Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero, by Larry Tye

If you're a classic comics junkie, pop culture aficionado, or fan of Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, you're definitely going to want to check out Larry Tye's nonfiction book Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero.

offers a historical overview of the Man of Steel, his creators, and the dozens of people who have played a role in his evolution. Most of Tye's narrative focuses on Superman's creators, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, but he also takes readers on a gossipy, highly readable tour of the various publishers, advertising and money figures, actors, directors, and artists who shaped and re-shaped Siegel and Shuster's creation into a iconic figure that remains as instantly and widely recognizable today as he was during comic publishing's heyday.

The richness of his subject matter clearly encouraged Tye to bite off more information than he was able to chew in a scant 300 pages. The story of Siegel and Shuster's varying fortunes alone could (and, thanks to Mr. Chabon, did) provide plenty of material for a book of this length, but Tye charges through reams of additional information, ranging from the hysteria that lead to the creation of the Comics Code Authority to the “Superman curse”. He also includes a handful of photographs and comic book cover art, although—presumably due to copyright issues—he falls well short of giving a clear visual history of the character.

None of this is to say Superman isn't worth reading—it definitely is, and it makes an excellent case for Superman's status as an American cultural icon. However, I found myself wishing that either Tye's book was twice as long, or that one day someone (Ken Burns?) will take the same material and give it the more drawn-out, image-rich treatment the character deserves.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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