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“How precious and how fragile all the little things you value are”

by  in Comic News Comment

I was excited to see the final issue of All-Star Superman this week.  I’ve enjoyed the past 11 issues in degrees varying from “ecstatically” to “a lot.”  Two pages into this finale and I was done.  It had me; I was taken within.  Seeing Kal-El and Jor-El talking was fun enough.  I was ready for some intense silver age action, science and alternate realities and time travel and visions.  It was more.

“Consider us:  a whole civilization of supermen reduced to dust by a caprice of cosmology.  Then think how precious and how fragile all the little things you value are.” (Grant Morrison by way of Jor-El, house of El.)

He’s not simply talking about mere humans, the major joy of Superman’s life.  Nor is he simply talking about the forgotten pleasures of mortal life–the smell of fresh-steamed rice, the glint in the eye of a successful flirt, beer in a backyard, an old familiar song.  He’s talking about everything.  In the face of mortality and moving on from this life, all things are little, and yet all things are also so precious and fragile.

The comic doesn’t lack for action.  You’ve got a power-crazed Luthor devastating Metropolis.  You’ve a cat-and-mouse game with the usual suspects in reversed position.  The Man of Tomorrow out-thinks he who thinks himself the greatest mind.  You’ve even got punches and blood.

Awesome as all this is, though, that’s not the point of “Superman in Excelsis.”  This is Superman as Jesus, though not in some predictable knee-jerk fashion.  This is mature, thought-out, and beautiful theology.  This is the God who came to Earth and felt every beauty, every pain, and saw how it was all connected.  The one who loved unto and beyond death.  Even when he fears it . . .”Father, not me!”  But Jor-El knows, as Kal-El does, in his heart.  “They will join you in the sun, Kal-El.”  Mankind perfected, mankind reborn, inspired and brought along by the actions of he who lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died.

Even Luthor sees the beauty when he looks through the power of Superman.  He sees the heart-wrenching, unstoppable beauty.  The thin, delicate web that unites all.

It’s just such a beautiful comic.  From the spiritual beauty of the idea to the artistic beauty of the execution to the thematic beauty of Superman in the sun to the aesthetic beauty of Lois in her last three panels to the nerdy beauty of that last page.  It’s beauty, and I thank everyone involved for it.

“How precious and how fragile all the little things you value are”
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