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Publisher's Summary

Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran and former host of All Access, DC Comics' web show, Jason Inman, discusses the influence war has had on some of the most memorable superheroes in comics.

©2019 Jason Inman (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Super Soldiers

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An absorbing and extremely well researched book!

On its surface, Super Soldiers sounds like an interesting read. Once you get started, you will not want to stop. Inman’s storytelling is wholly absorbing as he effortlessly goes back and forth between the history of military comic book characters to his own experiences in the US Army. The way he relates his personal anecdotes to some of the most popular, as well as a handful lesser-known, comic book characters was consistently fascinating. The guy knows his comics. I loved the author’s takes on the authenticity of the comic book stories and their characters as they related to the armed services. As a lifetime comic reader, it was intriguing to see beloved characters from a perspective that I had never considered. Reading Super Soldiers and then going back to read Captain America, Green Lantern, and the others discussed in this book can’t help but add an important layer to these characters. And that’s a good thing.

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Not what I expected

Full disclosure - I could only get through a little over an hour of the book before I had to turn it off. The summary of the book says it’s a discussion of “the influence war has had on some of the most memorable superheroes in comics.” The book (at least the first hour) is more of a critique of characters had they actually been in the military; for instance, Carol Danvers did not act in accordance with military rules and values. She is a fictional character! I do not necessarily expect that fictional characters would act as they should in real life. The fact that Carol has otherworldly super powers is a bit of a clue that we are not dealing with reality in the Captain Marvel comics. The author spoke of her as if she was an actual person with some shady ethics. I was looking for discussion on how war influenced comic characters - not on how the characters would stack up if they were real soldiers. I may have felt differently about the book if my expectation had not been based on the summary. Actually, I would have never purchased the book at all had the summary been more accurate.

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Unfair to a Hero

This book crapped on Carol Danvers, calling her immoral and claimed she isn't truly heroic. Even questioned her commitment to the values of the military. Shame on this author, he doesn't understand Carol at all.

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Super Personal and Super Great

If you don’t get the Captain America pun in the title, a reader could have some reservations. Some may be afraid that the book will simply be using comics as a propaganda piece to uphold the American industrial complex. Others may fear that Inman is doing the reverse and using comics to deconstruct the military and its values. I’m happy to report that both of these are unfounded. Instead what he presents us with is a deeply personal reflection. On the one hand, we get the ideals of the American military in Captain America, exemplary leadership in John Stewart, and character formation in Flash Thompson. On the other, we get prejudice in Gravedigger and Isaiah Bradley, betrayal in Captain Atom, military machismo gone wild in the Punisher, and toxic patriotism in Nuke. All of these character studies are filtered through Inman’s own time in the service. Part history. Part memoir. Inman uses the military as lens to examine the comics industry and as a tool to explore his own years of service. While my favorite chapter is the Flash Thompson chapter, I will say the chapter that surprised me the most was the Hal Jordan chapter. Long time listeners of Inman’s Geek History Lesson podcast will be just as shocked as me where he lands on Hal and perhaps get a little testy eyed for his message to Hal at the end of the chapter. Speaking of GHL, I am sad that Inman didn’t read the podcast himself but Eric Michael Summerer does a great job. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see their favorite comic characters in a new light or as a way to humanize the experience of enlisted veterans. The later was the book’s gift to me. All the personal stories are the best parts. If they were touching to me I can only imagine how touching they will be to vets and active service members. Oh and one more thing: Graham sucks! (To get that. Read the book!)

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I enjoyed this

it was a enjoyable lesson and I learned some great characters I never knew about

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One hundred percent recommended.

Finished it in one night. I couldn't stop listening. What a great audiobook! I discovered a lot about our amazing heroes including the incredible author.

Jason Inman did a fantastic job of connecting these larger than life characters to the real life traits and values of those who serve. Eric Summerer's narration brings it all home with energy and emotion aplenty.

I recommend this to comic fans, service members, super heroes, or any combination of the above.

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  • Jordanne Dunn
  • 01-30-20

Exploring the Intersection between Camouflage and

I enjoyed this book. As a fan of superheroes but also as the daughter of a former Royal Engineer in the British Army.

[I would like to add a disclaimer here that (much to my father’s dismay, I’m sure) my grasp of military terminology, titles and labels is not a firm one. If I accidentally refer to someone’s position or role or group in the wrong way, I sincerely apologise for my ignorance, and no disrespect is intended, a lot of it just goes over my head and becomes synonymous.]

In the book Jason Inman explores and reflects on 16 iconic comic book characters that have served in the US military, each chapter is thoughtful and engaging and most importantly (for me, anyway) firmly grounded in the author’s lived experience as an enlisted soldier himself. I found these parts some of the most thought-provoking because I often find for civilians or those with little to no ties to the military world, it’s entirely impossible to understand a lot of … well, everything that goes on behind barracks and combat zones.

When you then apply that world to a concept so far-flung as superheroes with powers, worlds and backgrounds far removed from reality it’s easy to miss plot points or characteristics that are intrinsically tied to the military perspective, and the greater insight and layers their inclusion adds to a character or story. The experiences the author shares are not at all what you’d expect either, and I appreciated their uniqueness to his own experience.

On a personal note, this book, quite unexpectedly, made me think about my father in an entirely new way.

While the focus of this book is geared toward superheroes that served in the US military and I, of course, know it’s a different experience it opened up a whole new perspective on the military and what it means to serve, for me individually. My dad enlisted at 16, a decision no doubt influenced by my late police officer grandfather who believed national service in peacetime was exactly what the youth of the time needed. He served 5 years in the Corps of Royal Engineers, and it’s not something we ever really talk about it but upon reading this book (and attending recent keynote speech given by a Royal Marine veteran) I had no idea how much of my dad’s character was informed by this time in his life. I kind of ‘got him’ a bit more, and I can’t explain what that means but I feel it.

I read this in paperback and via audible. I loved the illustrations on each chapter and the cover, though I would be lying if my inner OCD didn’t wish the text was ‘Justify’ formatted (personal preference!) although, ‘align left’ does add a ‘train of thought’ / conversational tone which I thought was well-suited too. The audible book was really well-narrated by Eric Michael Summerer, which is high praise because generally speaking, I prefer my non-fiction narrated by the author. As a regular listener of Geek History Lesson, a podcast Jason co-hosts, I did sometimes find myself picking up on where emphasis/intonation who have been different had he been narrating but I don’t think this adds or detracts from the audiobook itself.

Overall, I would highly recommend this to anyone with even a remote interest in comic books or the US military experience, or both because the intersection of the two is far richer than you might expect.

To read more of my reviews, visit my blog, Bloodthirsty Little Beasts.

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  • paul sparks
  • 08-20-19

I learnt so much from this book

I have been reading comics for over 50 years and I thought I had a reasonable knowledge of the characters and history surrounding them, I was wrong! Thank you Jason Inman for this book, as ex military myself I could relate to a lot of the experiences that the characters and Jason himself had, I would highly recommend this book to any reader with in an interest in comic book characters but also as an in insight into what being in the military means to the the individual and their loved ones

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-27-19

Interesting Take on the Subject

It was a fun read. Inman’s conversational style made the chapters flow.

I learned about a number of characters I previously hadn’t heard of.

Inman clearly loves the subject. His personal stories brought context and grounds the characters to reality.

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  • MR N R MACKENZIE
  • 07-28-19

An excellent read/listen

I strongly recommend this book to any superhero fan, and as a fellow soldier I could definetely relate to Jason's stories, however even if you aren't a soldier, it's an introduction into that world as well as the superhero world.