All Star Superman

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All Star Superman

All-Star Superman #1 cover, by Frank Quitely
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Bimonthly
Format Ongoing series
Genre Superhero
Publication date January, 2006 — October, 2008
Number of issues 12
Main character(s) Superman
Lex Luthor
Lois Lane
Creative team
Writer(s) Grant Morrison
Penciller(s) Frank Quitely
Inker(s) Jamie Grant
Letterer(s) Phil Balsman
Travis Lanham
Colorist(s) Jamie Grant
Creator(s) Grant Morrison
Frank Quitely
Jamie Grant
Editor(s) Brandon Montclare
Bob Schreck
Collected editions
Volume 1 hardcover ISBN 1-4012-0914-9
Volume 2 hardcover ISBN 1-4012-1837-7

All Star Superman is a comic book series featuring Superman that premiered in November 2005. The series was written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Frank Quitely, digitally inked by Jamie Grant and published by DC Comics. DC claimed that this series would "strip down the Man of Steel to his timeless, essential elements".[1]

This series is the second to be launched in 2005 under DC's All Star imprint, the first being All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. These series are attempts by DC to allow major comics creators a chance to tell stories showcasing these characters without being restricted by DC Universe continuity.


[edit] Publication history

Grant Morrison's approach to writing this series was to make the reading as universal as possible. He stated that he wasn't interested in "re-doing origin stories or unpacking classic narratives" but instead wanted to do "a total update, rehaul and refit". However, rather than just creating a "fresh and relevant" update for new readers, Morrison wanted to write a "collection of ‘timeless’ Superman issues".[1] The origins of this lie in a revamp of Superman, Superman Now, which began when Morrison and editor Dan Raspler were unsuccessfully brainstorming ideas for a new take on the character outside the San Diego Comic Con, when they had a "shamanic" encounter with a man dressed as Superman.[2] The ideas generated by that meeting were refined and pitched to DC in 1998 by Morrison, Mark Millar, Mark Waid and Tom Peyer.[3] They picked up on the fifteen-year cycle of reboots to the character, the previous one being John Byrne's The Man of Steel, and suggested a new approach:

The Superman relaunch we’re selling bucks the trend of sweeping aside the work done by those who came immediately before. Unlike the ‘cosmic reset’ revamps all too prevalent in current comics, our New Superman approach is an honest attempt to synthesize the best of all previous eras. Our intention is to honor each of Superman’s various interpretations and to use internal story logic as our launching pad for a re-imagined, streamlined 21st century Man of Steel. The ‘cosmic reset’ notion has been replaced by a policy of ‘include and transcend’ with regard to past continuity.

Our intention is to restore Superman to his pre-eminent place as the greatest super-hero of all[4]

Although initially greenlit, it was eventually turned down and Morrison said, "I didn’t expect to be doing any further work on Superman" but the chance came as he was finishing his run on New X-Men.[2] In an interview with Matt Brady from Newsarama, Grant Morrison stated he was contacted by DC Vice President Dan Didio and asked "if I'd like to come back to DC to work on a Superman project with an artist of my choice". He mentioned it worked out well since he was also planning to return to DC "to do the Seven Soldiers project and the Vertigo books".

Morrison has confirmed that he made use of some of his Superman Now ideas for All Star Superman, like "Luthor’s heart–stopping moment of understanding," as well as drawing on his original proposal for elements later included in the DC One Million storyline.[2]

In his writing of the character Superman, Morrison identifies different aspects of his personality, stating, "'Superman' is an act. 'Clark Kent' in Metropolis is also an act. There are actually two Kents, at least – one is a disguise, a bumbling, awkward mask for Superman. The other is the confident, strong, good-hearted Clark Kent who was raised by his surrogate Ma and Pa in Kansas and knows how to drive a tractor. I think he's the most 'real' of all." [5]

The first issue was released in November 2005 and was a sales success, ranking second in the top 300 comics for that period, with Infinite Crisis #2 being the top seller. [6] The second issue also ranked second in the top 300 comics for the January 2006 period, with pre-order sales of 124,328; Infinite Crisis #4 being the top seller that month. [7] The series completed its run upon publication of its final issue on October 2008.

