The Man from Krypton
Glenn Yeffeth, ed.
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Buy *The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman* by Glenn Yeffeth, ed. online

The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman
Glenn Yeffeth, ed.
Benbella Books
240 pages
May 2006
rated 4 of 5 possible stars
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Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no, it’s a timely nostalgic look at an American icon who is flying across theater screens this summer. This bemusing, almost anthropological examination of the man in blue tights looks at a variety aspects that make Superman so timeless, from his not-so-sordid affair with Louis Lane to his impenetrable moral code to his battling dualistic identities of Clark Kent and Superman. These twenty essays provide a banquet for thought about the significance of Superman and his more popular characters.

Anyone fearing the “geek” label by reading this book should reconsider. This collection isn’t a mere praising of Superman and all he stands for but rather a look into Superman’s larger meaning and his reflection as a social identity. We all wish to be Superman in some sense but often fall short enough to resemble Clark Kent. What’s more, Superman stands as a multimedia phenomenon. His first appearance was in Action Comics #1 in June 1938, but since then he has been featured in no less than five cartoon series, several film serials, two radio series, five films, some four television live-action shows – and, yes, even a musical. His iconic symbolism represents aspects of U.S. American culture only evoked by other legacies such as the flag and the bald eagle.

To say this book is interesting probably understates its magnitude. This summer millions of people will flock to the theaters (this reviewer included) to see the new Superman movie, yet we all know that no matter what obstacles stand in his way, Superman will still win the battle. This book digs deep into just why we are so drawn to the first and undeniably best superhero alive.

The humorous and thought-provoking essays consider a variety of subjects. Some look solely at Superman as icon, while others specify their context, such as Superman in films or on television. While Keith R.A. DeCandido focuses on the different actors who have portrayed the Man of Steel over the years, Paul Little considers the significant of Superman’s gold “S” shield. But Superman himself is not at center stage for this entire book, either. Chris Roberson addresses the expanding world of Krypton, Joseph McCabe provides a decent historiography on Louis Lane, and Bob Batchelor evaluates the life/lives of Lex Luthor.

Most of the essays avoid delving too far into geek-speak, though some slightly visit it, bringing up issues like the Crisis on the Infinite Earths saga or other hardcore comic book continuity that only true comic fans can understand. Though worthy of this anthology, the first essay fizzles as an introduction piece. With sentences like “Let’s face it, for the pre-Crisis Superman, most of his alleged friends aren’t so much friends as sycophants,” readers might be overwhelm or less than enthused about pursuing any further, but they most certainly should.

Someone willing to fork over whatever the cost of movie tickets are to see Superman Returns should unhesitatingly pick up The Man From Krypton for a bit more insight into the pop culture they are consuming. Reading this book can only result in better understanding what makes Superman so super.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Lance Eaton, 2006

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