It's Superman!
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It's Superman!

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  1,265 ratings  ·  202 reviews
Coming of age in rural 1930s America with X-ray vision, the power to stop bullets, and the ability to fly isn�t exactly every boy�s story. So just how did Clark Kent, a shy farmer�s son, grow up to be the Man of Steel? Follow young Clark�s whirlwind journey from Kansas to New York City�s Daily Planet�by way Hollywood. This ace reporter is not the only person le...more
Paperback, 417 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Ballantine Books (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

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This book looked appealing, because it promised a literary and intelligent look at a cultural icon, and that sort of thing has always appealed to me. It was literary, and literate. It's a well-written book. And it was intelligent. And it didn't insult the intelligence of the reader.

What it wasn't was very interesting. I feel like this was a huge opportunity for something as dynamic as the title character, yet De Haven seemed intent on avoiding the big scenes and the big themes that could well h...more
I didn't really know what to expect with this novel; I'm not particularly interested in Superman and I'm actually rather suspicious of novels based on others' works (which is rather bizarre for a fanfic writer, I must say). I guess I was sucked in by the fantastic Chris Ware cover. And hey, for once judging a book by its cover turned out to be a good thing: It's Superman! is immensely enjoyable, sweeping, and highly visual even without the aid of comic illustrations. De Haven reexamines Superm...more
I grew up pretty uninterested in Superman (a dumb invincible jock? Who cares?), but lately I've put my bias aside and done some research into the Superman mythos. For starters, I watched all the Superman movies, and even Supergirl (my recaps can be found here:

So when I heard about this book, I thought it would be a good introduction to the origin of Superman. I was wrong.

Who is the audience for this book? Is there some percentage of the Superman-loving p...more
I've always hated those fan-boys who go to a motion pictures based on a popular media phenomenon (in this case, comic books) and deliberately watched for all the areas where the film differed from the "canonical" comics so that they could immediately trash the film and pretend that they were the savior-archivists of the comic book's tradition. I always wished that they would get over it because the film medium is so different from the comic book medium and it would be either difficult, boring, o...more
I have definitely never been a Superman fan (even as a kid). So I really do have no idea why this title appealed to me enough to pick it up last year. But I did. And finally got around to reading it now. And it was (a bit surprisingly) really fun! I flew through it in 2 days, so I guess it must've been.

De Haven's writing style is warm and engaging - and oddly, in the present tense. His characters are all dependably colorful and easily likable. (Despite or perhaps because he is the villian, Lex...more
Aug 04, 2007 Jeff rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like spandex.
My cousin, who is a librarian, gave me an advanced readers edition of this book. See, years and years ago, this guy who lived across the street from me showed me his comic book collection. He showed me Iron Man. I thought Iron Man was the bomb. A dude in armor, he can fly and shoot lasers out of his hands... what's not to love about comics? 15 years later, I gave up on the medium, cause hell, who wants to pay $4 for a 22 page book? Still my family associates me with comics. I wasn't enthused whe...more
Sometimes random library picks yield wonderful surprise reads; this was not one of them. Occasionally, "it's Superman!" delivered the goods: a tense, action-packed and faithful-to-the-comicbook retelling of Clark Kent's odyssey from Smallville, KS to meeting (and falling in love with) Lois Lane in NYC. More often than not, however, I found myself questioning the title of the book (shouldn't it be called "Where's Superman?" instead?) whenever it lapsed into over-lengthy character analyses of mino...more
WT Sharpe
This review is for the Blackstone Audio iPad app of It's Superman! by Tom De Haven. Scott Brick was the narrator, and he did an excellent job.

This is a rather lengthy book with a 16 hours and 42 minutes running time, which isn't too surprising given that the paperback weighs in at 432 pages, but I guess a book about a super man deserves a super length. Although somewhat slow-paced, it's very good, and the author's frequent insertion of real people and brand names common to the 1930s instills the...more
I debated whether this should be four or five stars, but the fact that I recently reread it gives it the benefit of the doubt.

