Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Book #48

Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, by Larry Tye. Unabridged audio.

This book covers the history of Superman in all his forms. Tye discusses Siegel and Shuster's creation of the hero in comic books, and his eventual success in almost every other medium. The darker days for the character are also discussed, including the comic scares of the 1950s and the sad final days of TV's first Superman, George Reeves. The Christopher Reeve tragedy is handled well.

The coverage of both the Lois & Clark and Smallville television shows was strong. Tye's coverage of the Death of Superman storyline from the early nineties was very interesting, bringing back my pleasant memories of one the high-water marks in modern comic storytelling. This storyline is currently being covered very well on the From Crisis to Crisis podcast, so I have been rereading many issues from that era.

One consistent throughline in this book is the long-running legal struggles between DC Comics and Siegel and Shuster, and then eventually the creator's estates. Tye does not specifically take one side in the dispute, but gives enough details from both sides of the dispute (or the many disputes) for the reader to make an informed decision. This dispute has been something that I have paid attention to over the years, but Tye's discussion clarified many of the issues for me.

This is one case where as big a fan as I am of audiobooks, and of narrator Scott Brick in particular, something was lost by not having the physical book in my hands. My understanding is that the print version contains a number of very nice illustrations and photographs, and I regret that I missed these by taking in the book in the format that I did.

Cross-posted to the Book Guys Show website.

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