Book Reviews - "Man of Steel" Titles
"Man of Steel" Children's BooksPublished by: Harper Collins (May 2013)
Reviewed by: Steve Younis
Published by Harper Collins, the "Man of Steel" Children's Books are a collection of Picture Books, "I Can Read" stories, a Reusable Sticker Book, and a Junior Novel.
All six books in the collection feature colorful, eye-catching covers, the "Man of Steel" logo, and the wording "Based on the Feature Film!". Not having seen the movie at the time of this review, I can't say whether or not these stories would be considered "Spoiler Material" or not, as I don't know how closely their stories are adapted from the film itself. But there are spoilers, for sure. Visual representations of places and names of characters alone could be considered by some as Spoiler information. Nevertheless, I don't think this information will actually "spoil" the movie as such.
Adapted by writer Frank Whitman, "The Early Years" Junio Novel is a 143 page story about young Clark Kent growing up in Smallville. It's an enjoyable read, following Clark from his arrival on Earth as a baby, through to his first year as a teenager. The story is bracketed by opening and closing chapters of Superman in the middle of an earthquake disaster in Metropolis, thinking back to his childhood and the lessons he learned while growing up in the small, rural town of Smallville, Kansas.
The center of the book features 8 pages of photos from the film itself, which are stunning, and accompany the story itself quite nicely.
It's an entertaining read about Clark's unique challenges, his inner turmoil, the love and concern of Martha and Jonathan Kent, his friendship with his pet dog Shelby, his struggle with being bullied by Whitney Fordham, and figuring out when, where and how to use his special abilities.
These two books, adapted by John Sazaklis and illustrated by Jeremy Roberts, go hand-in-hand with each other. Not only are they identical in their format, but they share illustrations as early parts of both books deal with the fate of Krypton and how baby Kal-El traveled through space to come to Earth.
Each double-page spread features stunning artwork by Roberts, with boxed text that tells the story while also explaining what we're looking at.
"The Fate of Krypton" is rich with visuals from the planet Krypton, introducing us to Jor-El, his flying creature H'Raka, as well as his two servant bots Kelex and Kelor. We're also introduced to Jor-El's wife Lara, as the two of them decide as a couple what should be done about the fate of their baby Kal-El, as Krypton's end draws ever closer. But the book doesn't end with Krypton's explosion. In fact we follow baby Kal-El to Earth, we meet the Kents, we get a quick run down of Clark's childhood, the discovery of his powers and his Kryptonian heritage, and his choice to become Superman.
"Superman Saves Smallville" quickly covers Krypton, Kal-El's flight through space, his arrival on Earth, growing up in Smallville, finding out about his alien heritage, and becoming Superman. The main focus of the book is about General Zod, Faora, and Nam-Ek coming to Earth, landing in Smallville, discovering their new abilities under Earth's yellow sun, and deciding to take over the world, only to be confronted by Superman. The story ends fairly abruptly, and I'm not sure whether the fight between Superman and the Kryptonian villains ends the same way in the movie or not, or whether it's simplified and sanitized for the sake of children who are the target audience of this book.
Both of these two titles are "I Can Read!" books aimed at Level 2 readers (Reading with help), which the back covers indicates are "High-interest stories for developing readers".
Writer Lucy Rosen adapted both stories. "Superman's Superpowers" is illustrated by Andie Tong, while Steven E. Gordon drew the pictures for "Friends and Foes", with colors by Eric A. Gordon.
Each page pretty much deals with a different aspect of young Clark discovering each of his abilities: Speed, X-Ray Vision, Heat Vision, Strength and Invulnerability.
"Friends and Foes" on the other hand starts off by introducing an adult Clark Kent, before taking us back to Krypton, Jor-El and Lara, their house on Krypton, Kelex and Kelor, Jor-El's meeting with the ruling council, sending baby Kal-El to Earth, the Kents finding him, young Clark's discovery of his abilities, being bullied at school, traveling the world as a young man, the arrival of General Zod and his minions, the battle between Superman and the Kryptonian, before finishing off with an introduction to Perry White, Lois Lane and the Daily Planet.
Both are great for young children to learn about Superman, while also helping me to improve their reading skills. The illustrations are great too. They really help tell the story as much as the words, which has to help immensely when kids are trying to understand the words they're reading.
With a stunning artistic impression of Henry Cavill as Superman on the cover, the Reusable Sticker Book is actually more of an activity book that happens to use stickers.
It features repurposed Jim Lee artwork throughout (i.e. images adapted from previous Superman drawings by Jim Lee, changed to represent the movie's version of the Superman costume), as well as other illustrations from the other Harper Collins "Man of Steel" publications. Using the stickers, presented in the center double-page spread, you can play tic-tac-toe, create "Battle for Smallville" scenes, complete unfinished images, and make up your own 6-panel visual story. The book also includes a couple of cut-out poster images of Superman.
I haven't actually had the heart to remove and use any of the stickers, so I can't vouch for how "reusable" they really are. But I have no doubt children will have a lot of fun with this sticker book.
Buy these items and more at the Superman Homepage Online Store!
Book ReviewsComic Book Novelizations:
- The Gospel According to the World's Greatest Superhero
- The Man From Krypton
- The Original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes - Volume 3: Superman
- Superman on Film, Television, Radio and Broadway
- Beyond Lois Lane
- The DC Comics Action Figure Archive
- Superman vs. Hollywood
- Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman
- Flights of Fantasy: The Unauthorized but True Story of Radio & TV's Adventures of Superman by Michael J. Hayde
- Our Hero: Superman on Earth by Tom De Haven
- Superman On Earth: Reflections of a Fan by Gary D. Robinson
- DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book by Matthew Reinhart
- The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman by Vic Armstrong
- The Ages of Superman: Essays on the Man of Steel in Changing Times
- Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye
- Superman is an Arab by Joumana Haddad
- Superman is Jewish? by Harry Brod
- 100 Things Superman Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Joseph McCabe
- Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon by Ian Gordon
- Superman: Last Son of Krypton
- Superman: Miracle Monday
- The Further Adventures of Superman
- It's Superman! by Tom De Haven
- DC Universe: Last Sons
- DC Universe: Trail of Time
- Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson
- Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson
- DC Super-Pets! by Picture Window Books
- Fallout (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond
- Double Down (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond
- Triple Threat (Lois Lane) by Gwenda Bond
- Smallville: Strange Visitors
- Smallville: Dragon
- Smallville: Hauntings
- Smallville: Whodunnit
- Smallville: Shadows
- Smallville: Silence
- Smallville: Curse
- Smallville: City
- Smallville: Arrival
- Smallville: See No Evil
- Smallville: Flight
- Smallville: Animal Rage
- Smallville: Speed
- Smallville: Buried Secrets
- Smallville: Greed
- Smallville: Temptation
- Smallville: Sparks
- JLA: Batman - The Stone King
- JLA: Wonder Woman - Mythos
- JLA: The Flash - Stop Motion
- JLA: JLA - Exterminators
- JLA: Green Lantern - Hero's Quest
- JLA: Superman - The Never-Ending Battle
- Superman Returns: Strange Visitor
- Superman Returns: Novelization
- Superman Returns: Coming Home
- Superman Returns: Earthquake in Metropolis!
- Superman Returns: I am Superman!
- Superman Returns: Be A Hero!
- Superman Returns: Thank You, Superman!
- Superman Returns: The Movie Storybook
- Superman Returns: The Visual Guide
- Superman Returns: The Official Movie Guide