[edit] Plot

[edit] Issues 1–3

Dr. Leo Quintum and his team are introduced in this issue, affiliated with an agency called P.R.O.J.E.C.T., which has inherited the superscience of the defunct DNA Project. While exploring the Sun, a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. exploratory team are sabotaged by a booby-trapped, genetically enhanced Luthor clone, but are saved by Superman from incineration. However, Lex Luthor has orchestrated this to overwhelm Superman's cells with a massive amount of yellow solar radiation. While giving Superman a new power (projecting his bioelectric aura), and tripling his strength, he now has one year to live. As Clark Kent, he reveals to Lois Lane his dual identity. [8] For her birthday, Superman takes her to the Fortress of Solitude – where she discloses that she is skeptical about his claim that Clark Kent is his alter ego. During this visit, Lois becomes paranoid after being exposed to alien chemicals, but afterwards Superman calms her down after she shoots him with kryptonite and learns he is now immune to it. Superman then gives Lois her birthday present: a costume and a chemical that gives her superpowers for 24 hours. Stopping a monster in Metropolis, Superman and Lois (or Superwoman?) meet Samson and Atlas. Samson flirts with Lois as he shows Superman a Daily Planet newspaper from the future reading, "Superman Dead". An Ultra-Sphinx appears and demands a return of his jewels Samson stole (and gave to Lois). Lois is threatened unless Superman answers the Sphinx's question: What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? Superman answers They surrender, and Lois is saved. After beating Samson and Atlas in a double arm-wrestling to win Lois, Lois and Superman kiss on the moon before returning home where her powers fade and she falls asleep; still not believing that Clark and Superman are one and the same. Superman does not get the chance to ask a very important question of her. The issue ends on a humorous note, as Samson's newspaper article is revealed to have been written by Clark Kent, and the answer to the unanswerable question having been gleaned from a car advertisement.

[edit] Issue 4–6

4–6 are self-contained stories. Jimmy Olsen runs P.R.O.J.E.C.T. for his For a Day column series where Superman gets exposed to black kryptonite, becomes evil but also stupid, and goes on a rampage. Jimmy must save him and uses a life-threatening chemical to become a monster called Doomsday. Jimmy stops and saves Superman just as P.R.O.J.E.C.T. comes to extract the chemical out of Jimmy's body. Lex Luthor is found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to die in the electric chair. Clark Kent is given an exclusive interview with Luthor on Stryker's Island where The Parasite is freed and causes havoc. Clark stops him while not revealing his secret identity, and Luthor discloses that he respects the quality of Clark's journalism. Luthor reveals a secret tunnel from his cell to escape, but decides not to use it as long as both he and Superman are going to die.

In a flashback story, Clark goes out as Young Superman with his dog Krypto and encounters a monster called a Chronovore. Three strangers arrive and reveal themselves to be: a Kal Kent future Superman from 853,500 AD, the "Unknown Superman" of 4500 AD, and Klyzyzk Klzntplkz (Superman of the 5th Dimension, some time after the 67th Century). As the monster is defeated, the Unknown Superman meets with Pa Kent and tells him that his son will be fine. Then, Pa Kent suffers a fatal heart attack.(upon hearing this Clark, in an attempt to save Pa flies so fast his hair burns slightly.) When Young Superman realizes this, he is too late to save his foster-father’s life. During the funeral, the Unknown Superman reveals himself to be the later Superman of the present. Before he leaves to go back to his own time, Superman-Prime from DC One Million arrives and gives him an indestructible flower from New Krypton. In the present, Superman places the flower on his father's grave.

[edit] Issue 7–9

Issues 7 and 8 comprise a two-part Bizarro World story. Dr. Leo Quintum explores the Underverse, a newly-discovered layer of reality with extreme gravity fluctuations, from which black kryptonite appeared in Issue 4.

He notes that a giant life-form is getting closer: Htrae, the Bizarro World. As Superman releases his pet Sun-Eater into space, he is attacked by a Bizarro group, and one of them metamorphoses into him. At the Daily Planet Christmas party, Bizarros land and imperfectly replicate the people they touch, with Bizarro existence revealed as a viral phenomenon, as they infect those ordinary humans that they touch. With this plague going on, Superman returns to fight the Bizarro-Superman and save the Daily Planet staff.

Jimmy Olsen figures out that sunlight is the Bizarro's weakness and Superman uses his superspeed to knock Bizarro World out and have the sun reflect sunlight on Earth to halt the Bizarros who landed. As Htrae retreats into the Underverse, Superman's powers begin to fade as superheavy gravity and doppler shift effects replicate the environmental conditions of his native Krypton. On Htrae, he meets a "flawed" copy of Bizarro: Zibarro, a perfect duplicate of Superman, who displays intelligence and empathy with Superman's plight.

As Htrae sinks into the Underverse, Superman, with help from Zibarro (troubled because he is the only intelligent person on the planet), gets Le-Roj, the Bizarro Jor-El, and other Bizarros to help build a rocket to send Superman back home. At the P.R.O.J.E.C.T. moonbase, Lois finds out that Superman is dying as Quintum notices a possible threat looming in the sun. As the rocket is completed, Superman gets ready but after a misfire, Superman taunts Bizarro Superman, who uses his fire breath to light up the rocket. Quintum and Lois view an image of the Bizarro World sinking into the Underverse, with no sign of Superman's escape.

