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All-Star Superman #10
posted March 31, 2008
Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely
DC Comics, comic book, 32 pages, March 2008, $2.99
That wrenching noise you hear is Grant Morrison's sympathetic and fantastic ode to Silver Age Superman, All-Star Superman
shifting into what should be a final gear. This may feel extra strange to the reader in that the stand-alone nature of each comic in the series thus far presented multiple starts with little in the way of plot progression -- it's one of the approaches one is most likely to find in a Grant Morrison comic, and if nothing, set-apart series like this one seem to bring out the essentialist in every comics creator that takes one on. Morrison's story has been less a straight-forward journey than a series of mirrors held up to Superman and his Silver Age roots. The most jarring of the plot elements introduced in this issue is the creation of Superman in a universe Morrison's Superman is watching so as to better refine his overall legacy to his adopted planet's people. The scene of another Superman's creation and its time stamp so late in human history proves unsettling, sweet, and given last week's big news, fairly humorous.
Most of issue #10 is given over to Superman participating with rather than fighting various sources of confrontation and complication from past issues, and Morrison pulls together the various creative strands of the character's longtime, more out-there science fiction elements into a kind of dream-like confection, infusing many of the other characters with a Superman-like can-do patience, which I guess is part of the point. The scenes are written in an admirably economical way, partly because they're told out of order and must stand alone in that sense. The way in which a dying Superman finds whatever resolution he can in the various, almost summary encounters with the rest of the cast has some emotional resonance in terms of the messier, human equivalent. I liked very much a one-pager with Lois Lane where Morrison seems to be hinting that instead of concentrating on whether or not they're married or single writers might find a rich vein to tap in exploring why those two characters never fully connect no matter their formal relationship. It's moments like those where Morrison is allowed to be the kind of student that teachers can't help but call on 80 percent of the time that help keep things bouncing along as the rush to a conclusion after so many promising starts reminds us all that this is in the end a very clever superhero comic book, and may end up more of a sparkling commentary on the best of comics than a great one in its own right.