It's Superman is a coming of age story about Clark Kent becoming Superman. Unlike most interpretations, this story takes place in the same period that the Superman comic was originally published in, the 1930s. The author shows a good understanding of the era. His take on Lex Luthor is a joy to read.
Josh Bush
Tom De Haven begins with "Our version of the story opens..." and tells a new origin story for Superman. This story has no mention of where Clark Kent came from. No one knows the answer and whatever it was he rode in on was completely destroyed. This leaves Clark with a sense of isolation and confusion about who he is that lasts throughout the entire story. There are not a lot of "super" feats through the book, as it is mostly about Clark Kent learning what he is capable of and trying to find a p...more
Levi Graham
To be honest, this book was dull, but creative. Two complete opposites, i know. I found the beginning fun, but soon found myself asking, "when will this get good?" It was okay throughout, but I had high hopes that it would get to some action. It did not happen until the final quarter of the book and then, it was done. I am a big superman fan, but this book did not do him justice. There was no truth to any of it. It was dark and slow, but worth a read once. I probably would not recommend this boo...more
I am a big Superman fan, and this book left me feeling sad. I judge books by how they engage me and how they make me feel. That is why I often feel uncomfortable about reviewing books.

This book felt slow to me. It might have been better if it was edited about 25 percent. I hate abrupt endings.
Blake Petit
It's Superman is the latest retelling of the origin of the Man of Steel, and this latest retelling takes the character back to where he began -- the 1930s and the Great Depression.

Superman (quick crash course) was created in the 1930s by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and, after a few years of shopping the property around, made his debut as a comic book character in Action Comics #1 in 1938. While the comics that are published these days are set firmly in the modern-day, with Superman perpetually...more
I give up.
I cannot physically finish this book, on account of it being as boring as paste.
Normally, I'm pretty good at finishing even the most atrocious books–I've reviewed a couple before–but this one wasn't just awful, it was boring.

It started off very strong, establishing Clark Kent as a bumbling kid from Kansas confused about his powers, and struggling to find his place in the world. He decides to travel around the country a bit, getting a job as a movie stunt-man, which was a very clever...more
Cody Greenberg
Sep 12, 2009 Cody Greenberg rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Superman fans, dustbowl literature fans
The Superman story has been re-invented for every generation, every few years. Same origin, baby Kal-El just landed in a different decade. If Superman is the ultimate hero, he needs to represent our contemporary values, so this all makes sense. Tom de Haven has gone back to the original era of the character - the 1920s and '30s, and created a back-story which works as a prequel to the Man of Steel, and a period novel as visceral, gritty and real as any document to come out of that time. Prequel...more
DeHaven has written many fine novels illustrating the history of everything from early newspaper strips to the beginnings of underground comix, but the story of Superman's early years may be his finest moment. The period details are wonderful, but the real strength of the writing is that it is actually drawn from much of the literature of the period. We are treated not only to an homage to the crime novels of Runyon and the bleak depression era poetry of Steinbeck, but a tale that is true to the...more
I had never heard of this book before I picked it up for a dime at a library sale. I had low expectations, but for ten cents? Hey, I like superheroes! Why not? This book was good. Surprisingly good. I am actually tempted to give it 5-stars. It'd be four-and-a-half if I could do that.

This novel would be a social realist work, if it were not for the fact that it is about the last son of Krypton (and has some heat-ray wielding robots at the end). Set in the Depression-era from which Action Comics e...more
Tom Croom
The short version: I like what Tom De Haven did; I just don't like the way he did it.

The not-so-short version: It's Superman! is a retelling of the Superman myth setting it in the 1930s-1950s. There is some true cleverness in this alternate version including:
- The mortality of Superman's adopted parents
- The origin of the costume and the creation of the final costume
- The handling of actual historical issues of the time (racism, etc.)

The most interesting element is Clark coming to grips with bec...more
Nicole-Anne Keyton
I would've given this a lower rating, except the ending made me fangirl ridiculously.
Basically, the beginning and the end were what made this book great. For some reason, I found the finding-yourself-by-becoming-a-vagabond in the middle a smidge unnecessary from the book and Clark/Superman's existential crisis. Or at least, it could've been shorter.
I keep repeating to myself that this is a VERSION of the Superman coming-of-age tale, but I would have loved to see some crucial characters and event...more
Tom DeHaven's name seems familiar, but this was not your daddy's Superman novel. In fact, it was utterly FANTASTIC as DeHaven crafts a retelling of the story in a more hard-boiled way. DeHaven is a master at giving a reader the FEEL of living in 1930's America. He knows the sports teams, the radio shoes, the automobiles, the WPA projects, the towns....

As I read this book I could really feel that I was in the Smallville movie theater at times. The details were incredibly crafted and yet, this no...more
Grayson Queen
A retelling of the 1930's Superman.

I gave this book some credit for decent writing. Of course you might thing that decent writing might be something present in all published books, but it's not. DeHaven's sentences say what they intend to say, never mixing too may ideas at once. It's this basic writing the creates the vision of 1930. A quick look at the authors resume and you'll see he's written about early 1900's America before which probably made it easy for him to write this. On the other han...more
Why does everyone feel compelled to start Superman somewhere in the 1930s? Oh sure, that's when the original comic came out, but still....

