Newsarama Presents


All-Star Memories:
The All-Star Superman Companion
The Grant Morrison interview by Zack Smith

All-Star Memories: The All-Star Superman Companion
All-Star Superman written by Grant Morrison Artwork by Frank Quitely & Jaime Grant Interviewer: Zack Smith Layout & Design: Angelo Soliongco Superman and related images, names, characters, and logo copyright & trademark by DC Comics. Superman Created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Sushter Disclaimer: This is an unofficial compiliation based on a 10-part interview series published by Newsarama. com []. This was done for fun and not profit. In no way does this product claim to own, or create any part of Superman, or All-Star Superman. Copyright 2009

Newsarama Presents: All-Star Memories: The All-Star Superman Companion An In-depth Interview by Zack Smith with series creator Grant Morrison With artwork by Frank Quitely & Jaime Grant .

Eisners and countless accolades later. which seemed like a cop–out. but were afraid to ask. there was so much that we’re running this as an unprecedented 10-part series over the next two weeks – sort of an unofficial All Star Superman companion. The out-of-continuity look at Superman’s struggle with his inevitable death was widely embraced by fans and pros as one of the best stories to feature the Man of Steel.and Morrison delivered with an in-depth look into the themes. new heights. Newsarama is proud to present an exclusive look back with Morrison at the series that took Superman to. My specific take on Superman’s physicality was inspired by the “shamanic” meeting my JLA editor Dan Raspler and I had in the wee hours of the morning outside the San Diego comic book convention in whenever it was. and was a showcase for the talents of the creative team of Grant Morrison. so I decided to use it again here. In fact. that some readers have come to consider this a prequel to DC One Million. There were one or two of ideas of mine that I wanted to preserve from Superman Now and Luthor’s heart–stopping moment of understanding was a favorite part of the original ending for that story. so back away if you haven’t read the entire series.. Newsarama: Grant. Grant Morrison: Some of it has its roots in the DC One Million project from 1999. So much so. Now. And of course there’s plenty of SPOILERS. tell us a little about the origin of the project. pun intended. which is fine if it shifts a few more copies! I’ve tried to give my own DC books an overarching continuity intended to make them all read as a more coherent body of work when I’m done. All Star Superman is finally finished. It was the beginning of the conversations which ultimately The All-Star Superman Companion 7 . we were trying to figure out how to “reboot” Superman without splitting up his marriage to Lois.. It’s everything about All Star Superman you ever wanted to know. Tom Peyer and Mark Waid back in 1999. 12 issues. ‘98 or ‘99. Luthor’s “enlightenment” – when he peaks on super–senses and sees the world as it appears through Superman’s eyes – was an element I’d included in the Superman Now pitch I prepared along with Mark Millar. Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant. We had a lot of questions about the series.Part One Three years. characters and ideas throughout the 12 issues. I’ve told this story in more detail elsewhere but basically.

talking to us seemed to me to be the opposite of the clenched. The fact that it could be a non–continuity recreation made the idea even more attractive and more achievable. muscle-bound look the character sometimes sports and that was the key to Superman for me. I wasn’t able to make my own commitments dovetail with Jim’s availability. It was too good a moment to let pass. not only drawn by my favorite artist but starring the first and greatest superhero of them all. I plotted the whole story in 2002 and drew tiny colored sketches for all 12 covers. so I found myself looking for an artist for what was rapidly turning into my own Man of Steel magnum opus. Jim. of course. in a way I don’t think I would have been in 1999. as if. whose name I didn’t save but who has entered into my own personal mythology (a picture has from that time has survived showing me and Mark Waid posing alongside this guy and a couple of young readers dressed as Superboy and Supergirl – it’s in the “Gallery” section at my website for anybody who can be bothered looking. Frank Quitely. We were already talking about We3 and Superman seemed like a good meaty project to get our teeth into when that was done.” At the time. with one knee up.. sitting hunched on the bollard. invulnerable to all physical harm. and he wanted to do 12 issues on Superman to complement the work he was doing with Jeph Loeb on “Batman: Hush. I sat up the rest of the night. I also felt ready for it. and I already knew the book had to be drawn by my friend and collaborator.. I finally felt “grown–up” enough to do Superman justice. sadly). Jim was flexing his artistic muscles again to great effect. this guy actually looked like Superman. This is the guy who lit the fuse that led to All Star Superman). throwaway “live performance” type superhero books. the cape just hanging there. so easy. just a nice guy dressed as Superman. scribbling page after page of Superman notes as the sun came up over the naval yards. That pose. Usually. Not just any skinny convention guy in an ill–fitting suit. My entire approach to Superman had come from the way that guy had been sitting. Dan DiDio called and asked if I wanted to come back to DC to work on a Superman book with Jim Lee. which he did. so confident. he could relax completely and be spontaneous and warm. told him what we’d been trying to do and asked if he wouldn’t mind indulging us by answering some questions about Superman. I met the same Superman a couple of times afterwards but he wasn’t Superman. Until we looked up to see a guy dressed as Superman crossing the train the persona and voice of Superman! We talked for an hour and a half and he walked off into the night with his friend (no..led to Superman Now. while I was going into my last year on New X–Men. but by then I’d become obsessed with the idea of doing a big Superman story and I’d already started working out the details. I prefer to write poppy. with Dan and I restlessly pacing around trying to figure out a new way into the character of Superman and coming up short.. but this time. After the 1999 pitch was rejected. it wasn’t Jimmy Olsen. I didn’t expect to be doing any further work on Superman but sometime in 2002. 8 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 9 . I felt compelled to make something for the ages – a big definitive statement about superheroes and life and all that. so I ran over to him. I completely scaled up my expectations of what might be possible once Frank was on board and decided to make this thing as ambitious as possible. went on to do his 12 Superman issues as “For Tomorrow” with Brian Azzarello.

. Steve Seagle. liberal Superman of the early 70s.The entire book was very tightly constructed before we started – except that I’d left the ending open for the inevitable better and more focused ideas I knew would arise as the project grew into its own shape. Superman grew up baling hay on a farm. That “S” is the radiant emblem of divinity we reveal when we rip off our stuffy shirts. a bunch of DC “Best Of. for a boss. I read takes on Superman by Mark Waid. Paul Dini and Alex Ross. In the end. some tattered “70s books from the remains of my teenage collection. without the baggage of strict continuity. or rather as the dreamself of Everyman. 10 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 11 . what challenges did you have in building up this version of the Superman universe? GM: I couldn’t say there were any particular challenges. He goes to work. That one was intended from the start to be the single issue of the 12– issue run that would condense and amplify the themes of all the others. Jim Steranko and many others. I read every Superman story and watched every Superman movie I could lay my hands on. the Chris Reeve movies and the animated series.” reprint editions and two brilliant little handbooks – “Superman in Action Comics” Volumes 1 and 2 – which reprint every single Action Comics cover from 1938 to 1988. through the Super–Cop of the 40s. and read Alvin Schwartz’s (he wrote the first ever Bizarro story among many others) fascinating book – “An Unlikely Prophet” – where he talks about his notion of Superman as a tulpa. #10 was set aside to be the one–off story that would sum up anything anyone needed to know about Superman in 22 pages. Not quite as concise an origin as Superman’s. I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character. the over– compensating Chippendale Superman of the 90s etc. except that when he falls out with his girlfriend. recreating characters as my own dream versions. our constructed selves. He’s Everyman operating on a sci–fi Paul Bunyan scale. NRAMA: When you were devising the series.. the mythic Hyper–Dad of the 50s and 60s.and I left an empty space for issue 10. but that’s because he’s a very energetic and adolescent fantasy character: a handsome billionaire playboy in black leather with a butler at this beck and call. That guy’s Superman day and night. our own super–pets.. and become who we truly are. I felt I’d really grasped the concept when I saw him as Everyman. I immersed myself in Superman and I tried to find in all of these very diverse approaches the essential “Superman–ness” that powered the engine. I then extracted. from the Golden Age to the present day. From the Socialist scrapper Superman of the Depression years. in an office. but as a story of Everyman. which is why we ended the whole book with the image of a laboring Superman. We have our own Fortresses of Solitude we retreat to. our social masks. Jeph Loeb. our own “Bottle Cities” that we feel guilty for neglecting. Batman is obviously much cooler. It was fun. Garth Ennis. purified and refined that essence and drained it into All Star’s tank. the questioning. I looked at the Fleischer cartoons. He’s much more of a working class superhero. the world trembles. His worries and emotional problems are the same as ours. Geoff Johns. but that’s how we got started. the bland “superhero” of the late 70s. Only when he tears off his shirt does that heroic. the confident yuppie of the 80s. He pines after a hard–working gal. That’s actually a much more adult fantasy than the one Batman’s peddling but it also makes Superman a little harder to sell. I didn’t have to worry about upsetting continuity or annoying people who care about stuff like that. We’re all Superman in our own adventures.. better cars and gadgetry than James Bond. I read various accounts of Superman’s creation and development as a brand. so my knowledge of Superman was based on memory. our neuroses. Joe Casey. with our own special collections of valued stuff. a horde of fetish femme fatales baying around his heels and no boss. Alan Moore. We have our own peers and rivals and bizarre emotional or moral tangles to deal with. I don’t have a lot of old comics. (a Tibetan word for a living thought form which has an independent existence beyond its creator) and claims he actually met the Man of Steel in the back of a taxi. Denny O’Neil. ideal inner self come to life. Nobody was telling me what I could or couldn’t do with the characters.. Mark Millar..

