Why don't I just change the name of the blog to Morrisonarama? And I can include letters and pin-ups and reader polls and fanfic and we can have arguments about who's better, Grant or Shaun Cassidy.
Here's where I make some very belated contributions to conversations that began while I was otherwise occupied...
...Happily, even though it features a tour and a mystery inside the Fortress of Solitude All-Star Superman #2 doesn't retell "The Super-Key to Fort Superman," one of the most grossly over-homaged stories of the Silver Age. No, Morrison does an end run around comics entirely and retells the legend of Bluebeard instead. An inquisitive woman (who contemplates her future as Superman's wife), a forbidden room, intimations of a horrifying fate... is this what Morrison meant when he talked about "science fiction folk tales" and a mythology for the modern age?
...Mister Miracle seems to be the least popular of the Seven Soldiers miniseries, but Shilo Norman's torments in the third issue have struck a chord with some readers, redeeming the earlier issues at least partially. Unfortunately, I had just the opposite reaction.
It all gets off to a swell start as Shilo loses his career to an imitator, his friends to an emotionally numbing fad, and, temporarily, his sense of self-worth to the Anti-Life Equation, cutely rendered as a meme so horrific that Dark Side's word balloon can't even represent it lest we go mad. This triggers a wonderfully-executed three-page sequence that carries Shilo through the dark nights of the soul experienced by his fellow male New Yorker Soldiers in their third issues. As Jog ably comments (at the above link), the scene works as an overt psychologization of Kirby's concerns in the original Fourth World comics and as a kind of magnification or explication of the story formula that all the other Seven Soldiers series follow. So far so good.
The problems begin when Metron shows up to inspire Shilo with some words of confidence and a simple display of human kindness. This is very much in the tradition of Kirby's Fourth World, where the most fondly regarded issues built up to charged, apocalyptic epiphanies: Scott Free's insistence on his own independence in "Himon," the pacifist son's final battle and transformation in "The Glory Boat," or--perhaps my favorite scene in the Kirby canon--Izaya's renunciation of Darkseid's methods and his search for a better way in "The Pact."
But Kirby allowed those transformative scenes to sprawl for pages, serving as the climaxes for their entire chapters, whereas Morrison tosses Shilo's torment and resistance out in a single page; Shilo is saved by two word balloons and a single panel reminding him that Dark Side's equations don't account for everything in the human condition. There may be single panels capable of conveying such a stirring renunciation of despotism and depression, but the cloying picture of two nice gentlemen helping ladies don their coats in the rain isn't one of them. (I do like the background detail of the Manhattan Superhero Museum, a reminder of all the qualities Morrison loves about superheroes--their selflessness, for example--that refute Dark Side's equations. But the weight of Metron's counterargument and Shilo's resistance have to rest on something more substantial, and the two courteous gentlemen just don't cut it.) Morrison follows it up with yet another round of torment, this time more physical, and a visit from Dark Side and another visit from the fallen gods of New Genesis, which promises a last chance I'd rather not see advertised at this cliffhanger point in the miniseries.
I don't necessarily mind the placement of Shilo's redemptive epiphany so far in advance of the series' climax--Peter Hensel observes that Mister Miracle is following the basic plotline of the Jesus myth and so this third issue, the dark night of transformation in Jog's formula, is a Kirbyesque take on the temptation in the desert/garden. The big finish and the real moment of redemption will no doubt reserved for next issue, when Shilo Norman puts his modern spin on the most famous escape trick of all time--The Empty Tomb! But the pacing of this third issue is too rushed to do justice to the Kirby epiphanies it so clearly wants to echo. I never thought Grant Morrison would have me longing for the days of narrative decompression, but there you go.
...Almost forgot to mention this great post by Jog, contemplating the reasons behind the breadth of Morrison's appeal (and his constant blog coverage) following his landslide win in the first Comic Bloggers' Poll. Jog, when I finally start up Morrisonarama! you're going on the masthead.