Author: Grant Morrison
Illustrator: Frank Quitely
Publisher: DC Comics
Grant Morrison continues his All Star Superman series in this second collection. I find the premise of the series fascinating, but unfortunately the stories contained in this volume left me a little disappointed.
Superman, due to overexposure to the sun, finds himself with greater powers than he ever had. These super superpowers come at a cost — Superman’s body is deteriorating and he is on a clock until death. Keeping the all star tradition, Superman fights against a variety of common foes who will do anything and everything to succeed before the world is without their man of steel.
In this volume, Superman travels to the Bizarro planet where he meets the alternate reality of himself. But this time, due to a genetic mutation, his altered persona is a genius among dolts. He goes by the name Zibarro and like Superman, longs to get off of the planet whose gravity is too powerful to fly off of.
In another story arc, Superman encounters Bar-El and Lilo, the first astronauts from the planet Krypton. They find themselves on Earth ready to build a new Krypton — the very planet Superman now serves to protect.
The last notable story arc is of Lex Luthor, who before facing the electric chair, formulates a concoction that will give him Superman-like powers. Superman must use his final hours on Earth to protect Earth from its greatest villain.
I’ll admit that my knowledge of Superman is restricted to the movies and a handful of comic books, so there may be some key elements of the story I am missing. I hold Morrison’s comic skills in high regards. The series is definitely worth a read and it brings an enjoyable twist to the famed Superman storyline. Where it fell a little flat for me was with the characters. Lex Luthor is fittingly brought back for a final battle with Superman, but instead of becoming an All Star of wits, he becomes a physical threat. I would have much rather seen Lex’s final attack include a great diabolic scheme including technology or kryptonite than some magic potion that makes him an evil Superman. We were also introduced to his neice, Nasthalthia, who is an intriguing character, but left very little of the spotlight. The thing I liked about this story, however, was that as Lex Luthor’s powers dissipated, he had a epiphany, suddenly understanding the forces that drive Superman’s psyche.
The story of the Bizarro planet is easily the strongest story arc of this volume, even if the strange opposite language is at times difficult to understand. Given the short amount of pages to build up each story, it seemed a little rushed as Superman was thrust onto the cubic planet and then had to seek his escape. I really enjoyed the twist of having a sympathetic character in Zibarro, who seeks to be a part of an enlightened people. Particularly fun was the Unjustice League, returning a Bizarro Green Lantern, Batman, and Flash to assist in Superman’s plan.
Overall, All-Star Superman was an enjoyable read and interesting take on the legendary superhero. It is an absolute essential for Superman fans and despite its flaws, it is a fun comic for the casual reader.