I’ve never been much of a comic book collector. This is, perhaps, odd for an individual so desperately in love with the medium, but I prefer my stories whole (just like my women! wait… well, never mind). Comic books – in there purest form – are serial testaments to a realm of unfinished story. Each issue is merely a component of a greater design and it’s generally not until they’re taken together that they form an arc (40 cubits by 40 cubits). This is why I’m so into collecting trade paperback issues/graphic novels/whatever you want to call them. AT LEAST THEY’RE WHOLE! MOSTLY! A LOT OF THE TIME!
It was with some hesitation, then, that I recently branched out into the the world of comic shops and single issue arcs. The DC New 52 has roped me into buying issues 1-8 of both Animal Man and Action Comics. More on all these particular comics at a later date – for now, I mention this to explain why I felt so suddenly compelled to consume Grant Morrison‘s All-Star Superman, a giant omnibus edition I’ve admired on my shelves for half a year now. Seemed like a fun idea to read All-Star Superman before Morrison’s new take on Supes in Action Comics. Little did I know, All-Star Superman would help me explain the very existence of Action Comics as a comic book trove.
Comic Book Run: Absolute All Star Superman
Publication Dates: January 2006 – October 2008
Writer: Grant Morrison Artist: Frank Quitely
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I will not waste your time, at present, pontificating on the themes and importance and emotional resonance of Morrison and Quitely’s All-Star Superman. Plenty of other bloggers with infinitely more Superman knowledge have done exactly that.
What I will do is point out the following:
- All-Star Superman is a perfect comic book collection. It is amazing. I am not a slobbering Morrison fanboy (the slobbering is, I think, incidental) and frankly (quitely, frankly?) I expected to find All-Star Superman overrated. I read the first 6 issues about a year ago, and I read them very quickly, and I left thinking – ok. Just – ok, cool, what’s next? When I read the entire work, together, carefully, attentively? I came to the conclusion that this is a perfect comic book collection.
- This could not – could not – be a perfect comic book collection without the previous years of Superman comic book history. The foundations that Morrison affectionately ascends from are what give All-Star Superman its stunning wow factor. Whether it’s a quick reference to the Bottle City of Kandor, the Bizzaro World, or Lex Luthor’s maniacally evil scheming, all of All-Star Superman is significantly augmented by the history of the character. Morrison is amazingly reader-friendly here – for him, at least – so you don’t have to have years of Superman lore memorized to appreciate all of this. But if you’ve ever even once heard of Jimmy Olsen? It makes Morrison and Quitely’s re-imagining all the more potent.
- We couldn’t have a work of art like All-Star Superman without all the single issues of Superman comics that have come out since the 1940s. It just couldn’t even exist.
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