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All-Star Superman #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good!
Title: …Faster…

Superman saves a group of scientists, Luthor puts his plan to kill Superman in motion, and of course, some Daily Planet drama…

allstarsuperman001Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils: Frank Quitely
Inks: Jamie Grant
Colors: Jamie Grant
Letters: Phil Balsman
Asst. Editor: Brandon Montclare
Editor: Bob Schreck
Cover Art: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics

I was prepared to be rubbed the wrong way by this title. I’d heard mixed things about it, and Morrison‘s been a bit of hit-or-miss with me. I also wasn’t sure what I’d think of a story going back to basics on the character, especially when it would seem that meant going back to more of a "silver age" sensibility and such, particularly in the Superman/Lois relationship.

But I sat down to read this issue, and my # 1 complaint is that it’s like being allowed to watch just the first 15 minutes of a movie. You get the introduction of the characters, a bit of conflict, the set-up for the main plot, and a bit of a cliff-hanger when you have to turn it off and do something else, and wait another month for another dose.

The story certainly delivers on the back-to-basics, as we have a Superman unencumbered by marriage or other official romantic ties; a bumbling Clark Kent racing in at the last second to everyone’s wonderment at his whereabouts. Lex Luthor is an evil scientist under government watch (apparently he’s been allowed out of prison to use his genius to better mankind (or the government) so long as he doesn’t keep trying to kill Superman).

And in four panels on the first page, the character’s origin is summed up, which is cool as a refresher, and pretty much necessary only to remind readers (such as those who haven’t touched a Superman comic ever, or in the last 20 years or such) of the origin, since it’s arguable that just about everyone knows the basics of the origin: Doomed planet Krypton, parents launch a rocket into space, where the baby is found by a couple and raised on earth.

I don’t know that this is Morrison‘s most novel approach to a character, but something about it definite works. We get a status quo more reminiscent of the pre-Crisis Superman stuff, but the tone is definitely modern, including an interesting take on the nature of Superman’s powers.

This issue has a lot of little details and little moments, and I’d love to talk about them all, but that’s impossible for a review such as this. Suffice to say that if you’ve never really cared for Superman–either he was too powerful, too god-like and un-relatable or to the other extreme, was too human, not powerful enough…this take falls somewhere in the middle.

Quitely‘s art is also very good, conveying a sort of not-quite arrogance about Superman, but a playful, carefree attitude as he goes about doing his business of saving others. The facial expressions of the characters carry a lot of story, and the artist’s style in general works well here.

Other than the opening page, nothing’s said of the origins of the character-we’re plunged right into the midst of the story, everyone knows who Superman is, Clark’s already a reporter for the Planet, and so on–which is rather refreshing. It’s like being a kid again, being given a random Superman comic that just happens to start a multi-part story. (And this one has nothing to do with crises or multiple earths, united villains, countdowns to anything, etc.)

Well-worth checking out!

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

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