Keith's Reviews > All-Star Superman, Vol. 1

All-Star Superman, Vol. 1 by Grant Morrison
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's review
Nov 17, 2007

it was amazing

Despite the fact that I read a lot of comics -- and I do read a lot of comics -- I don't read a lot of superhero comics. Which isn't true at all, because I read a lot of superhero comics; it's just that almost all the superhero comics I read are Batman. I am absolutely obsessed with Batman in a way I've learned to live with, and I don't feel the need for non-comics fans or non-superhero fans to 'get it,' because so many other people obviously already do.

But. If, say, you were getting into comics -- but you were getting into them as an adult, say, and you were trying to walk that fine line that all us comic-fans walk, of enjoying the goofy weirdness that comics can bring without falling into the depressing trench of Those People Who Read Comics -- if, basically, you were trying to find that magic line where the Good meets the Terrible and Transcends...

Well, at some point or another, you'd probably ask yourself what the hell superhero comics were all about, and if there were any part of you that could ever appreciate them, both unironically and without becoming one of Those People Who Read Comics.

And probably, if you had friends like me who read a lot of comics and sort of openly wished they could make you see what was beautiful about them, even superhero comics...

It would be folly to recommend Batman to you. Because Batman isn't about superhero comics. Batman is about loving Batman, and while there is a rich, dark world that lies within, you wouldn't really have that amazing staring-at-the-universe moment that superhero comics can, through their ham-fisted hopefulness, let bloom within you.

It would be equally folly to recommend Watchmen, or Zot!, or Starman, or Powers,or Astro City, or any of the other post-modern superhero fare that gets offered up as "gateway comics" for the uninitiated, like it makes any sense at all to foster the incredulous joy of superhero comics through an analytical back door, in which the mechanics of how the genre works are stripped and enjoyed, at best, as meta-fiction.

The aforementioned works are all brilliant in their own rights, no doubt. But that is not what superhero comics are about. These books are the works of people attempting to recover from the intense, brain-blasting heartbreak of pure emotion that superhero comics instilled in them when they were too young to know any better. These books are intellectualized post-mortems done on innocence.

And yes -- in a way, if you are entering into comics as an adult, there will always be something you missed out on. There will always be a strange confusion in you when you see a lifelong reader's eyes glaze over with shy happiness at the sight of a single issue of Fight-Man Fights Gigantor in X-World #685. You both know that what lies within those pages will be silly and underwhelming and embarrassing and base...but the lifelong reader knows (and more importantly, feels) that a secret joy still lives here, and can't be washed away by age.

But, throwing that hopelessness aside -- let's assume that you still demanded to know just what this fuss was all about. Let's say you insisted that the child in you could still be touched by something unabashedly resplendent, even if it was a decade or two too late.

I'd say this.

I'd say, "Look, a few years ago a writer and an artist who you've never heard of but who are really famous in comics -- a few years ago they teamed up and they made a Superman book. And you don't have to think Superman is cool, because I don't think he's very cool. And you really don't have to know anything more about it, but it's not going to feel dated or stilted or any of those things that turn you off, except when it does so in very charming ways. And it's short -- only a couple paperbacks.

And this book. I mean, I don't want to spoil it for you by explaining it. But this book, I think, will help you get it."

That is what I would say to you. That is what I would say.
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09/03/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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furious wow, it would be impossible for me to agree more with every single thing you just expressed.

Keith Hey, thanks man.

Garrett This is a brilliant article for those who fell in love with comics as a child. Another fellow Bat-fanatic here and, boy are you right... Batman is about loving Batman. I picked this up hesitantly to read before seeing Man of Steel to try to get me excited about it. Because, as I assume you'll agree, Batman fans don't much care about the alien in the bright red man spanx. This is such a beautiful book though. I was utterly blown away. That damn Grant Morrison can write a masterpiece like this or Batman and Robin, then can put together a dung heap story like issue 6 of the Return of Bruce Wayne. I digress. Just wanted to let you know this article, much like my first issue of Detective Comics (#604) or Batman (#446), gave me the warm fuzzies.

Keith Double like! Thanks, Garrett. I am returning to Morrison's Batman run after a long hiatus simply because it took so long for Batman Inc to come out in paperback. The man is a terrifying horrible genius.

Mike Keith, you write poignant and thoughtful articles disguised as reviews. Good work man. Good enough in fact to remind me of this article (FULL OF SPOILERS) that was just as thoughtful and the opposite of uplifting:

Keith Thanks, Mike. I haven't seen MoS yet, but I'll check back at that link after I do.

Will Some spot on analysis and insights. Particularly, that "fine line"...also could relate with the "shy embarrassment" that comes from knowing too much about superheroes from my days of youth.

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