BOOK REVIEW: HOW TO BE A SUPERHERO / AUTHOR: MARK EDLITZ / PUBLISHER: BEARMANOR MEDIA / RELEASE DATE: MAY 1ST
Sadly, not the instruction manual many of us would-be Kick-Asses might have hoped. Mark Edlitz's How to be a Superhero is instead a collection of interviews with the actors and actresses who portrayed some of our favourite superheroes (plus villains) in TV and film. You'd be a tad optimistic to expect time with the likes of Christian Bale, any of the main Marvel Chrises (Evans, Hemsworth or Pratt) but the line-up does get surprisingly high-profile at times.
The jewels in Edlitz's interview crown, then, would be two Batmen – Adam West and Kevin Conroy – Agent Phil Coulson, Loki and the late, great Mr Spock, Leonard Nimoy. Dean Cain, Michael Rosenbaum and Julie Newmar round up the slightly less famous, while there's a good turnout from TV superheroes past, with several ex-Lois Lanes and Jimmy Olsen’s lending Edlitz some valuable expertise. Even that's barely scratching the surface though, with Roger Moore (outshining poor George Lazenby yet again), Yvonne Craig, James Marsden and Stan Lee among the many, many others interviewed here. It's not quite a who's-who of TV and movie superheroics, but those who did answer Edlitz's calls are definite somebodies.
Wonderfully, it's often those one wouldn't consider A-list who give some of the best titbits: Rosenbaum, for example, who gives a better case for Smallville and his Lex Luthor than I could ever have imagined possible. Reading him talk of Lex's characterisation and his relationship with Clark left me with the most curious urge to watch Smallville – a feeling I haven't experienced since the first series or so. His honesty regarding his decision to leave the show is pretty entertaining too. Certainly more so than most of Smallville, post-Luthor. A thoughtful Dean Cain makes for better reading than one might expect, while Newmar is a funny, kinky delight. On the basis of her form here, her return to Batman in the forthcoming Batman ‘66 animated feature should really be something to behold.
How to be a Superhero makes for great reading, Edlitz's questioning smart and insightful. His subjects play along well, giving considered and equally insightful answers. If there's a criticism, it's that it could have been tightened up somewhat (compiled second-hand quotes from those unreachable for interview don't quite fit with those he has captured), while the inclusion of some (James Bond, Mr Spock) doesn't quite work within the superhero motif. That does get us a poignant interview with Leonard Nimoy though, so we can forgive the book its segue away from spandex in this case. The other exception being Roger Moore, who is always a fun exception to any rule.
A cracking read full of great personalities and personality, How to be a Superhero isn't quite comprehensive, but it has a good go at trying. It's, well, super.