Review: All-Star Superman 2

After a promising but somewhat underwhelming first issue (not much action, stiff but pretty artwork), this series is starting to look like it'll be a lot of fun.

This second issue is much stronger than the first. It looks as if writer Grant Morrison may be successful in his mission to inject some offbeat fun back into the Superman mythos.

This time out we get to see Superman flying Lois Lane (in her car) to the Fortress of Solitude, which is replete with trophies, including the original Titanic, plus a whole platoon of Superman robots.

Nutty ideas are to the fore. For example, we see that Superman has replaced the giant key to the Fortress with a normal-sized one. The catch is that the new one is made of "super-dense dwarf star material" weighing half a million tons and only he can lift it.

The Man of Steel's purpose for inviting Lois to his secret hideout isn't immediately clear but, by issue's end, we understand that this incarnation of Superman is a big, dopey, lovestruck kid at heart--a true innocent. Lois is Lois, just how you'd want her: Pretty, smart, suspicious and resourceful (even in an evening gown).

What we're getting is something that seems impossible: a 1950s-era Superman--complete with all the goofy, sci-fi trimmings--placed in a modern, but refreshingly unironic, context. The result is a fun comic, plain and simple.

So far, Morrison hasn't seen need to darken things up or twist them around in effort to poke fun at what makes Superman the iconic character he's supposed to be. It's a refreshing approach.

The art, by Frank Quitely, is much improved over the first issue. There's better flow of action and some genuinely funny scenes. His faces and figures are fantastic and the computer-rendered art by Jamie Grant manages to be impressively vivid without destroying the line work.

Still, the visuals sometimes seem a little stiff and quiet. It's a pity sound effects in comics seem verboten these days. The action scene up above is nice, but it'd be even better with a big "zap!" or "pow!" over it. Some motion lines would make it clear that Lois is jumping or being thrown up into the air from the recoil of the raygun. Instead, it looks as if she's floating gently in space. Are creators these days embarassed by such storytelling conventions? It's a pity if that's the case, because the comics are suffering for it.

In terms of story content, not a ton happens, but the issue doesn't really seem padded. I'll keep buying the monthlies instead of waiting for a trade. It looks as if things may heat up action-wise next issue. I'm looking forward to it.

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