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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 

Larry Tye's new Superman history book

History News Network reviewed Larry Tye's "Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero". It sounds like a pretty interesting book, but this part at the end bugs me:
Tye is also somewhat dismissive of the challenge to Superman from the Marvel Comic superheroes such as Spiderman and The Hulk as well as Superman’s DC Comics comrade Batman. To support his case for Superman’s continuing relevancy, Tye points to the extraordinary sales of the 1993 “Death of Superman” comic issue. However, Superman was soon resurrected, and the death story proved to be somewhat of a gimmick. Tye is correct in his conclusion that Superman is alive and well in the twenty-first century, but he has competitors. The world seems to still crave superheroes, but there also appears to be an increasing popular awareness that there is a dark side and human cost to the superhero role.
But that's exactly the problem! If we can't keep from concerning ourselves about matters like darkness and embrace a story for escapism, then what good are we doing ourselves when we seek entertainment? Without brightness and optimism, there's nothing to counterbalance all the darkness that's overtaken much of comicdom in the past 2 decades.

And using the Death of Superman from 1993 to make the case for the Man of Steel's popularity is not a good idea, mainly because that took place at the time of the speculator boom that ruined the market, and still is. A gimmick it was alright, merely for boosting short-term sales. High-Flying History may have some value, but if the author is going to use sales stunts to make a point about relevancy, he's hardly helping the Man of Steel's popularity.

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