dark time in both our lives. The 12 Labors of Superman are finally enumerated. Samson and Atlas. the overlit overheated corridors between terminal wards. Everything Clark does. It’s about dying relatives. introspection and hope for the future. The All-Star Superman Companion 13 . leaping. Krypto is every dog with his boy (it seemed a shame to us that Krypto’s most memorable moment prior to this was his death scene in “Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow. Superboy and his dog on the moon – that perfect teenage moment of infinite possibility. bad food and fear. Frank gave me that page as a gift. Bizarro–Home. with all of Earth’s continental and ocean shapes but reversed. The first three pages of the Olsen story which. what are some of your favorite moments from the 12 issues? Grant Morrison: The first shot of Superman flying over the sun. Superman hugging the poor. and it became weirdly emblematic of a strange. eager and alive little creature is how I’d prefer to imagine Krypto the Superdog and conjures finer and more subtle emotions). obligations. I think. to make us feel that we’re being flushed in a cloacal spiral down into a nihilistic. And we even get into the series’ unfortunate abbreviation. Newsarama: Grant. movement and expression combine to tell a story. The kiss on the moon. Preparation for the Phantom Zone. hopeless girl on the roof and telling us all we’re stronger than we think we are. He’s every young man on the verge of adulthood. The page with the first appearance of Zibarro that Frank has designed so the eye is pulled down in a swirling motion into the drain at the heart of the image. add up to the best character intro I’ve ever written. although I know a lot of people who love it. which makes it my least favorite issue of the series. The Cosmic Anvil. The whole says/ does Luthor/Superman dynamic as played out through Frank Quitely’s absolute mastery and understanding of how space. Everything Lex Luthor says in issue #5. The story with Bar–El and Lilo has a genuine chill off ammonia and antiseptic off it.Part Two Our 10-part look back at All Star Superman with writer Grant Morrison continues. the thin metallic odors of chemicals. existential sink.” Quitely’s scampering. This time out: Morrison’s favorite moments.

3. but that’s mostly because we tried to create for our Superman the contemporary “superhero” version of an archetypal solar hero journey.J.I think All Star is already complete. All of issue #10 (there’s a single typo in there where the time on the last page was screwed up – but when we fix that detail for the trade I’ll be able to regard this as the most perfectly composed superhero story I’ve ever written). Superman returns from the Underverse. NRAMA: Aside from the Bizarro League. and his Stalinist underground empire of “Subterranosauri. 10. but that they’re no longer around or relevant any more. I didn’t even want to do one Labor per issue.R. You’ll be able to pick up Superman books. 11. At the same time. 7. Could you break down the Twelve Labors. For the context of this story I wanted the super–friends to be peripheral. 6. there are correspondences. James Joyce’s honorable and heroic refutation of the rule aside.. Why did you make this choice? GM: I wanted the story to be about the mythic Superman at the end of his time. But. though others have pointed out that Superman’s actions are more reflective of the Stations of the Cross (I note there’s a “Station Café” in the background of issue #12). I don’t think I’ve ever had a smoother. 12. or. or for that matter. more seamless collaborative process. Superman defeats Solaris. Superman saves Earth from Bizarro–Home. Superman chains the Chronovore. is that Lex Luthor delivers his own version of the unified field haiku – explaining the underlying principles of the universe in fourteen syllables – which the P. And one final feat. if the cross theory is true.Superman leaves the recipe/formula to make Superman 2. 5. in two pages. who used to be more important in the old man’s life than they are now. but they won’t be about this guy and they won’t feel the same. 2.O.E. You read that last issue and it works because you know you’re never going to see All Star Superman again. Superman brews the Super–Elixir. which ones and why? GM: I’d happily write more Atlas and Samson. Frank and Jamie’s final tour of the Fortress. of which there are 14. Superman conquers Death. without sequels. The Flash? Green Lantern? They represent Superman’s “old army buddies.Joe Shuster drawing us all into the story forever and never–ending. the Dino–Czar’s wayward son. but are there any new or classic characters you’d like to explore further? If so. Yes. the specific Stations of the Cross.” I could write a Superman Squad comic forever.” or your dad’s school friends. and that adds the whole series a deeper poignancy. Superman builds an artificial Heart for the Sun. like they were in the old comics. but in a modern and/or superhero setting. G–Type philosopher from issue 4 had dedicated his entire life to composing! 14 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 15 . I really like Krull. Superman saves the first manned mission to the sun. how the storyline reflects the Stations? GM: The 12 Labors of Superman were never intended as an isomorphic mapping onto the 12 Labors of Hercules. Nasthalthia Luthor. NRAMA: The story is very complete unto itself.. 9. He really is going away. Guys you’ve sort of heard of. so it won’t work if you try to find one specific mythological or religious “plan” to hang the series on. we didn’t want to do an update or a direct copy of any myth you’d seen before. legends and religious parables. 4. Our Superman is actually “dying” in that sense. the 12 Labors of Superman may be enumerated as follows: 1.C. For future historians and mythologizers. I’d love to write the “Son of Superman” sequel about Lois and Clark’s super test tube baby. there’s nothing more dead and dull than an attempt to retell the Odyssey or the Norse sagas scene by scene. Superman creates Life. so it deliberately breaks down quite erratically through the series for reasons I’ll go into (later). however. referencing every previous issue on the way. you never really introduce other DC superheroes into the story.T. Superman liberates Kandor/cures cancer. 8. It’s clear from the references that he has or more likely has had a few super– powered allies. NRAMA: Some readers were confused as to how the “Twelve Labors” broke down. which typically no–one really notices. Superman answers the Unanswerable Question. I believe. which naturally echoes numerous myths.

at the end of issue #5. I was thinking of Quintum as a kind of “Man Who Fell To Earth” character with a mysterious unearthly background. progressive. utopian kind of scientist I figured Superman might inspire to greatness.” Yes.O. Science so often goes wrong in Superman stories. do the Twelve Labors matter at all? They seem so purposely ill–defined. there is indeed a necessary whiff of Lucifer about Quintum. many ideas that didn’t find their way onto the printed pages. death and deep emotions.T’s colorful director Leo Quintum. or legends occurs after the fact. suspicious society to expect the worst of everyone. and I thought it was important to show the potential for science to go right or to be elevated by contact with Superman’s shining positive spirit. slightly fake. that didn’t fit the tone. of course. the solar hero dips below the horizon and begins the night–journey through the hours of darkness and death. First off. For a while I toyed with the notion that he was some kind of avatar of Lightray of the New Gods. feel slightly ambiguous.You may notice also that the Labors take place over a year – with the solar hero’s descent into the darkness and cold of the Underverse occurring at midwinter/ Christmas time (that’s also the only point in the story where we ever see Metropolis at night). His name. and that’s how myth is born.J. He seems like a bit of an outgrowth of the likes of Project Cadmus and Emil Hamilton. before his triumphant resurrection at dawn. Morrison not only highlighted new angles of the Superman Universe. conjures images of solar force. Part Three In All Star Superman.. given any opportunity NRAMA: For that matter. He even refers to himself as “The Devil Himself” in issue #10. Leo Quintum. Dave Sapien. slightly “Hollywood. he’s fulfilling Superman’s wishes by cloning an heir to Superman and Lois and inaugurating a 16 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 17 . They seem more like misdirection or a MacGuffin than anything that needs to be clearly delineated. For anyone who’s ever wanted to know Grant Morrison’s process for creating new characters. GM: They matter.E. Grant Morrison: Yeah. he also brought many new faces to the mythology. What he’s doing at the end of the story should.C. here’s your chance – and a look into many. for all its gee–whiz futurity. enlightened. Although they can often have bizarre resonances. Newsarama: I’d like to know a little more about Leo Quintum and his role in the story. and the Bizarro-Bizarro Zibarro (say that five times fast).. Did you realize this going in? GM: Going into what? Going into ASS itself? In the sense of how did I feel as I slowly entered ASS for the first time? It never crossed my mind. specific elements. That’s why issue 5 ends with the boat to the Underworld and 6 begins with the moon. structure. Clark Kent is crossing the threshold into the subconscious world of memory. Having said that. and are not necessarily secret Dan Brown–style keys to unlocking the mysteries. meaning and significance to the simple unfolding of events. Eventually it just came down to simplicity. When you watched it happening. I’m trying to suggest that only in the future will these particular 12 feats. It’s hindsight that provides narrative. as with all myth. but in a more fantastical. it seemed to be Superman just doing his thing. be mythologized as 12 Labors. but as All Star developed. It can also be seen as the sun’s journey over the course of a day – we open in blazing sunshine but halfway through the book. the systematic ordering of current events into stories. he was exactly as you say. rather than hope for the best.R. Willy Wonka sense. we take a look at P. but the 12 Labors idea is there to show that. It shows how conditioned we are in our miserable. It was interesting to me how so many people expected Quintum to turn out bad at the end. my attempt to create an updated take on the character of “Superman’s scientist friend” – in the vein of Emil Hamilton from the animated show and the ‘90s stories. are usually put there by Frank Quitely. and he was allowed to simply be himself. Even Superman isn”t sure how many Labors he’s performed when we see him mulling it over in issue 10. In the future it’s become THE 12 LABORS OF SUPERMAN! NRAMA: And on a completely ridiculous note: All–Star Superman is perhaps the most difficult–to–abbreviate comic title since Preacher: Tall in the Saddle. Or maybe it’s just what we expect from stories. like the Station Café. self–loathing. Leo Quintum represents the “good” scientific spirit – the rational. I suppose I was trying to say something about how people impose meaning upon events in retrospect. tales. out of all the others ever. in fact. I think there might be a Station Café opposite the studio where Frank Quitely works and the “SAPIEN” sign on another storefront is a reference to Frank’s studio mate. At least he’s not filling the background with dirty words like he used to. shadows. It’s the backward glance that adds all the capital letters to the list above. lions and lightbringers and he has elements of the classic Trickster figure about him.

