1. Analyze: Character
The character of Superman has gone through many forms and evolutions but in essence when people speak of him we are generally on the same page. As a kid I revered Superman, though I'd never seen his movies nor read any of his comic books. Frankly I didn't even really watch the 1940's cartoon regularly. Yet I knew who he was and thought he was the coolest superhero ever.
To me Superman was more of an ideal than a character, and I felt like his movies were too...how do you spell hokey? Well, that's what they were. The 1940's and the1990's cartoon series were, as far as I'm concerned, some of the best representations of this hero. Nonetheless I've never delved into the comics from which he was born (that doesn't mean I haven't wanted to). I'd always been overwhelmed by the number of them and so I've kept myself out of the tangled mass. That is until All Star Superman.
All Star Superman works under the assumption that you are already familiar with the characters of superman's world, such as Jimmy Olsen, and does not bother to delve into background stories or origins. To remind you of the story of Superman himself we have a quick page with four panels and very little text. (See image 1.) But this series is more concerned with the future, the legacy and character of superman, than it is about anything else.
The character of Superman himself is that of the small town good guy with a true heart, which is difficult for many writers to handle and keep interesting. In the old days just leaving the good guy as is was enough thereby making him a role model for others to follow. However the formula generally used since the sixties for audiences to keep interest is by giving our good guy a weakness or insecurity to which we can relate. (In Disney's Hercules we were introduced to a kid stronger than he could handle and later unsure in love and Marvel's Spiderman had all sorts of issues of growing up and unpopularity.)
***Spoiler***In All Star Superman a close call allows Superman to become stronger than ever, insomuch that his body itself begins to breakdown. (A far cry better than having him be a grossly irresponsible bleep.) So in short - yay!
2. Rating: PG, because of cartoon violence, mild language and large, jiggly, parasite men.
Identify: The writer obviously had to know his Superman history. Heck, he even has Krypto, aka Superdog (whose existence is still a mystery to me and therefore will be a point of study on a slow day) make an appearance in a flashback. Many other characters from several Superman stories make appearances, some of which I don't know since they were probably comic book only creations. As far as the science involve, I think it wasn't so much a study of physics so much as a review of old college notes and some review of Superman science that was made by previous writers to make up reasons for his being.So it turns out, after some Superman studying, that Krypto was a test subject of Kal-el's to test his escape pods from Krypton. Krypto's ship was knocked off course but eventually found its way to Earth where he was reunited with the now teenage Clark Kent. Ta da!