Sorry I'm late to the party. If you didn't know already, the ending of All Star Superman was awesome. And there has been some discussion about the character of Leo Quintum: was he the future self of Lex Luthor, returned to help humanity? What I want to discuss is something different, however:
Do the last two pages of All Star Superman #12 tell us whether Leo Quintum is a "good guy" or a "bad guy"?
Does he want to help Superman or destroy him? It seems as though everyone involved in the discussion linked to above assumes that Quintum is a "good guy"; that, even if he is Luthor, he has reformed and become a better person. But I wonder if writer Grant Morrison left open the possibility that Leo Quintum -- whether or not he is Lex Luthor's future self -- is a bad guy.
Here is the final scene from issue twelve (SPOILERS):
(This takes place after Superman has dispatched current-day Luthor and left Earth -- possibly for good -- to restart our Sun and save the world.)
Now, there are two possible interpretations of this conversation, if you ask me: Quintum is good, or Quintum is bad.
Here is the script, for easy reference:
Quintum: Even Luthor seemed to find some closure in the face of renewed global calls for his execution. He seems so faded, so small, now that he finally got his dearest wish. A world without Superman. There's a challenge to human ingenuity. We all have to make sure it gets taken care of while he's gone.
Agatha: But what if Superman never returns? What then, Mister Quintum?
Quintum: I wouldn't worry too much about that day, Agatha. Now that we know how it's done ... I'm sure we'll think of something.
If Quintum is Good:
When Quintum says, "A world without Superman. There's a challenge to human ingenuity. We all have to make sure it gets taken care of while he's gone," he means that "we all have to make sure the world gets taken care of while Superman's gone, and that task is a challenge to human ingenuity." And when Quintum tells Agatha not to worry, he means that she shouldn't worry if Superman never returns, because he's got Project 2 to help take care of the world.
If Quintum is Bad:
Here is where it gets a little trickier. First, when Quintum says, "A world without Superman. There's a challenge to human ingenuity. We all have to make sure it gets taken care of while he's gone," he means that "we all have to make sure that Luthor's dearest wish -- a world without Superman -- gets taken care of while Luthor is gone, which is a challenge to human ingenuity." This interpretation is possible because of the ambiguous "it" and "he" in Quintum's statement, which I have italicized. The "he" could be Luthor, since he is going to be executed and will be gone, just like Superman. And if the "he" is Luthor, that means the "it" could be "Luthor's dearest wish, a world without Superman." Note that although Quintum says that Luthor "got" his wish, Quintum might believe that Superman might not permanently be out of the picture and thus Quintum will have to take care of Luthor's wish while Luthor is gone.
Next, under this interpretation, when Agatha asks, "But what if Superman never returns? What then, Mister Quintum?" and Quintum responds, "I wouldn't worry too much about that day, Agatha. Now that we know how it's done ... I'm sure we'll think of something," he means, "I wouldn't worry too much about the day that Superman returns because I've got Project 2 to fight him." Also, Quintum's statement, "Now that we know how it's done," means, "now that we know how to get rid of Superman." This interpretation follows from the interpretation in the above paragraph.
(As a side note, the interpretation also is supported by how Quintum responds to Agatha's question: she asks about what happens "if Superman never returns" and Quintum tells her not to worry about "that day" -- if he is good and is telling her not to worry about Superman never returning, he wouldn't say "that day" (since you can't pin down Superman "not returning" to a single day); instead he'd tell her not to worry about "that" or "that issue." If, on the other hand, he is bad and is telling her not to worry about the day that Superman returns to face him, he would say "that day," since when Superman returns will be on a certain day.)
So there you go: two possible interpretations for the final sequence of All Star Superman. Do you agree that there are two interpretations? If so, do you think Morrison intended it?
That’s a wrap.
2 years ago