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Analysis / All-Star Superman

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Morrison Deconstructing the common misconceptions of Superman.

Throughout the issues of All-Star Superman there are several other beings who appear with powersets and designs similar to Superman's own. In effect these characters can be seen as mirrors to Superman himself, representing the various negative perceptions of him that his detractors seems to have.

Samson and Atlas: These two are a pair of superpowered Jerk Jocks with no sense of responsibility, in addition to being rather chauvinistic towards Lois Lane. They represent the misconception that Superman is some sort of brainless brute, highlighting how intelligent the true Superman is and his ability to solve problems with his mind as well as his fists. In addition it highlights how genuine his love for Lois Lane is.

Zibarro: The one normal being to appear on the Bizarro planet, a lonely figure closely resembling Superman. He is an outcast ostracized for his different nature. In comparison we see Superman loved by the people, his differences making him viewed as a champion rather than some threat deserving of scorn.

Bar-El and Lilo: These two are the Smug Super and Beware the Superman tropes rolled into one. Their presence in the story shows them to be alien bullies, looking down on humanity and thoroughly abusing their power. It reflects the view that Superman is some sort of Smug Super to the rest of the League despite his humble nature, which shows itself in his refusal to raise a fist in anger against the two, and the fact that his kind heart is what leads to him helping them despite their past transgressions and giving them a place to live free of their Kryptonite poisoning.

Black Kryptonite Superman: Again a look at the Smug Super trope, but this time also examining the misconception that Superman would be some kind of Dirty Coward if he was threatened by something as powerful/more powerful to him. This scene when Superman is exposed to Black Kryptonite inverts his noble, kind and courageous personality and makes him into a shallow reflection while also strengthening the normal incarnation of the character by comparison.

Lex Luthor with Superman's powers: Like Samson and Atlas above, a look into the misconception that Superman is a Dumb Muscle type of character. Luthor himself holds this belief of Superman, but as soon as he gets his powers, he gives all of his old gear to his niece, fights Superman with brute force, and ends up being outwitted. Superman even lampshades this appropriately.

Superman: "Brain beats brawn, every time!"