Thursday, September 18, 2008

All-Star Superman

The genius of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's masterful Superman epic is that they've taken the archetypal Superman -- the one who doesn't appear so much in comics and movies and cartoons as he does in your head when you're a kid absorbing all these things -- and made him the center of the story. This is a series that celebrates and ennobles every Superman story you've ever loved by distilling the purest essence of the character into four colors and twelve issues; it defines every character so perfectly and precisely that you wonder if there's anything left to say about them -- and then you remember the surprises each character has for us throughout the series. This, after all, is a book that, in its final issue, gives Steve Lombard, the Daily Planet sportswriter who makes a hobby out of bedeviling Clark Kent, a redemptive moment. He learns better and he changes and he tries to make amends. That's not just a grace note, it's an encapsulation of the theme of the book and meaning of the character: We can be better than we are, if we only try. And Superman can help us do it.

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