Brad Meltzer’s new novel, The Book of Lies, due out next week, was the impetus for a USA Today story this week on the origin of Superman, which Meltzer ties to the death of Mitchell Siegel, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel’s father, in a Cleveland robbery in 1932.  Although Siegel himself never mentioned in interviews that his father died in a robbery, Meltzer notes the motivation for a character whose first depiction, from 1933, shows him rescuing a man being robbed.  Meltzer also told USA Today of a letter to the editor in the Cleveland Plain Dealer the day after the robbery from A.L. Luther, denouncing the need for vigilantes, which Meltzer thinks may have been the inspiration for Superman villain Lex Luthor. 


The USA Today article does a nice job of tracing the history of the discovery of this piece of Siegel’s history, which first appeared in 2004 in Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow (see “New York Times Book Review Does GNs”).  Writer David Colton also cites Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ross MacDonald’s Boys of Steel:  The Creators of Superman, which concluded that Siegel’s father died of a heart attack during the robbery. 


Colton concludes his article with the sordid history of Siegel and Shuster’s battle for the rights to their character, including a great anecdote from Jerry Robinson about the star-studded party held to celebrate the settlement in which DC agreed to pay the character’s creators an annuity and credit them for Superman’s creation.  That battle for a share of the immense revenues derived from Superman over the years continues (see “Siegel Heirs Win Superman Case”).