Thursday, April 25, 2013

High-Flying History

There is no shortage of excellent books on the history and cultural impact of comic books.  Comic Book Nation by Bradford W. Wright and Men of Tomorrow by Gerard Jones come immediately to mind).  However, Larry Tye's recent offering Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero has taken a spot among the very top.  By looking at the quintessential hero and tracing his history from preconception to near future, he not only manages to explore what makes the character so much a part of our cultural psyche, but also uses the enduring hero as a lense through which to examine the history of the comic book form and even the last eighty years of culture itself.  Perhaps most importantly, he tells the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the two Cleveland just-barely-grow-ups that created the Man of Steel, in a more balanced, intimate and complete narrative then anyone has ever managed.  Mr. Tye's research is unrivaled.  His endnotes alone are thirty-five pages long and make for as fascinating a read as the rest of the book.

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