39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2009
All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, taken as a whole in its twelve-part entirety, is quite possibly the finest Superman story ever produced. I don't make this statement lightly, as up until now that honor was held by Superman For All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, which would make an excellent pre-read before diving into All-Star Superman. But whereas Superman For All Seasons was an intimate character study as seen from four different points of view which served to define the man of steel's identity, and established his purpose for being who he is, All-Star Superman sees that purpose fulfilled in a work that is the most loving and respectful tribute ever created about the greatest and most enduring superhero icon of all time.
Freed from the constraints of the monthly book's regular continuity, Morrison and Quitely have crafted a simply-told tale with complex-yet-never-complicated story elements which work simultaneously on different levels: science-fiction, fantasy, mythological and super-heroic, which we learn is less about Superman's great powers and physical invulnerability than it is about his unwavering belief in humanity's inherent goodness, and how far he is willing to go for his adopted world, even unto his final breath and beat of heart. As I neared the end, I had tears in my eyes, for the emotion and sheer focus that has been poured into this story is palapable, unsparing and clear, unapologetically tugging at our heartstrings without descending into over-sentimentality. Thank you, Misters Morrison and Quitely. Mark Waid caps the introduction to Book 2 stating that he "...Really Has Read Every Superman Story and Never One Better." I agree, unreservedly.
If you ever get to read just one Superman book (and that would be be a sad choice, as there are some other great ones out there, such as the aforementioned Superman For All Seasons, as well as Superman Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu) make it this one. I have only a minor complaints: this story is so good, and so bittersweetly satisfying, I may never want to read another Superman story again.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2011
Absolutely, Awesomely, AMAZING. I dislike Grant Morrison Batman books, but this is really, really good. The intro from Mark Waid says it all really so I think I'll just quote him:
"All Star Superman: Volume 2 completes Morrison and Quietly's celebration of the world's best loved fictional hero and it ends as skillfully and lyrically as it began....
Superman is dying. Poisoned with solar radiation by his nemesis, Lex Luthor, the man of tomorrow must finally face down his own mortality and races the clock to compress a lifetime's worth of super-achievements into what little time he has left - the Twelve Labors of Superman....
...along the way, as all men must, he takes the time to make a Last Will and Testament. The fact that, as he writes it, he bequeaths something remarkable and prescient to Lois is touching but expected; that he concludes by leaving his own secret identity, as a gift, a final chance to keep the space-time continuum aright is an idea that crackles off the page.
There is a never-ending debate among Superman aficionados as to the value of the character's uniqueness. There are some who contend, stridently, that super-dogs, and super-girlfriends, and miniature super-survivors from a bottled city diminish Superman's purity as the Last Son of Krypton. Morrison and Quietly tackle that argument head on by making the superdoppelganger such a recurring motif in All Star Superman that it masterfully underscores through contrast exactly what does make Superman unique. It's not his powers, it's not his costume, it's not his heritage. It's that, unlike his myriad counterparts, he has more faith in us than we have in ourselves, and All Star Superman is the story of how transcendently that faith elevates and redeems the human race. Everyone Superman encounters...inherit some of Superman's values just by being in contact with him." Take that Batman-lovers.
"Read chapter twelve closely. Notice how the men and women of Superman's world...have so clearly been fortified with Superman's courage and reverence for truth and life. And most important, watch how Superman achieves his ultimate victory - not with a swing of his invulnerable fist but with a gift of understanding. In every fight, Superman punches when he must and grapples when he has to, but at the end of every battle, he wins his best and most decisive victories when he allows his foes to see their world - our world - through his eyes.
...but the big moment is the perfect line of dialogue. It comes in chapter ten, when Superman, without a second's hesitation, takes time from his world-building feats to embrace and comfort a suicidal young girl. When he tells her 'You're much stronger than you think you are,' they become the most moving words we have ever read in a Superman story." And they gave me goosebumps.
..."they are so perfect because they reveal in one sentence, the fundamental secret of Superman and why we love him so.
Gods achieve their power by encouraging us to believe in them.
Superman achieves his power by believing in us."
