Comic Book Review: ALL STAR SUPERMAN (2005) (Part Two)
It’s been a few weeks since Part 1 of my ALL STAR SUPERMAN review. So without further ado, let’s jump right into Part 2 for the remaining 6 issues of Grant Morrisson’s masterpiece.
WTF? That’s kind of the first reaction you get from Issue No. 7 of Grant Morrison’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN. First off all, trying to understand what Bizarro’s trying to say half the time when he pops in and out of Superman comics, hurts my head. His backward logics and speech is tough to follow when he gets all… talky. So now add to that in Issue No. 7, the entire Bizarro planet trying to invade Earth. The Bizarro Cubeworld appears and a bunch of them just start infecting everyone, mimicking them and trying to kill ‘em, in a nut shell. Sunlight weakens them, so Superman ends up saving the day by taking the Cubeworld back into the Underverse of our universe, from what I understand. I could be wrong. Bizarro make feel head good.
While doing this however, Superman ends up getting almost trapped in the Bizarro universe, due to it’s increasing gravity as it goes deeper into the underverse, Superman’s powers start becoming negated. However, amidst the hoarde of Bizarros, he comes across a very articulate Bizarro, who reveals himself as being one out of millions of bizarros who is flawed, or unique. He calls himself Zibarro.
So… see if you can follow me here: Bizarros are the complete opposite and ass backwards versions of people/Superman, who think what they say, but what they mean is the complete opposite of what they say; and now this Zibarro is the complete opposite of Bizarros, in the sense that he’s articulate and can think properly. Basically, he’s a normal dude. But this issue is so fact paced and just full of action that you have little time to interpret what’s happening (especially WTF they Bizarros are trying to say) and by the time it ends you’re left with an exhausted feeling. But the cliffhanger is that Superman is stuck in Bizarro world, with a smart Bizarro (normal guy) to keep him company. Maybe even help him?
AAAH. OK, so if an Earth invasion by a buncha Bizarros wasn’t enough, try an entire world of Bizarros that are trying to ‘help’ Superman escape their Universe and come back into ours. That’s what Issue No. 8 of Grant Morrison’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN is about. Superman is trapped in freaky Bizarro world, with Zibarro, an anamolous smart Bizarro to keep him company. Using reverse logic and mind numbingly painful to read reverse dialogues, Superman convinces the entire Bizarro population to help him build a spaceship (out of garbage I might add) to launch him out of their planet before it sinks into the Underverse.
I actually had to wait 2 days before I get to writing the review for this issue, after reading it, because it was so horribly painful to try to read conversations in reverse speech and logic. Don’t imagine me not talking to you not in that way. Yea, it kills. However, the sad thing about this issue is Zibarro. A poet born into a world full of mindless idiots, he’s trapped and longs to be free. Superman promises he’ll find a way to get him out someday. Eventually of course Superman gets launched from the planet in time. This issue was well written of course, but goddammit does it kill a few brain cells to read it through all the way without crying.
Another really cool issue comes in the form of no. 9 of Grant Morrison’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN. In this issue, Supes returns to Earth only to find that its got some new champions while he was away. Champions who happen to be old scientists from Krypton. As teary eyed as Superman gets while meeting his kin folk, he soon realizes that they’re dominating and condescending people who want to shape Earth into their own view of Krypton. Eventually though, it’s discovered, that their years of gallivanting around in Space, has caused minerals in their body to become kryptonite, and has ended up poisoning them. To preserve their bodies, Supes transports them into the Negative Zone, with their permission, so they can at least be alive in one way or another.
This issue is pretty cool, as we see Supes meet up with other Kryptonians, some who he hoped would replace him once he dies, but that wasn’t meant to be. The other really subtle thing about this issue is that we see Clark getting sicker and sicker. Definitely the results of the super-cancer that he’s developed. It’s very subtle, but the times Superman’s been vulnerable and human in each issue seems to be increasing with frequency. Makes you wonder just how long he’s got left.
