four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
20-Jan-Feb-2006
By: 
Tom De Haven
user_rating: 
0

A Novel

A-ItsSupermanBefore Superman hit the comic books or big screen, he was an awkward teenager slowly adapting to his astonishing powers. Not yet a superhero, the young, sullen Clark Kent, who came of age in Depression-era Kansas, stopped speeding bullets with his hand, but he hardly embraced his herculean abilities. It’s Superman!, which opens with Kent on a date, follows the man of steel as he sojourns across America to Hollywood and back to New York City. There, Kent, now a newspaper reporter, befriends Lois Lane and for the first time confronts New York City "boss" Lex Luther, whose crooked plots set our hero on a long, prosperous warpath against evil.
Chronicle Books. 425 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0811844358

Palm Beach Post 4 of 5 Stars
"De Haven writes movingly of the strain of dead-end rural life on Clark’s parents, and how they carry the burden of loving their son while knowing the secret of his unearthly beginnings. … Luther is the weakest stock character in the book, but there is a fascinating subplot of him muscling the underworld rackets from Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, and framing Will Berg, a photographer boyfriend of Lois’s, who stumbles onto his plot."

Richmond Times Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars
"Rest assured, It’s Superman! isn’t a cheap novelization in which a familiar, flat character survives a new round of rather derivative trials. … The result is a smashing read that offers a comic book’s stripped-down, telegraphic storytelling quality as well as a novel’s more sustained narrative momentum." Doug Childers

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"If only De Haven didn’t tarry so long with his newly created supporting characters before throwing Clark together with Lois Lane. She’s a pistol here, and he’s terrifically pistol-whipped—quite the reality check for a man of steel." Tom Russo

Critical Summary

If you enjoyed De Haven’s Derby Dugan trilogy or have fond memories of (or a continued obsession with) the Man of Steel, you’ll like It’s Superman!, a re-creation of Superman’s early life before 1938, when he first started to appear in comic strips and, later, books, radio and television shows, and movies. De Haven, who teaches creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University, has added a sophisticated, well-rounded, and compelling addition to the Superman genre. In particular, he has an eye for authentic setting and character. Some parts "could be Steinbeck meets Smallville," notes The Palm Beach Post. The verdict: proof that Superman’s appeal has withstood the test of time.