Friday, November 18, 2005

All-Star Superman #1

How excited was I to read All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely? Not as excited as this guy. But suffiently excited to buy comics on a Thursday. This is a bigger deal than it sounds. Getting from my house to my comic shop is relatively annoying and tends to get put on the back burner until weekends -- and since I buy so many fewer comics than I did before grad school now, I sometimes go weeks (or even months) between trips. Hence the lack of frequent comics blogging here.

But All-Star Superman #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely? Took me all of a day to realize I not only couldn't wait, waiting was very likely to ruin things, since the entire Internets seem to be talking about the book, as well they should, since it kicks ass up and down the street and back again.

Let's start with that cover:

That, that right there, that's Superman. He's friendly and he's glad to see you and if you ask how he's doing he's both delighted to be asked and thinks about how he's really doing before he answers you. And right there on that cover he's inviting you to pull up some cloud while he tells you a story.

(There are people who have criticized this cover for its lack of action, for its lack of dynamism, for its depiction of Superman sitting on a cloud. These people are known as "idiots.")

And in considering the cover, it's worth taking a moment to read this post by Mark Fossen about the Silver Age tradition of inviting the reader to interact with the comic by trying to solve a riddle or puzzle before the hero can. This cover takes that a step further by making Superman himself, not an omniscient narrator, do the inviting, albeit nonverbally. Brilliant, beautiful stuff.

Past the cover, there's enough good stuff to choke a horse. The rescue. Superman's confidence and reassurance. The Daily Planet as a lone, if need be, beacon of truth and justice. Lois Lane's rock-solid faith in Superman. A dangerous Luthor. Quintim, the zillionaire genius so inspired by Superman he's jump-started incredible genetic research. A Clark Kent with just a glint of humor to him. The second rescue, told in all of two panels in which Superman never appears. The endless background activity and details.

Or just look at this two-page spread. I was looking at this at school today and one of my officemates saw it and said, "Man, that is a cool picture."

You see, I've really missed Superman since, oh, Man of Steel #1 came out in 1986. Not that what followed was not without its virtues, but I grew up on the Schwartz/Maggin/Bates/Swanderson stuff and this is the first thing that's really felt the same way, in terms of the world Superman and his friends and his enemies live in, in a very long time. It's nice to have him back as he should be -- even if it's just for a short while.

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