Saturday, 10 April 2010

Review: All Star Superman Volume 2

I have literally just put down All Star Superman Vol.2...

Click here for my first (and second) impressions of All Star Superman Vol.1.

The more I read and get used to Grant Morrison's zaney style, the more I like it. Sometimes, I think, "I'd really love some Marmite on toast right now," I even like Frank Quitely's pencils, which also take some getting used to. It's weird seeing Superman at times with the face of a young Bruce Foresyth but Quitely knows when to draw a serious tone and when to be cartoony.

Without spoiling the story too much, Morrison's opening gambit to the two volume All Star Superman story is that Superman is dying, his solar-battery cells saturated by over-exposure to the Sun. All part of who other than Lex Luthor's diabolical scheme to rid the world of Superman once and for all. In addition, the time-travelling Samson reveals that Superman is already on the way to completing his legendary twelve super tasks.

Knowing that Superman is dying creates a sense of urgency, which is reflected in the pace of the plot, often zipping faster than a speeding bullet from one end of the universe to the other and disallowing the reader the chance to absorb much. This actually works to its favour and keeps the fun high-octane. The pace, resulting in only superficial exploration of scenarios, also somehow echoes the Golden Age shorts. The difference between this and the old dailies is that there is this underlying sense that the story is hurtling towards an end and that course is set to continue in the next chapter rather than being conveniently reset to a happy equilibrium.

As mentioned previously, far from the gritty realism of many graphic novels today, Morrison revels in the wacky and far-fetched craziness of yester-year. I find myself reading All Star Superman and thinking, "This is mental!" and it is, but it's fun, imaginative, easy and I like it. What's more it's self-contained, making it a good read for first-timers, and it's suitable for kids and grown-ups.

Highlight:
Superman versus Bar-El and Lilo, Krypton's first two astronauts.

Lowlight:
The time on Bizarro world. I struggle with reading one Bizarro-spoken speech bubble, let alone about 20 pages of it!

Overall Rating:
Puts the fun back into comics.
4 out of 5 Stars

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