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Superman Returns    by Marv Wolfman order for
Superman Returns
by Marv Wolfman
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2006 (2006)
Paperback, Audio, CD

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Superman Returns to Earth after a mysterious absence in this new, exciting adventure, involving the Man of Steel in Lois Lane's usual mishaps, and challenging him to save the world once more from his nemesis Lex Luthor, paroled due to (oops!) Superman's absence from the hearing.

You have to feel for the super dope - he nearly dies on Krypton, then returns home to find his mom about to sell the farm and move to Montana with their neighbor, and his main groupie married and mother to five-year-old Jason. Worse, Lois has won the Pulitzer Prize for an article entitled, 'Why the World Doesn't Need Superman'! But did he really expect Earth to stand still while he took off without any explanation for a multi-year leave of absence?

It turns out that Lex engineered that absence, and has plans for world domination and ruination, starting with a visit to the Fortress of Solitude. Lex's crystal manipulations soon make the superhero feel needed again, as he rescues a plummeting space shuttle (Lois is, of course, on board its inaugural flight), snatches Luthor's lady (Kitty) from a high speed car whose brakes were sabotaged, and eventually saves Earth from being kryptonized (Lois and her new family get in on the action here too after Superman turns green).

Superman Returns is a super-encore! Lex is as twisted as ever, while Lois has a more mature role than previously, having to balance her strong feelings for Superman with her commitment to her family. I haven't seen the movie yet, but plan to do so soon, as many scenes described in the book are sure to be spectacular and breathtaking.

2nd (Audiobook) Review by Lance Victor Eaton:

Look it up on the Internet! It's a movie novelization. It's an audiobook. No wait, it's Superman Returns, a novelized audiobook. Granted, thousands - if not tens of thousands - of writers have made use of that tagline since its 1940 inception with the Superman radio show. But does it ever get old?

Director Bryan Singer has delivered Superman Returns - a sequel of sorts to Superman II - to theaters worldwide. But with any great movie campaign, a novelization is a must and DC Comics employed Marv Wolfman, a classic and popular comic book writer who has written his fair share of stories about Superman. Wolfman does more than re-tell the movie, he infuses history and identity to the various characters within the novel, fleshing out everyone from Jimmy Olsen to Lex Luthor's thugs.

The audiobook finds Superman as he reaches the remnants of the planet Krypton, searching his decaying homeworld for any sign of the once great planet. After reconciling the loss of his heritage, he returns to Earth. But in the five years of traveling to and from Kyrpton, the world has changed quite drastically. Upon his first stop, the Kent farm in Smallville, Superman discovers Martha Kent has entered into a new relationship and is selling the farm and moving to Montana. Things get crazier when he returns to Metropolis to find the city has forgotten Superman - to the point that some consider him a myth. Lois Lane has won the Pulitzer, has found a new love, and even had a child. More than ever, Superman feels the burden of being a man without a home, but he knows he must still help humanity reach their potential.

As the narrator, the experienced Scott Brick had a challenging task set up for his performance in this audiobook and for the most part, he does well. The trick of this book is that the characters have already been cinematically established and hence - no matter how much one wants to apply their own creative devices to how Perry White or Lex Luthor sound, look, or act - the precedent has been set. Brick succeeds quite well in mimicking the vocal mannerisms of Gene Hackman, the original Lex Luthor. But he falters with the Clark Kent/Superman distinction. The best part of Christopher Reeves as Superman was his ability to transition between the two identities, making it believable that one really could be both Clark Kent and Superman with no one suspecting. Vocally, Brick is believable as Superman, but doesn't provide a convincing Clark Kent. Brick also occasionally fails to vocally indicate what is narrative and when someone is speaking.

Fans must remember that this audiobook takes place in the cinematic universe of the first two Superman movies, which means it will not incorporate certain elements of the comics or other media representations. Unlike the movie however, the audiobook has a lot more time to blend elements of both the comic books and the previous movies together. Superman Returns is Superman at his finest, encapsulating some of his greatest human qualities, that the comics have conveyed over the years.

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