Thursday, July 12, 2007

All-Star Superman 8

As All-Star Superman: Year 2 hits its second issue, it seems evident that Morrison is moving the book in a slightly different narrative direction. Where the first 6 issues were only loosely connected, each issue in this next movement would appear to lead directly into the next. And if issues 7 and 8 are any indication, this isn't an entirely good idea: in the grand, kitschy tradition of the golden and silver age comics that Morrison is emulating, an argument on the second page is little more than expository dialogue aimed at refreshing the reader's memory. "I already explained..." says Superman, to which Zibarro replies, "And I explained to you..." It's cute, I suppose, but unavoidably awkward. Issues 1 and 2, as well as 2 and 3, were also somewhat linked and yet Morrison never resorted to this sort of cheesy recapping.

Morrison actually increases the campiness of the comic as it progresses, though his subsequent choices seem better reasoned. The Ancient Bizarro Anthem is as strange as it is unsettling, and Superman's manipulation of the Bizarros is simultaneously clever and obvious. The Bizarro speech should also get old - and maybe it would have if issues 7 and 8 had been released four weeks apart - but Morrison manages to keep the joke fresh, with Bizarro Wonder Woman's appearance in the Unjustice League providing a particularly absurd and wonderful moment.

The real star of this issue, though, is Zibarro. Recalling that all the best issues of this series have been focalized through some other cast member - Lois in 2, Jimmy in 4, Lex in 5, and young Superman in 6 - Morrison again pulls away from Superman and makes Zibarro the center of the story. In many ways, Zibarro seems to stand for the incredulous reader who has no time for infantile Bizarro-talk and feels above the material to which Morrison is paying homage. At first insufferable, Zibarro grows on us. He's drawn with incredibly sensitivity by Quitely - just look at him in the pages where he realizes there's only space for one on the ship, and then when he ties Superman to the ship - and he comes to stoically accept a tragic end as Bizarro World returns to the Underverse. It's not on par with the funeral for Pa Kent, sure, but it'll do.

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