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All Star Superman #1

All Star Superman #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 16, 2005

Cover date: January 2006

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Frank Quitely
Inker: Jamie Grant


Reviewed by: John-Paul Zito

Click to enlarge

All Star Superman #1 The Doomed Planet Krypton... Lara and Jor-El desperate to save their son... Kal-El's escape... The Kent Farm...

Superman rockets across the surface of the sun searching for Dr. Quintum and his way ward solar craft. It seems there's a sleeper mutineer on the expedition ready to detonate his nuclear innards courtesy of Lex Luthor. Of course, not if Superman has anything to say about it.

Superman arrives in the solar capsule just in time, lures Luthor's creation into the air lock and tells Quintum to jettison them into space. Once in the vacuum of the universe Superman notices his powers acting abnormally and he discharges some strange electromagnetic ray that blasts Luthor's monster a safe distance away where it can explode harmlessly.

With the immediate crisis dealt with Superman uses his new found electricity powers to tow Quintum, his ship and his crew back to Earth. Once back at his lab Quintum discovers that the intense dosage of solar radiation Superman was exposed to has increased his power levels by more than three times their normal output. This also explains the new bioelectric energy power he developed in space, Quintum warns more super powers could develop.

Most gravely of all Quintum delivers the terrible news that Superman's cells, which absorb yellow sunlight and give him his fantastic abilities, cannot withstand the stress of so much solar radiation. His cellular structure is falling apart, Superman confirms this with his x-ray vision.

Meanwhile, Lois Lane and reporters of the Daily Planet - Cat Grant, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White... Have unmasked the Luthor conspiracy that led to the solar capsule's sabotage. Tomorrow's headlines will reveal how Luthor parlayed a deal to do government work as penance for his crimes against humanity; into another criminal scheme to cause a world wide water shortage. Little does anyone know Luthor's true goal all along: To lure Superman into a trap that would surely cost him his life.

Later Quintum goes on to explain he will try his hardest to find a cure; save Superman or replace him. Quintum reveals to Superman the secrets of his laboratories: Chemical men designed for centuries of space exploration, tiny atomic spelunkers and mindless bizarro working drones are just a few of Quintum's amazing genetic experiments. If only Quintum could crack the Krypton code he could clone Superman a new body. But death is seemingly inevitable. No one must know, not yet. There are things Superman must do first.

Epilogue: Clark carries Lois's groceries home for her. They banter, Clark accidentally saves a man from a hover bus accident, and Lois whips out her keys and runs up her steps. Before she can make it in the door Clark calls out to her. His shirt ripped open, the S-sheild revealed, she drops her groceries.

To Be Continued...

5Story - 5: Grant Morrison attacked this book. He sunk years of day dreaming into this and it shows. In every action or dialogue beat and characterization. He's thought about it so much you don't have to. You just sit back and see fully formed characters based on a classic extrapolation.

Updated? Sure. There were laptops, a hover bus and Luthor's modern VR suit. But then there was a mission to the sun, Genetically engineered explorers, and a mad scientist inspired to do good thanks to Superman. Sweeping ideas based in wonder as much as science. A simple balance between the Silver Age tales, which are often more exciting, and the present day model, adapted to more modern circumstances.

Most importantly the characterization is spot on. Luthor is delighted that his silly plan for world domination was thwarted in order to accomplish his greater goal. An inspired homage to the days when Luthor was blowing up the west coast to build Casa De'Lex, twisting it just enough to expose Luthor's true evil genius.

I can't say enough good things about Clark Kent. There are two schools of thought on Clark's clumsiness: 1) It's an act. 2) Clark doesn't know his own strength. I've always assumed it was difficult for Clark to approximate human strength. When Clark puts on his business suit he's covering up more than his costume. He's hiding a little bit of himself. It can't be easy; disguising his true nature just so he can feel normal. However you interpret it you can't argue with the refreshingly classic approach - Not just his slapstick appearance in the news room but even the gentleman he accidentally saves while crossing the street in the epilogue.

The Daily Planet crew squeezed in a moment of exposition. We're treated to a few telling character beats; but not enough for Morrison to really chew into. Understandable; its Superman's name on the cover.

I liked the introduction of Quintum as Superman's science advisor. His brief back-story added a bit of texture to this world. I see how he fits better into the story than someone like John Henry or Dr. Hamilton.

I felt a real energy from Morrison's Superman. Superman was free of all nonessential continuity and restriction. Maybe it was all the prerelease hype, and if it was it worked, but I get the sense that anything could happen in these 12 issues. Although I'm sure one thing will remain consistent; Superman's capacity for hope. From the minute he showed up in the solar capsule, to the revelation of his eventual doom, Superman's hope was unflappable.

The new twist, on an old twist presented here in All Star Superman #1 was much more in line with what makes these characters interesting to me. Peppered throughout this inaugural issue were hints at secret origins and events to come including the possible re-imagining of Bizarro. Bizarro is a favorite of mine, I think he's handled poorly in most appearances, I'm interested to see what Grant has to say about him (I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Justice too).

I'm sure I'm in the minority at this site, but I've been losing interest in the regular continuity Superman for some time. I think it started when the President Luthor story was handled in such a banal manner. That splendid launching pad for stories; totally wasted. I was this close to dropping all the Superman monthlies save Adventures and All Star. I've since learned the Superman titles will experience a shift and downsize sometime during Infinite Crisis. I guess I'll stick around and see if Superman comes out the other side of Crisis a little shinier. With two monthlies I figure Rucka will stay and he or one of the Crisis MVP's might pick up the other title. If not, that's OK. I've got 11 more issues of Grant Morrison's Superman to look forward to.

4Art - 4: Quitely's Superman has a lot of Curt Swan in him. He's thick with a broad chin, missing those Christopher Reeve dimples. The costume is standard, although we were teased months ago with a slight update on the "S" shield. Quitely's pencil gives new texture to the boots and cape.

Perry White is straight out of the Adventures of Superman TV series, a pretty solid choice considering the alternatives. Jimmy is a seamless blend of the modern nerdy-hipster and classic bow ties and high waters. Is that a jet pack in young Olsen's hands? Quitely leaves his mark of Lois with the longest pair of legs since Stilt Man quit the game.

Luthor is thinner than regular continuity. I would have liked his VR suit to be purple and green but there were plenty of other visual Easter eggs. This includes Lois's oranges in the epilogue, a nod to Margot Kidder's desperate need for fresh squeezed orange juice in the Reeve films.

You know what's going to be crazy? When Frank Quitely's Superman starts showing up on merchandise at the WB store. Much the same as how Bagley's Spider-Man now dominates the market. I'm willing to bet that more and more you'll find the classic Dan Jurgens art disappearing from the shelves; replaced by this quasi silver aged rendering.

1Cover Art - 1 (Quitely Cover): Yes. Its an amazing image. I love the idea behind it's conception; Superman the guardian angle, perched on his cloud watching over all of us.

The hard truth is DC's been teasing us with this image for months. It's old hat now. How about something more in the vein of Julius Schwartz? Something with a bit more excitement to it?

3Cover Art - 3 (Adams Cover): This is more like it, but still not there. It's too generic. Again the art is wonderful. It's a picturesque rendering. I judge a cover on its break out potential. Its ability to slap you in the face if you didn't know it was there. Maybe if Quitely had taken the same sentiment behind this rendering and applied his own slant to it...

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2006

February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006

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