Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Ten Favorite Comics of 2007: All-Star Superman

"Hurrh? Bizarro-Batman am no shot dead by him parents!"

This is the comic, more than any other, that makes me wonder how Bryan Singer and the rest of the Superman Returns crew could have gotten it so wrong. I mean, Morrison and Quitely make it look so damn easy, don't they?

ASS (giggle now, please, and get it over with) may have shipped only four issues this year, but it managed to fit more Big Damn Mythic into them than other superhero comics have managed in their entire runs. (I'm looking in your direction, The Ultimates.) A time-travel battle between Supermen of the past and future, a two-part Bizarro War, and evil Kryptonians were only the surface shine to stories about growing up, fitting in, and becoming a better person than you are. And in the meantime, Jimmy Olsen put on some Kryptonian pants. Really, if I didn't love this comic, there'd be something wrong with me.

Truly, I honestly don't know what to say that hasn't been said already. Morrison and Quitely get, really *get*, Superman. He's big, strong, smart, and good. He saves people, even the ones trying to kill him. He lives the way his parents taught him, even when it's hard. He has a dog that fetches entire trees, and a baby Sun-Eater in a cage. Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that, in the world of All-Star Superman, you feel like anything truly can happen. The impossible isn't. That's a gift superheroes are particularly good at giving, and this comic gives it very well.

I suppose I ought to take a bit of time to address a criticism my friend Typo Lad (he of "What Were They Thinking?" fame) has, that the book is a great bit of continuity porn. Frankly, I don't see it, but apparently Morrison and Quitely fit in a lot of sly references to old Superman comics in and around the edges of the stories. Well, I haven't really found any, and if I need them pointed out to me, then they're not really pornographic, are they? Continuity porn gets in the way of stories and makes them impenetrable to anyone who doesn't know all the references. "The Lightning Saga" was continuity porn. All-Star Superman, though, is easily penetrable: It's a story about the world's strongest and noblest man, and the adventures he has as he performs his Twelve Great Labors. (And they're quite a bit more exciting than mucking out stables, I can tell you that.) If there's Easter eggs to be found, and what great story doesn't hide little nuggets in the corners to find on return trips, well so much the better then. It's no skin off of anyone coming for the big stuff.

All-Star Superman captures the exuberance of that primal superhero experience you have when you're six and think a towel around your neck can make you fly, and channels it into thoughtful, exciting, literate superhero adventure. And it does it without copious amounts of gore, heavy-handed politics, or multiple covers. THus proving the old fanboy adage true: All they need to do is tell good stories. And we will come.

I leave the making of obvious joke there up to you.

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