All Star Superman (2011) (DVD)

“My last adventure is about to begin…”

I never actually was able to read all of Grant Morrison’s much hyped and controversial “All Star Superman” when it was originally released in newsstands back in 2005, so for me watching “All Star Superman” was mostly new territory. While I loved Morrison and Quitely’s treatment of the man of steel (for what I read), I lost track of the series, so 2011’s “All Star Superman” is fresh terrain that I was mostly excited to sit through, especially when you consider the cast of seasons heavyweights like Christina Hendricks, Anthony LaPaglia, Frances Conroy, and John DiMaggio respectively. “All Star Superman” remains about as true to Frank Quitely’s unique artistic design as possible while adhering to the neo-anime tone that DC has sidled with over the years. While the 2011 movie is short in the tooth, it is absolutely satisfying, especially in its ability to remain firmly entrenched in anime devices that keeps “All Star Superman” anything more than another stock Superman title.

James Denton gives a spirited performance as the man of steel who, after committing a feat of amazing strength saving a space craft, reveals a brand new power induced by pure sun and radiation. The feat not only exploits a new ability, but changes his molecular structure to the point where Superman is now on his last days alive. In an effort to make amends with his life, he takes Lois Lane in to his confidence and shows her his personal life giving her the ability to be a super human for her birthday. Along the way, Lex Luthor has been banished after a life of crimes against humanity, setting the stage for Superman’s most amazing feat that remains mysterious until the time has come for him to. This new film brings about a series of new faces and Andrea Romano is at her tops again casting a series of award winning voices for this unusual and often unique Superman entry. Anthony LaPaglia has the proper amount of menace and charisma to create an air of slimy distinction for Lex, while the ravishing Christina Hendricks is entertaining as Lois Lane.

The eternal conundrum that Superman must face is what he is confronted with in “All Star Superman.” Can the world live without a Superman? How can he die and or go away for a long time without the Earth falling in to the hands of pure evil, most of all Lex Luthor who is unaware of Superman’s fading health and is intent on creating the perfect weapon that can destroy him once and for all. When there is no more Superman, can he trust new saviors with his tasks? Is there anyone else who can’t be corrupted? “All Star Superman” provides some genuinely entertaining and exciting set pieces, all of which are rich with Superman action that displays his finesse in the heat of chaos. This shines through especially when Parasite breaks free from his prison and he must evade the energy swallower as Clark while keeping his alter ego a secret from the prisoners rioting around him, including Lex who leads Clark to safety throughout the ordeal.

“All Star Superman” has a lot of ground to cover in barely ninety minutes and it succeeds well with some truly touching moments and an entire narrative centered on Superman coming to terms with his impending death and how he must face the prospect of Metropolis being under the mercy of Lex without his ability to defy him. After “Apocalypse,” it’s great to see a Superman adventure about Superman that channels the classic tropes of the lore that manages to enhance the storytelling and character rather than transform it in to campy fodder. Denton’s portrayal of Superman is magnificent and I bought his undercurrent of tragedy and despair as he reaches his final days and decides to take down Lex Luthor’s final plan. The animation paired with the rich story combine in to one innovative and truly mesmerizing Superman tale that I couldn’t help but be bowled over by.

This is an achievement in Superman lore that pays tribute to the original comic book while also standing on its own legs. Among the features for the DVD, the only one really worth mentioning is the “Sneak Peek” for “Green Lantern Emerald Knights.” It’s an animated film featuring the old GL we know and love with his Corps pals. And this new feature is being headed by Hal Jordan who is voiced by none other than Captain Tightpants aka Nathan Fillion. Consider me fucking excited. Aside from the DVD being particularly short handed, “All Star Superman” is a wonderful feature that opts for pure storytelling and classic Superman lore over style and gore. It’s a wonderful rebound from “Apocalypse” where Superman gains center stage and manages to fulfill his potential as a savior of Earth while making amends with a life that was well lived. I loved it. But that’s not too surprising to you, is it?