horribly self–aware and uncomfortable. What would an imperfect version of an already imperfect being be like? Zibarro. In one way.. does Zibarro’s existence show how Superman is able to elevate even the backwards Bizarros through his very nature? 18 All-Star Memories . So unique. a bigger–and–better “revamp..” the ultimate coming attraction. fresher than fresh. What’s up with that? NRAMA: Was Zibarro inspired by the Bizarro World story where the Bizarro– Neanderthal becomes this unappreciated Casanova–type? GM: Don’t know that one. And then you can go back to the start of All Star Superman issue #1 and read the “formula” for yourself. All tastes catered! I have to say that the Willy Wonka thing never crossed my mind until I saw people online make the comparison. he’s completely self–absorbed. disorganized universe. figuring out how it’s done.Superman dynasty that will last until the end of time – but he’s also commodifying Superman. NRAMA: I’d like to know more about Zibarro – what’s the significance of his chronicling Bizarro World through poetry? GM: It’s up to you. When he says to Superman “Can you even imagine what it’s like to be so different. a franchise. turning him into a brand. yet filled with thoughts of omnipotence and agency. He’s moody. I see Zibarro partly as the sensitive teenager inside us all. He doesn’t care about anyone’s feelings but his own. newer than new but familiar too. ultimately. Quintum dresses how I would dress if I was the world’s coolest super–scientist. Quintum has figured out the “formula” for Superman and improved upon it. which seems quite obvious now. condensed into eight words on the first page and then expanded upon throughout the story! The solar journey is an endless circle naturally. empathic poet but at the same time. so what does it say that a nonpowered version on a savage world would focus his energy through that medium? Also. He’s the absolute center of his tiny. So unlike everyone else?” he doesn’t even wait for Superman’s reply. simultaneously re–empowering a pure myth with the honest fire of Art.while at the same time shooting a jolt of juice through a concept that sells more “S” logo underpants and towels than it does comic books. but it sounds like a scenario I could definitely endorse! Zibarro started out as a daft name sicked–up by my subconscious mind. He’s playing the role of sensitive. A perfect puzzle that is its own solution. NRAMA: The character is very close to Superman. Quintum could be seen to represent the creative team. which flowered within moments into the must–write idea of an Imperfect Bizarro.

We were trying to create a few foes who had a classic feel and a solid backstory that could be explored again or in depth. of Superman constantly facing alternate versions of himself – Bar–El. the Glasgow artist and DC colorist. His tragedy is that he knows he’s fated to be useless and pointless but craves so much more. Samson and Atlas and understand what they represent. Grant Morrison: We wanted to create some throwaway new characters which would be designed to look as if they were convincing long–term elements of the Superman legend. even Luthor by the end. And Atlas in the hospital.. these characters..and maybe you can help a few of them show up in the “mainstream” DC Universe. say. I thought they made better rivals than. Notably. or both? GM: In a way. Morrison reveals that by design. Jamie reset his color filters and that was the moment Krull suddenly looked like a real Superman foe. and then finally coming to the surface to declare bloody war on the mammalian usurpers! It seemed like we could develop this idea into the Krull backstory and suggest a whole epic conflict in a few panels. I’m glad to say). and yet that position is what defines his cherished self–image. And then Superman’s got his hot girlfriend dressed like a girl from Krypton and they’re making out on the moon (the original panel description was of something more like the famous shot of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissing in the surf from “From Here To Eternity. barely articulate and guttural. Even if we never went back to these characters. and find out how Samson and Atlas were influenced by a British comic you’ll have to see to believe. The suppressed. He did arm–wrestle them both.. I imagined these brutes developing their own technology. Hercules is absent. He’s still a Bizarro though. to show how his character is greater than theirs. the Superman Squad. we wanted them to seem rich enough to carry their own stories. I suppose. With Krull. We also learn how he revamped an obscure Supergirl antagonist for fan-favorite nasty. a savage with the power to destroy civilization. I thought a little bit of that would be an antidote to the slightly soppy. twisted in two directions beyond all repair. their own civilization. Dom Regan. used to appear regularly in Superman books as his rivals. It seemed to make sense that an interesting opposite of Bizarro speech might be flowery “woe is me” school Poetry Society odes to the sunset in a misunderstood heart. we figured a superhuman character like Superman can always use a powerful “sub–human” opponent: a beast. NRAMA: Zibarro also represents a recurrent theme in the story.. like he did in the early days and then again in the 70s. And they all think he’s talking crap anyway. I wanted to see Superman doing tough guy shit again. even though he’s as natural an expression of the place as any of the other Bizarro creatures who grow like mould across the surface of their living planet). Part Four In the fourth part of our 10-part look back at All-Star Superman. along with Hercules. lyrical. though Superman’s doing his Twelve Labors. Newsarama: Tell us about some of the thinking behind the new antagonists you created for this series (at least the ones you want to talk about. which makes him ineffectual. Even though some only appeared for a few panels. was this designed to equate Superman with their legend..): First up: Krull and the Subterranosaurs. wounded side of Superman perhaps? The Super–Morrissey? Bizarro With The Thorn In His Side? But he’s also Bizarro–Home’s “mistake” (or so it seems to him. He feels excluded. and suggested we make him red instead. Hence Samson’s broken arm. For that particular story. the offspring of smart–thinking lizards which made their way to the warm regions at the Earth’s core. proving once and for all Superman’s stronger than anybody! And remember. a monster. And maybe he writes his totally subjective poetry as a reflection of Clark Kent’s objective reporter role.” Frank’s final choice of composition is much more classically pulp–romantic and iconic than my down and dirty rumble in the moondirt would have been.GM: All of the above. saw the original green skin Jamie Grant had done for Krull. With the mythological adventurers in particular. a despised outsider. when he was written as a supremely cocky macho bastard for a while. 20 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 21 . He expresses himself through poetry because to him the regular Bizarro language is barbaric. we talk with writer Grant Morrison about the new foes for the Man of Steel that he conceived for this series. Super–Christ portrayal that was starting to gain ground. Samson and Atlas. they had a life that extends far beyond the page. Majestic or Ultraman because people who don’t read comics have heard of Hercules. For years I’ve had the idea that the familiar “gray aliens” might “actually” be evolved biped dinosaur descendants.

