"You're much stronger than you think you are. Trust me."

American comic book miniseries, published by DC Comics in 12 issues from 2005 to 2008. It was written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely.

It is the best, most perfect Superman comic book ever created.

The series was created as part of DC's "All Star" comics imprint, which was designed to allow creators to tell stories free of the many decades of the characters' frequently byzantine continuities -- there was no need for a creator to worry about when the Riddler was introduced in pre- or post-Crisis continuity, or which of the Parasite's origins to use.

The first (and so far, only other) series in the "All Star" imprint was "All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder" by Frank Miller and Jim Lee, which no one has yet been able to figure out if it was intended as a serious comic book or a parody. When it was announced that Morrison would be taking on Superman under the All Star banner, there were some concerns that it would turn into "Superman tripping on mind-expanding Kryptonian drugs and becoming one with the Cosmic Green Mother." No one needed to have worried.

Morrison wrote his story by stripping Superman, his supporting cast, and his backstory down to their core essences. Superman is cosmically powerful, good-hearted, optimistic. Clark Kent is part bumbling non-entity, part Kansas farmboy. Lois Lane is supremely overconfident and assertive. Jimmy Olsen is the king of the mad, impossible scheme. Lex Luthor is an arrogant genius resentful that he's been upstaged by a spitcurled alien.

After a brilliant opening that perfectly boils the Man of Steel's origin down to a single page, four panels, and eight words, the story starts off with a major shocker -- Superman is dying, poisoned by excess amounts of solar radiation while saving a manned mission to the sun. It's not all bad news -- he's more powerful than ever. But on the other hand... he is definitely dying. He has to worry about his legacy, about wrapping up his life's loose ends, about saying farewell to his closest friends without letting anyone know that the planet's strongest defender is about to go kaput.

It's not all introspection and reflections on mortality -- Superman has already been prophesied to complete Twelve Labors before he dies. He turns evil when he's exposed to Black Kryptonite, with only Jimmy able to save the world. He gets stranded without his powers on Bizarro World. He solves the problem of the bottled city of Kandor, answers the unanswerable question, and files his biggest journalistic scoop. He faces attacks from giant robots, rogue Kryptonians, Solaris the Tyrant Sun, and a super-powered Luthor.

A few favorite moments? The entirety of Clark Kent's interview of Lex Luthor in prison; every appearance of the mega-wealthy supergenius Leo Quintum (and the conspiracy theories about his true identity); the angsty sociopathy of Lex's niece Nasthalthia; macho blowhard Steve Lombard's distraught panic when he thinks Clark has died; the hilarious/crapsack Bizarro World; Jimmy Olsen writing on the moon; the tearjerker death of Pa Kent; the endless awesome of Superman's rescue of the suicide jumper. And, frankly, pretty much every single page of the story from beginning to end.

This series may be the best take on Superman ever, with epic storylines, beautifully humanizing characterizations, and insights and innovations that make old stories sing and shout with new life and excitement. It pulls off the near-miraculous feat of being accessible to new readers and non-comics fans and being considered worthy of abject worship by comics fans who love superheroes and the Man of Steel.

If you haven't read it, you should try to remedy that. It's a damned good story.

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