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All Star Superman #9

All Star Superman #9

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 14, 2007

Cover date: December 2007

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

""Curse of the Replacement Supermen""

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman crash lands near where some carnival workers are putting up a circus. He apologizes for startling them, then returns to Metropolis to repair after the Bizarro clones, only to find that the city has already been repaired with Kryptonian technology.

Clark Kent bumbles through the Daily Planet, explaining he was stuck in his closet with the works of Shakespeare and three Thanksgiving baskets.

Bar-El and Lilo, two Kryptonian astronauts thought lost, have replaced Superman in his absence, and stand together plotting to build New Krypton. Superman introduces himself, and they mock him, noting his soft spot for humans.

They invade his Fortress, and as Superman continues to try and compel them to be decent, they attack him in front of the Phantom Zone villains, slamming him into the moon and then leaving him on Earth with a bloody nose. They crack the moon in the process, and patch it using suspension bridges.

Returning to Earth, they find Clark in the Daily Planet, and tell Superman to come out. Lombard indicates that he's not Superman, and just as they're about to correct him, Lilo falls to the ground. Superman appears, explaining that they must have gone through the same radioactive cloud that created Kryptonite, turning the minerals in their blood into poison.

After asking their permission on a medical table in the Fortress, Superman helps them into the Phantom Zone until he can find a cure, and the Phantom Zoners cower in fear at the new law.

4Story - 4: Ladies and gentlemen, the four-hundred fifty-eighth and ninth Kryptonian!

Ah, that's sarcasm. But tell me there haven't been enough new Kryptonian storylines lately, and I'll honk your nose.

Still, Morrison manages to do it with the same great writing exhibited so far, if a good bit late, again. Last one was released in July, on the fifth. This one was released November 14th, a full two and a half months late.

All-Star Superman debuted in November of 2005. That means we've gotten nine issues in two years. That means each issue, despite an extraordinarily leisurely schedule of bi-monthly, is an average of most of a month late beyond that. And that's only because the first issue, which I believe arrived later than solicited, isn't in that mix, and I suck at math. Point being, same typical criticism: This lateness is damned inexcusable on a professional level, and in a story that is not continuity based, putting out this book early when it could be released at any point in a continuing stream is greed, if good business sense. This would be a PERFECT book, for the most part, if it were regular.

There are some issues in this book, issues I haven't dealt with since the Samson and Hercules issue, in terms of plausibility. Thankfully, over time this book has established a sense of unreal as a normative sensation, so it doesn't hurt the story too incredibly much. I was harder on it earlier, because I didn't understand the vibe yet. Now that I do, it works much better.

Kent is gone for two months, and it's played for humor, and it works as such. It's still so laughably wrong it irks a bit. Especially when he mentions the Thanksgiving baskets when, given this issue's release schedule, that's a year ago, not two months.

I also have trouble with believing that the crap that made Kryptonite what it is would kick in that late for the villains, given that the Kryptonite in space is Kryptonite by the time it arrives on Earth, right?

The other thing I note is the "villains" in the above. Like Samson and Hercules, Superman is dealing with insanely evil people here. They're out to kill humanity, re-establish Krypton, and they literally BEAT THE CRAP out of Superman. All of a sudden, they get sick, and now Superman refers to them as paragons of law and order for the Phantom Zone? That didn't wash with me. In fact, I was sitting there wondering why he didn't go for Kryptonite, and instead just watched as they stitched up the moon with suspension bridges. It was out of character. He was weakened from the Kryptonite in their blood, apparently, but then, wouldn't they be?

But all of that said, this issue is an incredible example of a principle I haven't been able to cite in some time with regards to reviews. It's when a book has critical, tragic flaws with the logic, but the writing is so incredibly good that you just don't care. It doesn't happen much, but it does. Its nasty Earth-3 step-brother is when everything makes total sense, but you just can't get into it.

And what this book lacks in coherent sense, at times, it makes up for in heart and character. Superman landing, for instance, then apologizing for startling people. Clark's attitude about his secret and covering. Lois seeing Clark and immediately worrying for Superman instead. Lombard and his delusion of Grandeur. The Asimov short fiction feel of the two scientists and their absolute faith in their intention.

All in all, incredible as ever. Earlier in the series, when I couldn't get the vibe yet, it bugged me. Now this is, hands-down, my favorite Supes book.

Which is why it's SO INCREDIBLY ANTAGONIZING that they can't produce it regularly.

5Art - 5: You believe that suspension bridges can stitch the moon back together.

The impact of Superman returning to Earth is probably one of my favorite pages I've ever seen on a comic book. Ever.

Even the blue sky behind Lilo, Bar-El and Superman as they talk pops.

Quitely doesn't just grow on you. He sticks his hands behind your eyes and pulls them closer.

3Cover Art - 3: Meh. The pastels throw off an otherwise compelling image, and it needs a background. The pose and the scene shows what the issue was about, but there is a lot of the heart in the average panel of this book missing from this centerpiece.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2007

February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007

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