Sunday, June 1, 2008

The first two "Boys of Steel" reviews...revealed

As promised, here are the first two reviews in for Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman. I'm thrilled and humbled to add that both reviews are starred, like roughly a third of all superhero costumes.

* Booklist 6/1/08:

Though rich in thrilling big breaks and cultural touchstones, comic book history appears most often in books for adults, such as Michael Chabon’s Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000), inspired by the story of Superman’s creators. This book brings the young men behind the Man of Steel to a picturebook audience. Along with a compressed account of the partnership between nerdy high-school outcasts Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, Nobleman includes insights about superheroes’ cultural significance and the chord struck by Superman—a “hero who would always come home” even as World War II loomed on the horizon. It’s hard to imagine a better sidekick for the text than MacDonald’s illustrations, which capture the look of 1930s comics with their sepia-toned, stylized imagery, although some children may wish for more distinctions between the Shuster and Siegel's bespectacled faces. The narrative ends on an upbeat note, but the detailed, candid afterword clues youngsters into the creators’ bitter compensation battle with DC Comics. A bibliography and assurances that “all dialogue [was] excerpted from interviews” puts factual muscle behind the subject’s literary brawn. Any kid who has scribbled caped crusaders in the margins of homework will find Shuster and Siegel’s accomplishment of interest; this robust treatment does their story justice.
Jennifer Mattson

* Kirkus Reviews 6/1/08:

Ask children where the Man of Steel comes from, and they may answer “Metropolis” or, if they’re well read, “Krypton.” In fact, he came from Cleveland, the invention of two “meek, mild and myopic” Depression-era teenagers. Drawing incidents and dialogue directly from a range of published interviews and other accounts, Nobleman shows how Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster parlayed a steady diet of Tarzan, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon into a new kind of Hero, with superhuman abilities and a secret identity not so different from, well, themselves. Tongue resolutely in cheek, MacDonald switches between full page and comics-style panels, portraying the young writer and artist in Superman-style poses—stooped and nerdy by day but standing solidly, hands on hips and looking larger-than-life when working on their creation. In his afterword, Nobleman retraces Superman’s role in World War II and beyond, filling in the sorry tale of how Siegel and Shuster were cheated of fortune and fame by DC Comics. The battle for truth and justice is truly never-ending.
author of review not indicated

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