I started reading this doing research for a paper that may end up involving Superman, because I love Superman. AndWhat a miserable take on Superman.
I started reading this doing research for a paper that may end up involving Superman, because I love Superman. And I couldn't stop reading it. It wasn't particularly well written. Mr. De Haven's writing style is too conversational and prone to repetition. I found the tone insufferable. His analysis of Superman as a character borders on cynical (despite his professed affection for the character) and seems to be rooted in a nostalgia that he long ago lost touch with and now thinks of as rather juvenile. Or at least, he thought the character was better back when he was a kid.
The bits of the story about Siegel and Shuster are interesting enough, but you can find that story in a myriad of better books.
I was fine with the book, disagreed, with it, but was fine. Until the final page, where De Haven dismisses the character.
"As with athletes and artists, there has always been a selfish, even a self-serving quality to Superman, to Superman’s ego. He doesn’t require love from the multitudes; Lois Lane will do. Basically, what he needs, and all he needs, is the freedom to act in ways that are satisfying to him. That’s why he’ll “never stop doing good.” It makes him feel good, dammit. Our hero." It's smug. It's dismissive. The tone carries through the entire book.
I said I couldn't stop reading it, and that's because I kept waiting for him to get to the point. I started reading with the impression De Haven was going to offer an analysis on what makes Superman endure, what about him speaks to people even 75 years later, that inspires. Indeed, that is what he sets us up for in his initial chapter. All that was offered was the same history I've read before, but written with less affection and a cynical edge (and mostly cannibalized from better comic historians). If you're going to write a history, at least be upfront about it, instead of setting up for a thematic analysis.
If you want to read a book about Superman, whether it's about how he was created, or about his influence, or anything about him at all, look elsewhere. I beg you. I wish I hadn't wasted my time. The character deserves better. ...more
By taking the characters and the worlds they inhabited at face value, Grant Morrison, in his own words, “hoped to show how the superheroes pointed to By taking the characters and the worlds they inhabited at face value, Grant Morrison, in his own words, “hoped to show how the superheroes pointed to something great in us all” (Supergods 292). His work on All Star Superman stands as the quintessential story of the Man of Steel. All Star is another “final” story, one that presents Superman faced with the promise of his own mortality. In facing this challenge, however, Morrison has Superman perform his greatest feats. All Star stands outside of the normal publishing line and is thus allowed to play with the character without the constraints of the character’s long and complicated continuity. Superman is presented as supremely powerful, but humble and selfless. Morrison effectively grounds the character not with guilt or tragedy or personal baggage, but in personal relationships. Past efforts to make superheroes relatable most often involved angst and cynicism, but Morrison leaves all of that behind him. Frank Quitely’s art lends to Superman’s humanity—All Star Superman is not in a constant state of flexing or posing, but he holds himself with a calm presence and assurance. Morrison and Quitely’s Superman is recumbent, his cape drapes over his shoulders and his costume bunches up at the seams. Even as a physical presence, this Superman is more human.
All Star Superman effectively captures the essence of the character’s early years. Morrison looks backward in Superman’s history to tap into what has given him his lasting appeal. Superman has always spoken for the ideals of society, and when he did not, the character lost its way. In an interview with Wired magazine, Morrison described part of his goal in All Star, “we chose not to deconstruct the superhero but to take him at face value, as a fiction that was trying to tell us something wonderful about ourselves. Somewhere, in our darkest night, we made up the story of a man who will never let us down and that seemed worth investigating." In the early days, Superman, as The Man of Tomorrow, spoke for the greatest hopes of a downtrodden people. Here, Morrison reaches back to that sense of wonder and escape to fuel his work. Especially in a publishing landscape that for so long had been convinced the key to a superhero’s success was more grit and anger, All-Star stands as a testament to the true strength of the superhero. All Star Superman shows the reader Superman as a myth, a being that can exist only in imagination, but grounded in what makes us all human: fear of death, fear of the unknown, love, altruism, overcoming odds. When faced with death, even Superman is powerless, but he lives his life despite his destiny on his own terms. It is a message of the potential of man, through the lens of the superhuman.
Morrison understands the role of the superhero in society better than perhaps anyone else in the business and utilizes it perfectly in what may not be just the best Superman story ever told, but the best SUPERHERO story. The cultural power and strength of the superhero relies on emphasizing the moral potential of the human spirit through the lens of superhuman struggle between good and evil. It may be easy to scoff at the simple nature of “truth, justice, and the American Way,” in society, but there can be no doubt that Superman will always continue to strive for those loftiest ideals, no matter the challenge.
All-Star Superman is full of memorable moments that made me laugh and some that made me tear-up. Superman is shown to be emphatically human throughout, and his selflessness and kind-heartedness are rooted in his relationships, as particularly illustrated in chapter 6 with his father. He takes the time to save the life of a single individual ready to give up n life in the midst of grappling with his own morality in one of the books single most memorable pages. All-Star Superman is a soaring and inspiring adventure....more
Jim Lee illustrates a middle-of-the-road, fairly mindless action story by the ever-mindless Jeph Loeb. Without the stellar visuals I'm not sure that tJim Lee illustrates a middle-of-the-road, fairly mindless action story by the ever-mindless Jeph Loeb. Without the stellar visuals I'm not sure that this story would be as widely read as it has been. But the story isn't terrible, all things considered, for a Loeb story. Hush is certainly what cemented Jim Lee as an iconic Batman artist. ...more
A hauntingly beautiful super hero epic, distilling the super hero genre to its purest core. Good versus evil. Legend and myth. Stories. Iconography. HA hauntingly beautiful super hero epic, distilling the super hero genre to its purest core. Good versus evil. Legend and myth. Stories. Iconography. Hope. "To be continued."...more
Grant Morrison is one of the best in comics today, and possibly THE best in the superhero genre. He has an understanding of their place and importanceGrant Morrison is one of the best in comics today, and possibly THE best in the superhero genre. He has an understanding of their place and importance in contemporary society, and this book traces those origins in an interesting and insightful way. This book is an essential companion to any superhero fan. It is both a superhero history and a social history. It connects trends in the landscape to trends in culture and society, all the while giving backstory into Morrison's own biography, and thus coloring the book with his vision of the power of the superhero story. The book is a thoughtful reminder of the power of fiction and a testament to the enduring strength of our greatest heroes. Morrison's prose, even when describing the mundane, and his descriptions of comic book stories is as exciting and full of wondrous imagery as his comics. I could not put Supergods down and walked away from the book with a heightened respect and fondness for the superhero narrative. For anyone with doubts toward the literary merits of Batman, Superman and their like, Supergods is a reminder that there is richness to be found in the worlds of the caped crusaders. ...more