Wednesday 19 August 2009

Occasional reviews: All Star Superman

Taking it's cue from Grant Morrison's JLA, which itself was influenced directly by the Silver Age influence of Alan Moore's hugely-influential Supreme, All Star Superman pairs Morrison with fellow Scot Frank "not my real name" Quitely and closes the circle in returning the much-needed Silver Age imagination and enthusiasm for the characters and medium that has been largely missed from Superman for decades, bar some schizophrenic throwbacks in the hands of Superman think-tanks that sadly come with too much gore and sadism as part of the parcel to make whimsy work alongside the concepts involved.
With All Star Superman, Morrison pretty much states the case for the character's continuance and enduring appeal, not only making no apology for it's nostalgia-tinged storylines, but also drawing a line under the oft-cited writer's moan that Superman is too powerful to write stories about by making Superman more powerful than ever in the first chapter and pretty much hitting it out of the park in every issue that follows, with even the lows of the two-part Bizarro World storyline merely being not as brilliant as what precedes and follows it.

I love this comic because it loves me - it knows that at heart someone who reads novels about hateful misogynistic pricks solving crimes is going to love a comic where Superman can use microscopic supermen to cure cancer and "the American Way" is simply the ideal it always was and not just a cheap shot by liberal poseurs to decry US foreign policy or an embarrassing throwback that writers are too gutless to get behind even if they had the imagination or enthusiasm to do so.

This is... this is a comic. Everything about it screams the strengths of the medium, from the ability to flip back and forth between pages to check for clues laid earlier in the little mysteries of the heartbreaking Smallville-set issue, or the use of bigger and smaller panels to portray scale in a way that no amount of CGI ever could, and every last bit of it is so gloriously, anachronistically, and unabashedly without shame.
Morrison writes a blinder and Quitely never sets a foot wrong, it's just a perfect creative marriage, and alongside Alan Moore's few forays into writing the character, I'd happily say it's the definitive picture of the Man of Steel in a modern age that's supposedly outgrown him.

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