Friday, March 31, 2006

I made an ASS out of myself over this comic?

Yeah, so I was pretty upset that All-Star Superman's release this week caught me by surprise. Mostly because I did, in fact, visit a comic shop recently. Monday, in fact. And the question of when the hell this issue was coming out came up. And no one knew the answer. Including the guy who runs the shop. But he's more in to sports cards anyway. He does like Garth Ennis and Frank Miller, though, so that's something. I probably should have lashed out at him instead of bloggerdom assembeled, but, well, see... I actually like him. I can take or leave most bloggers. And he sells me comics. What have most bloggers done for me? So, you see where I'm coming from.

Anyway, self referential tangent aside, how was All Star Superman #3? Well, it was certainly a good comic, I have to say, but that's a given with Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, and Jamie Grant, who does wonderful color work over Quitely's pencils. But just having Morrison and Quitely together alone ensures you at least a good comics reading experience. I'm not sure they could do less than that unless they really genuinely put their minds to it. I'm just not sure its any better than good, though.

You see, I've always felt like I'm in a weird position, as far as this series goes. I always seem to be in the middle, opinion wise, between "It's the greatest thing in the world ever!" and "You know, it's really not that good. At least those are the two polar opposite reactions I've seen. It's weird, but I feel inadequate, because I just really liked the first issue. The second issue wasn't as good, I thought, but once again, being a Morrison and Quitely comic it was at least a well crafted reading experience. I was once again between the two sets of reactions from what I saw.

So, now we're at issue three. Feels like its taken an eternity to get there, doesn't it, although oddly enough, its keeping a bimonthly-ish schedule (first issue was in November, second in January, and now here we are at the end of March with issue three). And although I was too busy cursing the blogsphere to see the reaction to it, my tepid reaction to this book has me feeling at a loss.

I mean, certainly, it was a good comic. I know I'm being redundant, but that has to be said. It's got all the qualities I want in both my monthly serial adventure comics reading in general and my Superman stories specifically. It's fast paced, tells a satisfying story, has all kinds of wild ideas being thrown around, and even has a little humor thrown in for good measure, and has that crucial in superhero comics tone of not taking itself

But... well, I just wasn't blown away. And I think, especially after the promise of the first issue, it's fair to expect more from this comic. It was good. It was lighthearted, angst free fun, in fact. I'd even say it was sweet and endearing, at the risk of sounding like a big weeping girl; a very good take on the Superman/Lois relationship, and a novel way of doing what amounts to date story with them. But the best word I can think of to describe this issue is... pleasent. And I'm sorry, but I expect more than just pleasent from Morrison and Quietly, y'know?

That's not to say I'm writing the series off. It's only 3/12 complete. Next issue should bring the thrills, as apparently Superman's going nuts and only Jimmy Olsen and his signal watch can stop him! From little we've seen of Jimmy so far, that should be very fun.

But also, it's 3/12ths done. And I'm really hoping that the remaining 2/3rds really pick things up and live up to the promise of the first issue. Because, as good as it is, I'm not sure how much longer it can get by on "it's easily the best Superman comic on the stands" and "it's Morrison and Quitely, so it's better than most everything else out there" alone. Because, while I wholeheatedly agree with those statements, they run the risk of becoming truisms. And whenever you hear a trusim, your reactions going to be "so what?"

While I doubt I will become that bemused with ASS, it could be headed in that direction. Or, the remaining issues will be, if not as relevatory as the New X-Men issues this tandem collaborated on that really changed the way I look at comics, up to that standard of excitement and excellence. I can certainly hope. Rest assured I will be stepping over my mother to get #4, though, if I have to. Just to find out if it's meeting my lofty expectations yet. And also because of the bits about Morrison, Quitely, and the best Superman comics on the stands. I'm not sure if this makes me complicated or a hypocrite, but I'm cool either way.

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Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

And now only a blowjob personally adminstered by Grant Morrison can make it all better.

3/31/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Waaza said...

How did no one at your shop know that ASS was coming out this week? The Diamond shipping list said it would come out Wednesday.

3/31/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"And now only a blowjob personally adminstered by Grant Morrison can make it all better."

I expect you to be kind of a dick, IL. That's your thing, and I respect you for it. But I expect you to be at least a coherent one. I'm at a loss as to what you were trying to say there. That I'm a Morrison whore with too high expectations is the best I can come up with, and I've been puzzling over this for literally minutes.

waaza: Good question. Like I said, the guy working their mainly focuses on the sports card arm of the business; his brother handles the comics. But yeah, you'd think he'd know when a big ticket comic like that was coming out. Maybe.

3/31/2006 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger Jack Vorpal said...

If this Iron Lungfish character is a known dick then I think he was just making a crude joke and nothing more.

3/31/2006 08:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

Okay, I was asking for that by writing a comment with basically no substance, so here's what I should've written instead:

(1) I found All-Star Superman #3 to be a very good, fun chunk of high-quality pulp, much like #1 and (on reflection, for me, at least) #2. If Morrison and Quitely keep this up for the rest of the series, they'll have produced one of the modern Superman classics.

(2) This post manages to wildly underrate this comic while simultaneously conceding that it's really very fun, and in doing so it doesn't just devalue this comic - it devalues the very notion of fun. It makes the tacit case that a comic that is merely fun can't be enjoyed to the extent that a comic which is "revelatory" or in some other sense profound (aren't you the guy who thinks indie comics suck because they're too pretentious?).

