Friday, September 1, 2006

Favorite Panel Friday has a plan

How can you resist a baboon in a Superman suit?!?

Lex Luthor might not be the most evil villain ever, but in All Star Superman #5 he's pretty freakin' villainous. Let's warm up the ol' Comico-Analytron and break it down, shall we?


In this panel, Lex has just finished escorting Clark Kent through a raging prison riot to what he assures him is the safety of his cell. Just as they're arriving, Lex makes a crack about how Clark will write something about walking through the cell door, where Lex then "shook hands with a baboon in a Superman suit ..."

Which is exactly what happens! And then he tells Clark how he dug an escape tunnel with a robot reciting Moby Dick. It's good to know Melville's good for something.


For all the damage Frank Miller has done to the still-stumbling toddler called the All Star line, Grant Morrison redeems it with his writing on All Star Superman. There was a lot of noise about the All Star imprint taking DC back to its Silver Age roots and "making comics fun again," and damn if Morrison doesn't do just that. That doesn't mean it's fluff - Luthor's currently making a pretty serious bid to kill the Man of Steel - but it does mean it's OK to be a little silly, to be a little weird and, yeah, to have some fun.

Morrison's Luthor is classic; arrogant, insane and smart as hell. As a matter of fact, it's the first time I can think of where it's implied that Lex is so smart he had to be crazy. Oh, and this particular issue also has the best explanation I've seen for why Lex hates Superman sooooo much.

One more thing to note is Frank Quitely's art. Now, I'm on the fence about Quitely. I was OK with him on Authority (even though everyone looked like they were on the catwalk), but hated his stuff on New X-Men. Loved We3, was annoyed by JLA: Earth 2. He bugs me for the same reason Steve Dillon bugs me - they draw the same face over and over and over and over. And over. The only difference is Quitely adds the extra bonus of making everyone pouty and lumpy (not a great combination).

But when he's on, he's great. And while that lumpiness creeps in now and then, faces are distinctive and expressive, and his backgrounds continue to kick ass in All-Star Superman.

By taking some cues from the Superman of the Silver Age, Morrison and Quitely are reinventing the Man of Steel for today. They're obviously having fun doing it, and that's making it fun to read.

So let's hear it for Leopold and crazy-ass Lex Luthor.

All Star Superman #5: Writer, Grant Morrison; Artist, Frank Quitely

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