A lot happens in Issue No. 10 of Grant Morrison’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN. This is where Morrison gets really symbolic and metaphorical and thought provoky. Yea, I’m a failure as a writer with that last line. I get over it quickly. Superman is at this point sitting down and literally writing out his last will and testament. At the same time, the fate of Kandor—the bottle city of Krypton’s last survivors—has been decided. The city has been shifted to Mars where they will flourish on their own independently, in their mini size. Superman is basically tying up all his loose ends before his eventual death. He introduces some members of Kandor to a hospital where their microscopic size will help cure disease and illnesses. Superman is set out to leave behind a legacy after his name, and to this end, he leave the director of P.R.O.J.E.C.T. with his own DNA sample for scientific purposes. The issue is very well paced, it’s basically a visual montage of various things that Supes is doing before his time comes to an end. It’s great, kind of breezes by with little impact, but an indication of the end. Works well in that regards.
Holy mother of crap. Issue No. 11 of Grant Morrison’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN gets ready to end the series with a big freakin’ bang. All the little insignificant scenes from the 10 issues prior, return to connect in a big manner during Issue No. 11. First off, during Luthor’s execution, his manages to mix a cocktail for his ‘last drink’ which grants him superpowers for 24 hours. In the meantime, Superman shuts down the fortress only to be faced with Solaris the giant red sun. Luthor goes on a rampage to confront Superman while Clark shows up panting with the headline to the next day’s Daily Planet paper: “Superman is Dead”, just before he drops dead and Luthor breaks into the DP Building, hovering in mid air. I retiterate: Holy mother of crap!
The issue goes at break neck speed as Superman prepares to die. There’s one line that gives some sort of hope, but it’s too vague to notice or remember. The issues ends in a huge cliffhanger, promising great things from the entire series finale.
And finally, we’ve reached the end of the line of Grant Morrison’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN with the last and final issue. Lex Luthor has ravaged the city, amidst which the sun, it seems, has been poisoned and is turning blue. And the one man for the job seems to be down and out… or is he?
Dispelling the myth that Batman is the smartest of the superheroes as he uses his brain and not brawn, Superman returns and uses his intellect to defeat Lex, instead of his super powers. Well, not entirely on his own. Lex’s rise to super powerdom with his own potion causes him to see the world very differently, that is, through the eyes of Superman himself. Unable to control being able to see every atom around him, hear every cell dividing and the over all complexities of the universe basically drives Lex mad. Or at least distracts him to the point where Supes can kick his ass. That’s a really cool element shown by Morrisson that isn’t usually thought about by others… or me at least.
Imagine being able to see , quite literally, EVERYTHING and hear it as well. Imagine how overwhelming one’s senses must get with the powers that Superman pocesses. It’s enough to drive a normal human being mad. You thought ADHD was bad, imagine having things halfway across the world distract you from doing everyday things. Well Lex couldn’t, and that’s what ultimately leads to his defeat in ALL STAR SUPERMAN.
Even with the last issue Morrison is able to make us think of something about Superman that we never have prior to. Well not in my experience anyways. However, the series doesn’t end there. As his cells start converting purely into energy as a result of the super-cancer he contracted in Issue No. 1, Superman still has one last job. The Sun. The last pages of Grant Morrison’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN see him racing into the sun in an attempt to normalize it for the people of Earth, since that was Lex’s last hurrah, apparently sacrificing himself in the process. A year later, Superman is still missing and the world is without the Man of Steel, however one young reporters still believes that the man she loves will return when it’s appropriate.
It’s hard not to acknowledge Grant Morrison’s genius, regardless of how mind warping and sometimes non sensical his writing may seem. I wasn’t a fan of FINAL CRISIS, however ALL STAR SUPERMAN does make me stand up and applaud Morrison’s talent. A beautiful story that was handled with the right amount of action, thought and pacing as to never let the high drop to mediocrity. The fact alone that we get to witness a possible last ever story of the Superman saga is worth it for this series to be ingrained into comic history, and such has been done with it winning multiple Eisner Awards. ALL STAR SUPERMAN is truly one of the best Superman stories I’ve read and it’s written in a way that long time fans and newcomers can jump right into it without missing a beat, however the true Super-fans will be able to appreciate all the Superman mythos that’s been poured into this series.