Titan Books, out now
The familiar story of Superman’s arrival on Earth – with a few twists…
Circumstances have meant that I’ve yet to see the latest Superman movie, so I’m coming to Greg Cox’s novel as a story about the Man of Steel, stripped of the multimillion dollar budget. It’s a reworking of Superman II (still one of my favourite Superman films) to the extent that there were times towards the end, during the battle with Zod, that some of John Williams’ and Ken Thorne’s incidental music started unconsciously echoing in my mind.
Cox expands the bare bones of the script with a lot of internal monologues for the characters, many of which incorporate references to the familiar lines about Superman, and his knowledge of the DC universe means that there are little elements (such as the name of a bridge in Metropolis) that help to plant this firmly as a fresh version of the origin tale, rather than an alternate take. His treatment of both Jor-El and Jonathan Kent tries to explain some of the inconsistencies of the characterisations – like all good novelisers, Cox deals with the plotholes from the original that he can, although he’s not got as much work to do with this story as with some other recent blockbusters.
The destruction of first Smallville then Metropolis has come in for criticism and Cox neatly portrays these in the same way as Alex Ross did with Marvels: two Titans duking it out way beyond human comprehension. He doesn’t try to play down the damage that’s been done, regularly giving Superman thoughts about it. He also makes sure that the dilemma Superman faces at the end (the source of most contention about the film) is well explained.
Verdict: An entertaining read with some good use of character viewpoints to flesh out the movie. 7/10