All-Star Superman #12 Review
All-Star Superman #12 review by Hugo Bravo
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Frank Quitely
In 2005, before Grant Morrison sentenced Batman to death and brought the latest Crisis to DC, he began to work on what would be the most acclaimed run on the Man of Steel in years, possibly ever. All-Star Superman is the second book of DC's All-Star lineup (the first being the infamous All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder), without the worry of continuity to hinder any original concepts and ideas. The major difference between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight is that while Batman's book is an angry, sadistic, completely over-the-top take that you'll either love or despise, Morrison and Frank Quitely's Superman is a work of love, a homage to the Silver Age of comic books that brings Superman back down to the very core of what makes him great. It's not his incredible powers. It's his tireless desire to not just help the world, but help the world better itself. In this book, he's not the big blue boy scout; he's the troop leader. We're the scouts whom he'd give his life to protect. And now, sadly, this amazing series has come to an end. But what a wild ride it was.
It was revealed early on that Superman was going to die, due to his body absorbing too much energy from the sun. I would not dare spoil if he does or not, but by the end of the series, Superman's fate is exactly what it should be. The last shot of him is exactly where he belongs. But before that, we witness one final fight with his arch-enemy Lex Luthor, who has taken Superman's powers for himself. Done before? Absolutely. But never like this, and not with this Luthor. When he appears on trial in issue 5 and is compared to the evilest men in history, you know exactly what you're getting. The sneer in his face and his mid-air strut says it all. He's pure, unadulterated villain in this book, and even then, Morrison finds a way to give him a small moment of compassion and redemption.
I originally had reservations of Frank Quitely as the artist to this book. I wasn't thrilled about the cover to the first issue, with Superman giving you a half-smile while squatting on a cloud. But after one issue, I realized that his unique style and detail to motion is essential to All-Star Superman's realism. You can almost see the movement of a costume flapping in wind, or debris flying through the air. Quitely's Superman is a work of art in itself. Throughout the series, he reminded me of Tim Sale's version, a big brother or protector of sorts. He's big, but never bulky, Quitely knowing full well that Superman really has no need for bulging muscles. Clark Kent is the badly-combed, mismatched, lovable klutz that the late Christopher Reeve perfected on screen. And Lois Lane has never looked more naturally beautiful than she does when drawn by Quitely.
The final issue is not my favorite of the run; that distinct honor belongs to number 10, with its fourth wall revelation that blew my mind and made me grin from ear to ear at the sheer brilliance of it all. It is however, the perfect closer to this run, with an ending that's both a cliffhanger and a true finale. The final page will be left up for discussion. Has the human race truly bettered itself as Superman wishes it had, or has it set itself up for failure?
Great superhero adventure, tragedy, romance, humor, science-fiction could all be found in All-Star Superman, sometimes even in a single issue. Making a Superman for today's audience may have not been Morrison's intention, but All-Star Superman became just that, creating a version of Superman that ten or twenty years from now, will feel as fresh as it does today. Twelve issues are simply not enough for this character, and I hope the next writer/artist duo can keep the timeless feel of the All-Star Superman intact.