Holy Superman. You may be wondering why, I, the non-fan of superhero comics would pick The Superhero Of Superheroes to read and review this week. Then you will also be struck by the fact that I totally loved this comic. Now, I’ve come to learn a little bit about comics in the last bit of time, and I realize that Grant Morrison is one of the "great" writers. So, I shouldn’t be surprised that this comic is so good. But it is really wonderful! It is a succinct, well written comic, with Superman’s stellar (often called Boy Scout-ish) character shining through, and with such fun bits of science fiction running through out.
When I say "It's succinct," I mean that it’s a full, full comic that leaves no questions unanswered. Well, with the exception of the giant cliff hanger -- is he really going to die?! The whole issue is complete from start to finish. One wouldn’t need the entire series, or several trades to make a movie – this single issue is all you’d need. (If each Grant Morrison Superman issue is like this, then my compliments go on and on). If you were a person who’d been living under a rock for your entire life and this was your first contact with or knowledge of this Superman person, you’d have nearly everything you need to know. You learn in few frames and minor exposition that he’s dying, he’s from the Planet Krypton, there’s a world in a bottle, and they’re on his side, Lex Luthor is his archenemy, and that he luuurrrvvvs Lois Lane. And if you’d had any question why this person is so Super, you get all you need to know in various frames of great acts of heroism – flying a bus to safety, rescuing a plane – sprinkled throughout that lead to other great acts, like saving a girl from jumping to her death.
Which brings me to my next gleaming point about Superman. His character. Now, I did a little Wikipedia homework, and looked up a few things. So, I know that the overall character of Superman – his commitment to serving the common good, using his powers for the good of all humanity, etc. – has been part of his story for a long time. (But not the entire time. Did you know that the first Super Man was an evil villain in a Sci-fi series?! You probably did. I forget, I’m the one who’s new to all of this.) But you have to commend the writers who stay true to this so well. I mean, here he is, dying. And he’s with his lady love (after saving her), holding her in his arms, and then duty calls. I mean, it doesn’t call. His Super Ears overhear a lot of people’s pain, and he feels/knows he’s the only one to help. No one would fault him if he decided that just this one time, since he’s dying anyway, he’s going to serve his own needs and desires, and spend his last hours (hours?) with Lois. But no, he is committed to his duty, He completely believes in his higher duty, and leaves to go save someone else.
Any of you watching the John Adams mini-series on HBO? I’m reminded of George Washington (David Morse) when I think of the aforementioned scene. I cannot remember anything exact about the mini-series scene, except that it was the way George Washington said to John Adams, in regards to what was going on in Boston, something to the effect that "Without a doubt [he] would go to Boston and fight to protect it." He said something about it simply being "the only right thing to do in service of the States." Let me tell you, I am doing a huge DISservice in how poorly I am conveying this powerful scene. Washington’s true passion and belief in his duty to serve is what he has in common with the Superman of this comic book. That’s all I’m sayin’.
The other thing I found so enjoyable about this is its cleverness and imaginativeness. I mean, I’m grasping that what that really is, at the core of it, is basic Science Fiction. But I just found it all so clever. Small worlds, alternate universes, teeny tiny superheroes fighting cancer. I mean, I guess Superman has always been a science fiction sort of thing. Again, reading about it on Wikepedia I learned how "the costume design was based in part on the costumes worn by characters in outer space settings published in pulp magazines.” More to the point of the roots of Science fiction is this nugget of information: “.Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first created a bald telepathic villain bent on dominating the entire world. He appeared in the short story "The Reign of the Super-Man" from Science Fiction #3, a science fiction fanzine that Siegel published in 1933.”
I keep being surprised how much I enjoy Science Fiction. I mean, I wasn’t big into Star Wars or Star Trek. But ask me how much Battlestar Galactica I’ve watched in the past week. Oh, yeah, And do I dig a little of the ol’ X-Files? Yes I do.
Back to Supes. Er, um, I mean, In conclusion, I found this Superman comic brilliantly written, drawn so well, so clearly, in a way that not only supports the story, but helps to keep things very clear for a new reader such as myself, true to the hopeful, godlike character that Superman’s been for so many years, and just totally clever and enjoyable.
But, seriously….is he really going to die?!
-Nina Miller, 2008