Posts Tagged ‘allstarsuperman’

OUR MALLEABLE MAN OF STEEL

March 9, 2009

Admittedly, I’ve never been a big Superman guy. While his plethora of super powers and inimitable imperviousness have allowed him to consistently trounce his foes and secure the mantle of relative king of superheroes (at least of the DC universe), I have always found him kind of dull and uninspiring. Superman’s sheer strength allows him to muscle out of just about every sticky situation, and I’ve always found his stories to be rather boring in that respect. He always seemed to lack any kind of concrete personality (especially hamartia), and with most obstacles crumbling before him, I always wondered why I should care about a hero so untarnished by weakness, both physical and emotional?

But because I approached it with these preconceptions, I found Morrison and Quitely’s ALL-STAR SUPERMAN to be particularly engaging and complex, at least at its onset. Immediately, Superman is confronted with a new kind of fallibility: after being exposed to an exorbitant amount of solar radiation, Superman’s cells begin rapid apoptosis, and his life is immediately at stake. Superman’s new weakness really piqued my interest. Not only was Superman made suddenly vulnerable; he was forced to grapple with a condition much akin to the cancers and diseases that plague real people.

In the vein of stories such as Akira Kurosawa’s IKIRU or even THE BUCKET-LIST, our now mortal Superman proceeds to set his affairs in order with Lois Lane in preparation for his demise. I really enjoyed this premise and storyline, but it seemed to be quickly abandoned in the later issues of ALL-STAR for more typical beat ‘em up Superman fare.

While not quite as innovative as WE3, I found Quitely’s panel layouts to be enjoyable. One spread I particularly liked was the scene in which Clark Kent interviews Lex Luthor as he walks down a prison stairwell. Time is effectively stretched in the scene, as we follow them down the stairs and track their conversation (I couldn’t find a picture online of this spread, but I’ll keep looking).

However, having now read two Frank Quitely / Jamie Grant artistic collaborations, I feel as though I am not a huge fan of their style. They tend to have a very slick and digitized feel, and to me lack a certain human, hand-drawn quality that draws me into comics. Perhaps my feelings towards Quitely / Grant’s visuals can stand as a metaphor for my feelings towards Superman as a whole: while visually stimulating and fun, the dramatic, human element is hard to find.