During some of my previous posts, back when I thought I was going to be restarting this blog, I talked about Grant Morrison. I thought he was a crazy person with big ideas. Crazy people with small ideas turn out to be murderers, crazy people with big ideas start writing comic books, or cults. To be fair, when I read about comics, I feel like there is a cult around Morrison.
Possible Bond villain, if not a cult leader.
To start with, I’m a Batman guy. I’m not a DC or Marvel guy (though evidence would suggest a strong DC leaning). As a Batman guy, reading these Morrison’s take on the last Superman story made me realize the importance of Superman. He’s the representation of all the good that is inherent in mankind, the ultimate realization that a man can use great power in a great way.
If Superman is idealism, then Lex Luthor represents the failure of those ideas. The story shows us that the tragedy of Luthor is that he could have been the force for good that Superman is, if it wasn’t for his own obsession with Superman. Our villains become a bit more tragic when we realize that they are the ones who give into their baser instincts and that it is usually them that we have the most in common with.
The story itself opens with Superman saving a mission to the sun that Luthor has attempted to sabotage. It might be easy to say that Superman escaped one more death trap, but this proved to be the trap that actually worked. Superman gets his power from the yellow sun of our solar system, storing the energy in his very cells. The over exposure has caused his cells to begin to destroy themselves.
Superman is dying, but Superman will go on. That’s what Superman does.
The problem most often levied against Superman as a character is that it is hard to create tension for him. He can do anything. That being the case, you can be forgiven for thinking that Morrison has tied his hands behind his back by having one side-effect of the over-exposure being the increase in Superman’s powers. Morrison does a good job of avoiding this problem by putting the focus on Superman’s supporting cast. For the first time ever, I thought that Jimmy Olsen was cool.
If not a little conceited
Superman is told that, before he dies, he will complete twelve labors of strength – like Hercules. One of those is that he has to answer the riddle of the space and time Sphinx. I already told you he flew too close to the sun. Other Greek myths and stuff.
For my money it isn’t the battling space aliens, giant robots or trips to the Bizarro world that make this the most memorable Superman story. For my money, the single best page in comic books, and possibly the best moment, is when Superman takes the time out of his villain smashing day to comfort a little girl.
As much as I hate to admit it, you couldn’t find that in a Batman book.