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Superman: The Complete History: The Life and Times of the Man of Steel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; 1st Printing edition (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811821625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811821629
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,265,183 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

While comic books trace their origins to the late 19th century, Superman, who debuted in 1938's Action Comics #1, is virtually synonymous with the medium. Yet, as Superman, the Complete History shows, the Man of Steel has also made a lasting impact in comic strips, film, toys, TV, radio, and even on Broadway. In this beautifully composed volume, Les Daniels collects rare and never-before-seen early artwork by Superman's teenage creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (including a two-page doodle from 1936 featuring early Superman costume designs), and he chronicles the evolution of the character from an orphan alien comics hero to a complex multimedia icon. Entire pages are devoted to photographs of the various costumes worn by TV and film incarnations, of numerous action figures and related toys, and of movie poster and stills. Several comics stories are also reproduced in their entirety.

Almost as impressive as the stunning art design is Daniels's narrative: covering the 60 years from 1938 to 1998, he collects interviews with several writer-artist teams that detail the changes in the Man of Steel and his relationships with Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, and Perry White. Daniels's examination of the "Death of Superman" story arc, in particular, is a fascinating study of Superman's commercial and archetypal appeal. The final pages preview Superman tales by Barry Windsor-Smith and Alex Ross (whose beautiful painted graphic novel Kingdom Come turned many heads), and the hardback cover holds a special surprise underneath its paper wrap. --Patrick O'Kelley

From School Library Journal

YA-From the creation of "the man of steel" by teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster through the decades of comic books, cartoons, movies, and theater productions featuring the prototype of the American superhero, this book serves fans, historians, and artists. Liberally illustrated with reprinted comic-book pages, full-color photos of licensed and unlicensed toys and other paraphernalia, costumes, and storyboard panels, the text is well researched and neatly elaborated. Various sidebars explore the concept of pulp fiction, the appearance of Superman on the I Love Lucy TV show, the collaboration between DC and Marvel in celebration of the nation's Bicentennial, and other elements of 20th-century popular culture that bear on the Superman story. Daniels clearly is a fan, but this work is not partisan. He demystifies complications arising from artistic contracts, personalities, and political weather. The format is excellent, with color reproduction accurate and placement of images either simply judicious or aesthetically appealing as well. With the exception of omitting how Christopher Reeve's career was changed by his accident, Daniels follows each person concerned with the Superman story through to a satisfying denouement. He does a credible job whether he is discussing drawing, writing, acting, or the business of entertainment and its promotion.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This book is great and it has a lot of info on the Man of Steel but it is just too short.
Sean E. M. Dence
Daniels leaves no stone unturned, even providing great photos of vintage and current Superman toys and other collectibles.
Tim Janson
Les Daniels excellent history of Superman tells that story, and is packed with great pictures and photos as well.
"rsglasno"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 51 people found the following review helpful By D. Hill on April 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
There is no doubt the comic book industry owes a great debt to Superman, or rather, to Siegel and Shuster who created him, but in his book, Les Daniels frequently looks for ways to minimize, rather than credit, their contribution. DC Comics made millions of dollars on the movies, TV Shows, cartoons, and other merchanising over the decades, while Siegel and Shuster shared in hardly any of it. The most shocking thing now is, this book, written with the cooperation of DC - rather than apologize to the two men, or even express any kind of gratitude, it actually takes stabs at Sigel and Shuster. Rather than simply state the facts regarding to Superman's history, Daniels frequently assails the characters of the two men, claims they took most of their ideas from other places, assigns poor motives to both men, even mentions extra-marital affairs they may or may not have had. The book is supposed to be about Superman, who cares about any of that? Of course Daniels would never turn a critical eye towards DC, who seem to have hired him, it's surprising they still seem to be bitter about two men that made them so much money for the last sixty years. There is no doubt, DC has been the best comic book company when it comes to promoting their characters, but they have also been very lucky in the courts. Not only did they force Superman's creators to relinquish all rights to the character, their lawsuits also managed to force Captain Marvel, a character more popular than Superman at the time, out of business. They claimed they were too much alike, but anyone who knows comics could see their differences. Later, DC took over Captain Marvel and actually began publishing him themselves (!). This story is only touched on briefly here.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Faiz79 on January 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Faiz Rehman (faiz79@hotmail.com) from Wales welcome look at the history of the man of steel Heavy on the pictures, this book is an excellent look at 60 years of Superman. Don't miss the covers - the dust jacket has original art work from the past, while the cover of the book proper has modern versions of the same art by the one and only Alex Ross. It overs the origins, the merchandise, and the adaptations. Although not as detailed as you may hope for, there are still plenty of facts to discover. The book does not gush over all aspects of the legend - it is critical of some aspects of, for example, the Dean Cain series. The books is not complete - for example, it does not mention the excellent radio series produce by Dirk Maggs in the BBC which is probably the closest adaptation of the comics stories. It does look gorgeous, though, and is much better than the majority of books of this type.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Donald J. Wurzelbacher on December 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Les Daniels did a wonderful job compiling photos and information concerning the Man of Steel. I have been a big Superman collector for 20 years and know a great deal about Superman's history. Daniels told Superman's history in an easy to understand way, with a thorough look into Superman's changes from 1938 to the present day. The only thing that I was disappointed in was that it was somewhat skimpy on information, especially concerning the character outside of the comics. I would like to have seen more details than was written. But overall, it is an excellent read, especially for anyone who really knows little about the history of America's greatest fictional Super hero!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tim Janson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
He's the first, and greatest superhero ever, the man who not only was faster than a speeding bullet, but more importantly the man who was able to survive the golden age fallout of superhero comics and continue to thrive almost 70 years later. Les Daniels' magnificent book traces the history of Superman from his humble beginnings, to the major marketing franchise it is today. It's the story of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, a couple of young men from Cleveland who putting the ideas for this new and fantastic character down on paper as early as 1933, and then struggled for years to get the feature sold. We see a rare cover, the only page surviving from 1933, after Joe Shuster burned the rest of the pages in frustration. The spotlight reviewer contends that Daniels does not give credit to Siegel and Shuster and even takes stabs at the pair. Nothing could be further from the truth. The book details the pairs drive to get the character sold, and their diligence is well documented by Daniels. It's a tribute to their persistence that Superman is around today. Had they thrown in the towel after their many rejections Superman would never have seen the light of day. I think that pays them high tribute. There's no doubt that DC comics made millions...no billions off Superman and that Siegel and Shuster did not benefit much from this. Unfortunately, the pair, so desperate to get the idea in print, signed away their rights to the character. It may have been cheap on DCs part, no doubt, but creators simply did not own their characters back then.Read more ›
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