Thursday, January 19, 2006

This Comic Kicks All Star Superman #2

I've got sunshine...on a cloudy day. When it's cold outside, I've got the month of May. Well, I guess that you'd say, "What can make you feel that way?" The answer? All Star Superman.

#2 came out this week, and it was like the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich that you could have. A little bit of grandeur mixed with a little bit of subtlety to form a delicious confection called All Star Superman #2.

First off, let me tell you, before you read All Star Superman #2, it does NOT, in fact, cure cancer. So if you expect to read it and have it jump up and, like, do your laundry and pay your taxes, it does not do that. I only have one copy of the comic, so I do not know if you could get fucked up by grinding the pages into ashes and then smoking All Star Superman. It IS possible, but unlikely.

All this comic does is give the reader a cool story where every other panel had one of those "Woah!" moments that comics really should give us more of, rather than making us wait six issues to get, like, three "woah" moments (Please note that "woah" is a good sound you make when something cool happens...this is compared to the "wha?" sound that people make when they read Superboy ripping some loser Teen Titan's arm off).

As for what happens in the comic book, I will create a diagram to examine the plot of the issue.

Beginning - Superman takes Lois Lane to his Fortress of Solitude to talk about their relationship, as he just revealed he is Clark Kent because he thinks he is going to die.

Middle - He gives her (and us) a tour of the Fortress, while working in a mysterious room. Lois reflects about their relationship,while freaking out about why Superman is acting so mysterious.

End - Lois gets so paranoid that she thinks that Superman has gone nuts, so she attacks him in an emotional outburst, and we learn what is in the mysterious room.

Mixed in with this plot are scenes of, as I mentioned before, classic Superman style grandeur and subtlety.

The grandeur of the depiction of Superman's fortress.

The subtlety of Superman having Lois's engine block fixed.

The grandeur of Superman's new entrance key (which weighs a hundred million tons).

The subtlety of Superman's Mirror of Truth showing that Superman can never truly be Clark Kent (that moment just KILLED me. If you weren't bowled over by that scene, then you must have read Infinite Crisis #4 before reading All Star Superman #2, and were temporarily blinded).

The grandeur of Superman having the Titanic in his living room.

The subtlety of comparing the differences in how Superman and Lois process her thoughts. She goes to her words, but Superman does not have that luxury (it is certainly no accident that Morrison has not shown us any of Superman's thoughts during this series), as he can only ask a Mirror of Truth questions - and that is ultimately frustrating beyond belief.

The grandeur of the Superwoman suit.

The subtlety of the mystery Superman's outfit (nice question mark).

The grandeur of Superman creating mini suns.

The subtlety of Lois seeing their relationship in black and white.

These moments are present throughout the comic, and while each piece of All Star Superman was good, it is when you combine it all into All Superman as a whole that you get just the right mixture of coolness.

Quitely and Jamie Grant were amazing.

So, yeah, I thought that this comic was very good.

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Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I thought you didn't like "moment" comics.

1/19/2006 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Here's what I said: I actually think one of the PROBLEMS of modern comics is the over-reliance upon the idea of a "moment," as comics will meander for an issue until - BAM - a great moment which is supposed to make the whole lackluster issue seem important, because hey, at least we got a cool "moment."

Which is what I bemoaned today (the whole "making us wait six issues to get, like, three "woah" moments").

However, there are still plenty of writers who avoid that (Morrison being one of them, natch). Morrison, though, tends to spread his moments out, and tries not to make one single moment be THAT much bigger than the others, so I do not think I can pick out a specific Morrison moment as the best of the year.

And that is what I talked about today.

And that's pretty cool! I perfectly described All Star Superman #2, and I hadn't even read it yet!!

1/19/2006 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

I always thought of Morrison as a "Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey Sandwich. With a fountain Root Beer on the side."
PB+J is too plain to describe Morrison

1/19/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger joncormier said...

Apparently you get more from this comic if you know the history of Superman. These are some of my first Superman comic purchases EVER. I read a few growing up but I'm not missing out. That's good writing - you don't need to know everything to enjoy it but you get a new level of enjoyment if you know the history of Supes.

1/20/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Matthew Craig said...

I was a bit too distracted by the events of Mister Miracle, but I'll tell you what I noticed:

1. The infant universe of QwewQ

2. Superman 1,000,000-1, obviously.

3. Superman? Faster than a speeding bullet, but Jean-Paul Gaultier he ain't.


4. Quitely is modelling his Superman and Lois on Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth!


Look at that last page!


1/20/2006 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

I was very disappointed in All Star Superman #1.

It wasn't -bad-. But it wasn't all that good, either. Way too much of that stupid Willy Wonka scientist guy, and Lex Luthor at his most generic.

And despite Morrison's impassioned rants thgat he -never- writes "weirdness for weirdnesses sake!"...yeah, a lot of the SF stuff was just there to show off. No real purpose. At least in that story.

So, I was going to skip this issue.

Then...I saw the cover.

Fie upon all artists who make cool covers! Fie, I say!

This comic was everything I -wished- issue #1 was.

Not only did Superman and Lois seem more real and alive than they have in years...but there truly was the sense that this was taking their relationship to a place it hasn't been before. A cool, exciting place.

The art was gorgeous. And I fully agree about the grandeur. I liked the weird pulp science stuff this issue...because it had a direct visual and plot purpose.

Excellent stuff.

If Morrison puts out more impreessive issues like this and less genetric-yet-sparkly romps like we saw in #1, I'll be hooked.

1/20/2006 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Nitz the Bloody said...