which started with another simple premise – how about a giant robot villain? But not just any giant robot – this is a rampaging machine with a raging little man inside. and you arrive at your girlfriend’s house aged 76. angry. Geoff! They all want it and you know you never let them down! The red skin marked him out as unique. GM: The Chronovore was mentioned in passing in DC 1. NRAMA: One more obscure run that I was happy to see referenced in this was the use of Nasty from the old Mike Sekowsky Supergirl stories. from the B”Wana Beast to the Inferior Five to Yankee Doodle (in Doom Patrol). as you say. archetypal Superman foe. the I–Ching tales – and many of the characters he worked on. It had to work as a convincing representation of something much bigger that we’re seeing only where it interpenetrates our 4–D space-time continuum. It took a long time to NRAMA: Speaking of Mike Sekowsky. where Lex has a fairly normal sister who hates how her wayward brother is such a bad influence on her brilliant daughter. prior to the obsessive collecting fan phase of my isolated teenage years. and felt her fashion–y look could be updated very easily into the kind of fetish club thing I’ve always been partial to. I’m curious about his influence on your work. “Soviet” underworld of walled iron cities. cold blood and deadly intrigue. They need to bring Nasty back to mainstream continuity. but certainly not consciously. Giving him a bitter. The set–up. What made you want to use this character? GM: I remembered her from the old comics. War–Barges that could sail on the oceans of heated steam at the center of the Earth. heavy. his monstrous ambitions – came together in that first picture. then suddenly the Chronovore appears. Manhunter 2070. have shown up in your work. I’d never 22 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 23 . It had echoes of Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur that played right into the heart of the concept. that one. The Bizarro Zoo in issue #10 is even slightly reminiscent of the Beast’s merged animals. A good design became a great design and the whole story of who Krull was – his twisted relationship with his father the Dino–Czar. Imagine you’re walking along with a song in your teenage heart. scrawny loser as a pilot turned Mechano–Man into a much more extreme and pathological expression of the Man of Steel/Mild– Mannered Reporter dynamic. clutching a cell phone and a wilted bouquet. even among his own species. GM: Those were all comics that were around when I was a normal kid.000. They clearly inspired me in some way.get the right design for the beast because it’s meant to be a 5–D being that we only ever see in 4–D sections. NRAMA: Mechano–Man? GM: An attempt to pre–imagine a classic. The society was fleshed out in the script even though we see only one panel of it – a gloomy. and added a few interesting layers onto an 8–panel appearance. takes bite out of your life.000 and would have been the monster in my aborted Hypercrisis series idea. NRAMA: The Chronovore – a very disturbing creation. She seemed a cool and sexy addition to the Luthor plot. I have an odd fascination with all the ideas and stories he was tossing around in the late 1960s and early 1970s – Jason’s Quest. A Stalinist authoritarian lizard world where missing person cases were being taken to work and die as slaves in hellish underworld conditions. different and dangerous. is explosive with character potential.

Introduced to all the worst aspects of future culture and.anymore about this bastard – he’s often described as “the British Superman.. there was Baby Kal-El in the 1978 film.” but oh. was the Hebrew version of Garth and he would have his own mad comic that was like an American version of Garth. Meets Garth. tangling with Superman in all those Silver Age stories that happened before he learned from his friends at Marvel that it was possible to fight other superheroes for fun and profit. so I don’t have to explain 24 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 25 . have a very clear image of it in your head. (Brits. writing wrongs. Atlas was re–imagined as a mighty but restless and reckless young prince of the New Mythos – a society of mega–beings playing out their archetypal dramas between New Elysium and Hadia. but basically. it was actually about a blonde Adonis type who bounced around the ages having mildly horny. (Sorry. you arse! I hated meathead. but as you say. Samson. the top British strongman liked to get naked. I decided would be a callback to the British newspaper strip “Garth. he’d followed up his sci–fi Viking Gods saga at Marvel. Atlas and Hercules were classical mainstays of old Superman covers. Let’s face it. Heroina. You can see it all now.. which was all of them thanks to the miracle of his bullshit powers. I know I’m going on and the average attention span of anyone reading stuff on the Internet amounts to no more than a few paragraphs. He has a bullish. What if. erratic Chrono–Mobile. Essentially good–hearted. Interesting.. (Go look him up then return the wiser before reading on.. Anyway. Garth was always getting naked. Garth Ennis..). racy adventures.. have you ever seen Superman’s arse? Newsarama Note: Well. Marzak and the others. Marvel has the definitive Hercules for me. I’ve had an idea!!!! – and that’s Garth in a nutshell. Bollock naked. you’ll never see any of these men ever again. Like a science fiction Conan. inexplicable yet incredibly–drawn adventures and some of it was quite good when you were a little lad because he was always shagging ON PANEL with the likes of a bare–breasted cave girl or gauze–draped Helen of Troy. Samson became a time–(and space) travelling Soldier of Fortune. hands up who still remember the man. He drinks and plunges himself into ill–advised adventures to ease his naturally gloomy “weighed down by the world” temperament. Fortunately..” Although you may already be imagining a daily strip about the exploits of time– tossed The Boys writer. Naked in every time period he could get naked in. halfway between old characters and new. Samson. Garth’s pulling aside a flimsy curtain to gaze at the pyramids with Cleopatra buck naked in foreground ogling his rock hard glutes. In public. adolescent approach to life. using his stolen. patriotic Americans. accumulating and losing treasure etc. While I’m at it. I saw the Bible hero plucked from the desert sands by time–travelling buffoons in search of a savior. have considered myself a particular fan of Mike Sekowsky’s work.. Atlas would have been the newbie in a “team” with Skyfather Xaoz!. I should also say something about Samson and Atlas. and have you ever not seen Garth’s arse? Do you not. in fact. with a dimension–spanning epic rooted in Greek mythology? New Gods meets Eternals drawn by Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson? That was Atlas. I decided. (Imagine Doctor Who buff. when Jack Kirby came to DC from Marvel in 1971.but we all grew up with his meandering. in family newspapers. personality–singularity Garth. I’ve incorporated a lot of his ideas into the DC Universe work I’ve done. so I decided to completely “re–vamp” the characters in the manner of superhero franchises. The backstory suggested an unseen. as drawn by Martin Asbury perhaps? In mine. Lots naked. Empyrean New Gods– type series from a parallel universe. Samson. dumb and naked all the time – Russell. humping princesses. (Unlike Superman. Hmm. with ordinary people caught in the middle – and Superman. so I left him out of the mix and concentrated on Atlas and Samson.

or have you just changed his mind on how to portray these characters since? Grant Morrison: A little of both. I’ve recently been re–thinking Luthor again for a different project. deluded egotist in all of us. The weird vanity of that told me everything I needed to know about Luthor. I thought the real key to him was the fact that. no success. His need for acknowledgement and validation is superhuman in scale.. and get the stick of gum! Newsarama: How have your perceptions of Superman and his supporting characters evolved since the Superman 2000 pitch you did with Mark Waid. except for the ending. Luthor’s really human and charismatic and hateful all the same time. it was actually called Superman Now. at least in my notebooks.Part Five We continue our epic (and growing) conversation with Grant Morrison about his and Frank Quitely’s recently concluded run on All-Star Superman. Luthor constantly rails against his own sense of failure and inadequacy.. Mark Millar and Tom Peyer? The Superman notions seem almost identical. I wanted to approach All Star Superman as something new. NRAMA: This story makes Superman and Lois’ relationship seem much more The All-Star Superman Companion 27 . brilliant as he is. which is where the bulk of the material came from) that I felt were definitely worth keeping and exploring.and Superman’s to blame. of course. It’s ten parts in all – collect all of them. but there were a couple of specific aspects from the Superman 2000 pitch (as I mentioned earlier. I can’t remember much about Luthor from Superman Now. and there’s always a new aspect of the character to unearth and develop. By the time I got to All Star Superman. because there’s a big hungry hole in soul. Superman needs no thanks. he does what he does because he’s made that way. He’s the brilliant. no praise. but Luthor is very different here than in that pitch. For Luthor. Did you use some aspects of your original pitch. Luthor is nowhere near as brilliant as he wants to be or thinks he is. no achievement is ever enough. The key for me was the idea that he draws his eyebrows on. I’d developed a few new insights into Luthor’s character that seemed to flesh him out more. and so is Clark Kent.

