Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All-Star Superman #4

All-Star Superman #4, July 2006, DC Comics
writer: Grant Morrison
penciller: Frank Quitely
inker/colorist: Jamie Grant
letterer: Phil Balsman
editorial assistance: Brandon Montclare
editor: Bob Schreck

Recent Grant Morrison stuff, part two. So sue me.

In my opinion, this issue of All-Star Superman epitomizes what the All-Star concept, not to mention the Marvel Ultimate concept that inspired it, is all about. With his usual brand of fantasy science, Morrison introduced black Kryptonite, which not only turns Superman evil like the red K from season three of Smallville, but also dumbs him down Bizarro-style, turning him into the exact opposite of his at-full-strength self. So who can stop a stupid, rampaging Superman, you ask? How about Jimmy Olsen pumped full of Doomsday juice? Right. Duh.

That's what I'm talking about. Morrison takes the best traits from Superman mythos, including the relatively recent addition of Doomsday, and kicks it up a notch. If you thought Jimmy Olsen was queer before, picture him in a literal coat of many colors, prancing excitedly around a lunar laboratory with a gee-whiz hairdo that would make Alfalfa wince. Artist Frank Quitely redefines "frumpy" with his depiction of Clark Kent. And, finally, Doomsday actually makes sense as an experimental super-soldier serum. Package these elements in a comic book that isn't ashamed to shine, and I mean literally, with bright primary colors and four to five panel pages that give its characters plenty of detailed background in which to play.

The Ultimate titles and All-Star Batman & Robin pressed restart on decades of mythology to make these timeless heroes "more approachable" for a new audience. Morrison hasn't changed anything too critical; he's simply positioned the proverbial camera at a different angle, and he's polished the lens a bit. Yeah, I like it. It's a Superman story I look forward to on a bimonthly basis, which is unfortunately for than many can say for his weekly adventures.

In many cases, I sympathize with this Jimmy Olsen. In the end, when he's saved Superman from himself, he shouts desperately, "Don't let anybody see him like this!" Looking at the way most writers tackle the Man of Steel, I've wanted to shout that, too. Now, Morrison knows what's worth writing. His take is worth a look. It's just a shame DC would have to put "star" in the title to remind us that Superman is.

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