25 May 2011

Archival Review: All-Star Superman, volume 1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

I read volume one of All-Star Superman back in September 2008. Coming to the second volume nearly three years later(!), I decided my best move was to reread the first, which I scarcely remembered at all:

Comic trade paperback, 154 pages
Published 2008 (contents: 2006-07)

Acquired and previously read September 2008
Reread March 2011
All-Star Superman, volume 1

Written by Grant Morrison
Pencilled by Frank Quitely
Inked & colored by Jamie Grant
Lettered by Phil Balsman

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely get a lot of kudos for All-Star Superman. For telling a great, fantastic, groundbreaking, amazing story. But I don't think that's true.

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely tell a perfect Superman story. They don't really do anything extraordinary here. They don't reboot Superman, or question his core morals, or kill him off, or show him in an alternate timeline. They just tell a Superman story. Oh sure, there's a plot about how Superman is dying from... the sun or something, and I guess he's got to perform Twelve Labors, though he seems to forget that. But the adventures he goes on here are all just run-of-the-mill Superman adventures. Nothing impressive.

Except that they're perfect.

Superman turns evil, and only Jimmy Olsen, Metropolis's best hipster, can save him. A perfectly done Jimmy Olsen weirdness story.

Clark Kent goes to interview Lex Luthor in prison, and there's a prison riot where Lex thinks he's orchestrating everything, but really Superman saves the day every time. A perfectly done Lex Luthor story.

Superman remembers the last day he saw his father. A perfectly done Pa Kent story.

Morrison and Quitely do the bumbling, they do the weirdness, they do the heroism. They do nearly everything right.

Nearly everything? The two issues about Lois learning who Superman really is are good... but they sidestep the most interesting parts of the story. But aside from that, they're perfect too.

All-Star Superman, volume 1 didn't blow my mind. But it did do exactly everything I wanted a Superman story to do.

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