Anyway, that was just one of the nagging little thoughts that kept going through my mind as I read this book. Overall, it's a good read - we begin with the Kents in 1935, raising a strange and unusual son that they found in a cornfield. Meanwhile, young Lois Lane is trying to make her way as a feisty reporter in New York City - an interesting change. There was...more
Superman’s origin story is a familiar one and it’s hard to tell it in a way that feels fresh and different. Hit all the traditional story beats and it feels tired and predictable. Deviate too much from the story we know and it doesn’t feel like Superman. That’s what makes “It’s Superman!” by Tom De Haven so exceptional: it presents Superman’s origin and early days in a way that I’ve never seen before, while at the same time feeling like the quintessential Superman story.

“It’s Superman!” is set i...more
A mature view of the Earth-2 Superman as he goes from being Clark Kent in depression era Smallville. Lois Lane, finishing college at age 17 is portrayed as a bit of a rounder, having several live-in boyfriends throughout the 3 year period covered in the book. Clark befriends a wanted man, framed by NY alderman Lex Luthor for murder and on the run, Clark and Willi become drifters in the American southwest eventually settling in Hollywood where Clark becomes a stuntman in various movies and loses...more
Michael Barron
While this book wasn't exactly what I was expecting I still enjoyed it and am actually surprised that DC gave it the go ahead.

Throughout most of this novel it is easy to forget that I was reading a book about Superman. We discover sides of Lois Lane, Clark Kent and Lex Luthor we rarely see (although maybe we should) and often I would go for chapters without thinking that this was a book about a super hero.

So is this a Superman book for people who aren't fans of Superman? It might be. I can hone...more
It's Superman! is another variation on the classic Superman origin story, but what makes it so compelling is how it treats the subject matter. Rather than trying to "modernize" the story, this novel is firmly planted in the 1930s just in time for the original Action Comics to exist. And believe me, you will never forget what decade this is taking place in. De Haven litters the novel with references to movies, actors, world events and the like. The research is astounding, really.

This story isn't...more
Rob Lauer
Excellent! The BEST treatment I've ever read of the Superman myth. THIS novel should be used as the basis of a Superman film. DeHaven oopen his story in in early 1930's Depression-era Kansas, in the rural community of Smallsville, capturing the gritty realism of the place and the period--including the violence brought on by the Mid-Western outlaws (modeled after John Dillon, Bonnie & CLyde, etc.) From the first scene (the mysterious killing of a wanted outlaw in a small Kansas movie theatre...more
Jen Schulle
I think the book was ok. It wasn't great, but it also wasn't awful.
I guess it might be the idea of superman fighting robot in the 1930's that threw me off. That, plus the multiple plot lines going on. Each chapter was split into sub-chapters, most of which were about different characters, one's about Superman, the next one's about Lois, the one after that is about a random character that is mentioned twice through the entire book. It got a little hard to follow. But, the book did put a new and...more
Chris Scala
I'm going to go ahead and give this book 3 stars because I "liked it". It didn't set my world on fire, but it was more than "OK".

I'm not a rabid comic-book fan, nor a Superman fan for that matter, but I have a fairly good grounding, and I enjoy the whole genre without getting overly absorbed. I found "It's Superman" to be an ambitious attempt to fit the Superman mythos into a real-world context. While I feel the author fell short, it was still entertaining.

While in my opinion, there are several...more
Paul Harvey
This is a retelling, or re-imagining, of the Superman story. The novel has the thematic elements of the Superman legend, only set in the '30s of the "real world." Smallville remains a town in Kansas, but Clark ends up in New York City, rather than Metropolis. There are several references to Metropolis, however.

The story was written in the style of the books I remember swiping from my father's book collection in the attic as a child; chapter plot points at the start of each chapter, lots of side...more
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  • Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
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  • Devil's Cape
  • Masked
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Tom De Haven is the author of five novels, Freaks' Amour, Jersey Luck, Funny Papers, Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies, and Dugan Under Ground; a collection of three related novellas, Sunburn Lake; and a three-novel series, Chronicle of the King's Tramp, which includes Walker of Worlds, The End-of-Everything Man, and The Last Human. His latest novel for young adults, The Orphan's Tent, was publishe...more
More about Tom De Haven...
William Gibson's Neuromancer: The Graphic Novel (Vol. 1) Freaks' Amour Derby Dugan's Depression Funnies (The Funny Papers Trilogy, #2) Funny Papers (The Funny Papers Trilogy, #1) Our Hero: Superman on Earth

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