NRAMA: Perry White has a few small–but–key scenes. do you see the relationship between Superman and Lois? GM: The black-and-white panels shows Lois paranoid and under the influence of an alien chemical. It also exposed that brilliant central paradox in the Superman/Lois relationship. that’s good enough for Jimmy. Enthusiastic but not stupid. Perry’s another of the series’ older male role models of integrity and steadfastness. but refuses to acknowledge it because it exposes her darkest flaw – she could never love Clark Kent the way she loves Superman. I wanted her to finally respond to all those years of being tricked and duped and led to believe Superman and Clark Kent were two different people. NRAMA: Jimmy Olsen is extremely cool in this series – it’s the old “Mr. It’s that little human kink that really drives their relationship. Innocent yet worldly. the Planet staff seems awfully nonchalant at Luthor’s threats. NRAMA: Also. It seemed more interesting see what a young man would be like who could convincingly be Superman’s “pal. which gets a nod on the first page of our Jimmy story we did). unlike that good–for–nothing work-shy bastard Batman. because those takes on the character don’t make any sense in their context. I don’t like victim Jimmy or dumb Jimmy. Lois has guessed. and simply presumes that if Superman has a good reason for what he’s doing. They also know that Superman makes a point of looking out for them. They know 28 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 29 . He knows Superman can actually take crazy lateral thinking like this and put it into practice. and will take any risk to get his story. but this one also makes Superman more of the pursuer. but also more wary of his affections. but yes. Jimmy was renowned for his “disguises” and bizarre transformations (my favorite is the transvestite Olsen epic “Miss Jimmy Olsen” from Jimmy Olsen #95. My favorite Jimmy moment is in issue #7 when he comes up with the way to defeat the Bizarro invasion by using the seas of the Bizarro planet itself as giant mirrors to reflect toxic – to Bizarros – sunlight onto the night side of the Earth. The Clark disguise comes off as very obvious in this story. She becomes this great beacon of support for him over the course of the series. and a cool Quitely haircut. Lois seems like more of an equal. I wanted her to get her revenge by finally refusing to accept the truth. she’s articulating many of her very real concerns in that scene. like Pa Kent. Perry is Clark’s boss and need only be that and not much more to play his role perfectly well within the stories. so they naturally try to keep Luthor talking. NRAMA: There’s a sense in the Daily Planet scenes and with Lois’s spotlight issues that everyone knows Clark is Superman. Are they simply used to being attacked by now? GM: Yes. my feelings are there on the page. Action” idea taken to a new level. like Lex? GM: If I had to say for sure. I think Jimmy Olsen worked it out a long time ago. He’s a good reminder that Superman has a job and a boss. added a little bit of Nathan Barley. I’d like to hear more about your thoughts on this character. a bit of Tintin. The perfect man who never tells a lie has to lie to the woman he loves to keep her safe.romantic and epic than usual. and playing down the whole wet–behind–the–ears “cub reporter” thing. particularly his address to his staff in issue #1 and standing up to Luthor in issue #12. particularly in the black–and–white sequence in issue #2. I borrowed a little from the “Mr Action” idea of a more daredevil. Do you see this version of Jimmy as sort of a natural evolution of the version often seen in the comics? GM: It was a total rethink based on the aspects of Olsen I liked. he comes off as someone worthy of being “Superman’s Pal” – he implicitly trusts Superman. so I wanted to take that aspect of his appeal and make it part of his job. Do you feel that the Planet staff knows the truth. some Abercrombie & Fitch style. but there is a sense that she’s a bit jaded from years of trickery and uncomfortable with letting him in now that he’s being honest. They’re a tough group. GM: As with the others. pro–active Jimmy. overall. How. It’s often easy to write Jimmy as a victim or sycophant. or are just in a very deep case of denial. And he lives with that every day. That meant making Jimmy a much bigger character: swaggering but disingenuous.” Someone whose company a Superman might actually enjoy. but they play along to humor him. but in this series.

should make themselves familiar with “Must There Be A Superman?” – it’s a milestone in the development of the superhero concept. as usual. Look again. the story that most defines Luthor for me turns out to be.GM: The Marks Waid and Millar were big fans of the Maggin books. The Ultimates etc. why was it so close to the ground? GM: It’s a MagLev hover–train.. but it was amazing to see this kind of depth in a character I’d taken for granted as a music hall villain. NRAMA: And there’s the death of Pa Kent. and finally understanding his enemy. long live the king thing that Superman is ultimately too big and too timeless to succumb to. to The Authority. it seemed important to stress the father/son relationships. as I soon realised when I went back to look. between–the–wars spirit of the ‘90s when I read it. The divine Len makes Lex almost too human. Hover–trains help ease congestion in busy city streets! Metropolis is the City of Tomorrow. and how did you define his character? What appeals to you about writing him? 30 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 31 .. hedonistic. I also love the brutish Satanic. Golden Age Luthor in the brilliant “Powerstone” Action Comics #47 (the opening of All Star #11 is a shameless lift from “Powerstone”. However.. because the book was about men or man. He comes across as a showman. and it becomes painfully apparent that he wants to ursurp Superman because he just can”t be happy with himself. Crowley–esque. cool adult from his rehearsed speech in issue #1 to his garish costume in the last two issues. Also. Was that an el–train. That circle of life. Blame my.cough). he’s almost forgotten he even has powers. but Ma went a few years after Pa. He keeps doing ordinary things instead of extraordinary things. Lex Luthor cares about humanity? He’s sorry we all got blown up? The villain loves us too? It’s only Superman he really hates? Genius. the king is dead. other than the vague recollection of a very humane. Big. NRAMA: There is a real touch of Elliott S! Maggin’s novels in your depiction of Luthor – someone who is just so obsessive–compulsive about showing up Superman that he accomplishes nothing in his own life. That’s all a lead–in to: What previous stories that defined Luthor for you.. photographic memory. Everyone still awake.. getting to see the world as Superman does. and if so.. I like Maggin’s “Must There Be A Superman?” from Superman #247. after all. but I have to admit I was confused by the sequence near the end of issue #1.. still reading this. NRAMA: The running gag of Clark subtly using his powers to protect unknowing people is well done. and may have persuaded me to read at least the first one but I’m ashamed to say can’t remember anything about it.. What defeats him is actually a beautiful gift. humanist take on Superman that seemed in general accord with the pacifist. and you’ll see it’s not supported by anything. Why do you feel it’s particularly important to have Pa and not both of the Kents pass away? GM: I imagined they had both passed away fairly early in Superman’s career. In that scene. a Len Wein piece with Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson– Superman #248. he’s so busy arguing and making points. I had other things on my mind and in my mind. It was the ‘90s. which ultimately poses questions traditional superhero comic books are not equipped to answer and is one of the first paving stones in the Yellow Brick Road that leads to Watchmen and beyond. This blew me away when I was a kid. he loves to talk about himself and about Superman.

body and intention. Among other things. or a horse to want to wear a diving suit and explore the Barrier Reef. nonpowered person could do if they embrace the best part of their humanity.And I like the Silver Age Luthor who only hates Superman because he thinks it’s Superboy’s fault he went bald. from Zibarro’s sacrifice to Pa’s influence on Superman. a Renaissance idea of the ideal man. offering sympathy to a person about to end it all. perfect in mind. Luthor as geek versus world). How do you view Superman’s fate in the context of where humanity could go as a species? GM: I see Superman in this series as an Enlightenment figure. (The ‘Oratorio’ also turns up in my British superhero series Zenith from 1987. Part Six Grant Morrison: Completely. Newsarama: Grant... someone is cleverer or more handsome. he’s played. and how Morrison views the power of stories. In this part. to live up to their ‘ideals’. loving Superman smiling at one end of the scale and paranoid. even the responsibility.the person you help today could be the person who saves your life tomorrow. know what it’s like to have mean–spirited thoughts like that about someone else’s happiness. deluded and angry. are really things that any normal. which may indicate how long I’ve been working towards a Pico/Superman team-up!) At its most basic. It’s essential to find yourself rooting for Lex. petty. someone is better. However. baldness. was seen quite rightly as a crippling disease and a challenge which Superman and his supporting cast would be compelled to overcome at every opportunity! Suburban “50s America versus Communist degeneracy? You tell me. generally regarded as the ‘manifesto’ of Renaissance thought. mimicry and self-transformation. old age and poverty. Welcome to the second half of our 10-part look back at All Star Superman with Grant Morrison. It would be unusual for a dog to aspire to be a horse. I think any writer of Superman has to love these two enemies equally. although he somewhat lacks the human dimension (ultimately there’s something brilliant about Luthor being a failed inventor. like obesity. it was Superman’s fault he went bald! I can get behind that. A key text in all of this is Pico’s ‘Oration On The Dignity of Man’ (15c). We have to recognize them both as potentials within ourselves. I see him as a very human character – Superman is us at our best. I thought Alan Moore’s ruthlessly self–assured “consultant” Luthor in Swamp Thing was an inspired take on the character as was Mark Waid’s rage–driven prodigy from Birthright. petty Luthor cringing on the other. I like elements of the Marv Wolfman/John Byrne ultra–cruel and rapacious businessman. And Superman gets the key to saving himself by doing something that any human being could do. a product of Smallville/ Dullsville – the genius who went unnoticed in his lifetime. a bird to bark like a dog. we’ll find out more about the themes of the series. in which Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola laid out the fundamentals of what we tend to refer to as ’Humanist’ thinking. vindictive. I like to think. That was the most genuinely human motivation for Luthor’s career of villainy of all. Luthor speaks for something in all of us. In the Silver Age. at least a little bit. The last page of issue #12 teases the idea that Superman’s powers could be given to all mankind. Even if you just wish you could just give him a hug and help him channel his energies in the right direction. NRAMA: The character actions that make the biggest difference. We fly by watching birds and then making metal carriers that can outdo birds. we travel underwater by imitating fish. when he goes up against a man–god armed only with his bloody–minded arrogance and cleverness. Luthor is us when we’re being mean. a recurring theme throughout the book is the effect of small kindness – how even the likes of Steve Lombard are capable of decency. I tried to fold them all into one portrayal. except for Superman. and resorted to death robots in chilly basements and cellars. we constantly look to role models and behavioral templates for 32 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 33 . I think it’s important to find yourself agreeing with Luthor a bit about Superman’s “smug superiority” – we all of us. but it seems as though the greatest gift he has given them is his humanity. It’s like a bipolar manic/depressive personality – with optimistic. Luthor is the male power fantasy gone wrong and turned sour. but people have a particular gift for and inclination towards imitation. You’ve got everything you want but it’s not enough because someone has more. the ‘Oratorio’ is telling us that human beings have the unique ability.

