Sunday, March 29, 2009

All Star Superman: One

I really liked comics as a kid. I was a big collector, plastic bags and all. I pretty much stopped paying any attention once I discovered woman-love. Recently, however, I picked up a new Superman series called All Star Superman. It's really amazing.

I never liked Superman as a kid. He was always so one dimensional, I thought. I liked the darker characters, or at least the ones that I could imagine being on some level. The Batmans, the Wolverines of the comic world seem attainable. Superman was a god; he was perfect, he could do everything. In my comic world of the late 80s, there was too much self awareness for that. It was all about angst and suffering. It's exactly the reason teenagers are irritating and cannot be trusted. Hormones make them self absorbed and stupid.

Now, I get Superman. He was created by people who wanted a hero that could do everything. He slowly got more powers as the world got more dangerous and scary. Now, he can do everything, because that's what we need him to do. You can pretend to be Wolverine, or Spider-Man. But when everything is really falling apart, you want Superman. I understand that desire now.

All Star Superman doesn't deal with irony. There is no subtext. Superman is not all powerful, but he is the closest thing a person can imagine still operating within our world. The creators of this comic don't want teen angst, they want to explore the meaning of having a real savior wandering the streets of a city. What does it mean to have someone who really can shoulder the burdens of the world patrolling your skies? It's a fascinating idea, and the writers do a good job with it.

The characters are sketches, intentionally so. Lex Luthor is the envious human, fearful and totally ego driven. Lois Lane is the girl waiting for the white knight. Jimmy Olsen even gets told as the old school, "Superman's Pal" character that isn't seen much anymore. It's a blast to read. I've been sharing it with Viri, which is fun. He doesn't get much of it, even a simple modern Superman story has a lot that a three year old won't comprehend. He did have some fun comments, though, as usual. When anyone is in danger on the page, he reminds me. "Don't worry, Papa. Superman will help them. He'll take them to jail. He's nice."

I see the value in this for kids. I was really affected by these archetypes as a child, and my son is sensitive to the ideas in the same way. He knows Superman is pretend, but he wants the idea to exist. I'm glad he does. I want it to exist as well.