on 22 April 2009
As with the first collection of All Star Superman, the artwork in this book can make you stop and stare. True talent has been allowed to flourish and bloom here and it rewards return viewing much more than many modern comic books.
The writing is pretty good too (I jest, it's more than good), but it is the mixture of sweeping grandeur and small, but highly revealing details in the artwork that pull you in and make you care about this character you thought you knew well enough to dismiss as shallow and out-dated.
Most of all these books present Superman as a super man, and that's a neat twist on an old friend.
Following the success of All Star Superman Volume 1 comes the next book from the brilliant creative duo of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. In this book Superman saves Earth from a Bizarro invasion only to be sucked into a parallel Bizarro world and have his powers taken away; two astronauts from Krypton wind up on Earth while Superman is in this parallel universe and try to start a new Krypton on Earth; meanwhile a poisoned and dying Superman records his last will and faces his final challenges, notably a supercharged Lex Luthor.
If you're a Batman fan like me you'll know that in some of the books Superman is portrayed as a well meaning doofus or a bit of a short sighted arrogant know-it-all. Morrison does the admirable job of making Superman noble and interesting once again, highlighting the fact that Superman is a scientist as well as a hero. The writing is top notch as Frank Quitely's art is breathtaking. In a single panel he can create real tension and horror as Superman is tackled in space by an army of Bizarros or real movement on the page by drawing a truck hitting Super Lex Luthor at speed or Superman taking out a robot by flying through it. He understands and draws scale so well that he truly compliments Morrison's imaginative scope perfectly. Imagine sewing the moon back together with bridges - Quitely draws it and you somehow believe it.
It's a shame to see such dull screen adaptations (Bryan Singer's Superman Returns) of such a great character when stories in books like these show that Superman can be as compelling as any character, maybe more! If only Morrison would agree to write a script for the next Superman movie... oh well, at least we have the book. If you want a great Superman book, this is the one for you. Wonderful story, wonderful art, super book.
on 19 April 2010
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The more I read and get used to Grant Morrison's zaney style, the more I like it. I even like Frank Quitely's pencils, which also take some getting used to. It's weird seeing Superman at times with the face of a young Bruce Foresyth but Quitely knows when to draw a serious tone and when to be cartoony.
Without spoiling the story too much, Morrison's opening gambit to the two volume All Star Superman story is that Superman is dying, his solar-battery cells saturated by over-exposure to the Sun. All part of who other than Lex Luthor's diabolical scheme to rid the world of Superman once and for all. In addition, the time-travelling Samson reveals that Superman is already on the way to completing his legendary twelve super tasks.
Knowing that Superman is dying creates a sense of urgency, which is reflected in the pace of the plot, often zipping faster than a speeding bullet from one end of the universe to the other and disallowing the reader the chance to absorb much. This actually works to its favour and keeps the fun high-octane. The pace, resulting in only superficial exploration of scenarios, also somehow echoes the Golden Age shorts. The difference between this and the old dailies is that there is this underlying sense that the story is hurtling towards an end and that course is set to continue in the next chapter rather than being conveniently reset to a happy equilibrium.
As mentioned previously, far from the gritty realism of many graphic novels today, Morrison revels in the wacky and far-fetched craziness of yester-year. I find myself reading All Star Superman and thinking, "This is mental!" and it is, but it's fun, imaginative, easy and I like it. What's more it's self-contained, making it a good read for first-timers, and it's suitable for kids and grown-ups.
Superman versus Bar-El and Lilo, Krypton's first two astronauts.
The time on Bizarro world. I struggle with reading one Bizarro-spoken speech bubble, let alone about 20 pages of it!
Puts the fun back into comics.
on 29 April 2010
Volume 2 concludes the All Star Superman series, and is easily the equal of the first volume. The consistency of the quality in this series is to be admired. The art and colours are enough to make this worthwhile, but the story itself ably blends many disparate threads of Superman lore together to make an accessible and exciting take on the Man of Steel. Having never been much of a Superman fan in the past, I felt like I finally understood why so many people are passionate about this character, and what his importance in the popular culture canon is.
on 5 July 2009
This collection of the latter half of All Star Superman is a must buy for any comics fan. As a real Morrison fan even I have to acknowledge his recent output has been patchy but this is a masterpiece. He writes such a moving and powerful story as Superman faces up to the ultimate adversary, his own mortality. As he struggles to resolve his life's unfinished work and prepare the world for his absence Morrison has created a modern comics classic. The ideas are breathtaking and frequently moving, a stand out episode dealing with the Bottle City of Kandor which is worth buying this collection for on its own.
Quitely's art is the perfect foil for Morrison and as usual they are an almost unbeatable team up of talent. His pencils illustrate perfectly the power and frailty of the Man of Steel.
This collection brings to a close one of the finest comics of recent years.
Buy it! You won't be disappointed.
on 6 December 2009
I could write forever on the beauty of the 12 issue run by Morrisson and Quitely. As a fellow Scot, it is with pride that the best Superman story ever told has sprung from the mind of two Scottish fellows.
Forget your love for graphic novels, this is pure and simply a beautifully illustrated novel.
The purest study of the only true addition to World Mythology you will ever read.