I have been an avid reader of comic books for many years now but this was my first time picking up a Superman comic. I have always avoided this character because he is so unrelatable and all powerful that compelling and interesting stories are hard to come by. So when I picked up All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitley I was excited to give such a well known and popular character a try but also hesitant to see what it had in store for me.
Unfortunately my misgivings about Superman proved to be right. I thoroughly enjoyed All Star Superman a lot, much more than I thought I would. But in a series that tries to highlight Superman’s human side I just felt that it emphasized his extraordinary and God like side. Even the front cover of the book that I purchased symbolized Superman as a god or saintlike figure with the Sun behind his head (pictured above).
All Star Superman centers around the idea that Lex Luthor tricks Superman into getting to close to the Sun and in doing so overexposes his cells to the suns radiation (this parallel to the Icarus story is only the first of many references to Greek Myths that surround Superman in this series) in doing so starts to kill him and gives him some very convenient and confusing powers (Morrisson, 19-21). I see the effort put in to make him a more human and relatable character but it is overshadowed by the grandeur of Superman’s deeds. Let’s recount some of his deeds: in issue #1 he flies to space and saves a space mission to the sun, then we see mild mannered Clark Kent but even he is secretly this knight in Shining armor, saving 2 people on his way to work and on his way home (Morrisson, 24-27). Issue # 2 he brings Lois to his super secret lair with an army of robot servants and has dinner on the titanic that he has for some undisclosed reason, and makes actual suns to feed an intergalactic space creature (Morrisson, 40-43). Issue # 3 he gives Lois his powers, which just emphasizes how different he is from her, as well he also answers an unanswerable question from the Ultra sphinx (Morrisson, 69). I wont go through every issue but this is a consistent theme of Superman doing extraordinary things that we would never dream of. He also dies and comes back to life in issue #12 (Morrisson, 273-280), if there was any subtlety that he was a Godlike figure, it went out the window with that. We also learn that beyond being Superman he is also a genius who has created robot servants, learned and memorized Lois Lanes entire DNA structure and built a machine that lets him look into the future. So even without his powers I still see Superman as an ideal rather than a relatable human being even with the clear efforts made in this series to state otherwise. Superman does have many human qualities in this series but they are just overshadowed by his deeds, his intellect and his strength.
Quitely, Frank. All Star Superman. 2011. Red Pegasus Comics, 26 Mar. 2016, http://www.redpegasuscomics.com/join-us-discussing-star-superman/.