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Reconstructing the Icon - All-Star Superman

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Rain Partier

Postby LOLtron » Sat Oct 11, 2008 6:55 pm

Superman comes from the Golden Age,right? He was created in 1938, making him 70 years old. Over thoseseventy years he's become an American pop culture icon. If you seethe big red S on someone's chest you think Superman.So when DC released All Star Superman,it was without a doubt that it was going to have to push limits andbarriers and redefine what Superman stands for. Does it? I'm notentirely sure, but I know one thing: it's a new way of looking at a70 year old idea.
When I heard Grant Morrison was onboard, I had no doubts that it would be something cool. There'ssomething about Morrison writing Superman that just ultimatelyclicks. I learned that from Morrison's run on JLA. He understandsSuperman's icon status and plays to the Superman mythos. He'suber-powerful and can do just about anything. But what's mostimportant is that Morrison knows how much fun the character wasoriginally supposed to be.
When you take Superman out of the DCUUniverse, take him away from his responsibilities to the JLA, removehim from all the continuity-fucking that has been DC for the lasthowever many years, you get at the core, a very fun way of seeing andage-old icon.
When it comes to Superman stories, Ican't say there are any that I absolutely love. There are a fewI've read and enjoyed, but given my dislike for escapism inliterature, I naturally loathe Superman. Face it, the character isold, he represents morals from a previous generation. That generationwas proven to be wrong just like every generation before it. We (orat least I) don't need the didactics and the simplistic black andwhite morals that come with Golden Age comics. I want to see humanethics challenged and characters make decisions that will destroytheir minds. I want hardcore realism!
But there's something about readingAll Star Superman that really kills everything about what I want. Thething is it doesn't burn me like one might expect it to. I like it.
When I open up an issue, there's aperverse escapism that leaps out as I read each panel. Quitely'sart, Morrison's stories, they don't create hyper-realism. The artis bright and cartoon-like, it's (dare I say) fun! All the actionin the story leaps out at me and my eyes devour each panel of thestory like Greedy Gustave eating birthday cake. It's like I'm akid again, but not a kid from the late eighties/early nineties,reading his brother's comics. No, it's more like I'm a kid in1938 picking up Action Comics number one and reading it at school, athome, on the bus, where ever, marveling in awe at the images and thewords that are jumping out of the page and into my brain. It's notreliving the moment, but rather a feeling of cyclical experience,things happening over again, and with the medium, the narrativeevolves. I like to think it's like a human collective ofexperience, and Morrison and Quitely manage to reach down deep intoit and pull out all those old elements of the fantastical with AllStar Superman.
While All Star Superman takes us backto a much more innocent age, and re-installs an old icon in his basicroots, I find it does a fantastic job of progressing science-fictionwith the character. Superman is at his most powerful, and at the sametime, his weakest and most vulnerable. There are no realcliff-hangers to any of the issues, they're all self-contained butthe overall plot and the zany creations really keep readers on theirtoes with "What's going to happen next?" and "What new devicewill Superman think of now?" It's a really interesting way toreconstruct the icon.
All Star Superman will be rememberedbecause Morrison makes it fun! He's brought Superman back to a timewhen comics were innocent and we could all enjoy them for what theywere: an escape from reality. Go hereto discuss.

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