Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero (Unabridged)
by Larry Tye
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Seventy-five years after he came to life, Superman remains one of America’s most adored and enduring heroes. Now Larry Tye, the prize-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author of Satchel, has written the first full-fledged history not just of the Man of Steel but of the creators, designers, owners, and performers who made him the icon he is today. Legions of fans from Boston to Buenos Aires can recite the story of the child born Kal-El, scion of the doomed planet Krypton, who was rocketed to Earth as an infant, raised by humble Kansas farmers, and rechristened Clark Kent. Known to law-abiders and evildoers alike as Superman, he was destined to become the invincible champion of all that is good and just - and a star in every medium from comic books and comic strips to radio, TV, and film. But behind the high-flying legend lies a true-to-life saga every bit as compelling, one that begins not in the far reaches of outer space but in the middle of America’s heartland. During the depths of the Great Depression, Jerry Siegel was a shy, awkward teenager in Cleveland. Raised on adventure tales and robbed of his father at a young age, Jerry dreamed of a hero for a boy and a world that desperately needed one. Together with neighborhood chum and kindred spirit Joe Shuster, young Siegel conjured a human-sized god who was everything his creators yearned to be: handsome, stalwart, and brave, able to protect the innocent, punish the wicked, save the day, and win the girl. It was on Superman’s muscle-bound back that the comic book and the very idea of the superhero took flight. Tye chronicles the adventures of the men and women who kept Siegel and Shuster’s "Man of Tomorrow" aloft and vitally alive through seven decades and counting. Here are the savvy publishers and visionary writers and artists of comics’ Golden Age who ushered the red-and-blue-clad titan through changing eras and evolving incarnations; and the ac...
4 for the Story, 2 for the audio download.
This really is an important story. As the author suggests few "Americans" of the 20th century had the impact on the world as Superman. That's a lot of influence and there is a requisite lot of history behind it. Part of the history was shocking, despite the Siegel/Schuster elevation to sainthood as persecuted, cheated heroes, as the media portrays, the truth is not nearly as black & white. Siegel stole or lifted most or all of the original Super-man from John Carter, Doc Savage, and other 30's heroes. They had been paid for the idea and been happy to get what they got, and DC treated them as they agreed. Wouldn't it have been more magnanimous if Warner Bros to hand the creators millions? Sure, but they weren't obligated to do so and didn't steal or cheat anyone. The tour through every other version of the hero and the differences between the media were very very interesting and very thorough. I also enjoyed the commentary of the people who wrote the words or portrayed the characters, sprinkled throughout. I never read the comics, but I watched the movies and the 50's TV show, so I found the mindless multiple parallel story lines, sudden stops, and random restarts interesting, although I would not have stuck with the comic, had I started with it. So, a great way to get the gist of the entire history, without having to spend 75 years on confusing stories.
The low, 2 star audio rating is for a very sloppy mislabeling of the digital chapters, so while the iPod plays the chapters in the order listed, the order listed is not correct. Chapters 7 and 8 play after the Afterward and completely out of sequence. You can piece it together in your head, but for $27, it should correct.
There seem to be missing chapters.
I would rate the book much higher if not for the fact that there seems to be a great gap after the end of the first part of this two-part download. The first part concludes with the death of George Reeves. The second part immediately launches into the post-Crisis, Byrne-era Superman. What happened to the Silver Age? Did chapters get lost in the preparation of the i-Tunes audiobook? I'll have to keep listening to see if those chapters exist out-of-sequence.