Until I read All-Star Superman, written by Grant Morrison with art by Frank Quitely, I couldn’t list many Superman storylines that I would actually rate as classic. I’d run through Superman: For All Seasons, Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? and Kingdom Come, then I’d probably run out – Man Of Steel by John Byrne has dated rather savagely and that oft-discussed Death/Return Of Superman tale is actually one of the worst event comics ever.
Luckily, DC has really stepped up its efforts when it comes to the Man Of Steel in recent years, from the Donner/Johns Last Son storyline to the current Action Comics and Superman runs by Paul Cornell and JMS. They seem to have a good handle on the appeal of the character, as well as those around him. For me, though, there’s no run that better encapsulates the brilliance of the Superman character than All-Star Superman – it’s the beginning of the character to his end, as well as adventures with both his friends and his enemies. It’s definitive, it’s standalone and it’s wonderful.
From Clark Kent visiting Lex Luthor in prison to Lois Lane developing superpowers, each story is the perfect summary of some aspect of Superman lore. I regularly discuss All-Star Superman’s merits with my editor – he’s not really a fan of the series, but given how well it captures the broad mythology of the character, I think it’s difficult not to be.
I believe it shares a lot in common with Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow – the feeling that you’re seeing Superman at a pivotal, final moment in his life certainly makes the story more poignant, but independent of that it represents both Morrison and Quitely at their very best. With the Absolute Edition now on shelves, there’s absolutely no reason not to own it; unless you’re broke, of course, in which case the paperback editions will do you just fine.