Posted by: Joe McCulloch on March 28, 2008
All Star Superman #10:
As expected, this issue starts to wrap things up for the series, and it’s sort of a relief. I did like writer Grant Morrison’s suite of confrontations between Superman and various doppelgängers, Our Hero pressing to understand himself on the road toward the end of all things (er, keep in mind, I’m the one who thinks the second Bizarro issue is the best of the whole series), but it’s high time a little payoff should develop, and that’s what happens here. Given that Morrison tosses in an amusingly brief encounter with yet another Authentic Man of Tomorrow, I think even he’s gotten antsy.
Over the course of one big day — events relayed out of chronological order for maximum impact — Superman sets about accomplishing a lot of big super-challenges. He’s very godly (in more than one way… more on that later), but he realizes that he needs to collaborate with others in order to affect lasting change: curing cancer, fixing every bridge in the world, getting the people of Kandor out of that bottle. When put together, the story forms a neat little sequence of Superman helping people out, from the lil’ folk in the jar to The Only Girl With Facial Piercings in Metropolis, and getting helped in return, if sometimes in very removed ways. Wholesome fun, this.
Oh, and Superman’s pretty sure he’s gonna die soon, so he’s also trying to prep humanity up for a world without him as much as possible; bathetic as the Girl w’ Piercings part is, “You’re much stronger than you think you are” is surely the key line of the issue. This leads to some odd implications.
Look! Up in the sky! Morrison may rank Superman highly, but he’s revealed to be an impotent deity in important ways, one that needs the input of the not yet quite so powerful to really get things done. And that’s nothing compared to the issue’s loopiest twist: playing with the Infant Universe of Qwewq, seeking to create a model of what a world would be like without him at all, Superman creates… us.
Yes, Morrison presents Superman quite specifically as our God, the literal creator of each and every one of our human lives, thus handily topping the Superman-as-Jesus metaphor of Superman Returns, and taking his own admiration of the character to dazzlingly ridiculous heights. Ah, but Morrison isn’t one for too much worship – not only does our God never directly help us, but the peeks we’re granted into ‘our’ world only reveal moments when humanity looks to the best in themselves. As his Superman seeks diplomacy with others, Morrison emphasizes both how Superman is a man, and how we’re all men together, regardless of sexual organs or funny jumpsuits or anything.
VERY GOOD work on this one, particularly considering that the whole Qwewq-as-our-universe idea is recycled wholesale from Seven Soldiers, just as the notion of lil’ folk waiting inside us seems a nod to The Filth. The All Star books have always been homages to their own writers as much as their title characters, but it’s to Morrison’s benefit that he mixes the stuff back in with such intuition.
I suspect it also doesn’t escape him that several tens of thousands of added readers will be around for this spin, much in the way that the first issue of Final Crisis will no doubt outsell every issue of Seaguy 2: Slaves of Mickey Eye combined. Yet the end of Superman (and the Crises) may mean more and newer ideas from different sources; speaks to the pleasure of frail mortality in comics series…