Couldn't have said it better myself. So I didn't.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Regardless of what you may think of his work on Final Crisis and Batman R.I.P., there's no denying that Grant Morrison (New X-Men, JLA, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, The Filth, WE3, and much more) has weaved pure magic with All-Star Superman. Collecting the final six issues of Morrison and artist Frank Quitely's universally acclaimed series, we witness what may be Superman's final moments as he finds his powers fading and his life winding down, but all that doesn't mean too much as all sorts of chaos unfolds around Superman and his supporting cast, especially Lex Luthor, who may be on death-row, but a little thing like that naturally doesn't curtail more fiendish plans. A highlight of this volume finds Superman trapped in an uber-Bizarro world that must be read to be believed, and the book concludes with a showdown that is both startlingly poetic as well as poignant; something which All-Star Superman has been from its first issue onward. Morrison's New X-Men and WE3 collaborator Frank Quitely provides more spectacular artwork that manages to be both subtle and dynamic in scope, presenting a rendering of the DC icon that is a sight to behold. All in all, believe the hype when it comes to All-Star Superman. Grant Morrison has crafted a modern-day classic that captures the spirit and sense of wonder that is supposed to accompany the character, and regardless of whether you are a Superman reader or not, All-Star Superman is something that wholeheartedly deserves every bit of your attention.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2010
He has been called the man of steel and the man of tomorrow. He, of course, is Superman. Now though, thanks to the machinations of arch-nemesis Lex Luthor, Superman's cells have suffered a fatal overdose of solar radiation and he is dying. This volume, the second and final volume that collects the twelve issues of the All Star Superman series, takes Superman through his final days. Perhaps more importantly though, it lives up to its title along the way thanks to the combined talents of its creative team.
Grant Morrison's writing continues the story in much the same style as before: simple, episodic yet highly effective. This volume begins with a Bizarro invasion that leads to Superman being stranded on Bizarro world, his attempted escape from that world with the help of a figure known as Zibarro, Superman's reaction to the arrival of two new Kryptonian superheroes on the scene in the meantime and the man of steel's last will and testament. This all though is merely lead up to one final confrontation with Luthor and the chance to save the world one last time. Like the previous volume, Morrison makes each story very much self contained but the feeling of an overall arch grows stronger and stronger. This is especially the volumes final chapters, numbers ten through twelve, as the story draws closer and closer to its epic conclusion. As a result, Morrison brings the series to a close in a way that is both action packed and emotionally satisfying at the same time.
Also continuing in this volume is the fine artwork from artist Frank Quitely and colorist Jamie Grant. Much as they did for volume one, their artwork shows off a simple truth of any story in the comic book universe: showing that the real world can exist side by side with the seemingly fantastic and absurd. This is never more true then in the Bizarro invasion that opens this volume as the "real world" of Metropolis in invaded by the fantastic and absurd world of the Bizarro's. The true highlights of this volume, artwork wise anyway, is in the final two chapters as Superman races both to save the world one last time and faces down Luthor one final time. The result is, perhaps even more then in volume one, the artwork serves the writing brilliantly.
In fact the two come together in one place more then any other. That is chapter ten "Neverending", which acts as something of a prologue to the epic conclusion of the series, is both the highlight of this volume and very much the entire series. The chapter finds Superman preparing his last will and testament while simultaneously trying to finish both a lifetime's worth of work and prepare the world for a life without him. Along the way, "Neverending" features what is perhaps the greatest homage ever to the creators of the character and the single greatest moment of the series in highly touching moment (see page 96). The combination of Morrison's writing with the artwork of Quitely and Grant (whose cover art for the original issue acts as the cover art of this volume incidentally) makes this single chapter essential reading.
As a rule, few series end as well then they began. As volume two of All Star Superman proves, this series ends even better then it began. The combined talents of Morrison, Quitely and Grant bring this simple, episodic yet effective tale of a great superhero living with a ticking clock over his head to an epic, action packed and emotionally satisfying conclusion.
"All star" indeed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2010
I've read one Superman story better than "All Star Superman:" Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?," which I believe is the best Superman story ever written. These stories are the pinnacle of the tremendous body of Superman yarns composed since the character's debut in 1938, thousands and thousands of stories. The poor stories are unimaginative entertainment. The good stories appreciate the importance and meaning of the character, and honor him with thoughtful, emotional, and visionary writing. "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" and "All Star Superman," the best stories, recognize the potential of the character and this mythology and gun them toward their peak. This peak is a place where imagination is endless, creativity is limitless, and vision is infinite, a higher plane of storytelling conveying the precise and pure essence of Superman: the hope that each of us can be better, affirmation that we must better ourselves through knowledge, understanding, and morality, and the belief that it does not matter whether we will or can win the fight for what we think is right--it only matters that we fight. That both of these stories are creative genius is equally important. In other terms, these stories rock.
Illustrator Frank Quitely and writer Grant Morrison have frequently worked together--see also "New X-Men," "Flex Mentallo," "We3," and "Batman and Robin." They're a perfect match. The bold, abrasive eccentricity of Quitely's art furthers the bold, anarchic eccentricity of Morrison's writing, exactly what one needs in an author-artist pairing. I've never seen a more successful product of their pairing than "All Star Superman," and I don't believe one exists. If Quitely and Morrison have done greater work separately in their respective careers, which I don't believe but can't deny, together they've never done better work.
"Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" explores who Superman is. "All Star Superman" explores what Superman means, although such exploration isn't possible without also examining aspects of Superman's identity. Can humankind continue to develop without Superman? Has Superman hindered the growth of humankind more than he's helped? Would Superman's death be the failure of his personal mission? What does Superman mean to us as humankind? Avoiding a "reboot" of the Superman mythology like John Byrne's "Superman: The Man of Steel" or Mark Waid's "Superman: Birthright" allows space to consider these questions, and rest for Supes' weary soul and for all the many fans exhausted by "cosmic resets." It's an "honest attempt to synthesize the best of all previous eras," in Morrison's words.
Morrison's "honest attempt" is a titanic success. It celebrates the wacky, bizarre science fiction of the Superman mythology via sun-eaters, a planet of Bizarros, time travel, and a wealth of other strange scenarios. It honors these legendary characters by emphasizing their unique, defining characteristics. Jimmy Olsen is a dopey hero, chock full of stealthy initiative and a hit with the ladies, too. Lois Lane is over-the-top, driven, inventive, completely in love with Superman and foolishly ignorant of Clark Kent's true identity, despite repeatedly trying to prove Kent is Superman. Cat Grant is twice as over-the-top, and glitzy, glammy, and superficial to boot.
None of these characters are half so fascinating or right-on as the comic's depiction of Lex Luthor: arrogant, ambitious, brilliant, and insane, Luthor is a peerless inventor whose nearly unstoppable creative mind is limited only by his egotistic, raging contempt for Superman. I've never seen a depiction of Lex Luthor I liked more. More important, I've never seen a depiction of Lex Luthor, in the movies, on TV, or at home in the comics, which felt truer. Luthor's epiphany in the twelfth and final issue of the series, an astonishingly moving comic, is certainly one of the great moments of Superman's comic-book history.
Frank Quitely's illustrations are visionary in a way rarely seen in comic art. There is a cinematic quality to his illustrations. He avoids the standard comic book superhero angles and framing, which imbues his panels with surprising freshness. Jamie Grant's coloring adds as much to Quitely's art as Quitely's art does to Morrison's writing. The colors are vivid, full, and bright, exactly what good Superman stories need.
"All Star Superman" is far beyond a good Superman story, of course. It's at least what Morrison hoped to achieve: "a collection of timeless Superman issues." Superman is a difficult character for whom to write, and a gruesomely challenging character to write well. One has to be able to imagine Superman's unfailing optimism and impenetrable morality to do so. I've read criticisms of Morrison, pertinently accusations that his work loses itself in its own tripped-out cynicism. I didn't see this before. Now I know it isn't true. The only person who can write such a plausible and stunning Superman is--you know it--Alan Moore, but I suspect Morrison's portrayal of Superman may be even truer. Panel after panel, Superman is faced with apparently insurmountable situations and placed in the darkest, most hopeless scenarios. Panel after panel, he overcomes insurmountable situation after insurmountable situation. Panel after panel, his hope and his intellect create a path to overcome the darkest, most helpless scenarios. His heart provides the strength to fight for what he believes is right, even when the fight becomes one he cannot win.
I watched him do so, and I was inspired. That may not be why the world needs Superman, but that is why I need him.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This has been quite a month for Grant Morrison with two major compilations being released including this one and Batman R.I.P. These two collections could scarcely be more different and it shows the range that Morrison is capable of. R.I.P. is dark and psychologically intense while All-Star Superman has a very light, dreamlike quality. The tone may be more a result of the art of Frank Quitely who deserves just as much credit for the success of All-Star Superman as Grant Morrison. Quitely is a very meticulous artist and I have to give him credit for something many comic artists scrimp out on which is backgrounds, they are frequently spectacular.
The whimsical feel of All-Star Superman is likely a result of Frank Quitely's work because the story is actually quite grim. Superman is dying thanks to the efforts of Lex Luthor and since this is non-canonized story it's quite possible that Superman will indeed die. He has decided to use his remaining days and hours to complete 12 heroic tasks as predicted in the previous compilation. Unfortunately he finds himself trapped in the Bizarro `underverse' right at the beginning of the book. So what is an `underverse'? It's never really explained but that only adds to the fantasy feel of the story (actually I went back and read the first book and it does kind of explain the 'underverse'). The Bizarro planet isn't just a planet it is a gigantic living entity and the Bizarro's are merely extensions of the collective. After harming the planet it retreats into a hole in the fabric of space but as it sinks away the light rays reaching the surface shift from yellow to red robbing Superman of his powers. This is the kind of creativity that sets great writers apart from the rest.
