I bought issue one of All Star Superman (by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely) yesterday, and the first two issues of All Star Batman and Robin (by Frank Miller and Jim Lee). Generally, they both showed a lot of promise. Spoilers a-coming…
I avoided the new Batman and Robin title for the simple fact that both the lead creators seem to be off their game. I love Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Return and Year One, but The Dark Knight Strikes Again was risible and Sin City left him in a creative cul-de-sac (made all too apparent by the rather poor and repetitive film which for some reason was popular; I found sitting through it an intensely embarrassing experience). Meanwhile Jim Lee has never particularly transcended his initial reputation as a crowdpleaser who can draw nice women and muscular men. Big deal.
I was pleasantly surprised then, although I’m glad I read the first two issues together rather than two months apart. The first issue doesn’t seem to go anywhere, other than a rather pedestrian retelling of Dick Grayson’s origin told from the POVs of Grayson, Bruce Wayne, and a slightly revamped Vicky Vale.
The second issue is much more interesting as it becomes clear from early on that something is awry. Either Batman isn’t actually Batman, or he’s going through some kind of mental trauma. And to what extent is he caught up in the deaths of Grayson’s parents? Has Wayne been planning this from the start?
Thus far, it reads very much like a sequel to Year One (or a retelling of Year Three, continuity fans!). It will be interesting to see whether Miller attempts to make this series a bridge between that story and Dark Knight Returns, or if he goes off on a completely other tangent. We aren’t seeing anything new here, but it is solid, it’s edgy and it isn’t weighed down by DC Universe shenanigans.
All Star Superman is a very different kettle of fish. I was looking forward to this one, being a huge fan of Morrison and Quitely and an even huger fan of the two of them working together (Flex Mentallo has to go down in history as one of the most sinfully under-read graphic novels, along with Marvelman and Skin). And then of course there’s We3.
This comic gets the “origin” out of the way on page 1. Qute right too as everyone knows it already. Instead, what we seem to be getting is something almost the opposite.
The story begins with Superman at the top of his game, helping with a science experiment near the sun. All the main characters – Louis Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Lex Luther – get to take their bows, and it all looks like business as usual. But it ends with the revelation that old Supes is dying, which spins the story off in a completely different direction.
Of the two, Superman is by far the fresher and more interesting. But as someone who has gone from spending a fortune every month on comics to just one or two a month (2000AD stuff, The Losers and Astonishing X-Men for what it’s worth), my jaded eyes are hoping that both will be worth sticking with.