Published: John Wiley & Sons
The central thesis of Weldon's book is that Superman is not merely a static character, but has instead changed over time to suit the desires and anxieties of different eras. Weldon identifies only two core character traits that define The Man of Steel through every (faithful) iteration: he puts the safety of others above himself and he never gives up. This built-in simplicity made it possible for Superman to start out as a roguish power fantasy and morph into a living embodiment of patriotism during World War II, a Jesus-like figure of compassion during the Christopher Reeve years, and even a painfully out-of-touch, mullet-sporting relic in the nineties. Superman is a truly American myth, and any understanding of America's cultural history would be incomplete without factoring in The Last Son of Krypton. So, even if you can't tell Kal-El from Mr. Mxyzptlk, Weldon's book serves as an informative primer for any Super-newbie, and a fascinating close-reading of Superman's body of work, full of revelations for even the Super-fan.