Thank You Grant Morrison: All-Star Superman 12 Review

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Sep. 18th 2008 in All Blog Posts

Bad: Creator of The Wire, David Simon, is in Glasgow tonight at the GFT but the event has been sold out for ages.
Good: Gives me a chance to read the last issue of All-Star Superman

Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant’s 12-issue run of All-Star Superman goes out on a fantastic note.

There’s no point in trying to sumarise for those coming late to the party, save to say: it follows Superman as he goes through his version of 12 Labours of Hercules and all along the way it has what you would expect from a Grant Morrison take on Superman – challenges that stretch the character and give him struggles past that of a big bad guy to hit.

But it’s not the dealing with tyrant suns or chronovores that make Morrison’s Superman so impressive. It’s the respect that he treats the characters with, giving them some fantastic human moments alongside the large ideas.

For example, see the panels below, something which starts off as (apparently) a one-panel conversation in one issue:

But as the comic goes on, it comes back…

Leading to…

But it’s not just Superman that gets the good moments. At the end of issue 12 after a dying Superman has saved the day, Lois Lane gets her moment…

Now that\'s romance

Having said that, there’s one moment in All-Star Superman 12 where Grant’s detractors will have a field day. He has a superpowered Lex Luthor have a Road to Damascus style moment where he realises how inter-connected everything is and how “we’re all we’ve got” and for a moment it seems as if he’s ripping off the ending his protege Mark Millar used at one point in The Authority where a villian humanises through his connection to man.

But to Grant, what others use as a main plot, is a one-panel throwaway (not to knock Mark’s tale, which was a top read back in the day – and had some gorgeous Quitely art – but it wouldn’t be like Grant to use something so recently obvious as the ending) and instead he brings it back to something that’s been a key concept of Superman to him: that he inspires us and that not only can we be the superman (and woman), but that we should be. It’s this optimism that sets him aside from the likes of Warren Ellis who at times has an almost palpable disgust at humanity for squandering what it should be.

The Never-Ending Battle...for all of us

Grant’s often said that he’s an optimist when it comes to the future and the potential of man – and while I may not always agree with him on that – what cannot be denied is that seeing the nobility and pointing it out as something to aim for is not necessarily a bad thing.

Anyway, issue 12 is a great end to this team’s run, but it’s not the best in the series. That moment belongs to one of Morrison’s finest writing moments in his career: All-Star Superman 6, which features the most honest moments I’ve read in any medium about the parent/child dynamic (and the reversal of said dynamic) and is made all the more fantastic when you consider that Grant is not a parent and that, having lost his own father just a few years earlier, the topic is something that could have been terribly written and mawkishly sentimental:

A Heartfelt Moment

Most of the web seems to agree that this has been one of the best runs in the ninth art recently – but there’s one last puzzler: who’s the old guy that appears in a few issues in the background?

So thanks very much Grant, Jamie and Frank. And of course, thanks to Siegel and Shuster for one of the most enduring icons of the last 80 years.