Man of Steel, the motion picture, opened in theaters around the world on June 14th and fans of the 75 year old DC Comics character finally got to see Zack Snyder’s take on Superman. To coincide with the release of the summer blockbuster, Titan Books published the novelization, by author Greg Cox, in paperback. When I first got the novel I wondered, “why would you want to read the book when you could just as easy see the movie with all it’s special effects and city stomping super people?” I mean, it’s the same story, right? Well, yes, but there are key benefits to reading the book that the film will never have. First though, let’s review the book.
Though most of the story follows the same major plot points of the original Superman myth, there are several tweaks that take the story of Superman in a new direction. As a newborn baby, Kal-El, is put in a spaceship by his parents and rockets away from the dying planet Krypton while the military forces of General Zod try to save the planet in a military coup. Zod wants The Codex, which is a Kryptonian relic that contains all of Krypton’s genetic information, to start a new Krypton with the genetically superior Kryptonians. Unfortunately for Zod, Krypton’s chief scientist, Jor-El, has hidden the Codex in his new born son’s DNA and has just launched that kid to another world. Shortly after Krypton implodes/ explodes, and Kal-El arrives on Earth, he is adopted by the Kent family, named Clark, and starts a hard life of apprehension, bullies, and misunderstandings. By the time we see Clark Kent as an adult, he is a drifting loner who is making his way as far north as possible, where he eventually finds a crashed alien spacecraft, also being investigated by intrepid newspaper reporter, Lois Lane. Later on Zod reappears and puts the world in jeopardy as he searches for Kal-El and the missing Codex and it’s up to Superman to stop this genocidal military leader before he destroys the whole planet.
For the most part I enjoyed the story. It had all the power pack punches and building burning heat vision moments of the comic book. My only problem with the novelization/ film is the portrayal of Jonathan Kent. In this story Pa Kent is way to hesitant for Clark to reveal his powers. At one point, after Clark has just saved a bus full of drowning middle school students, the older Kent suggest that “maybe” Clark should have let them die. Bullshit! The man who raised Superman doesn’t ever (EVER) say that. Most of the changes to the Superman myth I really didn’t mind (Lois knows Superman’s alter ego, Jimmy is now Jenny, etc…) and enjoyed, but Jonathan Kent and Clark’s journey to become Superman was so poorly drafted it almost ruined the rest of the story for me. Which also makes me wonder, why are the film makers always in such a rush to kill Pa Kent? Most comic versions I’ve read he’s alive and well. Let the older feller breath you comic hating goons!
Now, about that “why would you want to read the book instead of see the movie” question; Well, because it’s a better experience. I really regret having seen the movie before reading the book. The movie is rapid pace collage of special effects and product placement (kind of hit the Sears and IHOP pretty hard there WB. Yup, makes me want some pancakes and lawnmowers…), where as reading the story becomes a much more intimate experience that allows you to take the time to enjoy it. Go as fast or as slow as you want, but reading the story allows you the time to ponder over what the characters have done. The narration of Superman fighting Zod is yours to imagine. There is no effects budget and it can be as spectacular as you want it to be. Hell, the characters don’t even have to look the way they do the movie. I had a much better time with the story imagining a traditional, raven haired beauty, for Lois lane in place of the auburn haired Amy Adams (also a poor piece of casting… I can’t explain it but the chick just isn’t a Lois Lane). Also, the movie going experience is just an awful event now days. It’s way over priced, people are rude (fucking iPads in a dark room now, Jesus!), and every second of non-movie time is given over to advertisers who are desperate for you to buy their shit. Okay, not the most original set of arguments for picking up a book, but if I had read the novel first I would have been in a much better prepared to decide if I wanted to plunk down 12.00 (per ticket) on a movie that may, or may not, have been worth the ticket price. And let’s face it, the last years run of “blockbusters” have been for crap! So, do your self a favor and read the damn book first and save yourself from another lackluster movie going experience.
Man of Steel can now be found at all major book retailers on you can buy your own copy at Titan Book!