With Further Ado #271: Holiday Gift Guide Part 1 – Voices from Krypton

Every year, it’s a treat to shine the spotlight on top-notch creative endeavors for the With Further Ado Holiday Gift Guide. Maybe these are suggestions that would be fantastic treasures for you to gift to your loved ones. And maybe, let’s face it, they are suggestions that you want to make to others so they will gift ‘em to you! Hey, I’m not judging.

Ed Gross is an enthusiastic fan with a polished writing talent. The books he creates are the kind that force you to bargain with yourself. You know those types of bargains: “I will just read five more pages and then turn off the light,” or “I will just read this chapter, and I can finish up that work project early in the morning.”

His latest oversized volume Voices from Krypton is exactly that type of book. It’s an oral history of Superman, as told by an impressively wide array of people who were either there at the time, or who are experts in their field.

Gross has assembled folks like Ilya Salkind, Richard Donner, and Margot Kidder to discuss the 70s Superman movies. Or actors like Tom Welling, Teri Hatcher, and Melissa Benoist analyze their Smallville, Lois & Clark and Supergirl TV shows.

Modern day super-experts like Mark Waid and Andy Mangels are also included and provide smart insights with a learned expertise. Waid, in fact, supplies a fantastic afterward and admits he even learned a thing or two from this book.

But it’s not all about Superman in ‘other media’. Gross orchestrates deep dives into various Superman comic efforts including publisher Jeanette Kahn’s arrival and Jeff Loeb’s Superman/Batman comic series.

I especially enjoyed the exploration of the early 70s Superman comics by Denny O’Neil, Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson which were spearheaded by Julius Schwarz. (There were also some great covers by Neal Adams and Carmine Infantino). This was a short-lived effort at creating a more relevant version of the character, most notably by depowering his God-like abilities. You can love this bit of Super-History or hate it, but it’s fascinating to read about.

Ed Gross has done it again – he’s provided a thoroughly entertaining, and fresh, book that will make you procrastinate everything else on your to-do list. That’s some bargain!

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And it seems weird to say it out loud, but the woman who used to babysit me a million years ago always has my back when she plans and runs her monthly book sale. One of the advantages of moving back to your old hometown, I guess. One of the books she plucked out of her monthly book event – and gifted to me – was an earlier book from Ed Gross: Spider-Man Confidential. This one was published in 2002 and it was written before Gross mastered the art of writing oral histories. This unofficial history of Spider-Man is bursting with analysis, insights, stories, and lists. It’s thorough and fun and there’s so much to learn.

Another highly recommended treasure for you to be on the lookout for – especially if you don’t have an old babysitter who’s got your back.