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Friday, July 03, 2015

Review: Superman - The High Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero

I will confess that I've always been much more of a Batman fan than I have been a Superman fan. Most of the reason is that from a literary point of view, there's nothing that Superman can't do, and the power-creep that's happened over the years means that I can't ever read a Superman story without feeling like he's not even threatened. And cynical me, I never believed that he would stay dead during the "Death of Superman" sequence.

Larry Tye's Superman is not so much a Superman story, however, but a story of the people involved in the media empire behind the work. It's a much more interesting story than most Superman stories. For instance, I knew that Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel were Jewish, but I didn't know any of the background behind Mort Weisinger and Julian Schwartz, who edited and published most of the Superman stories I remember reading as I grew up.

Furthermore, I never actually understood the stories behind the legal battles between Shuster and Siegel and DC Comics. Tye laid it all out, and I'm afraid nobody really comes out of it smelling good, but the facts are all there. I also never watched any of the early Superman cartoons, TV series, or even some of the later ones (such as Lois and Clark).

In recent years, Superman's movies and reboots have been unsatisfying to me, so I haven't paid any attention to them. This book won't change my mind, but it does explain to me why America has consistently found Superman to be an important part of its zeitgeist.


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