Written by: Danny Lewis, Special to CC2K
In honor of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's phenomenal run on All-Star Superman coming to an end with this Wednesday's issue #12, CC2K's Danny Lewis uses this week's Character Sketches to take a look all the way back to issue #1, and the introduction of one Leo Quintum.
Like you needed another reason to be reading All-Star Superman: it’s Willy Wonka and his Amazing Technicolor Labcoat! A super-scientist and adventurer, Leo Quintum is what you would think of if you took Willy Wonka’s wardrobe and factory and shoved it all into the hands of the Doctor (of the equally awesome Doctor Who). As head of the DNA P.R.O.J.E.C.T., Quintum has had a significant presence in this series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely despite being a fairly minor character.
When we’re first introduced to Quintum and his team in the first issue of All-Star, he is exploring the depths of the sun. He goes on to act as an emissary to an alien race of neon skeletons, explore the Underverse, create all sorts of Bizarro clones, and even attempt to crack the Kryptonian genetic code. And yes, this is all as awesome and Kirby-tastic as it sounds. Where Morrison’s Luthor represents the dark side of human ingenuity and intelligence, Quintum takes pride in his life of discovery and truly wants to advance humanity’s quality of life (although there’s nothing wrong about having fun while you’re at it). Quintum is everything cool and awesome about comic book science: he has unlimited resources, a base on the moon, technology that would make any superscientist worth his diplomas green with envy, and that’s just the start.
Quite the enigma, not much has been revealed about Quintum. At some point he took over the DNA P.R.O.J.E.C.T. (an homage to the DNA and Cadmus Projects from Jack Kirby’s original Fourth World stories) and ever since he has tooled away creating fantastic creatures in the name of exploration. From the short glimpses of the P.R.O.J.E.C.T. seen throughout the series though, Quintum and his work provide a central link to the underlying themes of the series, as well as glimpses of the future through the references to the “Twelve Labors of Superman.” Quintum even goes so far as to hope to one day provide a replacement Superman to the world in the case of the original’s death. How’s that for ambitious?
And to think about it, when was the last time being a super-scientist just seemed so damn cool? While all those nameless S.T.A.R. Labs folks get to sit around and stare at screens all day, Quintum is running around exploring the limits of science, from deep space to the smallest subatomic worlds to other dimensions. He’s what I imagine to be the Bill Nye of the All-Star comics.
A wonderful character drawn from Jack Kirby and the Silver Age of comics, if you’re not already picking up All-Star Superman, it’s worth it for Quintum alone. Here’s hoping he keeps popping in to dazzle us with his powers of science and that great coat!