Superman: The Man of Tomorrow by Daniel Wallace
Published by Scholastic, January 26, 2016. Paperback of 128 pages at $5.99. Intended for ages 8 – 12, grades 3 – 7.
Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.
The cover: A bust shot of a serious Superman looking to his left against the backdrop of Metropolis is the cover from interior artist Patrick Spaziante. I’m not liking this version of Kal-El, and I think it’s due to the coloring. There’s a really odd splash of shading on the right side of his face that makes it look like he got slapped. His suit also doesn’t have the strong reflective shine I was expecting it to have. The background is make up of various shades of orange, which is an odd color to use on the iconic city. I like Superman’s face, the somber look, and the tilt of the city. It’s the coloring that’s really odd. It’s not horrible, just odd. The design of this cover is credited to Rick Demonico. I don’t know who’s responsible for the coloring, but this should have been reconsidered. Overall grade: B-
The premise: From the back cover, “Every wonder how SUPERMAN became a hero? How did a child from another planet become a farm boy in Smallville? What happened to his planet and his family? Who are his most trusted allies and fearsome foes? What compels him to protect others and conceal his true identity? In this biography — complete with black-and-white illustrations, a time line, and intriguing facts — you’ll uncover the epic history of Metropolis’s hero and discover his true backstory.” There are three illustrations accompanying this text: an illustration of young Clark with Ma and Pa Kent on the farm, a color postcard from Smallville, and a handwritten letter by Clark, at a very young age, writing about who his hero is. Just reading that letter made me tear up. If just one image of the back cover of this book can do that to me, I’m sure this will hit all the right marks with young fans and those who want to know more about the son of Krypton. Overall grade: A
The sections: The book is divided into nine chapters by author Daniel Wallace. After a Foreword, written by Superman himself, the book is separated into The Kid from Smallville, The World of Krypton, Learning to Be a Hero, Strange Visitors, Moving to Metropolis, Becoming Superman, Fighting for All, Amazing Allies, Fearsome Foes, and Up, Up, and Away. This book gives a complete retelling of young Clark learning his true origin, his journey to Metropolis, and his first appearance as Superman. I was impressed with the amount of details in this book, giving specific incidents that I remember reading about when I was much younger fan. There are even pages devoted to The Legion of Super-Heroes (Hooray!) and Krytpo. After he becomes the world famous hero, he meets with Batman, joins the Justice League, finds cousin Kara, aka Supergirl, and meets Professor Hamilton; I was really pleased to see the professor included, since I’ve always had a soft spot for him. Surprisingly there are only five villains listed in the Fearsome Foes section: General Zod, Brainiac, Doomsday, Lex Luthor, and Bizarro. I expected to see several other villains come up, as so many were mentioned in the companion book Batman: Gotham City’s Guardian. I’m thinking some may have purposely been avoided because of CBS’ Supergirl series or plans for them to appear in other DC films. Where was the Toyman, Parasite, Darkseid, etc.? Still, this is an incredibly concise history of Superman and one that would have made me hyped to read some comics and watch a few movies immediately after reading. Overall grade: A-
The art: Unfortunately, there were only nine completed illustrations in my review copy. The drawings that I can see by artist Patrick Spaziante look really, really good. There are ten silver dollar sized illustrations that open the book showcasing some of his family, friends, and foes. These whetted my appetite to see Spaziante’s work, but it wasn’t to be in this preview. I’m very impressed by the amount of detail that he’s able to pack into the space he’s given. Page 14 is a full page illustration showing Clark looking at Ma Kent while moving hay. The characters are great and the setting is impressive. There’s also an image of Clark unintentionally using his x-ray vision and seeing where Pete Ross broke his arm. Again, Spaziante does a great job; I found myself looking at the amount of work he put into Clark’s hair, which is terrific. According to my copy, there are fifty-six illustrations that will be added to this book, and I’m chomping at the bit to see what Spaziante’s versions of Batman, the Justice League, and the Legion look like. I really want to hunt down a published copy to check these out. Overall grade: A
The final line: Don’t judge this book by this cover! This is an excellent summary of Superman’s life, with the amount of fine details outstanding. The images, that I can see, are outstanding. Fans of all ages would enjoy this, and increase the anticipation for Superman vs Batman. Recommended. Overall grade: A