Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It’s Superman!

Tom De Haven has accomplished an incredible feat with this novel: he’s made Superman – who's almost always too decent and noble and perfect to be interesting – into an emotionally engaging character. Well, that’s not exactly right – because this isn’t Superman’s story, it’s Clark Kent’s. And what a story it is: moving and bittersweet, full of action and wit, there’s never been a comic tie-in novel of this quality.

By setting the story in 1930’s, the time period where Superman belongs (like The Green Hornet or The Shadow, Superman doesn’t work to me if you set the story past the early 1960’s), De Haven has brought a sense of freedom and wonder back to the character. Here, Clark Kent isn’t an act put on by Superman. He’s simply a young farm boy, shy and awkward, both blessed and cursed with extraordinary powers (and even a little afraid of them – and rightfully so). A B-student whose intelligence doesn’t match his super-strength, he’d much rather live out his life as a mild-mannered reporter and never be Superman, and De Haven creates excellent reasons why Clark would want this.

Crap. Running out of words. I’ll pick this up again tomorrow.

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