Grade 4 Up This collection of black-and-white reprints is devoted to the earliest adventures of the second incarnation of the classic hero. Originally depicted as a crime fighter with semi-mystical powers bestowed by a meteorite's green flame, the handsome hero was then reimagined as a fearless test pilot who uses his extraterrestrial power ring to fight against espionage and science-based villains. Over time, the stories' focus shifted to strange creatures and other sci-fi staples, and then further evolved into what is now recognizable as a traditional superhero comic, complete with a recurring arch nemesis, super villains with parallel powers to that of the hero, and guest appearances by popular characters from other DC titles. The artwork is sharp and clean and it's easy to see how Gil Kane, one of the artists, gained his reputation as a fine draftsman. The lack of color is disappointing, however; so many of the stories rely on green and yellow rays, vibrant alien skin colors, and the like. The classic exposition makes the action clear, and the content is undeniably fun, charming, and intelligent, proving its undeniable influence on the subsequent 30 years of graphic storytelling. Benjamin Russell, The Derryfield School, Manchester, NH
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