All Star Superman #2

[6 January 2006]

By Greg Oleksiuk

All-Star Superman #2 continues Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s endeavor into the Superman mythos, giving it a freshness while using references to Superman’s elaborate past. This issue focuses on the effects of Clark Kent revealing to Lois Lane that he is Superman. Her reaction however, may surprise most and is certainly one of the more original takes on what is by now an almost cliché tale. Morrison adds his twist by having Lois not believe that Clark is Superman, or rather that Superman is Clark as the entire issue is set in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

Inside, the Fortress is filled with all types of wonders including the Titanic, a giant penny with a picture of the Joker on it, a time telescope, and a baby sun-eater as a pet, all invoking a Silver Age feel. Probably the smartest and best change that Morrison and Quitely give to the Fortress of Solitude is the key that Superman uses to open the door. Traditionally in the classic Superman comics, he would open the Fortress with a giant golden key that only he could move. Here, he uses a key that looks fairly normal, however it’s made out of part of a super-dense dwarf star, and thus Superman is the only one who can lift it. It is those types of additions that make Superman seem fresh, yet at the same time surround him with the type of science fiction ideas and themes that are reminiscent of the Silver Age.

The story is told mainly through Lois’ point of view, and thus we see the Fortress and Superman through the eyes of an outsider. She has spent her whole life revealing secrets and finding out the truth about things and people that she has a hard time believing that Superman is actually Clark Kent. Once she does start to concede that it is possible, she gets mad at Superman for having lied and deceived here for all those years, thus increasing her distrust of him. There even comes the point where Lois becomes so paranoid that she shoots Superman with a kryptonite ray-gun. It is at this point that Superman discovers that his powers have increased so much that all the ray-gun does is tickle him, which is really the only reference to his heightened powers within this issue.

This issue can also been seen as Superman’s continuation of coming to terms with the fact that he is dying from over-exposure to the sun from the previous issue. Just as Lois is seeing Superman in a different light, so is the reader. He is opening himself up to Lois, and showing him his secrets (albeit except for the fact that he is dying). He even decides to make her the ultimate offer, to turn her into a super-being for twenty-four hours, complete with a costume. Whether this is to replace him, or perhaps show her what it’s like to someone with extraordinary abilities remains to be seen.

Quitely’s art looks like it belongs on the big screen, and certainly that may be on purpose as even the credits are done in a movie poster style. His double page spreads are grand and show the vastness of the Arctic and the Fortress. He depicts Superman as confident and Lois as overwhelmed, and at the same time they are the characters we have known for years.

Morrison and Quitely pay homage to the classic tales of Superman but at the same time show us that we are entering new territory. We are getting a lot of information because of Morrison’s truncated story-telling style, but this is a good thing and the fact that each issue is its own story but has that larger arc through it all also adds to the enjoyment.

Where many have been complaining about the other All-Star title, All-Star Batman and Robin, Morrison and Quitely’s All-Star Superman has been a bona-fide hit. If DC was smart, they would market this title heavily in the coming months with Superman Returns hitting theatres in June. It is too bad that a trade collection will not be ready for then. That leads into the one complaint: it’s bi-monthly. Originally it was supposed to ship monthly, and the title itself was delayed by several months in order for Quitely to get a head-start on the art. This however did not work out as planned, as the title is now bi-monthly. While this is unfortunate, the story so far does not disappoint and only leaves fans wanting more. Without a doubt this title may turn into not only the best Superman title currently being published, but perhaps one of the best Superman stories ever told.

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