start building starships. the Kimota! for Western Culture and we would do well to remember it in our currently trying times. My own work has been an ongoing attempt to repeat the magic word over and over until we all become the kind of superheroes we’d all like to be. shapeshifty little things we are. We can continue to project our self-loathing and narcissistic terror of personal mortality onto our culture. We can continue to tell ourselves and our children that the species we belong to is a crawling. It’s entirely up to us. To do so would probably make us all feel a whole lot better too. even when those role models are fictional TV or.. elevate the better part of our natures and work to express those elements through our behavior. how we choose to imagine ourselves and conduct our lives. the gods. We can alter the clothes we wear. vicious. if we live by imitation. So. The key theme of the ‘Dark Age’ of comics was loss and recovery of wonder McGregor’s Killraven trawling through the apocalyptic wreckage of culture in his search for poetry.. quick. our civilization.guidance. The ’Oratorio’ is nothing less than the Shazam!. It’s really simple. Doing good deeds and making other people happy makes you feel totally brilliant.. and let’s see where that leads us. Pico is saying. We live in the stories we tell ourselves. Alan Moore’s Mike Maxwell trudging through the black and white streets of Thatcher’s Britain. comic.. Captain Mantra. let’s face it. The angel or the devil. We are. a distinctively malleable and adaptable bunch. Ha hah ha. in short. The superhero or the super villain. the very highest form of being that we can imagine ? Instead of indulging the most brutish.or we can own up to the scientific fact that we are all physically connected as parts of a single giant organism. diseased. particularly in the privileged West. 34 All-Star Memories . we can. So we can choose to the astronaut or the gangster. amnesiac in Robert Mayer’s Superfolks. does it not make sense that we might choose to imitate the angels. and get on with the business of being adults.. imagine better ways to live and grow. We can stop pissing about. meaning and fellowship. in order to colonize or occupy previously hostile environments.. until we wreck the promise of the world for future generations in a fit of sheer self-induced panic. with the magic word of transformation burning on the tip of his tongue. just like the soft. .and then put them into practice. novel or movie heroes. and change even our own bodies. with a little applied effort. greedy and ignorant aspects of the human experience. our planet. only fit for extinction. the temperature around us. viral cancer smear.

on girls and boys. and. it added a very terminal ticking clock to the story. as you say. we discussed the neurotic quality of the Silver Age stories. I wanted us to get the precise energy of Platonic Superman down on the page. Do you feel the threat of his demise brings out the best in Superman’s already–high character. the super–sigil. NRAMA: When we talked earlier this year. Looking at the series as a whole. I don’t take my daft job lightly. so the subject dictated the methodical. but for the most part he handles them with a level head and comes across as being very at peace with himself. You talked about your discussion with an in–character Superman fan at a convention years ago. It’s all I’ve got. As I’ve mentioned before. GM: I felt we had to live up to the big ideas behind Superman. As the project got going. you consistently invert this formula. I wasn’t thinking about Silver Ages or Dark Ages or anything about the comics I’d read. perfectionist approach. Superman’s death and rebirth fit the sun god myth we were establishing. the character or the artist. we wanted to hit on all the major beats that define the character – the “death of Superman” story has been told again and again and had to be incorporated into any definitive take. Newsarama: The structure of the 12 issues involves both Superman’s 12 labors and his impending death. so much as the big shared idea of “Superman” and that “S” logo I see on T–shirts everywhere I go. Superman is faced with all these crises that could be seen as personifying his neuroses.” ultimate Superman story. and why writing this series wasn’t like his gigs on Batman and Final Crisis. The “S” hieroglyph. or did you intend it more as a window for the audience to understand how he sees the world? Grant Morrison: In trying to do the “big. I keep this aspect of my job fresh for myself by changing my writing style to suit the project. we find out what went into making the “ultimate” Superman story. but I am curious as to how you determined Superman’s mindset. That communal Superman. some insights into the nature of Morrison’s collaboration with artist Frank Quitely.Part Seven In the seventh part of our 10-part look back at All-Star Superman with Grant Morrison. stands for the very best kind of man we can imagine. The All-Star Superman Companion 37 .

Good riddance. where we see Le Roj handing Superman his rocket plans. the character. Look at the arrangement of the figures of Zibarro. I couldn’t have written it if I hadn’t known what it felt like to be idolized. in retrospect. The sense of sunlit Zen calm we tried to get into All Star is how I imagine it might feel to think the way Superman thinks all the time . yet tuned to a higher key. There’s a scene in issue # 8. inspired by Batman’s roots and by the snapping. With All Star Superman. starring the ultimate superhero. I couldn’t have written it if I’d never had 38 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 39 . I hoped we could create an “ultimate” hero story. the message. clean. with the Norse Ragnarok and Biblical Revelations in mind. the artists add their own vision and nuance. brilliant dad decline into incoherence and death. the story. The subject matter drives the execution. With something like Batman R. of course. all working together as one simple equation.. structure. an elegance of form. The medium. fluttering of his uncanny cape. Rich with humour and tears and deep human significance. “Frank” and I were able to spend a lot of time together talking it through. the deep structural underpinnings of the series and how to embody them in his layouts. Writing All Star Superman was. And then. also a way of keeping my mind in the clean sunshine while plumbing the murkiest depths of the imagination with that old pair of c****s Darkseid and Doctor Hurt. Basically. ordered. or mended. loved for all my faults. forgotten. punkpsych. Le Roj. completely understood without much explanation. I couldn’t have written this book if I hadn’t watched my big. A mind capable of fantastical imagination but grounded in the everyday of his farm upbringing with nice decent folks.P. Superman and Bizaro–Superman and you’ll see one attempt to make us of Renaissance compositions. I suppose I felt Superman deserved the utmost application of our craft and intelligence in order to truly do him justice. Otherwise. Frank Quitely. set on the Bizarro world. I’m aiming for a frenzied Goth Pulp-Noir. storybook panel layouts. Death Metal myth for the wonderful world of Fina(ncia)l Crisis/Eco-breakdown/Terror Trauma we all have to live in.I. that’s all. In honor of the character’s primal position in the development of the superhero narrative. heart broken. hated for no clear reason.a thought process that is direct. We tried to hum along for a little while. a clarity of delivery. precise. misunderstood. Final Crisis was written. remembered. a Glasgow Art School boy. expressionist shadows and jagged nightmare scene shifts. and we agreed it had to be about grids. A doom-laden. “Classical” in every sense of the word.. as a story about events more than characters.

I never intended All Star Superman as a direct continuation of the Weisinger or Julius Schwartz-era Superman stories. not about comics or superheroes. I didn’t collect Superman comics until the ‘70s and I’m not interested enough in pastiche or nostalgia to spend 6 years of my life playing post-modern games with Superman. a piece of drawing and writing that is intended by its makers to capture the spirit of its subject to the best of their capabilities. All Star Superman is not intended as arch commentary on continuity or how trends in storytelling have changed over the decades. It’s not retro or meta or anything other than its own simple self. drawn or colored to look or read like a Silver Age comic book. but how much of the Silver/ Bronze Age backstory matters here? What do you see as Superman’s life prior to All-Star Superman? (What was going on with this Superman while the Byrne revamp took hold?) Grant Morrison: When I introduced the series in an interview online. All Star isn’t written. Which is to say. of what the tone of the book might be like. not something ‘Age’ specific. we wanted our Superman story be about life.. we take a look at where Superman came from – both on and off the page. If ‘Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?’ and the Byrne reboot had never happened. The idea was always to create another new version of Superman using all my favorite elements of past stories.Part Eight As we head into the home stretch of our look back at All Star Superman with Grant Morrison. It’s about how it feels. Morrison discusses how the Superman stories of the past influenced his miniseries – and how he interprets Superman’s homeworld of Krypton. specifically to be a man. 40 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 41 . Newsarama: This is touched on in other questions. current events or politics. where would that guy be now? This was more to provide a sense. I suggested that All Star Superman could be read as the adventures of the ‘original’ Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman.. returning after 20 plus years of adventures we never got to see because we were watching John Byrne‘s New Superman on the other channel. probably limited and our dreams! Hopefully that means our 12 issues are also capable of wide interpretation. In this section. wisdom and talent.

