**Somewhat spoiler-ish information about the beginning of the book, but it shouldn’t harm your reading of it**
I’ve already done a review of one of my favourite Superman comics, Superman: Red Son, but I thought it only necessary that I do a review of what is considered to be the best of the many comics out there that focus on the Man of Steel, All Star Superman.
Before I even get to the actual comic, it’s no wonder that people love it. The team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly is enough to raise the hairs on the back of any ardent comic book fan’s neck. I’ve been in love with Morrison ever since his stint working on the Batman (also considered one of the greatest runs of Batman comics).
I was not disappointed.
When we join Supes, he’s in the process of stopping Luthor in the middle of his latest plan to destroy everything. This time he is blasting through the Sun to save a scientific expeditionary team on one of the many sunspots. Afterwards it is discovered that the cells in Superman’s body have started daying due to the extreme saturation of energy. Ironically, the thing that is killing Superman is the very source of his fantastical powers.
The following issues is a deconstruction of the many aspects of Superman and the turning of the Man Who Has Everything to the Man Who Will Soon Have Nothing. From the aspects of family and friends, to the love of his life, we see, using the lens of the typical comic book plot, what it means to slowly peel away the pieces that make Superman super.
This comic is both refreshing and yet intensely nostalgic. Superman is often interpreted as being, to be blunt, temperamental. This is more often than not how his character is thrown at people if there is a need for a twist on his original boyscout, traditional American image. What Morrison and Quietly imagine is a well-measured version of Superman. He knows that he is dying, and so he collects from his life and re-evaluates. What needs to happen for the future? What can a world without Superman do to keep being itself?
In many ways, it feels like almost a response to the famous Frank Miller seminal Batman work, The Dark Knight Returns, wherein the thesis is that the world can not exist without Batman, or at least his way of thinking being the majority rule, be it subliminal or out in the open. In the Superman-verse, the answer is not to replace Superman, although that is hinted at and is an important thing to consider. No, Superman leaves people’s fate to themselves. If he wanted tribute or servitude in his memory, he would’ve enslaved the human race long ago. That isn’t how he rolls. He was raised to be something other than that. He was raised to be a man who put his best foot forward for others, to be selfless, loyal, true and caring. That is his answer when faced with death, and the idea of his friends and family outliving him.
The scariest thing for Superman is knowing that he won’t be around to save people anymore. Thus, he tries desperately to make it possible for people to save themselves, while also making it easier for those he cares about to come to terms with his inevitable passing. It’s a struggle faced by all those who have been given the date of their shuffling off from this mortal coil. At the end of the day, or the life, we just want everything to be in order when we leave. This may be easier for some than others, mainly because that leaving may become more of a daunting reality the closer we get to it. If there is anything that I have qualms about with this work, it’s that that aspect is not really taken into consideration, and Superman seems to take the news pretty well, seeing as how he is basically being given his death certificate.
I guess it just serves as a testament to what it means to be raised as a human. Although he has known for a long time that being killed was something that was mostly out of the realm of possibility, mortality seems to be a pretty easy pill to swallow for him, despite him being the most powerful being on the planet. This is probably a result of upbringing + the way he lives his life most of the time trying to be a normal as possible aka Clark Kent.
Overall, this is a pretty decent piece of work and I’m glad that it wasn’t the disappointment I thought it would. Great job guys.
Alright, that’s all for now folks. Thanks for reading and have a great day!