the line. The feeling is, of course, bittersweet. Part of the appeal of this run was the finality of it all, the idea that Superman has peaked and can go no further, both in terms of the quality of the stories and the character himself. But we're all of us worse off for not having this book to look forward to anymore, and that is a bummer.
I know this has been a long winded blog but if you only take one thing away from my rantings here it should be this: read issue twelve of All Star Superman. Then read issues 1-12 of All Star Superman. Then do it again. Then thank your lucky stars that you were able to read something this good, this printed proof that the comic book medium is as powerful and important as it ever has been, maybe more so.