January 12, 2009

Morrison and Quitely: All-Star Superman vol. 1

Lex Luthor: "Did you know that ‘Moby Dick’ can be recited at frequencies so high, Melville's masterpiece becomes a sonic drill capable of carving through solid rock?
Luthor contines: "..literally boring a passage through the Earth!"

(Incidentally, I've never understood why comic book writers (or letterers as the case may be) feel the need to bolden some words. If it's some sort of guide on how to read the dialogue… well, many people manage to read books without the need of bolded words…)

I read some parts of this one first as a Finnish translation in the Finnish DC Special – comic. Alas, the editors had decided to put in the aptly acronymed ASBAR (All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder) together with Superman (two issues of both in the same Finnish issue) and since I don't want porn in my mainstream superhero comics, I couldn't continue buying it. Fortunately, a few of the Finnish libraries had the good taste to get volume 1. Unfortunately, they don't have vol. 2.

This is written in the style and spirit of the earlier Superman stories. As far as I know, it's not part of the (current) Superman canon because at the start of the story Lois doesn't know that Clark is Superman and also because of what happens in the first issue.

The trade has six issues and six separate but intertwined stories (in other words, they can be read separately.)

"…Faster…" Starts the comic off with a bang. The first manned flight to sun is in trouble because Lex Luther sabotaged the ship. It's, of course, part of Luthor's campaign to kill Superman. Of course, Superman comes to the rescue but afterwards he hears some startling news: his cells have absorbed so much solar radiation that not only is he three times stronger and developing new powers, but he's also dying from the overexposure. Superman asks that nobody else is told about it so only the scientists at P.R.O.J.E.C.T know about. Some of the rest of the comics show how Clark is dealing with the news.

"Superman's Forbidden Room" and "Sweet dreams, Super woman…" A two-part story. Clark has told Lois that he is really Superman but Lois doesn’t really believe him. Superman takes Lois to his Fortress of Solitude and shows her around. He also has a great birthday gift for her: a serum which gives her Superman’s powers for one day. Unfortunately, now that she is has super powers, she appears to be the most eligible single woman in town.

"The Superman/ Jimmy Olsen War". Another twist on the classic tales. This time the ones where Superman is being a jerk towards Jimmy. Here, Jimmy is a star reporter and his column is called "For a Day". Essentially, he lives other people's lives for a day. This time, the director of the scientists in P.R.O.J.E.C.T. is stepping away from Earth for a day and Jimmy gets to be the director for a day. Of course, he quickly gets into trouble.

"The Gospel According to Lex Luthor". Luthor has been sentenced to death for crimes against humanity (finally, the justice system works!) and is currently in jail. Clark has been given permission to interview him and Luthor tells about his views on Superman and how Luthor himself should be the dictator of the world. Alas, the super villain Parasite is in the same jail…

"Funeral in Smallville". This is a story from Superman's youth and features Krypto! Pa Kent needs some help with the harvest and three mysterious men appear to the farm.

I'm not really a fan of Superman but that's mostly because very, very few writers can handle him without making him loose his powers (or at least without diminishing his powers), changing his personality, or downright forgetting some of his powers. Perhaps I should say that I'm a fan of the character of Superman but he is usually written appallingly poorly. I usually like him the most with JLA because there the writers have to invent big menaces for the whole team to tackle.

Here, Morrison not only can write him with full powers but indeed, increases his powers threefold. I have to admire that! I really liked the stories although they are probably aimed at older fans than me. For example, I'm not familiar with Samson and Atlas from the two-parter story although they appear quite funny in small doses.

I also liked this Lois Lane who is, apparently, also tricky to write. I like that fact that she didn't believe at first that Superman is Clark. I also like her behavior when she had the super powers.

I'm not really a fan of Quitely's work but it suits the stories there. Although he draws Superman a huge neck!

Cross posted to my blog: http://mervih.wordpress.com

1 comment:

Mishel said...

I've never really been a big Superman fan myself, not too sure why. But I liked the review, especially "Superman's Forbidden Room" and "Sweet dreams, Super woman…". I loved the storyline you summarized and it definitely got me interested in them (=