Great Comic Pages: All Star Superman #5, pg18

All Star Superman #5, pg18 - Morrison and Quitely

All Star Superman #5, pg18 -
Morrison and Quitely

It’s not hard to love All Star Superman. If you like comics, and you’ve read All Star Superman, you like it. Period. It’s Grant Morrison’s perfect little ode to everything great about 1960s Weisinger-edited Superman, with his own manic creativity and favorite toys (Qwewq the Infant Universe! Solaris the Tyrant Sun!) pulled in. But it’s Quitely’s art that takes it to the next level.

Now, admittedly, he’s not quite as brilliant here as is in We3. He’s working within the confines of a superhero book this time, and doesn’t have the excuse of replicating the experience of cyborg pet killing machines. The panel structure tends to be traditional, designed to invoke Silver Age memories. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any non-rectangular panels - except for the two on this page.

That visual representation of the force of Superman inducing an earthquake to send Parasite through the floor is just amazing - notice how the right side of the second panel, which is the side closest to Parasite, is crumbling, with bits beginning to fly out of the panel’s rectangle. But on the left side, where Superman is stomping, the floor is flatter, the walls less cracked - in fact, if you don’t look carefully at Superman’s feet and see that his right foot is in the air, with his left foot hitting the floor and creating a crack, it’d be easy to believe the same thing Luthor does, that Parasite’s weight is causing the “quake”.

And then on the third panel, the floor - and the negative space between panels - collapses. The bordering white is used to represent both the collapsing floor, and the buckling floor below. By showing the very structure the page is built on breaking, cracking, and warping, we get an almost visceral sense of the force of Parasite’s fall. He hits so hard that he causes waves in the floor - that’s just nifty.

Strangely shaped panels, panels breaking through their borders, etc - this can all serve as valuable storytelling tools, but they lose a lot of their force when they’re used all the time. By sticking to the rectangular panel so rigorously up until this point, Quitely gets more of an impact when he does break out of it.

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