R. So much so. It was our intention to present a more universal. Pa Kent’s heart attack is from ‘Superman the Movie‘. seemed like the last thing Kryptonians would endorse. the aristocratic heritage that makes him special. we’d have used Brainiac’s Kryptonian origin from the animated series and so on. his adopted species as he became Superman. they’re touched by Superman’s goodness. there are more than just Silver Age influences in the book. As you say. and how has Superman’s character been shaped by each? GM: My version of Krypton was. if Superman is the story of a young king. At the same time. with their focus on human problems and foibles.So as much as we may have used a few recognizable Silver Age elements like Van-Zee and Sylv(i)a and the Bottle City of Kandor. Cat Grant is from 1987 And so on. In mythic terms. you show the complexity of Superman’s relationship between humanity and Earth even further. And more importantly.the story of a farm boy who turned into an alien as he reached adolescence.appeared in 1991. Doomsday is ‘90s. that it should just be taken as representative of an ‘age’ all its own. Byrne made a lot of good decisions when he rebooted the whole franchise in 1986 and I wanted to incorporate as much as I could of those too. as well as to The Cadmus Project from ’90s Superboy and Superman stories. it made the Superman myth more poignant . synthesized from a number of different approaches over the decades. I do think that the Silver Age type stories. then Krypton is the far distant kingdom he lost. Perry White is from 1940. The Byrne logic seemed to me a better way to explain how his powers had developed across the decades. refers back to Jack Kirby’s DNA Project from his ‘70s Jimmy Olsen stories. if slightly stronger and fitter infant. Krypton is something that must be left behind for Superman to become who he is . The flag.the central circle is now 42 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 43 . found and raised by common people. I felt that was something that really enriched Superman. from the skyscraper leaps of the early days to the speed-of-light space flight of the high Silver Age. To that. Earth makes his heart blaze. even Jor-El. but the Kryptonians are also portrayed as slightly aloof and detached. Kal Kent. and only began to manifest powers in adolescence when he’d finally soaked up enough yellow solar radiation to trigger his metamorphosis. chilly and rational philosophic system on the planet and the closest. the ensemble Daily Planet cast embodies all the generations of Superman. It’s the secret bloodline..C. which I re-interpreted through the lens of Dzogchen Buddhist thought. science fiction detailing of the Silver Age Krypton stories and the slightly detached coolness that characterized John Byrne’s Krypton. for instance. NRAMA: In your depiction of Krypton and the Kryptonians. mainstream Superman. Krypton has that scientific paradise quality to it. again. We also took some time to redesign the crazy. They’re more like fables or folk tales than the later ‘comic book superhero’ stories of Superman when he became just another colorful costume in the crowd.O. and a hero. as originally imagined.e. We didn’t use Brainiac because he’d been the big bad in Earth 2 but if we had. probably the most pragmatic..i. one of us. His teenage years are a record of his transformation from normal boy to super-being. I added the rich. Krypton gives him his scientific clarity of mind.the only black man in Metropolis .T. But from Bar-El to the people of Kandor.J. All Star Superman landed on Earth as a normal. to how Kryptonians might see things. I liked the very early Jerry Siegel descriptions where Krypton is a planet of advanced supermen and women (I already played with that a little in Marvel Boy where Noh-Varr was written to be the Marvel Superboy basically). Ron Troupe . I felt. however.E. so we took the multicolored-rays-around-a-circle design and recreated it . Our Superman in All Star was never Superboy. In the end. multicolored Kryptonian flag (you can see our version in Kandor in issue #10). Basically we tried to create a perfect synthesis of every Superman era. P. his family.and perhaps that’s why All Star seemed to resemble those books more than it does a typical modern Marvel or DC comic.. He grew away from his home. Steve Lombard is from the Schwartz-era ‘70s. have a much wider appeal than a lot of the work which followed. Solaris and the Infant Universe of Qwewq all come from my own work on Superman in the same decade. I also used quite a few elements of John Byrne’s approach. What do you see as the fundamental difference between Kryptonians and Earthlings.

rather than arbitrary colors. Many have compared Superman to Christ. crawling around on the floor. the flag. chest crests and variant colors. this book is the most explicit SF–Christ story since Behold the Man. Comics were definitely happier. become representations of the spectrum of visible light pouring from Rao into the inky black of space. taking a kicking from everyone. Superman/Christ parallels have existed for decades. and tends to overlook the fact that Superman is by no means a pacifist in the Christ sense. When did Christ ever batter the Devil through a mountain? The thing I disliked about the Superman Returns movie was the American Christ angle. you style of writing has changed dramatically since then. representing Krypton’s star.happy. In this way. Superman would never turn the other cheek.. Superman punches out the bully. Superman is a fighter. You’ve dealt with Christ themes before. Rao. Showing Krypton and Kryptonians was also important as a way of stressing why Superman wears that costume and why it makes absolute sense that he looks the way he does. How do you feel about One Million now? Grant Morrison: I just read it again and liked it a lot. the standard superhero outfit. 44 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 45 . Newsarama: Although All–Star Superman ties in with DC One Million. NRAMA: Obviously. Part Nine In the penultimate section of our look back at All Star Superman. martyred Jesus. breezier and more confident in their own strengths before Hollywood and the Internet turned the business of writing superhero stories into the production of low budget storyboards or. into conformist. the familiar Superman suit with the pants on the outside. give or take a few fashion accessories like hoods and headbands. worse. but this story makes it absolutely explicit. all other superheroes are just copying the fashions on Krypton. while the rays. which didn’t play well to the character’s strengths at all and seemed to derive entirely from a kind of Catholic vision of the suffering. but how does Grant Morrison really see him – or religion in general? Read on to find out. It’s not that he’s based on Jesus. from laying his hands on the sick and dying to. I don’t see the red and blue suit as a flag or as rewoven baby blankets. It’s a sign of his pride in his alien heritage. particularly in The Mystery Play. is what everyone wore on Krypton. most of issue #12. lost planet of the super-people. In fact. masochistic wreck.well. fruitless attempts to impress or entertain a small group of people who appear to hate comics and their creators.. that bizarre emblem of nationalism becomes a scientific hieroglyph. This approach had an odd and slightly disturbing S&M flavor. There’s no need for Superman to dress the way he does but it made sense to think of his outfit as his ‘national costume‘. only. Superman wears his ’action-suit’ the way a patriotic Scotsman would wear a kilt. which reduced Superman to a sniveling. we examine some of the religious underpinnings of the series. but outside of the comics. but simply that a lot of the mythical sun god elements which have been layered onto the Christ story also appear in the story of Superman.. how do you see Superman as a Christ figure for the “real” world? GM: The “Superman as Christ” thing is a little too reductive for The way I see it..

and seemed to me to be as good a title for a Superman story as any I could think of. In “Neverending.. hopeful Joe Shuster sketch. And also what that could mean in a holographic fractal universe. And the story structure itself was designed to loop endlessly. a worthless comic book. sitting with the latest Superman issue in your hands. down to that smiling. A dying god writing his will seemed like an interesting structure to use. onto the Renaissance concept of the ideal man. Of course the next panel in that sequence is happening in the real world and would show you. It seemed to distil everything about Superman’s battle and his legend into a single word. you’ve explored all types of religions and philosophies in your work. On top of that went the idea of the Last Will and Testament of Superman. a story for kids. wherever you are. deep within the Infant Universe of Qwewq in the Fortress of Solitude. a science redeemer with tough guy muscles and a very direct and clear morality. the reader. where the smallest part contains and reflects the whole. NRAMA: Continuing the religious themes. Then came the title “Neverending. So much of All Star had been about this threat to Superman himself. you have Superman literally giving birth to himself. if you meditate upon the curious entanglement of the real and the fictional. He’s a secular messiah. And then to show the development of the Superman idea through human culture from the earliest Australian Aboriginal notions of super–beings ‘descended” from the sky.” of the Superman radio show from 1940.I suppose I see Superman more as pagan sci–fi.. today. How did that idea come about? GM: It came from the challenge we’d set ourselves: as I said. both philosophically and as a character – a nice little meta–moment showing how Superman inspires a world where he is only fiction. Then came the idea to fit all of human history into that single 24 hours. NRAMA: On a personal level. in issue #10. uplifting notion of the superman become reduced to a drawing. and the Christian take on Jesus Christ in particular? The All-Star Superman Companion 47 . through the complex philosophical system of Hinduism. via the refinements of Nietzche and finally. According to some texts. I wanted to do a “day in the life” story.” the reader becomes wrapped in a self–referential loop of story and reality. so it went well with that. you will become enlightened in this life apparently. the final embodiment of humanity’s glorious. so we wanted to show him going about a typical day saving people and doing good. issue #10 had been left as a blank space into which the single most coherent condensation of all our ideas about Superman were destined to fit. What is your take on religion and how it influences humanity.” which comes from the opening announcement – “Faster than a speeding bullet!. seriously think about what is happening at this point in the story. If you actually.

