Superman is arguably the most iconic character of the 20th century (I’d say it’s between Supes and Mickey Mouse), with a history that’s fairly well known: the last son of a dying planet, sent to Earth in a rocket ship where he discovers superhuman powers and becomes a hero. That’s the traditional, neat and tidy version of the Superman story, but it’s not quite that simple in the comic books where Superman was born. In the world of DC Comics, it’s a very different story, and Dorling Kindersley’s Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel might be able to help you make sense of things.
This guide touches on Superman’s comic book history (no movies or TV shows) through the golden, silver, and bronze ages, into the modern age culminating in The New 52, DC Comics’ complete 2012 reboot of their universe. That reboot, unfortunately, means that Superman’s entire history as outlined in this book, from the years he may have spent as Superboy, to his epic boxing match against Muhammed Ali (yup, that happened!), to his death at the hands of Doomsday, are no more. Or in other words, read essentially read 80% of this book, then imagine it never actually happened.
That’s too bad, because the many decades of Superman comics had delivered memorable villains, heroic allies, and world-spanning storylines that saw Superman save Earth and the galaxy many times over. Many of those characters still exist in Superman’s current reality with some tweaking, but all of those adventures, which this book catalogs with helpful recaps and plenty of comic book images, have been erased from history. For the time being anyway.
Cheekiness aside, this is definitely a great resource if you or your children are looking to explore Superman’s comic book history, not only in the main comic series, but the many alternate universe versions that have been created over the years. Those other realities are only touched on with a single paragraph, which unfortunately means that All-Star Superman and Kingdom Come, two of the best Superman tales don’t get the profile they deserve.
The GamerPops Recommendation
It was smart for Dorling Kindersley to get Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel into bookstores just in time for the Man of Steel to rule the box office. But with its exclusive focus on the Superman in comics, it also feels a little premature, given that the brand new reality for DC’s superheroes is still in its infancy. That certainly doesn’t make this a bad choice by any stretch, and since most of the stories detailed in this book are available in print or digital formats, it’s a great way to not only encourage your child to read, but to also open the door to even more reading opportunities.
A review copy was provided to GamerPops.