I'd probably enjoy this comic more if it were Grant Morrison the crazy iconoclast like we saw on New X-Men, rather than Grant Morrison the awestruck Silver Age devotee that we saw in JLA and are seeing here. A lot of this reads like new stories set in the Silver Age when Mort Weisinger was still editor, and while that may have a lot of appeal for some, it kind of leaves me cold. I mean, seriously.....Lois getting super-powers. Didn't we see that a billion times in the 50's and 60's? Maybe there'll be some new twist to it here, in fact there probably will be, but it's still a plot which feels rewarmed.

I like Grant Morrison. I really do. But I don't like Superman. In fact, Superman is one of my least favorite characters in any superhero universe. I know he was the first, but he's basically the same guy he was in the 40's, a character so perfect he's just bland. Morrison isn't changing that here, he's basically doing excellent re-tellings of the old Superman he remembered as a kid, so I'm really conflicted in my feelings about ASS. It's one of comics' best creative teams on one of comics' worst characters, and no matter how good it is, I just can't get over the fact that it's freakin' Superman.

( And no, I do not want a " Grim and Gritty " post-modern Superman, but I want some kind of proof that Supes is not painfully dated. )

1/20/2006 01:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Craig said...

I don't agree that ur-Superman is dated, but I can see where you're coming from.

I will say that I have access to a number of trained snorkeling ferrets, just in case anyone tries to cite that awful Elite story as something that proves Superman's "relevance" in the modern world.

Superman remains relevant because Love remains relevant. Because the idea of a bigger brother looking out for his family remains relevant. And because the need to believe in absolute selfess good remains relevant. Everything else is window dressing or a robot.

I had a go at a bigger brother superhero in one of my minicomics. It was good fun, despite my shaky draughtsmanship.


1/20/2006 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I liked this issue for what it was, but I did wish there was more to it. I wanted more evil Luthor/dying Superman/ sinister Wonkaman plot, and this was basically the Lois/Superman/Clark triangle. A really decent version of the Lois/Superman/Clark triangle, but I've never been that crazy about that aspect of the Superman stories, for the most part.

Superman remains relevant because Love remains relevant. Because the idea of a bigger brother looking out for his family remains relevant. And because the need to believe in absolute selfess good remains relevant.

I don't think this seems irrelevant to modern readers as much as it just rings false. The original Superman was a product of the thirties and the depression and the New Deal, when people were desperately looking for a tough, bigger brother figure to fix things in a world that had generally gone to hell (think of those stories where an ornery Superman beats the crap out of an exploitative coal mine owner or war profiteer and leaves them to die). Decades later, we're generally more suspicious of real-world unchecked power (note that the phrase "big brother" is no longer associated with the notion of selfless good) and Superman becomes little more than a strangely quaint fantasy figure. Not that there's anything wrong with fantasy figures - that's precisely how I read and appreciate most superheroes, anyway.

1/20/2006 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Nitz the Bloody said...


While I'd like to see that minicomic of yours with a take on Superman ( since I've looked at your site a bit any enjoyed the stuff I've seen ), I still say that it's very hard for me to swallow Superman being " Love, a big brother, absolute selfless good, etc. " because amidst being an icon of all those concepts, he's not even remotely human. He's just a god given human form, who automatically knows what's good for everyone and is never questioned, except by the villains of the stories.

IMO, Spider-Man is a better example of " Love, a big brother, absolute selfless good " in my opinion, because while he's a sterling example of a human being, he's still human, and his career as a superhero is based on a mistake he made and the guilt he feels over it, as opposed to being a godlike figure whose shit doesn't stink.

1/20/2006 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm not the only one who caught that the whole "Superman's Forbidden Room" bit was a Bluebeard riff, am I?

1/20/2006 11:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Craig said...

I've always seen the difference between Supes and Spidey as being the difference between inspiration and participation.

Superman is "What if Somebody Else Made The World A Better Place?!"

Spider-Man, on the other hand, is "What If YOU Took Responsibility For Making The World A Better Place?!

One is the hero we all hope will come along and save us from ourselves. The other is the person we know we ought to be.

One is a hero because he can't not be a hero. One is a hero because he chooses to be.

(stop now before you start talking about how Spider-Man isn't a real person, even in the comics)

Oh god. I said "the other" in a discussion involving Spider-Man. I feel sick. Ass Eel Tikka Masala sick.

(and The Seen makes appearances here, with hi-hilarious consequences, and here (/shameless))

1/21/2006 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

The comic was both fine and fun, but I felt like most everything in it had been done just as well (if not better) in Alan Moore's Supreme run.

(Then again, I said "whoa" more to Infinite Crisis #4 than to All Star Superman #2, so I'm clearly some sort of idiot who shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard, according to prevailing wisdom.)

1/21/2006 09:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Isaac said...

He has the Titanic in his living room?

Hundreds of people died on the Titanic. I wonder whether he cleaned it off.

Or whether he contacted the families of the deceased in order to return the remains.

Putting the Titanic in the living room seems like sloppy, show-offy writing to me: precisely the sort of thing I'm coming to dislike about Morrison's writing. It's an idea with no context or consequences.

1/21/2006 10:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Al Ewing said...

The whole Titanic thing actually turned out very well for me - eating the actual Titanic menu on the Titanic is a really romantic idea for the two seconds before you realise it's creepy and gruesome, and Supes' relationship with Lois is really romantic before she realises that he's been lying to her, day in, day out, for years. So I, the reader, was very much on Lois' side for that exchange, which worked better than me thinking "Lois you shrew, he's a dying man!"

1/22/2006 07:46:00 AM  

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