Was Superman A Spy?

Was Superman A Spy?

Book - 2009
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Fascinating and often bizarre true stories behind more than 130 urban legends about comic book culture

Was Superman a Spy? demystifies all of the interesting stories, unbelievable anecdotes, wacky rumors, and persistent myths that have piled up like priceless back issues in the seventy-plus years of the comic book industry, including:

* Elvis Presley's trademark hairstyle was based on a comic book character (True)
* Stan Lee featured a gay character in one of Marvel's 1960s war comics (False)
* Wolverine of the X-Men was originally meant to be an actual wolverine! (True)
* What would have been DC's first black superhero was changed at the last moment to a white hero (True)
* A Dutch inventor was blocked from getting a patent on a process because it had been used previously in a Donald Duck comic book (True)

With many more legends resolved, Was Superman a Spy? is a must-have for the legions of comic book fans and all seekers of "truth, justice, and the American way."
Publisher: New York : Plume, 2009.
ISBN: 9780452295322
Branch Call Number: YA NF COMICS Cronin B
Characteristics: xii, 244 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.


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Mark_Daly Dec 15, 2014

The author's online column uses a Q-and-A format which, oddly, is absent in the book. This makes for some meandering chapters. Still, there's gold in here for avid comics fans who may have heard some of the comics-shop rumors that are (mostly) confirmed here. Highlights include the secret origins of kryptonite, Supergirl, the Joker, Spider-Man and Wolverine.

BeccaBB Sep 27, 2012

I was thinking of this book as a list of comic book rumors and the truth about them. That is not exactly the format that this book takes. It reads more like a history of the major comic book companies and how various characters and plot points came about. So most of the time I didn’t know what the myth was he was responding to. And I do think that Cronin uses exclamation points (!!!!) more often than the facts warrant. Nothing is quite that exciting. But that doesn’t mean that the information was not interesting. I’ve never looked into it much before myself so most of the information here was new to me. Not only do you learn why they came up with kryptonite and why Batgirl was introduced, and many other tidbits but you also learn about the crazy comic book politics. The fighting and the way stories were changed around to fit with movies or TV shows and such and the battles over the rights to use certain names and terms. (Hulk Hogan had a run-in with Marvel about his name.) Knowing all the weirdness that went on behind the comic books does not make them less fun to read. In fact I think it might make them more fun. You, of course, have to be a comic book fan to care about any of the information in this book but if you are I think you will find something here for you.

Feb 27, 2010

This book is just fantastic. It's full of urban legends (debunked or verified, and occasionally both) about comic books, accompanied by enough history to give any reader a crash course in comicdom.

Some of my personal favorites include:

-- Superman was censored for featuring Lex Luthor developing an "atomic bomb" while the US government was trying to do the same.

-- The idea for putting electronic monitoring bracelets originated in the comic strip "Spider-Man."

-- The Thing, of the Fantastic Four, is Jewish. (There's a particularly good story behind this, but I won't ruin it for you.)

All in all, a fascinating book for avid comic fans and casual readers alike. Highly recommended.


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