The point, as I have been told, of writing the All Star Superman series, was to capture all that embodied Superman himself, be it the actual character we know or what he stands for, what he signifies.
All Star Superman Volumes 1 & 2
Not being a hardcore Superman reader, but knowing enough to pass a quiz, I picked up both volumes soon as they were released in paperback form. My local comic book shop owner told me that he actually cried at the end of volume one so that right there made me want to read it. We’re opened up to a world in which Lex Luthor has plotted the ultimate scheme: to overexpose Superman to sunlight which would then cause his cells to advance at such a rapid rate that he would eventually perish. He has become “too” super and what made him the saviour of our world is what will kill him. Sort of ironic, right? It’s got Grant Morrison written all over it. But more on that later.
In the lab of P.R.O.J.E.C.T., Dr. Quintum, who looks like a cross between Willy Wonka and an Oompa Loompa, is testing Superman’s strength, calculating how long he may have. Also, formulating ways to clone him if possible. It is he who tried to do this many times before, only to end up with Bizarros, who were never quite right.
The next book focuses more on Superman’s humanity; the mild-mannered Clark Kent’s bumbling ways and his Daily Planet co-workers live this earth life while Superman has an incredible fortress far far away, where he takes Lois on her birthday, only to reveal to her some of his most trusted secrets. I was slightly confused here because so far as I knew in comic canon, she already knew Superman and Kent were one in the same. BUT, since this is a compilation of Superman lore – and therefore, anything goes – she is unaware of this. She is suspicious at best, thinking he is some kind of evil and trapped her there. Except what he was really doing was creating a suit and serum that would allow her his powers for one day. Herein, the reader sees that Superman is one of a kind and tiny earthlings cannot fathom what it would be like to be a god. Or THE god. The similarities between the Christian God we know and Superman are remarkable here. What human wouldn’t want to know unlimited power, just for one day? Even though I didn’t care for this take on Lois’s personality, this book of the volume was one of the more fun ones to read.
Lois takes full advantage of this gift and it is in this book we meet Atlas and Samson. The latter, a time traveler, informs Superman that before his death, he performed 12 acts of strength, 12 challenges, much in the same way other mythological creates have done. i.e. Hercules.
He must take on a deranged Jimmy Olsen and then, multiple Supermen from the future, which – in my opinion – is what confuses and annoys me about volume one: too much time travel. But the overall message in the final book of this volume is what the comic shop guy meant; it certainly has touching moment between father and son.
I found Volume 2 to be a far more interesting read. It’s so full of action and it throttles you towards the end, which may or may not be satisfying for you.
Superman continues on his Herculean feats of strength, battling the inhabitants of the most annoying Bizarro world, Lex himself, and some survivors of Krypton. Being “all-powerful”, it’s difficult to find a suitable nemesis for him so in this, he’s pitted against an intelligent star: something so otherworldly and HUGE that even he has difficulty.
The overall emotion in each one of the issues in this second and final volume is far more fleshed out than in the first.
What I liked most about this volume is that Superman is always trying to save someone else if he can – always a way, as he repeats – and he is ultimately selfless. There is a moment on Bizarro world, however, where he has to be selfish to get away from the giant cube planet. He leaves Zibarro, the only intelligent one amongst all the backwards weirdos, but his selfishness will save millions of others on earth, a planet he has come to love and appreciate, honor. It is in making that very tough decision we see Kal’s humanity and struggles. Not everything can be a cakewalk, even for Superman.
Ultimately, I think Morrison accomplished what I said earlier about the AllStar ideal. Readers get to experience all these well-known facets of the Superman world and see the overlying themes involved in the lore that goes back nearly 70 years. But still, there are times when the average comic reader would be lost. And that’s a sure sign of Morrison as well.
The art, though spectacular in some ways, was not my favorite style. Quitely is extremely talented and each panel is simplistic to give readers the implicit idea of the action involved. However, I feel like Superman’s head is always a little off and Lois had a very tiny mouth, shifty eyes. But all in all, the artwork did not detract from the overall story, which is still very enjoyable.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Comprehensive look at the world of Superman with a great story and amazing art||Confusing to some non-Superman readers but not enough to turn you away|