All Star Superman
The measure of a man lies not in what he says, but what he does.
DC Comics published a 12-issue American comic book series featuring Superman. The series ran from October 2005 to November 2008. Grant Morrison wrote the series, Frank Quitely drew it, and Jamie Grant digitally inked it.
This series was the second to launch under DC’s All-Star imprint in 2005. The first being All-Star Batman & Robin and the Boy Wonder. This series was created by DC in an effort to give major comics creators the opportunity to tell stories that showcase these characters without being limited by DC Universe continuity. The story centres on Superman, who is in danger of dying from overexposure to sunlight. He attempts to make peace and try to bring order to the world. It was praised for its powerful story, characters, writing, and art and is considered one of the greatest Superman stories ever.
Grant Morrison’s goal in writing this series was to make it as universally accessible as possible. They said that they weren’t interested in “re-doing original stories or unpacking old narratives” but wanted to do a “total update, rehaul, and refit”. Morrison stated in an interview that they were not interested in “re-doing origin stories or unpacking classic narratives” but wanted to create a “fresh, relevant update” for new readers. Morrison states in an interview:
He was perched on one knee, his chin resting on the arms of his arms. He seemed completely relaxed. I realized that this is how Superman would be seated. He would not puff out his chest or pose heroically. Instead, he would be completely chilled. You can’t afford to be cold if you don’t have to. Superman wouldn’t have to be tense against cold, nor would he have to react to any blow. He would be totally relaxed and untense. This image of Superman on a cloud watching over us all was in my mind, so I ran back to my hotel room. I filled my notebook with notes.
The results of that meeting were refined by Morrison, Mark Millar and Mark Waid, who pitched them to DC in 1998. They also remarked on the 15-year cycle of reboots of the character. John Byrne’s The Man of Steel was the last one and suggested a new approach.
We are selling the Superman relaunch. This is contrary to the current trend of disregarding the work done by those who have come before. Our New Superman approach, unlike the current ‘cosmic resets’ that are so common in comics today, is an honest attempt at combining the best of all eras. We want to respect each of Superman’s interpretations and use our internal story logic to launch a 21st-century Man of Steel. With regard to past continuity, the ‘cosmic reset” idea has been replaced with a policy of “include and transcend”. We want to return Superman to his position as the greatest superhero.
It was initially approved, but it was later denied. Morrison stated that they didn’t plan to continue their work on Superman but were contacted by Dan DiDio, DC Vice President, and asked Grant Morrison “if I would like to return to DC to work with an artist of mine”. It worked out because they also planned to return to DC to do the Seven Soldiers Project and the Vertigo Books.
Morrison confirmed that they used some of their Superman Now ideas, such as “Luthor’s heart-stopping moment in understanding”, and also drew on their original proposal to include elements later in “DC One Million”.
Morrison identified different aspects of Superman’s personality in his writing. He stated: “Superman is an act.” “Clark Kent” in Metropolis is another act. At least, there are two Kents. One is a disguise for Superman, the other is an awkward mask. Clark Kent, who was raised in Kansas by his surrogate Ma, and is able to drive a tractor, is the more confident, strong and kind-hearted of them both. He’s my favourite.
Grant Morrison, the writer of the series, envisioned a series that would be one-shot specials that would pay tribute to the Golden Age Superman and the Super-Sons World’s Finest Comics team.
Superman saves Dr. Leo Quintum, his P.R.O.J.E.C.T. The team is saved from an alien invasion of the Sun by Lex Luthor. Superman also acquires the ability project his bio-electric aura. Luthor orchestrated the event to flood Superman’s cells in solar radiation. Quintum discovers that Superman is now at the end of his life and has only one year to live. Luthor is arrested following the publication by Clark Kent of a Daily Planet article. Superman decides not to make the public aware of his impending death.
Lois Lane is able to tell Superman his secret identity in order to spend the remaining time with him. Superman surprises Lois with a birthday dinner at the Fortress of Solitude, even though Lois initially denies it. Superman’s furtive behaviour and the airborne chemical found in the RMS Titanic raised and restored raises suspicions in Lois. Lois accidentally attacks Superman with a Kryptonite laser, but it does not cause any harm due to his new powers. Superman calms her and tells her that he was preparing her birthday gift: a liquefied version of his DNA which will give her all his superpowers over 24 hours. He also gave her a leotard to wear as her costume. She goes by the name of “Superwoman” and joins Superman in stopping a monster attack on Metropolis that involved Samson, Atlas, and an Ultra-Sphinx. Superman takes Samson and Atlas away, and Lois and he spend an exciting day together before she falls asleep. Superman takes her home. Luthor is sentenced to death for crimes against humanity. Clark meets Luthor at Stryker’s Island for an interview. After a brutal encounter with the Parasite, Clark is able to hide his identity. Luthor then reveals to Clark that he values Clark’s work as a journalist. He also says that he doesn’t want to leave because he has achieved his goal of killing Superman.
Superman nears death completes the “Twelve Labors of Superman”, a series of tasks that both humans and Kryptonians can benefit from, and his last will and testament. Luthor, who took a formula similar that Superman created for Lois, survives and escapes execution. He then begins to raze Metropolis using Solaris, an artificial star that corrupts the Sun and turns him blue. Clark, who had defeated Solaris in the battle for Superman, returns to Daily Planet to submit his article but is killed. Superman wakes up on Krypton, where he meets Jor-El, his Kryptonian father. He reveals that Superman is being transformed into a solar radio consciousness. He gives him the option to either stay among the dead or to return to life in order to defeat Luthor. Clark awakens and faces Luthor with a gravity gun. The gravity gun slows down Luthor’s exhaustion and warps his time. Superman knocks Luthor out, but Luthor sees Superman briefly as he fades. Superman declares his love for Lois and then kisses her.
Lois, a year later, admires a monument to Superman. She tells Jimmy that Superman will return if it is possible to create an artificial heart for him. Superman is now a solar being and lives within the Sun, maintaining machinery to keep it healthy. Quintum, however, reveals a new P.R.O.J.E.C.T for the event of an emergency. Quintum unveils it by standing in front of a door that has Superman’s emblem with the “S” replaced by “2”.
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