but you don’t have to be Superman to know what that feeling is like. Religion is to spirituality what porn is to sex. unsurprisingly.. it.” However. It feels like talking with God but I see that as an aspect of science.” privileged people (priests) between ordinary people and the divine. I find I’m talking to myself. coherent and kindly than the voices you normally hear in your head – are explaining the structure of time and space and your place in it. but ultimately. In timeless. not religion. fundamentalist Muslims. Everyone who’s familiar with this upgrade will tell you the same thing: it feels as if “alien” or “angelic” voices – far more intelligent. mocked or medicated). I think it’s nothing more than a developmental level of human consciousness. in fact. it’s one of those ugly. he was crucified for his ideas. right now. including the scary. of people being taken away by “fairies” or “little people”. which nowadays would get him a diagnosis of temporal lobe epilepsy (in the days of the Emperor Tiberius. I just wish that more people were educated to a standard where they could understand what religion is and how it works. than the sum total of all matter. “God” is in everything. There are a ton of meditation techniques which can take you to this place. Some people have the experience and believe the God of their particular culture has chosen them personally to have a chat with. Jesus was. the solid world is just the part of heaven we’re privileged to touch and play with. as they say. all consciousness.GM: I think religion per se. a oneness. way cool: a man who achieved a state of consciousness. This “holistic” mode of consciousness (which Luthor experiences briefly at the end of All Star Superman) announces itself as a heartbreaking connection. This identification with a timeless supermind containing and resolving within itself all possible thoughts and contradictions. “I know I must be God because when I pray to Him. today he’d be laughed at.” 48 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 49 . all energy. hence the proliferation of “abduction” accounts in recent decades. given that this totality must logically include and resolve all possible thoughts and concepts. The entire universe. stupid arse–over–backwards things we could probably do without now. meaning and hope for the majority of poor bastards who have ever lived on Earth. evil bits. every action was not already an expression of dynamic ‘divinity” at work. no less. is a thought “God” is thinking. Some “contactees” interpret the voices they hear erroneously as communications from an otherworldly. it can also be interpreted as an actual encounter with God. has been an undeniable source of comfort. As Peter Barnes wrote in “The Ruling Class”. every thought. You don’t need a priest or a holy man to talk to “god” on your behalf just close your eyes and say hello: “god” is no more. Religion creates a structure which places “special. or misunderstood lunatics. mistake for an encounter with “God. spaceless consciousness. Some.. Yes. As far as I can figure it out from my own reading and my own experience of how the spiritual world works. so I’m not trying to write it off completely. all the time and can be found there by looking carefully. or something like it. so I’m not here to give anyone a hard time over interpretation. as experienced or conceptualized from a timeless perspective where everything ever seems to present all at once. will recognize the “alien” voice as the “Holy Guardian Angel”. alien intelligence. devotees of Shiva. As I’ve said before. as if there could even be any separation: as if every moment. like the ability to see perspective – which children of 4 cannot do but children of 6 can. It’s what the Hollywood 3–act story template is to real creative writing. is a ghastly blight on the progress of the human species towards the stars. here on the Planet of the Apes. These people may become born– again Christians. At the same time. with everything that exists. from earlier centuries. the singular human mind blurs into a direct experience of the totality of all consciousness that has ever been or will ever be. is what many people. it got us through the night for a while. I don’t see it as anything supernatural or religious. who like to describe themselves as magicians. which share most of their basic details with similar accounts.

he also is able to sire a child who will carry his legacy into the future. ailing relative.. but right now it feels like Frank and Jamie and I have said all there is to be said. and inspires the beings on Qwewq. He kicks ass in both the spiritual and the temporal spheres! NRAMA: The notion of transcendence – always a big part of your work. But the debate about All Star Superman is whether or not it “transcends its genre. I have other plans. Newsarama: When we spoke earlier this year. he becomes golden and mythical and lives forever as a dream. It’s a pretty high–level attempt by some smart people to do the Superman concept some justice. we look at the possibility of future stories with this version of the character. and I’d like to do more. Yet. The All-Star Superman Companion 51 . but does the work aspire to more than that? Is it simply the greatest version of a Superman story. NRAMA: You end the book with Superman having uplifted humanity – having inspired them through his sacrifice and great deeds. In our last installment. and with the potential to pass his powers on to humanity still there. Are you moving forward on those.and what Morrison hopes readers take away from his epic. if you miss your dad. I’d like to think you can go to it if you’re feeling suicidal.” Superman becomes transcendent within the series itself. Do you plan to explore this concept further. if you’ve ever lost control and needed a good friend to put you straight. it’s best left open–ended. you talked about some of your ideas for future All Star stories.Part Ten Our look back at All Star Superman with writer Grant Morrison finally concludes. if you’ve had to take care of a difficult. the hidden meaning of the title All Star Superman. or would you prefer to leave it open–ended? GM: I may go back to the Son of Superman in some way. is all I can say. I did have the stories worked out. I like the idea that Superman gets to have his cake and eat it. It’s intended to work as a set of sci–fi fables that can be read by children and adults alike. I don’t know if I’m ready to do All Star Superman with anyone else right now. or have you started working on different ideas since then? Grant Morrison: I haven’t had time to think about them for a while.. and that’s enough? GM: That would certainly be enough if it were true. At the same time.

. the essence of that working class superheroic ideal I mentioned. can make you scared. in today’s media climate designed to foster the fear our leaders like us to feel because it makes us easier to push around. above all else. It was Superman as this fusion of Renaissance/Enlightenment ideas about Man and Cosmos. It was to me. Is this relentless. condensed into a final image of mythic Superman. The daft All Star Superman title of the comic is literalised in this last picture. intended to be reminiscent of William Blake’s cosmic figures. meet with the real hours and emotions of a reader. in fact. The position of the legs hints at the Buddhist swastika. as engineered by an intrinsically evil and corrupt species which. I have a desire not to see my culture and my fellow human beings fall helplessly into step with a middle class media narrative that promises only planetary catastrophe. adolescent. In a world where the measure of our moral strength has come to lie in the extremity of the images we’re able to look at and stomach. Discuss. In today’s world. What I hope is that people take from it the unlikelihood that a piece of paper. of all readers at once. divine imitation. that’s going to the dogs. downbeat insistence that the future has been cancelled really the best we can come up with? Are we so fucked up we get off on terrifying our children? It’s not funny or ironic anymore and that’s why we wrote All Star Superman the way we did. with little written words. with little ink drawings of figures. Violent optimism in the face of all evidence to the contrary is the Alpha form of outrage these days. It’s the ‘fearful symmetry’ of the Enlightenment project . if you love your pets. the colourist.. deserves everything it gets. tireless. then given new meaning and new life when the real hours and real emotions that the writer and the image of genius. as a form of superhuman.What was the inspiration for the image of Superman in the sun at the end? (I confess this question comes as the result of much unsuccessful Googling) I didn’t have any specific reference in mind . I’m glad it’s over. I’m reliably told. Everything hs changed. ‘fuck you’ positivity and optimism.and in particular male . or thrilled. across time. ‘Zibarro’ crap. the real punk rock rebellion. 52 All-Star Memories The All-Star Superman Companion 53 . NRAMA: Finally: What. GM: Discuss yourself. I drew the figure as a sketch. toil. guiding. . Callahan! I know you have the facilities and I should think it’s all rather obvious.just that one we‘ve all sort of got in our heads. ‘Dark’ entertainment now looks like hysterical. The inspiration for the first letter of the new future alphabet! As you can see. the clockwise sun symbol. generations and distance. an impossible union of Blake and Newton.experience. In a world where limp. and our need to make things. In that sense I’d like to think All Star Superman does transcend genre in that it’s intended to be read on its own terms and needs absolutely no understanding of genre conventions or history around it to grasp what’s going on. the letter the editor translated onto the physical page. pulped and poured. we spent a lot of time thinking about all this and purifying it down to our own version of the gold. can make you cry. selfless. It really freaks people out.All Star is about how Superman deals with all of that. How mental is that ? That piece of paper is inert material. That’s what my Final Crisis series is about too. the real mischief. and Leonardo’s ‘Proportions of the Human Figure‘. to fashion art and artefacts. A Pop Art ‘Vitruvian Man‘. sad. would you like people to take away from All Star Superman? GM: That we spent a lot of time thinking about this! No. is a snarling. NRAMA (aka Tim Callahan): Continuing with the theme of transcendence: The words “ineffectual” and “surrender” are repeated throughout the book. wimpy men are forced to talk tough and act ‘badass’ even though we all know they’re shitting it inside. It’s a big old Paul Bunyan style mythologizing of human . if you wish your partner could see the real you. In a world. internal. loving superstar. the corpse of some tree.our eternal. Russian Constructivist Soviet Socialist Worker type posters. can make your heart soar.

along with hundreds of thousands of others across time and space. against a darkening backdrop. that would be good enough for me. can trigger your own grief. the Last time the Only time. If we were able to capture even a hint of that place and share it with our readers. In the one Mythic moment we’re all united. My grief over the loss of my dad can be Superman’s grief. with Mum telling us it’ll all be okay in the end. for your own dad. The timeless grief that’s felt by Muslims and Christians and Agnostics alike. My personal moments of great and romantic love. 54 All-Star Memories . kissing our Lover for the First time. the simple experience of interacting with a paper comic book. for all our dads. honouring our dear Dad under a blood red sky. is an actual doorway onto the beating heart of the imminent. timeless world of “Myth” as defined above. untainted by the everyday. Not just a drawing of it but an actual doorway into timelessness and the immortal world where we are all one together. can become Superman’s and may resonate with your own experience of these simple human feelings.And think about how that experience.

” . I saw Superman not as a superhero or even a science fiction character. but as a story of Everyman. We’re all Superman in our own adventures.“In the end.Grant Morrison .

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