June 1st, 2015
As part of the London Graphic Novel Network’s roundtable on All Star Superman, Ilia put forward the following suggestions about the book’s ultimate meaning:
My sense is that there’s a religion to science move in the final issue – Lois believes that one day Superman will return, while Leo Quintum goes off to try and solve the problems of the universe on his own. Maybe Quintum isn’t just Luthor (first time I’ve seen that theory and like it a lot!), but the Superman of the future. That is to say: the representation of our collective 21st century aspirations.
The Quintum/Luthor angle has been played to death round my way, but the idea that the last issue represents a move from the religious to the scientific is genuinely intriguing. For me, the question is how we square that with Lex Luthor’s pantomime performance of smug, materialist arrogance, as captured perfectly by Marc Singer here:
The second half of the series highlights Superman’s capacity to inspire people, even (especially) as a purely fictional character. It’s the only power he has in our benighted world, and Morrison believes it’s the most important one he’s got. In fact, he says that if Superman did not exist, we would have to invent him (simply returning a favor, since Superman thoughtfully created us back in issue #10, March 2008; mark your calendars). That’s why the finale pits him against an antagonist who disputes the very idea that fictions and abstractions can hold real power, as seen in this exchange from issue #12:
WHITE: The truth sent you to the chair, Luthor!
LUTHOR: Is that right, Mister White? Funny, I don’t see the truth anywhere around, do you? I mean, what color is it? Can I touch it?
Luthor mocks White’s dedication to abstract principle, confronting him with the truth’s immateriality, because he’s a materialist to the extreme. He says the priest at his execution “stinks of the irrational” and his niece proclaims “This is Science Year Zero!”–next I suppose they’ll be rewriting the calendar. This scorn for idealism confirms Luthor’s stature as the series archvillain, especially since a hallucinatory Jor-El (himself part of “the field of living, fluid consciousness”) has just told his son he has given us humans ”an ideal to aspire to, embodied [our] highest aspirations.
Thankfully, I think Ilia has already suggested the answer to this question by noting that Quintum is both Superman and Luthor – a figure capable of aspiring to ideals and in working in the world to attain them.
As sneering, Kryptonian hard cases Lila and Bar-El note in issue #9, Superman is a scientist’s son, a curator of wonders who thinks his way around a problem as often as he smashes his way through it, leaving his many stand-ins (be they brawny, like Hercules and Sampson, or brainy like Lex) in the dust. Hell, for all his self-aggrandisement, Luthor spectacularly fails to see what’s right in front of his face when he gives Clark Kent a tour through his prison, and it’s hard to imagine his nemesis making the same mistake.
What to make, then, of Quintum as a replacement Superman?
What’s his purpose?
May 20th, 2015
A few thoughts about working for Marvel/DC, as stolen from a Canadian friend who was trying to add a bit of clarity to my rant about Chip Zdarsky’s inability to say the name of Howard the Duck‘s “original creator”:
(1) In corporate comic, everyone is a scab because there is no union.
(2) In corporate comics, no one can be a scab because there is no union.
(3) Join the union.
What to make, then, of Grant Morrison’s dedication to superheroes, his attempts to imbue them with some sort of positivist power of their own, to try and find transcendent meaning in a series of commercially dictated genre tropes and characters that were sacrificed to them? When presented straight, in Supergods, this stuff feels as silly and desperate as it is, like an attempt to put a fresh golden frame around a thrice-stolen turd in the hope of selling it on eBay again. But in All Star Superman? Not so much. The sales pitch here is a lot more successful.
I’m was being dumb and scatological there, for sure, but the emphasis on framing is appropriate. This is Grant Morrison’s most carefully crafted book, the one he says that he “wrote for the ages”:
It’s the one that comic fans really like. They like that, you know, that architecture… It’s literary, it’s not like a live performance. Like, you read The Invisibles a hundred times and it’s different a hundred times. If you read All Star Superman a hundred times you just understand it more.
In other words, as I think he’s said elsewhere, it’s his Alan Moore comic: twelve issues, immaculately constructed as a hall of mirrors instead of Watchmen’s inkblot test, with Superman wrestling with other versions himself issue after issue as he works hard to deal with the aftermath of his own murder.
December 30th, 2011
With our gift giving over but spirits still high, Zom pipes up about the problems with continuity using X-Men Regenesis # 1 as a starting point. Conversation drifts to many areas including DC’s New 52, 2000AD and more, ending with a whole lot of talk about just how great Judge Dredd is. Speaking of which, here’s a panel by Garth Ennis and Glen Fabry from the Dredd tale, Talkback.
June 5th, 2009
Nice word that. It means ‘The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects’.
Which pretty much perfectly sums up a good comics creative partnership.
September 26th, 2008
SUPERMAN SAYS “NO!” TO DRUGS
It was 2005 when I decided to paint my walls ASS pink and give up dope.
I was a smug bastard about it too.
I think the catalyst for it had something to do with a very nasty bout of cannabis fuelled morbid self-analysis, which saw me pacing my then matchbox of a bedroom, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, for at least half an hour, in an attempt to disperse the soul-shredding anxiety and paranoia, through, if anyone should have really been spying on me via evil satellite link, embarrassing levels of exercise. Thankfully the munchies eventually kicked in, the clouds lifted and I decided enough was enough. It would be the last time I raided the fridge for Ryvita and sweetcorn relish (anything tastes good when your in the throws of, as my Mum’s friend put it, ‘the delicious eating’) at four in the morning, and it would be the last time I performed like a crazy monkey-man for the entertainment of the evil bastard demons plaguing my befuddled noggin.
After that everything shifted.