It seems like exceptional writers like to pay more attention to the Fortress of Solitude than other writers. The two seminal Superman stories by Alan Moore, `Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow' and `For the Man Who Has Everything', both take place in the Fortress of Solitude. It is here that the Man of Steel is able to be his true self, Kal-El, the last son of Krypton, a scholar, a researcher, a collector of rarities from around the Universe. This is the most interesting of the three facets of Superman and the least used. Morrison plays a lot more service to Kal-El and his alone time as he performs daily chores like releasing a young sun eater who has outgrown the Fortress or creating a miniature universe to find out what the world would have been like had there been no Superman.
All-Star Superman is a rare treat combining a pair of great talents at the top of their game. Each comic took two months to produce and the extra time shows in the results that include a pile of well deserved industry awards. So does Superman actually die? I won't spoil it but I will say that Morrison doesn't disappoint. Unless you just don't like comic books this is one you don't want to pass up.
BTW: If you love the pairing of Morrison and Quitely let me suggest JLA Earth 2. It's an excellent book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2009
What I love most about this book is that it's brimming with optimism, a refreshing change of pace from violent, cynical comics. Quitely's work is phenomenal, loaded with details that you'll notice the second time you read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2009
I'm a long time Grant Morrison fan (Arkham Asylum, Batman: Gothic, his revival of the JLA, and his brilliant run on the New X-Men jump to mind first), and what he truly does as well, and often better, than anyone else is put a new spin on classic characters.
For instance, his idea of a way for Lex Luthor to kill Superman is so simple and yet so elegant you can't help but wonder how nobody thought of this before. His "Zibarro" is a tragic character of Shakespearean proportions. He is a "creator" in the comics field of the highest order, not simply killing off a character here or there, but often substantially adding to the mythos of the characters he writes for.
Frank Quitely's art is also a treat, also seemingly simple yet elegant. His art enhances the story telling without distracting from it, which is saying something given the many over-stylized comic artists out there, past and present.
You won't often find a book on Amazon with consistent 5 Star ratings, but this series is absolutely one of them. For more Morrison & Quitely, check out those New X-Men collections (unfortunately Quitely doesn't draw every single one, but Morrison is still great, as is Quitely when he's the artist), and "Earth 2", another one with Superman and the JLA, vs. the CSA on Earth 1 (as the other Lex calls his anti-matter planet).
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2010
Being a long time follower on the Man of Steel (1961-Now)I have always found it interesting how the character has developed and evolved over time. The volumes, both 1 & 2 has confirmed what I always knew, that Superman is in good hands and will continue to be for a long time. This "death" of Superman was not sad but rather uplifting to know that he is at the heart of the Sun, maintaining its power source, just exemplifies the true nature of the character: That he will always sacrifice himself to protect his adopted home and its inhabitants from harm and to promote their survival. He has lost one home, but he will NOT lose another.
One point I must mention: I found it quite interesting that WE are living in the square universe and WE were the experiment to show Kal-El what life and a world without him would be like. Excellent touch!!!
Following the success of All Star Superman Volume 1 comes the next book from the brilliant creative duo of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. In this book Superman saves Earth from a Bizarro invasion only to be sucked into a parallel Bizarro world and have his powers taken away; two astronauts from Krypton wind up on Earth while Superman is in this parallel universe and try to start a new Krypton on Earth; meanwhile a poisoned and dying Superman records his last will and faces his final challenges, notably a supercharged Lex Luthor.
If you're a Batman fan like me you'll know that in some of the books Superman is portrayed as a well meaning doofus or a bit of a short sighted arrogant know-it-all. Morrison does the admirable job of making Superman noble and interesting once again, highlighting the fact that Superman is a scientist as well as a hero. The writing is top notch as Frank Quitely's art is breathtaking. In a single panel he can create real tension and horror as Superman is tackled in space by an army of Bizarros or real movement on the page by drawing a truck hitting Super Lex Luthor at speed or Superman taking out a robot by flying through it. He understands and draws scale so well that he truly compliments Morrison's imaginative scope perfectly. Imagine sewing the moon back together with bridges - Quitely draws it and you somehow believe it.
It's a shame to see such dull screen adaptations (Bryan Singer's Superman Returns) of such a great character when stories in books like these show that Superman can be as compelling as any character, maybe more! If only Morrison would agree to write a script for the next Superman movie... oh well, at least we have the book. If you want a great Superman book, this is the one for you. Wonderful story, wonderful art, super book.