“Translated from the Original Interlac” by Matthew K. Manning (2013)
This is an interesting coffee-table book published rather late during this just-ending 75th anniversary year of the first appearance of Superman. The simplest, most straightforward short description is that it comprises an in-DC-Universe biography of the greatest super-hero of the 21st century compiled from the perspective of his 31st-century comrade in the Legion of Super-Heroes, Brainiac 5.* Generally speaking, it combines commentary from Brainiac 5 with documentary material from the Man of Steel's own journals, news reports, and sundry other faux “sources” to form a more-or-less cohesive narrative stretching from background on his lost homeworld of Krypton to the 2013 present. It does fall short of being a comprehensive history of the character in that virtually no account is taken of materials published before ca. 1985 when the Crisis on Infinite Earths remade the DC Universe and was followed by the 1986-1987 Man of Steel mini-series reimagining the flagship character with a stripped-down, more cohesive continuity that would prevail for approximately the next 25 years. But over the last quarter-century, as far as I can tell, most everything, every major event and story-line, is reconciled into a fairly organic whole that hangs together remarkably well. There are various contradictions intrinsic to the ongoing nature of the comic-book medium, with its serialized, continuous narrative inevitably necessitating period rewritings of the internal history along the way (termed “retcons” for “retroactive continuity”**), but even these are accounted for as far as possible via Brainiac 5's acknowledgment of the various chronal discontinuities that have become virtually a staple of DC's story-telling – with the most recent Flashpoint Event that gave birth to the current “New 52” and its sometimes radically different DC Universe that began in 2011 being frankly acknowledged in the final few pages. Even if you have read Superman continuously from the mid 1980s to the present (which I have not, mainly reading a few years from the beginning as well as the last half-dozen years or so, with scattered specific story-lines in between), I can imagine fans of the character paging through this large volume with immense enjoyment, reveling in the variety of art selected from across that period, generally presented as if photographs posted into a scrapbook, with attendant commentary and textual pieces telling the overall story as if from a variety of perspectives and viewpoints. I know that I have done so, since receiving it from my wife and son for Christmas.