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Monday, December 09, 2019

Review: Becoming Superman

Despite not being a fan of J. Michael Straczynski after reading Superman - Earth One, I picked up his autobiography Becoming Superman, which received rave reviews. It's a book that deserves its rave reviews.

Straczynski's childhood life was horrific, ranging from a mom who dropped him off the roof of a house, to an abusive, alcoholic control-freak dad. It's a clear ode to a man who was clearly a dandelion, who as a teenager that he decided to be whatever his dad wasn't. (Some of us who didn't have abusive childhood made that decision as well, but obviously we didn't have so much of an anti-role model as Straczynski). His parents apparently successfully killed one of his siblings, and his horror of childhood was such that in his early adulthood he had an irreversible vasectomy just so he wouldn't be able to father any progeny.

The story of Straczynski's life is interspersed with a mystery, a name repeatedly showing up in his childhood mentioned by his parents, which later shows up as a denouement for the autobiography. Along with all this is a rinse and repeat expose of what writing for Hollywood is like, his time on various TV animation series, and how he tried to fight the censors, some of whom actually thought that the Necronomicon is a real book.

This book answers a few question I'd always had. For instance, why was Babylon 5 so unwatchable for me, despite getting all those rave reviews. And of course, all the politics behind how Deep Space 9 came to be.

In any case, I found this book not just profoundly readable, but also fun to read, despite all the horrific scenes and descriptions of Straczynski's early life. Recommended! The book makes me want to read more of his comics, even though Superman - Earth One didn't make me a fan.

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