Posted by: Garret | May 2, 2010

ALL-STAR SUPERMAN

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Morrison + Quitely = Most concise origin ever.

“What would it look like if we created stand-alone stories, featuring our most enduring icons, written by the strongest/most unique writers and illustrated by the most distinctly recognizable artists?” This is a question that DC Comics sought to answer when they announced their line of “All-Star” books in late 2004. In the summer of ’05, DC produced two major projects with distinctly different outcomes. On one side “All-Star Batman & Robin: The Boy Wonder” grew to be the never-quite-completed and impossibly-always-late-to-print amalgamation between Batman: Year One and Dark Knight Returns auteur Frank Miller, and cheesecake extraodinaire, Jim Lee. For all its controversy, All-Star Bats never quite exceeded the expectations of such a monumental writer/artist team-up. On the other hand, the long-time writer/artist relationship between Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely was already operating in full stride. The Morrison/Quitely duo already succeeded in rejuvenating the X-Men franchise for Marvel with their turn of the century New X-Men run. They also won kudos for their original non-mainstream graphic novel about supersavior pets in We3. However, All-Star Superman provided the template for one of the most iconically enduring love letters toward a superhero.

Quitely’s subdued if not contemplative cover for All-Star Supes #1 lets readers know they are in for a unique journey.

What would happen if the greatest superhero ever, instantly recognizable, iconically invincible, had only one year to live? This is the premise of All-Star Superman, which rests on a multi-layered narrative of reflexivity for Superman, writer Morrison, and the fused readership of Superman followers. In All-Star Supes, the iconography, narrative tropes, and visual aesthetics encompass ideas and references ranging throughout the early Golden and Silver Age narratives touting the Man of Steel, while respecting the postmodern fans oriented toward modern graphic novel storytelling. The impossible task for any superhero storytellers is to find a way to embrace the past, while telling a story in the present, that will also stand on its own strength in the future. With All-Star Superman, Morrison and Quitely manage to walk this tightrope with the finesse and grandeur that will inevitably invite future generations of readers into the paradigm of DC Comics’ most iconic figure.

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