Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Delayed Book Review: All-Star Superman, Volume 1

I need to do this.

I need to put this review together for a number of reasons:
First, I want to tell the world that I am sophisticated enough to finally grab a hardcover copy of the critically acclaimed ALL-STAR SUPERMAN by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Jaime Grant. And that I finally listened to this recommendation by one of my favorite veterinarians, Dr. Sixto Carlos of the Makati Dog & Cat Hospital (the other favorite vets also work there, by the way.)
Next, I have to join the party in sharing my joy in having taken this literary ride with Morrison and company.

I think I’ve mentioned in my only other review so far in this blog, that I am not a Superman fan. In fact, I enjoyed Seagle’s “It’s a Bird” so much partly because Supes wasn’t the main protagonist of the story.

I am a Batman fan. (Just had to get that off my chest.)

So I open the book with expectations set “quite” high (pun intended), and while I’ve never been a fan of Frank Quitely’s art, his sense of story-telling, detail and nuance is among the best out there. And Morrison’s story was brought to life fully formed, and garnished almost perfectly.

What makes this series great?

Well, for one thing, they didn’t really toy around with Superman’s central character concept. In fact, they even added bits of detail that made the larger-than-life-ness of Superman a good thing, and not an annoying literary limitation.

Here are some great bits:
1. Superman playing “fetch” with Krypto. Where else but in space, right? and using a tree, no less.
2. Superman’s super-heavy white dwarf key to the Fortress of Solitude. Batman would probably hide the key to the bat-cave under the bat-rug. But when you’re Superman, you don’t have to hide the goddamn key, you just to use one of the heaviest substances in the universe so no one else can carry, much less use it to open the Super-gates of the Fortress. Sure beats the giant key that probably attracts way too much attention…
3. The pet sun-eater… with Supes feeding it baby suns… heh heh… cute touch.
4. Lois Lane initially disbelieving that Supes and Clark are one and the same, together with the human paranoia she experiences while hanging out at the Fortress of Solitude.

(above, Lois Lane in paranoia)

(above, Supes with his pet sun-eater)

With ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, Morrison successfully puts Supes back in the genre of great old-school science fiction almost worthy of Harlan Ellison.

It’s almost funny how writers have always managed to put Batman smack in the center of his core genres of crime and horror, which have helped make Bats what he is today. But with Superman seemingly losing creative relevance in the "modern" comic mythos for the past two or three decades, it only took Morrison and company a handful of issues to remind the entire comic book fandom that Superman is a science fiction book. Complete with a one-issue Jimmy Olsen-centered issue that recalls the good ole’ age of odd-ball one-off concepts in the vein of “What If?”

Oh, and if I may seem to have implied that ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is the ultimate geek-fest filled with geek-talk, then I must dutifully mention that Morrison kept the heart of the book together in the warm way he handled the appearances of Jonathan and Martha Kent. With meaning, purpose, and not just because the “superman-being-farm boy” thing had to be pounded into the readers’ brains.

If I seem like I’m gushing, I will flatly admit with pompous pride that I am. And if you want to know why, go grab yourself a copy.

No comments: