Lex Luthor finally achieves everything he ever dreamed of. Superman faces the specter of a real death.
In All-Star Superman, Luthor delivers the coup de grace by poisoning the Man of Steel’s sun-absorbing cells with the very source of his powers, sunlight. That’s just within the opening scenes.
The plot of “All-Star Superman” drags at times, but moves forward into the psyche of Superman as reality sets in. The Last Son of Krypton spends time coming to terms with his possible mortality, doing things like revealing his identity to Lois Lane. Wait…haven’t we seen this one already?
He brings her to the Fortress of Solitude, re-imagined as a geological structure absent ridiculous crystals and Marlon Brando. When Lois — always the paragon of journalistic integrity — gets paranoid and nosy, she finds that Superman is keeping a secret from her. But just as her trust with the blue boy scout is breached, she finds that there is only one thing Superman would keep from Lois Lane. After all, he showed her the room with the kryptonite laser and the gravity-gun. It turns out he has a romantic surprise for her, at least his idea of one.
This time, instead of flying her over the world in his mighty blue embrace, Kal-el lets Lois fly herself. Superman kept the surprise in a secret room, a vial of a concoction made to endow a mortal with all of Superman’s powers. That could never fall into the wrong hands, could it?
Finally, they have a romantic kiss on the surface of the moon. After they have a great little adventure and Superman arm-wrestles two super-suitors after his girl, Superman lets her know that he is dying.
He flies the bottled city Kandor into space, immediately after the plot flies spinning into comic-book-nerd insider ball.
Upon his return from space, he faces two Kryptonians bent on conquering the world. In a true demonstration of decency, Superman overcomes their hatred by helping them. The script avoids a catastrophic explosion of violence between them and Superman — even though the heightened sunlight infusing his anatomic structure jacks his powers even further than ever imagined.
In the mean time, the United Nations finds out how Lex poisoned Superman and decides to put him in the electric chair. They make this exception to their anti-death penalty stance to punish Luthor for crimes against humanity, but the criminal mastermind has other plans. He drinks a cocktail, eats 1,000 volts, busts the restraints, and stands there as the guards pump rounds into him.
Didn’t somebody mention something about a Superman-power-imbuing concoction?
Suffice it to say that Superman faces even more peril as some giant sun-eating robot — who would be cooler if voiced by Orson Welles — turns the sun red, stripping Superman of his powers just as soon as Luthor gains them.
The DVD/Blu-ray combo hits shelves February 22, so you diehards can wait until next week to see how it ends.