RED SUMMER: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America by Cameron McWhirter looks at the year which resulted in the record high for lynchings in the US, but was also noteworthy for black Americans’ new willingness to meet the attacks with violence. McWhirter shows how the NAACP shifted from an organization largely dominated by white liberals to one run by more assertive blacks, while black soldiers back from the Great War refused to accept that they deserved second-class status. Against this came increasing assertions of white dominance as servicemen, county officials and plain everyday folks attempted to draw a line in the sand against black rights. I find the ending a little too optimistic: McWhirter (following the rule of such popular histories that the year they cover has to be The Big One) argues that this represented some sort of turning point from which white dominance began to recede, but I’m not sure the history of Jim Crow bears that out. Still, a good, informative book (but if I had to pick one on this topic, Lost Battalions is better).
REVIVAL: Live Like You Mean It by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton has the characters from the first TPB beginning to crack under increased pressure as the nation watches and tries to figure out the meaning of the dead coming back. Plus there are still crimes to solve, and new crimes only possible in a world of the Revived. This was a lot stronger than the first collection, but I’m not in any hurry to check out the rest of the series.
SUPERMAN: Secrets and Lies by (primarily) Dan Jurgens is a reasonably fun collection of Superman adventures: Clark gets a date with Lucy Lane, the Daily Planet outs someone as Superman’s secret identity, the Russians are up to something sneaky and the alien Helspont plots the takeover of Earth. Readable, but Clark’s personality is a bit too schmucky to work for me (partly because it seems to genuine, rather than a sham put on to fool people), and the comic interactions with other characters don’t mesh well with the rest of the story. And I can see why some reviewers refer to the New 52 as the Marvel-izing of DC, with all the muttering Superman is an “alien being” rather than a heroic icon.