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Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Cover date: October 1999
Writer: Mark Millar
Penciller: Aluir Amancio
Inker: Terry Austin
"This Is A Job For Superman"
Reviewed by: Michael O'Connor
As Superman flies through Metropolis, he lets his super hearing engulf the city so as to pick up the most important cries for help first. Hearing a summons for the police, Superman streaks into action, as he finds the group of villains armed with freeze-guns and gives chase. Superman uses his cold breath to freeze all the villains except one, which runs out into traffic, causing an ambulance to crash. Superman grabs the man, ties him up and delivers him to the poliBack at the ambulance, Superman arrives to make sure that things are all right. He soon finds out that the patient inside the vehicle is a pregnant woman who needs the attention and tools that only a hospital has to offer. Superman picks up the ambulance with the woman and crew inside and flies off to the hospital. Landing on the helipad, he lets the crew take over. No sooner has he finished with his job then the doctor asks him to fly to Chicago where a heart is needed for a transplant. Unfortunately, the donor heart is located on a plane that has been hijacked!
Superman again takes to the skies where in no time, he finds himself confronting the terrorists. He smashes his way through the window of the plane, knocks out the two men in the front and melts the guns of the men in the back. One of the men takes a grenade and tosses it on the ground. Superman grabs the explosive and lets it explode between his hands. The amazed terrorist begs for Superman to understand that he is fighting for a cause against the government. Superman knocks the man out, adding, "politics was never my thing."
Done with the terrorists, Superman rushes the heart back to the hospital, where, as he's flying away, hears that a group of teenagers have been trapped in an abandoned mineshaft. The police can do nothing to help and they soon figure out that the kids don't have much longer since the mine is flooding. Superman changes all that, as he shows up, smashes through the top of the wall and punches a passageway out of the mine. Superman holds the roof of the mine, preventing its collapse as officers help the kids out of the mine. As Superman flies away, letting the mine crumble, two officers can only question how Superman could be such a great guy.
In the time it takes Superman to arrive at the site of a suicide, he has already tamed a riot. Superman shows immediate anger at himself for not having arrived earlier to save the man. One officer tells Supes to not worry about it and that the guy deserved to die. Superman angrily answers the man that no one deserves to die. As the officer leaves, another one comes up to Superman, informing him that the man who killed himself left a note claiming that he couldn't take the grief incorporated with framing his brother for the murder that he committed. Superman realizes that the falsely accused brother is scheduled to be executed in three minutes and that by the time they reached the switchboard, the man would be dead.
Superman races off at super-speed, straining himself to arrive in time. Just as the switch is being thrown, Superman busts into the execution chamber and takes the full power of the electricity, saving the man as the amazed onlookers angrily protest Superman's intervention. Superman quickly explains himself and hands over the suicide note as evidenMeanwhile, meteors bombard a space station as the astronauts inside realize that they only have ten minutes of oxygen left before it all leaks out. Superman arrives on the scene, however, fixing the ship and then taking out a gigantic meteor that heads towards them. Superman flies off to Earth, content with a good night's work of protecting the innocent, remembering one more task that he must take care of before he changes back to mild mannered reporter Clark Kent.
As the morning in Metropolis blooms, shopkeepers open doors and news buzzes all over the city on the happiness that Superman has given to the numerous citizens all over Metropolis.
As the young boy awakes from sleep, he sees his dog, Patch, lying on top of him. The jubilant boy calls out to his parents, who look with amazement as they try to comprehend how the dog could have gotten there. The dad simply can't believe that the Man of Steel could have done it with the busy schedule he had. But the young boy exclaims, "Don'tcha get it dad? He's Superman!"
Story - 5: Fantastic story! I guess I'm always a sucker for the stories that really cover Superman as he is and his purpose in being a super hero. A lot of Superman's significance and meaning has to do with issues such as this, where Superman is shown saving innocents and doing his best to help out whomever he can. Recently, Superman comics have sort of fallen victim to a villain-a-month scheme where Superman battles one criminal after another. This is all well and fine, but the reader needs a change in pace once in a while to stay interested. A well constructed, exciting issue as this serves for really understanding the character of Superman and what he stands for. Another thing I liked about the issue was its variety. Superman wasn't just doing the same thing over and over again. There were all sorts of incidents going on and they were all linked together. A brilliant issue Mr. Millar! Thank you so much for this exemplary story! I would certainly call this the best issue of the year.
Art - 5: Amancio has definitely got it down now! His work here is splendid and Austin's terrific inking helps to really define the characters and what they're thinking. For instance, Superman on page 14 looks in complete anguish at himself and the dramatic shadow over his face demonstrates this beautifully. Each of the pages was different in design and the art flow created a real feeling of suspense. I kept asking myself, "Is Superman going to make it on time?" I know that the sequence with the electric chair kept me holding my breath. Amancio's design and powerful looking characters not only look like they are right out of the animated series, but also show a terrific interpretation of events and a whole new feeling of drama. Best page of the issue: 3. We really get to see a fantastic view of Metropolis and see it in all its glory. Oh... and good job on the coloring as well! Things look normal and the variety of colors on page 3 really helps to bring out the feeling of a bustling Metropolis.
Cover - 4: An excellent cover which mirrors the sort of suspense and intensity that's present in the actual issue, but only one event is highlighted. It wouldn't have been an easy cover to pull off, but a view of Superman doing several things at once might have given credit to the fast-paced life of the Man of Steel.
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