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Thursday, October 23, 2008

 

Whew

For my own selfish reasons, I was apprehensive about what Grant Morrison might say concerning Leo Quintum in his new Newsarama interview--as it happens, he's about exactly as cagey on Leo as the comic itself (italics mine):

Grant Morrison: Yeah, he was exactly as you say, my attempt to create an updated take on the character of “Superman’s scientist friend” – in the vein of Emil Hamilton from the animated show and the ‘90s stories. Science so often goes wrong in Superman stories, and I thought it was important to show the potential for science to go right or to be elevated by contact with Superman’s shining positive spirit.

I was thinking of Quintum as a kind of “Man Who Fell To Earth” character with a mysterious unearthly background. For a while I toyed with the notion that he was some kind of avatar of Lightray of the New Gods, but as All Star developed, that didn’t fit the tone, and he was allowed to simply be himself.

Eventually it just came down to simplicity. Leo Quintum represents the “good” scientific spirit – the rational, enlightened, progressive, utopian kind of scientist I figured Superman might inspire to greatness. It was interesting to me how so many people expected Quintum to turn out bad at the end. It shows how conditioned we are in our miserable, self–loathing, suspicious society to expect the worst of everyone, rather than hope for the best. Or maybe it’s just what we expect from stories.

Having said that, there is indeed a necessary whiff of Lucifer about Quintum. His name, Leo Quintum, conjures images of solar force, lions and lightbringers and he has elements of the classic Trickster figure about him. He even refers to himself as “The Devil Himself” in issue #10.

What he’s doing at the end of the story should, for all its gee–whiz futurity, feel slightly ambiguous, slightly fake, slightly “Hollywood.” Yes, he’s fulfilling Superman’s wishes by cloning an heir to Superman and Lois and inaugurating a Superman dynasty that will last until the end of time – but he’s also commodifying Superman, figuring out how it’s done, turning him into a brand, a franchise, a bigger–and–better “revamp,” the ultimate coming attraction, fresher than fresh, newer than new but familiar too. Quintum has figured out the “formula” for Superman and improved upon it.

And then you can go back to the start of All Star Superman issue #1 and read the “formula” for yourself, condensed into eight words on the first page and then expanded upon throughout the story! The solar journey is an endless circle naturally. A perfect puzzle that is its own solution.

That more or less clinches it for me.

Comments:
Intriguingly enough, a poster at Barbelith in this thread:

http://www.barbelith.com/topic/22644/from/1890

pointed out something else that I don't think anyone else noticed:

"secondly, and this is the one that did it for me, is where lex is remote operating his humanoid suicide bomb, and time delaying his words to the solar ship. general lane walks in and says ' lex? are you talking to yourself again?" ...and he is! on the facing page, the same words lex spoke come again, but it turns out they are directed at leo quintum!"
 
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