Save Big On Open-Box & Preowned: Buy "Superman: The Unauthorized Biography” from Amazon Warehouse Deals and save 53% off the $25.95 list price. Product is eligible for Amazon's 30-day returns policy and Prime or FREE Shipping. See all Open-Box & Preowned offers from Amazon Warehouse Deals.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Superman: The Unauthorized Biography 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Special Offers and Product Promotions
""Weldon's years as a lifelong Superman fan give him superb insight into the character's central truths.... A reliable, witty, and informative guide."" —NPR Books
""Breezily written and compulsively readable."" —A/V Club
""An excellent portrait of the Man of Steel, managing to be fan-crazed and critical at the same time."" —Publishers Weekly
""[Gathers] the sprawling, complex, and occasionally contradictory history of Superman into a rich and deeply textured story."" —New York Journal of Books
From the Inside Flap
You likely have an indelible image of Superman etched in your brain. But from the moment of his birth (as the offspring of two teenage proto-nerds) in 1938, the Man of Steel has proven far more changeable than anyone expected. While he hasn't aged a day, his appearance, powers, vulnerabilities, and persona have evolved in numerous ways.
In Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, NPR's resident comic book expert, Glen Weldon, tells the life story of the world's first, and still the most popular, superhero, from his creation to the present. He reveals how this cultural icon has been continuously transformed, not just by time but by his travels through a variety of media, including comic books, radio, television, movies, and graphic novels.
The original Superman, a tough-talking, two-fisted bruiser, was quick with a smirk and a sarcastic quip. He was impatient and prone to violenceour hotheaded, protective big brother. Yet that early Superman was a social reformer with a decidedly anti-militaristic streak. Only a few years later, he would become a super-patriot, championing the war effort in comic books and on the radio.
Most baby boomers met "The Big Blue Boy Scout" for the first time not through comics or radio, but as played on television by actor George Reeves. Reeves' Superman was more fatherly than his comic book counterpart, a quality that promptly leached into the comics as well. Weldon documents how Superman's persona shifted again in the 1960s and early 1970s as his middle-aged writers started chasing the nation's emergent "youth culture," unintentionally turning him into our bemused, out-of-touch uncle. Then Christopher Reeve came along to make him a more dashing, good-humored, and sometimes passionate hero.
No biography of Superman would be complete without a thorough treatment of Clark Kent, along with his coworkers Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen and their boss, Perry White. Weldon tracks their first appearances and development throughout the series and also pays special attention to Superman's archenemy, Lex Luthor.
Complete with thorough accounts of the Man of Steel's more recent films and television shows as well as comics, graphic novels, and a Broadway musical, Superman: The Unauthorized Biography is the ultimate resource for anyone, young, old, or in between, who wants to know everything about everyone's favorite superhero.
Browse the complete series of "The Walking Dead" digital collections and single issues for Kindle. See all.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Yet I feel I need to say something very close to that statement when discussing Glen Weldon's history of Superman. Because the thing Mr. Weldon has done is make me care about Superman. He has translated, explained, and represented Superman to a life-long comics fan who has just never cared for the big guy before.
In short, I have never cared one way or the other about Superman. And what Glen Weldon has done in this book -- that is different from other people talking about Superman -- is describe Superman's history so lovingly, so thoroughly, with such humor and passion and joy, that I have come to appreciate Superman.
Superman: An Unauthorized Biography is not a history of the making of Superman properties, though it touches on that. Nor is it a history of the Superman canon, though that canon is a large part of the book. What Weldon has written is exactly what it says on the tin -- a biography of a fictional character, delving first into the canon, then looking at creators, back and forth. We learn not only what Superman was, what he was doing, during decades past, we learn why he was those things and what the people creating him meant.
This book is sociology, history, and biography. Moreover, it has that quality that makes all the good histories great. Weldon loves this subject, that much is clear.Read more ›
He doesn't disappoint. Weldon takes us through the evolution of the Man of Steel from villain (in an early imagining) through his many, many incarnations with wit, insight, enough detail to satisfy the fanboys, and enough perspective to satisfy the rest of us.
A short disclaimer: I stopped reading the comics several years ago. I simply couldn't keep up with the complicated storylines which ran across multitudes of titles. One storyline I could still keep track of, but once every Superman title (they were 5 at the time) started their own, that was it for me. I do, however, get the graphic novels (which collect the storyline from all the titles in one volume) and enjoy them very much. Readers of my blog and twitter feed know that I post about them as well.
I have been a Superman fan for many years, I was hooked when I was 8 years-old and my mom took me to see "Superman: The Motion Picture" in the big city - that was it! Ever since I try to read as much as I can about the Man of Steel, comics, novels and non-fiction work. So when I saw Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon (tumblr | @ghweldon), I knew I had to read it.
The book is well researched with some excellent observations by the author. Mr. Weldon traces the origins of Superman, both in the publication world and the mythology created around him. He identifies the two elements which are consistent with all the incarnations of Superman (Bryan Singer's movie Superman Returns broke them and it's one of the reasons it didn't work) as well as his evolution both physically and emotionally.Read more ›
I have been a Superman comic collector for many years, and have never seen a treatment of this character presented like this--where the author truly understands the core appeal, and is able to discuss both movie set drama, superhero evolution, and detailed comic story arcs with humor and insight.
Highly recommend this book to any Superman fans!!!
Occasionally, though, the pace is a little too fast--the deaths of Superman creators Joe Siegel and Jerry Shuster merit only a couple of sentences in the book. And while Weldon notes the tribulations that befell TV Superman George Reeves, he never mentions the tragic mishap that left Superman actor Christopher Reeve paralyzed. It seems a particularly glaring omission since Weldon DOES cite Reeve's appearance on "Smallville" as a "wheelchair-bound scientist" without noting the real-life poignance of the scene.
Another, minor quibble: the book has no photos or artwork, and Weldon's descriptions of the various Superman artwork, vivid as they are, only go so far. Readers may have to search the net (or a comic store) to better appreciate the artistic styles of Shuster, Wayne Boring, Curt Swan, etc.
Weldon more than compensates for these shortcomings with a "snappy, punchy prose style" (as Perry White once said of Clark Kent), and he's great at detailing the appeal and endurance of Superman without falling into hagiography. Weldon's also quick to point out other works that cover certain aspects of Superman history in greater depth. Casual comics readers, fanboys, and pop culture aficionados will all find this book accessible and informative.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I won a copy of this book from the publisher recently. but it has been on my radar for a while. I have never been a comics reader but am always interested in the intersection... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Viola B.
Easily the best part of Superman: the Unauthorized Biography is Weldon's voice, which comes through so clearly it's almost like you're listening to the director's cut of a... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jennifer Grey
I should start by saying I've never been a Superman guy per say. As a child the Superman Animated Series dominated my understanding of Superman. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Michael
This was an outstanding book that explores Superman from his birth in 1938 to early 2013 through comics, television, movies, and other fun facts. Read morePublished 15 months ago by superman fan
Great book love superman and I was happy to get this book I have been reading a lot lately this is a book I have to say very good indeedPublished 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a terrific book. I think the reason some people don't appreciate Suoerman is they don't understand his history. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amazon Customer
Exhaustive but not exhausting, this combination of Superman's fictional and factual history is a great read for any fan of the Man of Steel. Mr. Read morePublished 22 months ago by RRJames