In issue 9, Superman returns to Earth and regains his powers. He discovers that he had been gone for two months, and Metropolis has been repaired with Kryptonian architecture. It turns out that two of his relatives – Bar-El and Lilo – survived Krypton's explosion, as they were the first astronauts of Krypton, lost in space. However, Bar-El and Lilo have less altruistic goals; they are trying to engineer Kryptonian dominance of Earth and show their disgust at Superman's assimilationist acceptance of Earth culture.

Superman attempts to stop them but is overpowered. As the Kryptonian astronauts track Superman down to the Daily Planet, Bar-El and Lilo begin showing signs of illness. Superman discovers that the two had passed through a radioactive cloud in space that turned their constituent bodily trace elements into Kryptonite. Despite Bar-El's initial refusal, Superman helps them by placing the two within the Phantom Zone until a cure can be found.

The speech patterns and names of these two Kryptonians seem to be based on Morrisson's native Glasgow, where Bar-El is the common name for Barlinnie Prison in the North East of the city.

[edit] Issue 10–12

Issue 10 moves back and forth through Superman's day, as he accomplishes a variety of tasks such as taking a bus of terminally ill children on a world tour (and later helping to cure them). He creates life (Earth-Q – a world without a Superman) in the miniature infant universe of Qwewq. He has Leo Quintum assist him to remove Kandor from out of its bottle, without enlarging it, and relocating it on Mars. He stops the Mechano-Man's rampage and saves a suicidal girl's life (which in turn allows her descendant to send a message back into the past to warn Superman of Solaris). Finally, he gives Quintum (and Lois Lane) the method to combine human and Kryptonian DNA strands. Interwoven in the story are scenes of Earth-Q's accelerated history, culminating in the revelation that Earth-Q is our Earth as Joe Shuster is shown illustrating Action Comics #1. The story is framed by Superman's last task for the day – transcribing his last will and testament – and he leaves Clark the headline of the century – "Superman Dead". At the end of Issue 10, Lois discovers the story on either Clark's email system, or on the Daily Planet webpage.

In Issue 11, Luthor seems odd prior to his "execution" at Strykers Island. However, he had been allowed an opportunity for a final "cocktail" before his death – which turns out to be a mixture of biochemicals that enables him to acquire superhuman abilities for a day. He stole the formula from a defective Superman robot's memory, hacking into its memory to do so. After killing the guards, he breaks out of prison

In the Fortress of Solitude, Superman sanitizes the former habitat of the juvenile orphaned Sun Eater that he had set free in Issue 7, before looking in on the Bizarro Zoo, animals affected by Htrae's incursion into our universe in Issues 7/8, and receives a superlaminated copy of Zibarro's reflections about his life on Htrae.

Meanwhile, Luthor travels to one of his lairs, below the streets of Metropolis, where Nasthalthia, his delinquent niece, awaits his arrival. They emerge into a crimson twilight as one of Luthor's other plans comes to fruition.

Superman is engaged by Luthor's secret ally, Solaris, the "tyrant sun". The solar computer has simulated red sun radiation to try to defeat Superman, but the Man of Steel has second-guessed Luthor, and emerges from his Fortress clad in a protective suit that shields him from Solaris' attack strategy. Superman's robots join the fray, as does the orphaned juvenile Sun-Eater that he had liberated in Issue 7. In the process of draining off sufficient radiation from Solaris, the Sun Eater weakens it, but sacrifices its own existence to do so.

In Metropolis, Nasthalthia gloats about Superman's impending death to Lois and Jimmy. Superman then defeats the Tyrant Sun and abandons his suit in Solaris's impending explosion. Visibly ill, Clark Kent staggers into the Daily Planet offices, and collapses after he submits a laptop story of Superman's death. After the walls of the office explode outward, Luthor is seen on the final page of that issue, standing in mid-air, as one of his monogrammed dirigibles attacks the Metropolis skyline below.

Issue 12 opens with Superman somehow on an undestroyed Krypton, wondering why his father Jor-El requested that he come with him. Jor-El reveals that Superman has died and his body is converting itself to solar radio-consciousness. He offers Superman a choice: To remain in this state of fluid consciousness.... or to come back to life to stop Luthor, who is currently threatening the Daily Planet staff.

