Andrew Miller ’27 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
In that page, the most famous comic book origin is condensed beautifully into four short sentences, and audiences are introduced to the world of the Man of Steel in All-Star Superman, which in many people’s opinion might be one of the greatest comic book stories of all time. Written by the talented Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quietly, is widely considered to be one of the quintessential comics relating to ever herculean character of Superman. It tells the story of the man of steel in his final days, with a disease that’s supercharging his cells after saving a group of astronauts near the sun. Nevertheless, this finality in the life of the man of steel gives Superman a new perspective and goal in his life: to do as much as he can before he leaves this world. Moreover, he has never been more powerful than ever, which gives him the ability to finish what he started.
The storyline is as compelling as it is emotional, portraying Superman not as an invincible god, but as a deeply human and relatable character. The narrative explores the Last Son of Krypton’s journey to complete his final tasks after being exposed to an overdose of solar radiation, granting him incredible powers while shortening his lifespan. This impending mortality adds layers of depth to Superman’s character, making him more accessible and real than ever before. Morrison’s writing is a testament to his storytelling prowess. Fans would recognize his level of writing from past works such as his work on the series “Doom Patrol” and his work on rebuilding the Justice League on the series “JLA”. He deftly weaves a tale that encompasses not just action-packed battles but also deep philosophical and moral questions. The themes of hope, sacrifice, and the legacy of a hero are explored with an eloquence rarely seen in the superhero genre. This is clear in one of the comic’s most astounding aspects; its ability to embrace the entire history of Superman while introducing fresh elements. Longtime fans will appreciate the nods to classic moments, while newcomers will find themselves immersed in a rich, self-contained narrative. Grant Morrison would refine this in his later Batman run, which had clear inspirations from all star superman.
But if there’s one scene that defines why not just All-Star Superman is the greatest superman comic of all time, but that Superman defines the very world “superhero,” That it can be found in Issue #10 “Neverending.”
We begin with a girl standing atop a skyscraper as she drops her phone down to the depths below, the height spikes through the entire page. We then cut to a close image of her, tears pouring down her face as she gains the conviction and readiness to do what she plans to do. She probably would have done it, if not for the kindness and compassion of the titular character. The large and ever famous “S” and the chest it is embezzled on the background of the girl, who’s name is revealed to be Regan by the Man of Steel’s comforting elocution. He tells her that her doctor really did get held up again, which was shown pages ago when Superman saved the train her therapist was on. He then says that it’s never as bad as it seems, a large but gentle hand is placed on her shoulder, making Regan’s eyes expand in shock. The comic cuts to the Champion of the Oppressed as he towers over Regan, who has turned to see that it is truly Superman comforting her in her dire time of need, like how he’s always been there for humanity. With a thoughtful and tender look on his face, he continues to speak from before: “You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.” We then cut to the superhero and human hugging each other from far away, with Superman’s cape flowing around Regan as her face is buried in the Man of Steel’s chest.
This might be my favorite comic page of all time, and for good reason. It shows superheroes at their very core, and what they were written to do in the first place. It was always about helping people, no matter how small or large it may be. Moreover, it shows the very idea of Superman and superheroes in general, the notion of hope in the face of a world that can be seen as sliding into darkness. In a landscape where it seems that superheroes have to be more dark, more edgy, more “realistic”, more in despair, it is absolutely vital to share the idea they are about hope and a better tomorrow. This is what the comic shows: even if you’re at death’s doorstep and believe that there is truly no other way to continue moving forward in life, there is always another way. All of us are stronger, we only have to act on it.
After all, that is The Never-Ending Battle.