‘Becoming Superman’ Reveals Origin Story for ‘Babylon 5’ Creator

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‘Becoming Superman’ Reveals Origin Story for ‘Babylon 5’ Creator In the foreword to “Becoming Superman” by J. Michael Straczynski, Neil Gaiman explains that Straczynski “works harder than anyone I’ve met in TV and film.”

This description rings true for me while i’m admittedly not a Hollywood insider. Since 1984, Straczynski happens to be writing for television — everything from campy animation to sci-fi that is high-minded. He also spent six years writing Marvel’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” flagship comic book, in which he wrote a BAFTA-nominated film starring Angelina Jolie and directed by Clint Eastwood. Other things you might think of Straczynski, you can never accuse the guy to be idle.

Even before reading “Becoming Superman” (HarperCollins, July 2019), I always had the impression that Straczynski wrote so prolifically not because he absolutely had to because he wanted to but. The guy simply has plenty of stories to inform and feels compelled to place pen to paper, because then no one else will if he doesn’t tell these tales.

Now, having read “Becoming Superman,” I finally realize why that’s the case — and also the story leading up to it is not entirely a happy one. In this memoir (or autobiography — it is a small amount of both), Straczynski details a life of hardship, abuse and trauma, culminating within the secret that is darkest his family members’ past: an honest-to-goodness murder mystery.

“Becoming Superman” is half family drama, half showbiz that is behind-the-scenes, with a little writing advice and some life lessons sprinkled in. The writing in the book is earnest, straightforward, incisive, often funny and occasionally very bitter like Straczynski’s TV shows and comics. I’m not sure if it will have massive appeal beyond Straczynski’s existing fan base — but given what amount of millions of fans he is entranced through the years, I that is amazing’s still a pretty sizable niche.

The origin story

Reading the first half of Straczynski’s memoir, i possibly couldn’t help but recall the opening lines of Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy with its own way.”

To say that Straczynski originated in an family that is unhappy be an understatement. The first few chapters regarding the book aren’t in regards to the author after all, but alternatively, his grandfather Kazimir and his father, Charles. There is deception, violence, bigotry, incest and wa — and that is all ahead of when the writer was even born.

Without going into great detail, Charles was something of a Nazi sympathizer, having tagged along with a small squadron of German soldiers while trapped in Poland during World War II. Again and again, through the book, Charles along with his relatives allude to Vishnevo, a Belarusian town where an family that is unrepeatable must stay buried.

Considering that the mystery of Vishnevo is one of the primary threads that keeps the plot of “Becoming Superman” moving, i will not spoil it here. However, it really is worth pointing out that Straczynski does an admirable job of sharing information regarding the story in dribs and drabs at a fairly regular pace throughout the book. Similar to with a good detective novel, the reader must hunt for clues, content in the knowledge that everything will come together in a satisfying (albeit horrific) conclusion eventually.

What exactly is a little harder to stomach may be the incredible violence that the author along with his two younger sisters endured at Charles’ hands. Straczynski does not shy away from describing his father’s continual verbal, psychological and physical abuse. Some of the scenes in “Becoming Superman” are so devastating, it feels like a miracle that Straczynski made it out alive — much less with a modicum of sanity intact from broken teeth, to sexual assault, to attempted murder.

In fact, if “Becoming Superman” has a major weakness, it’s that the first half of the book is grueling in its depictions of poverty, callousness and viciousness. If the events described were not true, the writing might feel downright lurid. For Straczynski, I that is amazing finally breaking the silence about his traumatic childhood was cathartic. For young readers that are currently in similar situations, it may be instructive. But there isn’t any denying that the half that is second of book is a lot more enjoyable to read.

Sci-fi and superheroes

Straczynski spent his childhood moving around the world every couple of months, usually whenever Charles needed to dodge creditors after a failed scheme that is get-rich-quick. But just as things settled down for the author after college, the book settles into an infinitely more comfortable pattern in its second half. This is where the material will get really interesting if you’re interested in Straczynski primarily as a creator.

After kicking off his writing career as a freelance journalist, Straczynski moved through the worlds of TV, comic books and feature films, where his credits include “The Twilight Zone” (1986), “Murder, She Wrote,” “Rising Stars,” “Spider-Man,” “Changeling” and “World War Z.”

Each chapter tells the storyline of a show that is different while the behind-the-scenes tales are amusing and informative for anybody who had been ever interested in learning how the entertainment industry sausage gets made. Within the last three decades, Straczynski has crossed paths with George R.R. Martin, Angela Lansbury, Ron Howard, the Wachowskis and a veritable “who’s who” of genre film and television.

If those names mean anything to you, “Becoming Superman” is an sell that is easy or even, you might still enjoy a glimpse into Straczynski’s creative process. He discusses the fine points of writing for animation, live-action TV, comic books and show films, in addition to how he faced the difficulties inherent in each genre. And even though shows like “the Ghostbusters that is real “Captain Power while the Soldiers of the Future” were just a little before my time, the chapters about them were probably the best into the book.

Straczynski and his writing crews took “Ghosbusters” and “Captain Power” extremely seriously, although the series were ostensibly just tie-ins to market toys. Each program had character depth, setting consistency and narrative continuity, and Straczynski staked his reputation on keeping these implies that way.

Of course, most readers that would go out of their solution to read a Straczynski memoir are probably knowledgeable about one (or both) of this TV that is major that he created: “Babylon 5” and “Sense8.” Those shows get a great amount of attention, particularly toward the final end associated with the book.

“Becoming Superman” isn’t exactly a tell-all; you’re not likely to learn any juicy information that you did not already fully know, or suspect, about what went on behind the scenes. But you’ll get an extensive explanation of how each show stumbled on be — and how powerful network forces almost stopped “Babylon 5” dead in its tracks. (Netflix seemed a bit more creator-friendly, at least up until it canceled “Sense8,” despite fans’ vociferous objections.)

In all honesty, I expected “Babylon 5” and “Sense8” to use up a sizable chunk associated with book — and, even though i might have been pleased to find out more about them, i am glad that they did not. There is a tendency to give attention to a creator’s wins and minimize his / her losses. But, as Straczynski himself points out in the navigate to these guys book, every part of his career shaped who he is as a writer, so when a person.

Walking away from a dream gig on “the Ghostbusters that is real in the same way important as watching “Jeremiah” crumble, which paved the way to writing the storyline when it comes to “Thor” film. If Straczynski seems like a success that is massive it really is only because he is been prepared to endure so much failure as you go along.

I would be delighted to be wrong), I don’t think that “Becoming Superman” is going to become the next “hardscrabble-child-becomes-celebrated-adult” bestseller, а la Tara Westover’s “Educated” (Random House, 2018) if I had to guess (and. Straczynski’s book is a touch too self-effacing, a tad too fun and maybe just a little too niche to attract an enormous mainstream crowd.

For fans of Straczynski’s work, though, that’s a good thing. There is an awareness in “Becoming Superman” that you arenot only listening to a stranger rattle off his life story. It really is similar to a casual acquaintance opening your decision over a few beers, and then you realize there was a good reason you liked this guy from the beginning.

So come for the favourite sci-fi characters, stay when it comes to family that is intriguing, and learn a thing or two about how precisely great writers will come from unlikely origins.