Sometimes, God is Just

April 15, 2008 at 2:39 pm (1)

All-Star Superman #10

This is a great comic, unlike its treading predecessor.

But first its cover:

Besides Superman as God and those wonderful, fantastic implications, how tall is Superman’s neck here? I can count four horizontal valleys in his neck, and another oddity abounds: his waist is only 3 palms long (a quick self measurement: mine is 5). I wish I had my back issues with me to check out the consistency of this possibly alien physiology, but I do not. The second page of the issue has a much more humanly proportioned Kryptonite (waist about 5 hands across, neck almost invisible).

I shouldn’t worry so much about its cover, though. Of course Superman gets bigger when he’s Godly. My favorite moment of enlightened ownership is on page 4 (I skip the third page’s passage of Superman sweating extending over three panels because Jog already covered it well), when his face is imprinted on the Bottle City of Kandor as Van-Zee questions his own ability, and we retract to Superman slinking while hovering (a beauteous moment of divine humility: When elevating himself, God still hunches over to relate to his progeny!), interrupted again by the workings of Kandor (How God throws himself at the woes of his subjects! He has even given Man free will and spirited debate!).

There is another comparison to Kandor in the issue, the “sickly infant” universe of Qwewq, but this is much different: Superman literally begat this world, instead of saved it. He “applied a nano-optical transfusion of pure solar energy”, but Morrison and Quitely jump into Superman’s other subjects, the people around him, and it springs into life with Aborigines, Buddhism, Nietzsche, Siegel and Schuster: a world without him, namely our world. We can see Nietzsche writing on perfection and Siegel drawing it in between gifting the world a possible reproduction of the lovable Kryptonian (with his literal DNA in the hands of Dr. Leo and by asking Luthor to put aside his pettiness and actually accomplish all the work he said Superman prevented him from doing- Luthor’s the inferior uber mensch) and a cure for cancer: “You are stronger than you think you are”, Superman tells a girl as she is about to commit suicide when her source of assurance is gone, but he is not about to let us fall to harm from something that he could prevent.

Cleverly, the people around him devise their own ways to get Superman’s attention when otherwise he stands in front of bottles and cubes: Lois throws herself into danger! Into a mad, robot controlling Scientist! The next person getting his attention decided to actually kill herself, unaware of Superman’s coming presence. Perhaps a comparison could be drawn to the danger loving Lois, and perhaps this could be read as a deconstructive reconstruction* of her character, but I’d prefer Morrison to be smiling instead of proselytizing, because both moments are endearing instead of vitriolic. Superman holding Regan after she lost all hope is not something Superman has done before, he only failed at preventing his father’s death.

*Although I’m quick to grab “innertextual”, I wary about loaded, mostly incomprehensible terms such as “deconstructive reconstruction”, but reading Lois’ actions as searching for death, this trait highlighted by Regan’s almost death, seems to miss the point that Lois knows that Superman will save her, whatever insouciance led her to this conclusion irrelevant.

And there’s more moments like these in the issue: His Kandorian army saving the starving children (thankfully only given pity through dialogue instead of deed: we only see them joyful from Superman’s presence!), the announcement of his impending death through newspapers* instead of a sudden fall, these are much more micromanaged issues than before, and the thought of a God so involved in our personal, daily lives, is in stark contrast to the Superman working above (below?) our vision stopping dinosaur invasions and Bizarro takeovers. His effect in our world is tangible instead of effectual: he saves our souls instead of our bodies! I can’t wait to see how this all plays out in the next two issues!

*That’s the same headline Samson shows Superman from #3, right? Oh, Geography can be just ruthless, sometimes!

Next: Ganges #2!


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