It's Superman! by Tom De Haven
Reviewed by David Hannon
Since George Lowther wrote the first Superman novel back in 1942 there have been countless books, comics, movies, television shows, young Superman, old Superman, good Superman, bad Superman, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Some have been pretty good, and some have not, but regardless of their merit they just keep coming and coming. Tom De Haven's novel It's Superman!, however, is among the very good, and it's not just another Superman story.
Taking its cue from the noir style of old pulp novels, It's Superman! takes you back to the beginning of the "S on your chest" mythos, with a confused young Clark Kent learning to understand and control his unusual powers while becoming the Man of Steel. His character is well crafted and De Haven does a nice job of making the story dark and brooding in one sentence and tongue-in-cheek in the next.
Two heavy hitters in the Superman franchise you'll certainly recognize are the quirky and spirited Lois Lane and the spectacularly evil Lex Luthor who help keep things fresh and exciting throughout. Both characters are unique and familiar at the same time giving you the opportunity to enjoy what you already know about them while still getting surprised by their actions. Lex (definitely my favorite character) has a pensiveness about him that can be downright chilling, keeping you utterly transfixed whenever he pops up on the page.
Based on the first version of the Superman saga It's Superman! has wonderfully crisp period detail, making you believe you're right there in either depression-era Kansas, the teeming metropolis of 1930s New York City, or out in sunny California where Clark works as a stunt man getting to take home a certain blue and red costume we've all become acquainted with. Spot on style, language, and dialogue right down to the fashion of the time, make this a good read not just for superhero fans, but just about anyone who enjoys a nostalgic thrill or two.