December 4, 2013


This past year has seen a plethora of celebrations - you have all of November to see one pop culture franchise's anniversary, but the 75th anniversary of Superman has also been prominent. (And I would like to protest that we should have seen more for Doc Savage's 80th, but there you go). Much like Larry Tye's book about the character, Glen Weldon's Superman: The Unauthorized Biography is a really interesting exploration.

Now, it's a much different take and tone on the character - thankfully, Weldon's book feels much more thorough in exploring some of the more interesting aspects of Superman's development. (However - and maybe this comes from Weldon's co-hosting duties on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast - there seems to be some moments where the humor is overplayed; Weldon's fascination with Superman's mullet seems a little gratuitous). It is much more thorough, including the syndicated Superboy series of the late 1980s, as well as some of more interesting side treks. (Any book that focuses on Superpup really can't be all that bad).

Now, this is not a bad book by any means - it's actually witty, engaging, and hits all of the familiar marks. In short, it's worth reading alongside Larry Tye's Superman: both books provide a well-balanced take on Superman in comics, television, movies, etc. As someone suffering a bit of burnout over a favorite franchise with an anniversary in November, reading this book was a welcome relief as Weldon attempts to explore the character in historical context....but does so with a well-needed sense of perspective and humor. It's a great, breezy read, and is well worth exploring.
Definitely worth your time....but be sure you fit in Larry Tye's Superman as well. Both books in tandem (and it doesn't matter which one is read first) provide a thorough explanation of the Man of Steel.

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