Thursday, March 30, 2006

Taking Superman for Grant-ed

Without a doubt, All Star Superman is the most remarkable comic that DC has published in at least a decade.

If someone had told me, when DC announced their All Star line, that I would end up loving the Grant Morrison-Frank Quitely Superman title and abhoring the Frank Miller-Jim Lee Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder title, I would have dismissed them as insane.

It turns out that's exactly what's happened, though. Miller totally missed the point of creating an All Star line, while Morrison got it spot on. These books should be quintessential books, incorporating all the elements of these characters that have become part of the popular culture consciousness; this is not a book that should destroy all that has been done before in order to try to imprint an iconoclastic creative vision onto an established character who has become an indelible part of our cultural psyche.

Morrison has captured the vitality and enthusiasm of the Silver Age, the exuberance of an unlimited-budget superhero film, while giving the whole project a contemporary air. And Quitely's art conveys a modern visual sensibility while paying homage to the traditional Superman that has become well known to all. There's nothing here that violates the visual that people have when you say "Superman," but somehow it's even bigger and more energetic when Quitely puts it on paper.

One customer told me, "I rarely buy DCs and I never buy a Superman book, but this cover just makes you want to read the book to see what's going on!" Julius Schwartz, Mort Weisinger, and all those Silver Age editors would be proud...

And Charles called me today to say that it was without a doubt the best Superman book he had read in a long, long time. Charles wasn't just pleased--he was enthusiastically happy about the book. It's the sort of book you want to force into the hands of people who say, "I don't read Superman."

(I hope someone forces Frank Miller and editor Bob Schreck to sit down, read the first three issues of this series over and over for several hours, and then make them figure out what Miller could be doing to capture the same sense of wonder in the pages of All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder. From any other writer, the book would just be bad; from Frank Miller, it's an embarrassment because we all know what he's capable of...)


Doug said...

Mr. B - I agree. The first few issues of this comic have been nothing short of stellar. Morrison taps into the scientific, inquisitive reporter's mind of Superman and runs wild with it, while also putting his kindness and fortitude on display, as well.

Quitely's one of the few artists that demand you examine his panels with more than a passing glance. His art is such a part of what's making this work.

Also enjoying Busiek and Woods on the mainline Superman/Action Comics titles. One Year Later is looking to be a lot of fun.

Matt Guerrero said...

Honestly: are we sure what Frank Miller is capable of anymore?
All-Star is atrocious.
But I think it's his attempt to just 'give the fans what they want'; whereas Grant has seemingly grasped onto the brilliant idea of, I don't know: telling a friggin' story.
But comparing Grant to anyone else in comics is, for me anyway, very hard to do. It's not fair to the other students to grade on a curve that sharp. He brings a level of emotional resonance to All-Star that I can't imagine anyone else doing. Or at least doing well.
And Frank Quitely's just the best. That's all. The best.