Monday, 18 October 2010

normal service will resume shortly

Watching: Cougartown, The Middle, Clone Wars, Magnum
Reading: been checking out Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All Star Superman #6 again as a bit of enjoyable research into how not to fudge emotion when doing comics, with ASS#6 being the most obvious example of a moving tale in the comics medium that came to mind, possibly prompted by the trailers for the upcoming animated adaptation of the comic that reassuringly seems to ditch much of the emotional core in favor of explosions and sub par animation.
If you don't know the plot, All Star Superman #6 is where Pa Kent becomes more than a footnote in Superman's backstory by passing away and giving a young Clark his first palpable taste of the limits to his abilities, a shameless lift from the first Chris Reeve movie but with a great twist that highlights how Superman can, if not defeat, then certainly cheat death.
The story takes place in the past when several future bearers of the Superman mantle arrive in the idealised American heartland of Smallville while pursuing a creature from the distant future, and while coming to their aid in trying to contain it, the young Superman fails to be present when his father passes away. At the funeral, Clark Kent breaks down while delivering his father's eulogy, but one of the future Supermen is revealed to be Clark Kent, who traveled to the past to be there when his father passes, reassuring him at the last that he's a better man for Johnathan's influence and stealing back the minutes he lost to the grim reaper the first time around, an act all the more important to Clark because he faces his own death in the near future through the machinations of Lex Luthor.
It's probably the highlight of the series for me, mixing daft Silver Age conceits like the future Supermen and the Chronovore with the definitive swansong for the Johnathan Kent character, who promptly popped his clogs in Smallville in admittedly less emotional fashion, and then again popped his clogs over in Geoff Johns' Superman run that seemed to be vacuuming ideas from All Star and the Legion of Superheroes cartoon like there was no tomorrow and yet somehow still managed to make JK's send-off both crass and emotionless, which is quite a trick. Sadly, the Johns' patricide story is also devoid of ASS#6's 'cake and eating it' twist of having Superman both fail to be there with his father when the worst comes to pass so we see the eulogy and emotions present yet thankfully avoid this being some sort of separation anxiety rationale for the lengths of Superman's heroism, and yet he also gets to spend those final moments with his father in the end, cheating not just death, but also the rather narrow remit of the modern superhero and the perpetual angst-driven vengeance quest by showing that Superman isn't driven to heroism by the parents he lost but rather the compassion and honesty whose merit he learned from them.
It's a fantastic comic, and if you have not read it, you should do so.

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