Friday, August 31, 2007
TOP TEN :: Top Ten Single Issues Ever :: #1
Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?
(Action Comics #583 and Superman #423)
by Alan Moore, Kurt Schaffenberger and Curt SwanWho better to encapsulate fifty years of Superman continuity into two issues than Alan Moore, Curt Swan, and Kurt Schaffenberger? At once a love letter and Dear John letter, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" closes the door on a particularly broad slice of twentieth century American Myth. While this version of the Silver Age Superman's ride into the sunset is not considered to be canonical, it still serves as an important record of a very important and specific time in the history of comics: when old school story sensibilities were beginning to give way to new modes of story telling in the late eighties. This push and pull between the old and the new is well represented here in the push and pull of Schaffenberger’s and Swan’s bright, optimistic art styles, with Moore’s contemporary and consequence-laden—some might argue cynical—narrative.
One of Alan Moore’s greatest strengths as a writer was and is his ability to imbue his characters (or those owned by powerful, multi-media conglomerates) an impeccable degree of humanity, which is made all the more remarkable when juxtaposed against a backdrop of goofy, comic book improbabilities. And while, in this story—a silver age tale at heart—he only began to scratch the surface of what was possible in regards to that particular notion, the comic book world would, only weeks later, give itself a collective smack on the forehead when Watchmen #1 hit the stands.