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All-Star Superman #12
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Frank Quitely

Grant Morrison is good for the mental environment in comics. Nobody recycles and reuses ideas as well as he does. Over in Final Crisis, he's basically reviving his classic JLA meta-plot, but this time he's fed it a healthy (and legal) dose of super-steroids. And then yesterday, he and Frank Quitely finished - for now -- All-Star Superman, a triumphant epic that reminds everyone why everyone should love Superman, while tying back to a side road in that same JLA run.

Forget Mark Millar's cadging at Warner Studio executives; they need to turn to Morrison. A Superman film based on his ideas would be a thing of not just coolness but wonder, taking the Man of Steel to flights of imagination that few filmmakers have the stones to reach for. Don't make Superman dark; make him this full of light.

And this from a storyline that does end exactly as promised from the first issue -- All-Star Superman #12 does provide a cap to the life of Superman, but elevates it to myth. Once upon a time, we could find inspiration in the idea of a life well-lived and well-ended. Morrison understands this and still redefines it in a way to make it palatable to modern culture.

In Morrison's hands, Superman shows us what we can aspire to be. Maybe we're not as smart as Lex Luthor, but that doesn't mean he can't be outsmarted. Facing death, the last son of Krypton shows courage, and more importantly, love. Okay, it's a little messianic, but dang it, that's what he stands for. Truth, justice and maybe we need to add simple kindness.

Frank Quitely's art still has a slight edge to it that may put off a few people - like Michael Goodson - but he still conveys the nobility of Superman, of Jor-El and the tragic self-centeredness of Lex Luthor.

Though stylized, Quitely has a clear way of acting the characters. Though I prefer Gary Frank's sleek Christopher Reeve homage, there's no denying that Quitely made it believable that no one could recognize the muscle-man Superman under the dumpiness of Clark Kent.

The story comes back around to ideas first posited in the Morrison-masterminded DC 1,000,000 event. Where he's grown as a writer, though, is that you don't need to know that. It's a satisfying conclusion either way.

I have no doubt this will somehow also play a role in Final Crisis. Over there as a tie-in, Morrison teams with Doug Mahnke, another artist with a penchant to push things in a slightly grotesque direction, on Superman Beyond, which explains how Crisis On Infinite Earths led to Countdown, of all things.

And I accept that explanation, as it echoes a theory Morrison put forth in 7 Soldiers of Victory to account for two Shining Knights coming from two very different Camelots. This guy's so good, he found a way to sneak Dr. Manhattan into regular DC continuity.

Though pushing boundaries (and I still fear Morrison's statement that he wants to make the DC Universe sentient), he writes stories that are deceptively and refreshingly simple. You know what? Good does triumph over evil. We should have hope. We should look to the skies with wonder.

And we should believe a man can fly.

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think!

Derek McCaw


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