Ramie's Reviews > Superman: The High-Flying History of the Man of Steel

Superman by Larry Tye
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Jun 07, 12

bookshelves: publisher-provided-for-review, superheroes, non-fiction
Read from April 25 to June 07, 2012

So I'll be honest, I had no idea what to expect of this book. Yes, I did read the description. See, it's tough considering yourself a real fan of something that is considered a bit geeky like comics, but not one so fanatical that you can give people every little detail. It means that when books like these come out you never know if they'll be some dumbed down that it's just the basic stuff that yes, even you know -- with not one surprising little thing in it. Or so detailed that it is tedious and too geeky and bound to be an annoying read -- the kind that even a uber fanboy/girl learns something from if they can manage to get through it. So where does this one land? Smack dab in the middle. It starts out a little slow with the basic facts of Superman's creation which probably anyone who knows even a little of the character would know. It ends with the upcoming movie.

Will fans learn things they did not know? Possibly. I did learn some things but primarily details of bigger stories. Example - I knew there were people who had issues with the Bryan Singer movie and what some of the fans said about it. I missed the whole Bill O'Reilly rant about the studio was afraid of offended terrorists.

As to what non fans would get from this book? Well, it's actually probably even better for them than it is for fans. I am always amazed at how little people realize just how big of a role comics have had not just in our country but in the world. In politics. In a little bit of everything that affects us. Last year for example when Action Comics 900 came out and Superman renounced his citizenship the news went crazy with stories of how horrific this was - a superhero being political! There were comments everywhere on how this was not the Superman they remembered and not something their children should be exposed to, etc. A book like this one, probably combined with some of the really old specialized comic collections, may be necessary to remind people of what comics have always been. Are there the usual stories of the arch nemesis creating some mad scientist gadget and our hero saving the town at the last minute? YES! But Superman (and others) have also been used in war as propaganda, to support or bash politicians, they've tackled social issues. Superman's radio show was considered brave for taking on the KKK, something that the comic could not yet do. This book reminds people of these types of things. Of how not just a fictional character, but a comic book one, can be as important to us as any real person in tackling the issues of our time.

We're also reminded of how, before Superman, characters were not expected to last on and on and on - so his creators fought their own battles having sold rights to him for what seemed fair at the time, not having any reason to expect they were sitting a gold mine. Unlike Superman, the boys who created him, grew older and older - dying still fighting their battles. Another story of Superman, I knew of, but learned details of from this book.

As I said, for fans it is basically a fill in the missing details kind of book or a refresher course. For non fans, it's a fascinating lesson in how this fictional character has been so vital in our real history.
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04/27/2012 page 26
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