(3) I'm not entirely sure what you really want Morrison/Quitely's comic to be. You mention New X-Men for comparison, but X-Men isn't really in the same ballpark at all, is it? X-Men lends itself to Morrisonian "big idea" stuff in a way that Superman really doesn't, simply because X-Men is a concept book already: it is (at least when you cut out the soap operatics and the clunky race metaphor) about human evolution, while Superman is about being a superhero. In fact, that's his whole deal - he is quite literally the prototypical superhero. The core concepts of the superhero story (and the Superman story) are ones that lend themselves most to "fun" stories or "sense of wonder" moments (which in and of themselves have to be rationed out rather carefully within a larger story; you can't do an entire story made of "sense of wonder" moments or, well, you lose the sense of wonder). The reason Morrison and Quitely are doing this the way they are, I think, is because there's only so many ways you can tweak Superman before he stops looking like Superman; what they've opted to do instead is tell the best possible Superman story they can. And it seems to have you deeply disappointed. From my perspective this is a bit like watching a man weep into a bowl of ice cream: it's sad and confusing at the same time.

In a nutshell what I'm saying is: if you're to make a case against Fun, you have to back it up with details. What do you want from Mr. Morrison here? Fun and a fictionsuit? Fun and an evil twin fetus? Fun and a blowjob? The people (i.e., me) demand an answer.

3/31/2006 09:21:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

But also, it's 3/12ths done. And I'm really hoping that the remaining 2/3rds really pick things up and live up to the promise of the first issue.

Not to get all math-y, but with 3/12 out of the way, there are 9/12, or 3/4ths remaining.

You may resume your comments about blowjobbery.

3/31/2006 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Jack Vorpal said...

I thought All-Star Superman was a blowjob until it was over and then I was like, "Hey, that wasn't a blowjob! That was a comic book."

4/01/2006 09:21:00 AM  
Anonymous red_ricky said...

In a nutshell what I'm saying is: if you're to make a case against Fun, you have to back it up with details. What do you want from Mr. Morrison here?---Lungfish


Sorry Brad, but I'm with Paul here. I usually enjoy your columns, but I have to say that here in particular you failed to make your case.

In fact, you seem to be bitching for bitching's sake. Nothing personal, it just seems that you are in a bad mood.

Now, your "why didn't no one tell me All-Star Supes was comming out" was funny (...I thought, but then again, I didn't think you were serious.) And your labeling of All-Star S, as ASS is forced cynicism. You are swimming against the current, not because you think you are right (by your own admitance, this was a good comic); but because it is in your nature to say white when everybody says black.

Sorry dude.

As far as All-Star#3 goes, it was an excellent comic; destined to join the Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told trades and sit next to Moore's for the Man who has everything!

Why? Because it is everything a Superman Comic should be.

Sure it was a date comic, but in case you haven't realized it yet; SUPERMAN IS AN ALLEGORY FOR DATING !!!

It is the story of a nerd who falls in love with the most beautiful and smartest woman in the world, but can't get her to notice him. And he knows, that given a chance, he could prove that he is as smart and as strong as anybody else and this woman would love him and his world.

This comic was the culmination of all that and more. It was too smart to put into words, and simple enough to go over some heads.

I mean really, have you ever been on a date, finally... with the girl of your dreams, and some jerk tries to get cute with you; and you have to play it cool when in reality you are one second away from breaking his jaw and feeding him his teeth through an enema?

Have you not seen any of the new Axe commercials? Well, if you have, and if you've ever wondered what would Superman do? you know.

4/03/2006 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Hensel said...

red-ricky- I never thought of Superman's relationship as an allegory for dating, especially nerd dating, but I don't think the relationship, in the case of All Star Superman, represents dating. It kind of IS dating, and they just cleared the hurdles of Lois' physical inadequacies in the issue. I do agree with you when you say the comic was a culmination of Superman and Lois' relationship. They were finally able to be together, and you could tell Superman's resentment with the arrival of Atlas and Samson, but the dating was not a representation of every nerd's dating. How many nerds burden themselves with saving the world when out on a date with the girl of their dreams.

The issue, and the foreplay of #2, are steps forward in Lois and Superman's relationship, even with their marriage in "real DCU" time. They become physical equals and Lois isn't fretting, worried Superman will meet his demise, but she partakes in the world saving, if only as an outside cause and casual observer. The issue is not an allegory for dating, but I appreciate your analysis, and feel the concept of Superman/Lois as an allegory for a nerd's achieving of their dream has merit, just not in All Star Superman. Your point of nerds jsut wanting to show their dream girl how "awesome" or "cool" they are is true. Maybe there's the beginnings of an essay examning their relationship throughout the era of comics in that intriguing thought.

4/04/2006 12:12:00 AM  
Anonymous red_ricky said...

Thanks for the save Peter.

I think you are right. It's not so much an allegory for dating as it is a possible allegory for nerd love???


I mean, we all know that Superman evolved into something more; but we all know it started with Jerry Siegel's unrequited love.

In any case, the romantic in me loves the fact that Superman could be a way for Clark Kent to try to impress Lois Lane.

And I love the fact that after it was all set and done, Superman goes "but I'm really Clark" and Lois just can't see it.

4/04/2006 01:04:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

"How many nerds burden themselves with saving the world when out on a date with the girl of their dreams."

I'll answer your rhetorical question with another one: How many nerds believe the world will end if they screw up the date with the girl of their dreams?

4/05/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Hensel said...

-Michael. I don't really feel Superman feels an intense pressure to do everything right in the issue, though. He's dissappointed that Atlas comes and breaks up the dates, but he's more annoyed than thinking the world's gonna end. Besides, when he tries to propose to her at the issue's end, he's not upset that everything didn't go perfectly.

By The Way, How cool are we to keep up a comments thread after the main post is buried?

4/08/2006 09:35:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Hensel said...

Red Ricky-How did Superman originate from one of SIegel's failed love interests? Are you talking about Lois Lane? I'd love to hear about the comment.

4/09/2006 01:54:00 AM  
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