Perry White reveals to Luthor that Solaris has poisoned the sun, turning it blue and endangering all life on the planet. Superman then wakes as Luthor prepares to kill the staff, and attacks Luthor with a gravity gun he acquired over his adventures. Jimmy Olsen then hands Superman a spare costume, everyone believing Clark Kent is at the Fortress of Solitude. After a battle with Luthor, Superman reveals that he used the gravity gun, and used the fight itself, to wear down Luthor and quicken the dissipation of his 24-hour super powers. In the last moments of empowerment - his powers waning due to the gravity-gun also warping time - Luthor briefly sees the world as Superman sees it, and weeps as he gains a gleaning understanding. Luthor then attacks the Man of Steel again, only to be beaten into submission. Superman's transformation into solar-radio consciousness nears completion as he and Lois Lane embrace one last time. Just as Superman converts he proclaims his love to Lois once and for all then shoots into space and fuses with the sun, repairing it.

One year later a memorial service is held and Lois Lane tells Jimmy that Superman will return once he creates an artificial heart for the sun. Superman, still a solar being, is activating or making machinery in the sun. The story concludes with Quintum talking to a P.R.O.J.E.C.T. member about the moving ceremony (claiming that even Luthor was moved) and reveals a large door with a Superman symbol, the "S" modified to resemble the number "2",on it, hinting that P.R.O.J.E.C.T. is creating a replacement Superman.

[edit] Reception

Jeremy Estes, a reviewer from, notes the difficulty in revamping the character Superman in his review of the first issue of the series. However, the All Star continuity allows the writer Grant Morrison much more writing freedom. Frank Quitely's art is praised as "fresh and modern", while still "evoking the classic hero known around the world". At the time of writing. only the first issue had been released, and so Estes was unsure of the direction of the story, noting the creative team "have set up a promising tale, but only time will tell if they take the last train to Memphis or head West, all the way to Vegas".[9]

Ed Mathews from reviewed the first collected trade paperback, which collects the first six issues, and praised the creative team, stating the art is "the most elegant work out of Frank Quitely I’ve seen to date". Mathews also singled out Grant Morrison's, saying that the series adds to the Superman mythos "by tweaking bits and parts from the character’s rich history just enough to make old concepts fresh again". He recommended Volume 1 of the collected editions, and stated that "All Star Superman sings a hit".[10]

Another review of Volume 1 from came from Danny Graydon of, who stated that Grant Morrison's writing is "the most vigorously entertaining take on the 'Man of Steel' in decades" and that the "nuanced artwork is to be savoured".[11]

Time magazine's Lev Grossman ranked the graphic novel third in Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007. He praised the storyline, noting that due to the character's strength and morality, he is a difficult character to write for.[12]

[edit] Awards

All Star Superman won the Eisner Award for "Best New Series" in 2006.[13] and "Best Continuing Series" in 2007. [14] It also won the Harvey Awards for "Best Artist" and "Best Single Issue" in 2008. In 2006 it won the Eagle Award for "Favourite New Comic book" and "Favourite Comics Cover" (for the first issue), as well as the 2007 "Favourite Colour Comicbook - American" Eagle.

[edit] Collected editions

The series has been collected into two volumes in hardcover and softcover format:

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b Offenberger, Rik. "Uniquely Original: Grant Morrison". Comics Bulletin. Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  2. ^ a b c All Star Memories: Grant Morrison on All Star Superman, 1, Newsarama, October 21, 2008
  3. ^ Comic Book Legends Revealed #194, Comic Book Resources, February 12, 2009
  4. ^ Superman Now proposal
  5. ^ Brady, Matt. "Grant Morrison: Talking All-Star Superman". Newsarama. Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  6. ^ "Top 300 Comics Actual – November 2005". 2005-12-19. Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  7. ^ "Top 300 Comics Actual – January 2006". Retrieved on 2008-04-24. 
  8. ^ Morrison, Grant; Frank Quitely (November 2005). All Star Superman #1. DC Comics. 
  9. ^ Estes, Jeremy (2006-01-06). "ALL STAR SUPERMAN #1". Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  10. ^ Mathews, Ed. "REVIEW: All Star Superman Vol. 1".,98253,. Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  11. ^ Graydon, Danny (2006-01-06). "Superman: the best in years". Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  12. ^ Grossman, Lev. "Top 10 Graphic Novels".,30583,1686204_1686244_1692109,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  13. ^ 2006 Eisner "Alan Moore Back on Top for 2006 Eisner Awards". comic-con. 2006 Eisner. Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  14. ^ "2007 Eisner Awards Shine Spotlight on Comic Industry’s Best". comic-con. Retrieved on 2008-04-21. 
  15. ^ All Star Superman Volume 1 hardcover profile at DC
  16. ^ All Star Superman Volume 1 softcover profile at DC

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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