Comic Book Review: All Star Superman #5

All Star Superman has been a very fun title. Morrison has done an excellent job crafting silver age style stories and dialogue and giving them a modern twist. I don’t think that many writers could pull this off and I think Superman is the best choice of the characters in the DCU to use for this modern silver age style of stories. I fully expect All Star Superman #5 to be another enjoyable read. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciler: Frank Quitely
Inker: Jamie Grant

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue starts with Lex in court and being sentenced by the Jury to death via the electric chair. We then shift to Clark Kent flying out to Stryker’s Island to interview Lex Luthor. A bumbling Clark Kent is lead to Lex’s cell where he proceeds to stumble about like a total oaf. Clark says he is here to interview Lex in order to hear his side of the story.

We cut to Lex having a strenuous work out while Clark takes short hand while conducting his interview of Lex. Lex rants against Superman. He tells Clark that if Superman weren’t around then maybe Lois Lane would pay Clark more attention. But, that will never happen with Superman around. That all humans will fall short of his sickening inhuman perfection. Lex then flexes his muscles and tells Clark that his muscles are real and come from hard work unlike Superman’s muscles that are strong simply because he is from Krypton. Lex then asks Clark how Superman looks these days. Lex says that Superman is not well.

We follow Lex and Clark walking down the stairwell to the large room where the general population of the prison are all hanging out. Lex tells Clark that he lives to create the opposite of all that Superman represents. That Lex believes in the survival of the smartest. That brain beats brawn every time.

We then see the prison guards transporting the parasite to his cell. The Parasite is drawn to Clark because he is a massive power source for the Parasite to feed off of. The Parasite breaks looks from him chains and goes on a rampage. This then sparks a complete riot by all of the other prisoners. Total chaos ensues. Lex tells Clark to follow him to safety back at Lex’s cell. During their way to the cell, Clark uses his powers in subtle ways to try and subdue the rioting inmates around them and to whisk away the prison guards out of danger.

The Parasite gives chase to Lex and Clark. The Parasite is like a moth to a flame and desires to consume Clark as a tasty power source. The Parasite is huge and bloated from all the power he has soaked up so far. Lex fires a bunch of bullets into the Parasite causing the energy balance inside the Parasite to overload. The Parasite begins to choke on his own energy. He is too massive to carry his own weight and is about to burst like an overripe fruit. Lex then begins to smash the defeated Parasite into a messy pile of goo while raving this is how Superman will look at the end. That nobody gets in the way of Lex Luthor.

Lex and Clark arrive at Lex’s cell. Lex opens up a secret tunnel in the floor of his cell. The tunnel leads to a long flight of stairs ending at an underground stream of water. There is a boat waiting for them. In the boat is one of Lex’s associates. A hottie named Nasty. (Muy caliente!)

Clark asks Lex why he isn’t bothering to escape. Clark asks how Lex is so ready to die in the electric chair. Lex responds that Superman will die first. That he used the sun to overload his cellular batteries and destroyed him for within. That he killed Superman. Of course, Superman doesn’t know he is dying yet. So, Lex tells Clark to break the news gently. To take his exclusive and print it in the Daily Planet. Lex then rants that there is no deep psychology behind the struggle between him and Superman. Lex rants that if it weren’t for Superman, that he would be in charge of this planet. With that, Clark gets in the boat with Nasty and they leave. End of issue.

The Good: Morrison continues to impress me with each issue of All Star Superman. This issue is a very well constructed and written story. The pace had a nice measured pace in the beginning that slowly built to an all out frenzy by the latter part of the issue. It then ended with a bomb but it was delivered in a bizarrely serene style. All Star Superman #5 had excellent rhythm and flow to the story. It is something that you really only feel in your gut when you read a comic. Not many issues possess this quality, but it is rather enjoyable when you read one that does.

The opening scene with Lex being sentenced to death was vintage Luthor. His imperious attitude when the jury delivers his death sentence was spot on.

The following scene with a bumbling oafish Clark Kent arriving to interview Lex was exceptional. Clark bumbles around like an idiot, but in the process manages to save Lex from getting electrocuted by one of his hi-tech tools.

The continuation of this interview while Lex is working out perfectly delineates Lex’s perceived difference between Superman and himself. Lex is real. Everything he has accomplished has been due to his superior intellect and hard work and sacrifice. His body is sculpted by hard work. On the other hand, Superman is strong only by birthright. Just because he hails from Krypton. Lex, being the ultimate power mad imperialist, simply cannot stomach someone like Superman being superior to him just by virtue of being born Kryptonian. Lex could clearly handle being bested by another man who was just like him who simply achieved greatness through relentless drive and hard work. But, to be beaten by a person like Superman just rubs Lex raw. This scene did one of the best jobs I have ever seen clearly showing why Lex cannot stand Superman. It makes perfect sense.

The riot scene was also well done. This added some action to a storyline that had been dialogue heavy up until this point. The Parasite is a great tool for Morrison to use in order to reveal how Lex devised a plan to kill Superman. Just overload his power source and watch him die. The scene with Lex overloading the Parasite and then stomping him into a puddle of goo was rather powerful. This scene conveyed Lex’s overwhelming and insatiable desire to crush anything deemed more powerful than him.

The final scene had a nice eerie quality to it. There Morrison drops the bomb on the reader by revealing how Lex Luthor has killed Superman and Superman just doesn’t know it yet. Perfect. Lex’s satisfaction that Superman is going to die before him has made him completely at peace with himself and his fate. Morrison delivered a fantastic ending with this issue.

Morrison flat out knows how to write Clark Kent. We get treated to the classic silver age bumbling oafish Clark Kent. And this is by far my favorite version. It reminds me of the doofy Clark Kent that Christopher Reeves played in Superman. Kent’s dialogue is ideal. This is exactly how Clark should talk. Clark’s dialogue had me chuckling through out this issue. Morrison pulls off a masterful job of writing Clark.

Morrison also delivered an equally impressive job writing Lex and his haughty dialogue. Morrison has an excellent fell for Lex’s superior attitude and outlook on the world. The reader gets a wonderful sense of Lex’s character and what makes him tick.

Quitely’s artwork is exceptional. Quitely’s style lends itself perfectly to Morrison’s style of a silver age story with a modern twist. Quitely does an impressive job drawing Clark. You can see his nervousness. His lack of confidence. The way he slumps over. The facial expressions. His feet pointed inward to each other. Quitely’s Clark is clearly a man uncomfortable in his own skin. Quitely also delivers a supremely confident and defiant Lex Luthor. Quitely’s artwork is the perfect compliment to Morrison’s story and truly helps to not only bring Morrison’s story to life, but also boosts Morrison’s themes and mood.

I also dig Quitely’s drawing of Nasty. Now this is the style of chica that the Revolution likes to invite back to the Bunker.

The Bad: I have no complaints at all with this issue.

Overall: All Star Superman #5 is an exceptional read. Incredibly strong writing with excellent character work and dialogue combined with wonderful art makes this issue a real blast to read. I am not a big Superman fan at all and I absolutely love this title. That is a real compliment to Morrison and Quitely. Even if you are like me and have never loved the big red S, do yourself and favor and give this title a try. Unless you absolutely dislike Superman and silver age style stories, I think you will enjoy this title.