|Mass market paperback, 205 pages|
Borrowed from the library
Read May 2013
by Elliot S. Maggin
I really enjoyed Maggin's first Superman book, Last Son of Krypton, and his second is not quite as good, but it is still very good. If there's anything I didn't like, it's just that the plot takes its time getting off the ground; we're over halfway into the book before Superman even finds out that there's a problem he needs to be solving.
But aside from that, this is essential Superman. Maggin has a way with all the characters, one that makes me regret the fact that I don't think I've ever read a Maggin comic book. I'll have to get on that! He gets them all perfectly, but especially Superman and Lex Luthor.
Though I might disagree with the way Maggin phrases it, that Clark Kent is just a pretense for Superman, the way it plays out in practice is great. I haven't read any of the comics from the era where Clark is a newsanchor for WGBS Metropolis, but the way that Maggin shows him juggling his Clark and Superman roles is perfect. As a big Lex Luthor fan, I also love the way that Maggin writes Luthor: the smartest man in the room, at all times, just never quite grasping an essential moral truth. He's funny, in the sense that the Master on Doctor Who is funny: his plans stagger the mind, but have a certain twisted logic to them.
Also, here's a bit from a description of the prison where Lex Luthor is incarcerated: "Haskell was the ninth warden at this prison in eight years. Four had been fired; two had had nervous breakdowns; one had had a heart seizure after seven months here [...]; and one had turned out to be one of Luthor's many fictional alter egos" (49). That's my Lex!
Lois isn't a big figure in this book, but the scene between Lois and Superman after the Superman/Clark duality has been revealed to the world is the best summation of Lois's character I've ever seen. Even Jimmy Olsen gets his bit!
The triumph of the book is of course in the ending. I don't know if Maggin actually grew up reading Superman comics, but I suspect he did. This book is the work of a man who grew up believing that Superman is the essential, archetypal hero, and that is absolutely right.
Happy Miracle Monday!