DC BOOK CLUB #series — ALL-STAR SUPERMAN

Well looky here… A real fucking post for a change. Sorry, friends, it’s been a busy summer thus far, and the quality content has suffered, I know.

But what a post you! And for me, in particular, because I get to talk a little bit about what may be the brightest, keenest, coolest title for the superhero of superheroes — SUPERMAN — that exists on the DC imprint —

OR AT THE V LEAST A V STRONG RUNNER-UP.

I am talking, of course, about Grant Morrison’s seminal Supes treatment: All-Star Superman.

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The series ran from 2005 to 2008, and was the brainchild of Morrison, and artist Frank Quietly, allegedly inspired at a San Diego Comic Con many years ago when they saw a cosplayer outside of the main hall gone ‘full Supes.’ But this guy was chillin’ righteously on a nearby bench.

Literally.

“He looked totally relaxed,” Morrison is quoted saying. “And I suddenly realized, that’s how Superman would sit. He would be totally chilled.” … “If nothing can hurt you, you can afford to be cool.

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“Like, up, up and away, or whatevs.”

What manifested, then, was this twelve issue repackaging of the full breadth of Superman mythos, but in a series of pared-down tales that capture both the character’s energy and power, but personal struggle and humanity. Coupled with Morrison’s writing, which, here, more so than any other title he’s helmed, is not only  that is snappy and fun. Although it was frequently pegged as “alternative,” referring to this as “alt-Superman,” I feel, is reductive and doesn’t really get to the heart of what makes it so good.

It’s got everything you know you love about Superman, and even you some of what you didn’t.

And all this — vamping on Morrison’s obvious brilliance — is to say nothing of the contribution of Quietly’s soothing visual landscape to the All-Star Superman experience. I don’t feel like there’s been a comic yet where I’ve referenced the art, which is *sad* considering that it’s probably three-quarters of the medium. Quietly’s art seems to possess an inherent sense of Zen, a sort of childlike simplicity that’s both disarming and, when used as it is in All-Star Superman, unexpected when it’s wielding the galaxy-spanning gravitas of a Superman story.

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Every page captures both the Superman you recognize, but also one you don’t. All-Star Superman encapsulates this beloved and illimitable character, and then somehow manages to refine him. With each successive panel, it’s like it seems to hone Superman down more and more to the very essence of every his every aspect. Finally, he is depicted here for our modern age as, I can only presume, he was always meant to be.

I can’t suggest this Superman comic to be quintessential, because, sorry, all the facts aren’t in and, frankly, what I’m learning is that the ‘Caped One’ is an elusive subject to make both current and relevant.

Regardless, this is such a fun read, useful and proficient in all the ways a comic book should be, but hip, in a way that they almost never are.


 

 

 

AM I LION TO MYSELF?

Today is my birthday.

Now, I didn’t wait until today to post because it’s my birthday. I waited because the week got away from me, Friday got away from me, and the weekend got away from me, and then, suddenly, I’m here. But, in my defense, I am here, now, sitting alone in the living room of our house at three in the morning, and, in order to justify the maintenance of the blog by posting once a week, will post about my birthday.

What about my birthday?

I don’t hate them — certainly not the ceremonial aspect of them. I just don’t look forward to them, because it means I’m getting older.

I’m not ready to get older. I’m not ready to die. Birthdays mark another year past, another year with a long list of ambitions undone.

But, that’s my bad, not getting older’s, I guess.

For some reason this makes me think of a brief story about a tattoo I got when I was living in Chicago.

See, I’m a leo — proudly, so — and I’d seen this image of a lion head on the L Train one afternoon at Fullerton.

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I was so taken with it, I took out a piece of looseleaf paper and traced the outline and filled it in with pencil.

I took it to a woman who did tattoos out of her house in Humbolt Park. She was so pleasant, and actually looked like she should be a librarian, dressed in cardigans and broaches, but yet you could see the smears of ink on her arms peaking out from underneath the cuffs.

She would tattoo whatever you wanted, no judgement — as most artists do. And I handed her this piece of paper, with the lion’s head on it, and said, “This.” And she gave me a look, and said, “This?”

I said, “Yup.”

Several weeks later I was sitting in the living room of an apartment I shared with two roommates, leafing through a copy of the Sunday Tribune, and I came across a full page ad for The Lion King: The Musical, coming to the Cadillac Theater downtown that month.

And there it was — the lion.

My lion.

It was the marketing image for The Lion King: The Musical, and I hadn’t realized it — bold, black, and brazen, etched permanently into the meat of my calf.

Over the years, when I’m in shorts, I get comments and questions about it all the time. Once, in the Paris Metra, I was practically accosted by a Frenchman who announced, “Simba! Simba” as he slapped my leg.

I’m not self-conscious about it anymore, because the older you get, even though the act itself of aging is hard, the smoother youthful errors blend behind you into just living, the sum total of tragedies and triumphs that we don’t have as much control over as we hope.