Confessions of a Reformed Superman Hater: SUPERMAN: THE HIGH-FLYING HISTORY OF AMERICA’S MOST ENDURING HERO Audio Book Review
Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero (audio book)
Book by Larry Tye
Read by Scott Brick
Check out this book on Amazon!
How would you describe Superman? We often have a cynical view of cultural icons; we tend towards contempt for things we’ve become to familiar with. I’ve got to confess that is the view I’ve held of the Big Blue Boyscout for most of my life. To further explain how I’ve come to reform my views of Supes it means I have to explain my nine-to-five job. It involves driving more than everyone except over the road truckers, so audio books have become regular company to me while chewing up those miles. Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero Book by Larry Tye was my latest companion. Read by Scott Brick, this has to be one of the most comprehensive histories of the fictional and historical story of Superman in almost every medium from Action Comics #1 to roughly 2011. If you’ve ever doubted the absolute cultural impact of Superman to the United States and the world as a whole, this would go those same miles to help reclaim his status in your mind. It didn’t skirt some of the more controversial issues which plagued WWII covers or Civil Rights that in today’s culture seem poorly conceived to be kind, this book really does its best to dig into the best and worst of the Man of Steel.
While it goes through his early years and struggles of Siegel and Shuster getting the looks right, and even getting someone to simply publish his story, the book also touches on Bud Collyer on radio, George Reeves, Dean Cain, and Tom Welling on TV, and Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and Henry Cavill on film, and even Shaquille O’Neal. Also included are the chronicles of Fleischer Studios, Paramount Studios, and eventually Warner Brothers Television through ABC. In such a short review of this book I can barely scratch the surface of what the Last Son of Krypton and his surrogates have meant to our culture, so let’s concentrate on how the book has impacted the real world, not just lil ole me.
This history accounts the Wertham Witch Trials and the creation of the Comics Code Authority, World War II, in which Germany and Italy both ban the publication of Superman comics along with other American characters, all while his comics not actually getting involved in the war as other characters like Captain America, Namor, and Human Torch did. The Metropolis Marvel has been a beacon of American pride and aspirations since his earliest days. Author Larry Tye even goes into the religious overtones of Superman, asking if they have been purposely written into the character or subliminally added. The debate continues.
To summarize here (otherwise I might as well write my own book on Mr Tye’s book), I have a newfound appreciation for Superman, his history, and his impact on entertainment media and the real world over the past 80+ years since his first appearance. Superman is the reason some generations learned to read, expanded their vocabulary or simply have grown a fondness for the arts. His impact is almost as immeasurable as his powers set has been through the years. I’m finding it hard to put into words exactly how much I wish to recommend this books to not just comic book readers, but to history buffs and, sheeesh, really anyone who had a grandparent who used to listen to the radio or watch TV back in the days of over the air broadcast. It helped give me a window into their experiences as well.