All-Star Superman #1 (2005)

What a goddamn fun comic book. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely deliver a version of Superman and his mythos that is both comfortably familiar and cleverly interesting at the same time. From the wonderfully simple four-panel, eight-word origin panels to the wonderful revelation at the end, this is a great new take on Superman. Everyone who you’d want to see in the comic is here – Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Perry White, Lex Luthor – and each has a freshness of character that makes them feel both new and familiar again. Better yet, around the edges of the book, Morrison and Quitely deliver enough hooks to keep readers interested for quite some time.

Morrison has a great feel for the characters. There’s a great sequence in the epilogue where Superman basically seems to accidentally save a man’s life. It’s a quiet and subtle scene that shows our hero’s real character while also showing the importance of Clark Kent. Similarly, there’s a scene earlier on where Lois has started typing a story about Superman saving the first manned space mission, before the mission is actually saved. Lois knows Superman so well that it’s a given that he’ll save the probe. The only question is how he’ll do so. Jimmy Olsen has a rocket pack and a signal watch – cool! And Morrison is great with Luthor. The core of Luthor is that he’s always been banal and petty, and his explanation of why he hates Superman (“Three months ago, I looked in the mirror at those nasty little spiderwebs of lines around my eyes, and I realized something. I’m getting older, and… and he isn’t.”) rings so true to tradition.

At the same time, Morrison brings in some great new pieces. Doc Quintum, the man who launched the solar probe, is also a very strange-looking genius leader of a bizarre research group. He dresses in a very odd technicolor coat and wears glasses lenses without frames. Quintum leads research into space explorer titans and nanonauts and more. Not since Jack Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen run has there been such a spectacular world of pseudo-science in a book.

Frank Quitely art is exactly what you expect it to be. I like Quitely’s work so see this comic as a wonderful tour de force of imagination, energy and intelligence. There are some scenes that are absolutely wonderful and clever: the intensity of Superman’s face on page four, the odd lab that Doc Quintum runs, the cleverly awkward Clark. It’s just wonderful.

And to top it off, we get the kind of twist at the end that can’t help but bring a reader back (though it’s ruined somewhat by the next issue blurb).

This is classic Superman with a modern twist. Great stuff.


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