My wife and I are having a garage sale this weekend and I’m unloading a few art books. While thumbing through my collection I came across a terrific book for Superman fans: Superman: Cover to Cover
Superman has always been my favorite Superhero. I fell in love with the Christopher Reeve movies as a young boy in the mid-80’s and soon started reading the comics. In sixth grade I saved up enough money for a year’s subscription to Superman (back then I think it cost $9.00). Every time an issue showed up in my mailbox it was an indescribable thrill. I was practically walking—no, running on air all the way home from the Post Office.
Thumbing through Superman: Cover to Cover brought back a lot of memories, and at the same time showcased some astounding artwork. It’s no secret that comic book publishers save their best artwork for the covers. This 240-page hardcover book, printed in full-color, showcases over 270 of the greatest Superman covers of all time. Samples range from the early drawings of Joe Shuster (Superman’s co-creator) all the way to the modern painterly stylings of Alex Ross. It’s not just a hefty dose of nostalgia; it’s also a who’s-who of DC’s greatest artists. Some of my favorites such as John Byrne, Curt Swan, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, George Perez, Jerry Ordway, Gil Kane, and even Adam Hughes all have samples showcasing some of their best work.
The book has only a limited amount of text. Every few pages features an acclaimed Superman writer, artist, or editor commenting on his/her favorite cover. There are thoughtful mini-essays from industry giants such as Alex Ross, Jerry Ordway, Janette Kahn, Mike Carlin, Marv Wolfman, etc. Even movie directors Richard Donner and Bryan Singer share some brief thoughts.
One of the challenges of crafting stories for Superman is that he is literally the perfect superhero. His powers are virtually unlimited and he has no character flaws. While I find his strength and character refreshing in our cynical age, nevertheless it creates a problem: How do you find worthy challenges for someone so fantastically perfect without getting absurd? Thumbing through the book, it’s fascinating to see how Superman’s creators dealt with the problem through various story lines, some mundane and others outright bizarre. It’s also fun to observe the various twists and turns the Superman mythology has taken over the decades. Superman has at times been ultra-cool, other times ultra-corny. His story lines have ranged from the brilliant to the bizarre. But he was always the model hero every kid could look up to.
But I digress. Superman: Cover to Cover is a perfect item for any Superman fan to add to his collection.