Would it be too diabolical a choice to words if I were to say, “The All-Star Superman cover is so great, it passes with flying colours”?
Nevertheless, I cannot stop taking a deep breath each time I see the cover of volume 1 of the collected All-Star Superman series by Frank Quitely (penciling) and Jamie Grant (colouring).
It struck me when I saw it first online, and again when I held the copy in my hand. So many reactions in mere moments:
- The corner of the eye catches the soft sun which you know means the world is feeling benevolent today
- Zip to Superman whose soft, heavy eyes draw you into a sense of Buddhist calm – yes, Buddha eyes
- Clouds make you weightless, especially when you realize you are standing on them
- And the city below, far below, means you’re soaring like an eagle, or a Kryptonian dog
So many ways to lead the reader to one single feeling – meditative bliss, I kid you not.
If I were exaggerating I would not have remembered this image for so many hours as I have. I would not have felt compelled to write about it. It is like the best snapshots you remember from a great holiday, which connect you to the feeling of freedom and being unchained.
I can try and take a more learned stand towards the image – the colours play a major role in initiating these feelings. The first thing to catch your eyes is, of course, the red of the cape. It literally explodes in your eyes, because you know your eyes and pupils grow bigger when you see it first. The next thing to catch you is the sun, as both the vanishing point of the picture and the way the title is composed lead you to this distant and diffused soft yellow sun, covered by a safety net of clouds. They are altogether reassuring, showing you that nothing looms on the horizon. All the while, not exactly foremost on your consciousness, is a beautiful blue. It’s dead centre in the picture, so you will never see any part of the whole image without a bit of beautiful blue in your sights. And yes, these are the three primary colours of printing.
But finally, there’re the eyes, the eyes that communicate safety and control. They look straight at you and hold you. You suddenly see a Superman who isn’t hurling and dashing through the sky to save mankind, but a Superman who is taking a moment to admire the heavens, just as you are.
Who invites you to sit beside him as time slows to a standstill.