Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human

Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human

by Grant Morrison

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Overview

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
 
What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
 
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, and the X-Men—the list of names as familiar as our own. They are on our movie and television screens, in our videogames and in our dreams. But what are they trying to tell us? For Grant Morrison, one of the most acclaimed writers in the world of comics, these heroes are powerful archetypes who reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them we tell the story of ourselves. In this exhilarating work of a lifetime, Morrison draws on art, archetypes, and his own astonishing journeys through this shadow universe to provide the first true history of our great modern myth: the superhero.
 
Now with a new Afterword.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679603467
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/19/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 886,818
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Grant Morrison is one of the most popular and acclaimed contemporary writers of any genre. His long list of credits as a comic-book writer include JLA, New X-Men, Seven Soldiers, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, We3, The Filth, and Batman: Arkham Asylum, the bestselling original graphic novel of all time. He is also an award-winning playwright and screenwriter.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
 
The Sun God and the Dark Knight
 
CALLING ALL RED-BLOODED YOUNG AMERICANS!
 
This certifies that: (your name and address here) has been duly elected a MEMBER of this organization upon the pledge to do everything possible to increase his or her STRENGTH and COURAGE, to aid the cause of JUSTICE, to keep absolutely SECRET the SUPERMAN CODE, and to adhere to all the principles of good citizenship.
 
It may not be the Ten Commandments, but as a set of moral guidelines for the secular children of an age of reason, the Supermen of America creed was a start. This is the story of the founding of a new belief and its conquest of the world: With a stroke of lightning, the spark of divine inspiration ignited cheap newsprint and the superhero was born in an explosion of color and action. From the beginning, the ur-god and his dark twin presented the world with a frame through which our own best and worst impulses could be personified in an epic struggle across a larger- than-life, two-dimensional canvas upon which our outer and inner worlds, our present and future, could be laid out and explored. They came to save us from the existential abyss, but first they had to find a way into our collective imagination.
 
Superman was the first of the new creatures to arrive, summoned into print in 1938—nine years after the Wall Street crash triggered a catastrophic worldwide depression. In America, banks were toppled, people lost jobs and homes, and, in extreme cases, relocated to hastily convened shantytowns. There were rumblings too from Europe, where the ambitious Chancellor Adolf Hitler had declared himself dictator of Germany following a triumphant election to power five years earlier. With the arrival of the first real-life global supervillain, the stage was set for the Free World’s imaginative response. When the retort came, it was from the ranks of the underdogs; two shy, bespectacled, and imaginative young science fiction fans from Cleveland, who were revving up typewriter and bristol board to unleash a power greater than bombs, giving form to an ideal that would effortlessly outlast Hitler and his dreams of a Thousand Year Reich.
 
 Jerry Siegel and Joseph Shuster spent seven years tinkering with their Superman idea before it was ready to take on the world. Their first attempt at a comic strip resulted in a dystopian sci-fi story based around the idea of an evil psychic despot. The second pass featured a big, tough, but very much human good guy righting wrongs on the mean streets. Neither showed the spark of originality that publishers were seeking. Four years later, after many fruitless attempts to sell Superman as a newspaper strip, Siegel and Shuster finally figured out how to adapt the pacing and construction of their stories to take full advantage of the possibilities of the new comic-book format, and suddenly this fledgling form had found its defining content.
 
The Superman who made his debut on the cover of Action Comics no. 1 was just a demigod, not yet the pop deity he would become. The 1938 model had the power to “LEAP ⅛th OF A MILE; HURDLE A TWENTY STO RY BUILDING . . . RAISE TREMENDOUS WEIGHTS . . . RUN FASTER THAN AN EXPRESS TRAIN . . . NOT HING LESS THAN A BURSTING SHELL COULD PENETRATE HIS SKIN!” Although “A GENIUS IN INTELLECT. A HERCULES IN STRENGTH. A NEMESIS TO WRONG-DOERS,” this Superman was unable to fly, resorting instead to tremendous single bounds. He could neither orbit the world at the speed of light nor stop the flow of time. That would come later. In his youth, he was almost believable. Siegel and Shuster were careful to ground his adventures in a contemporary city, much like New York, in a fictional world haunted by the all-too-familiar injustices of the real one.
 
The cover image that introduced the world to this remarkable character had a particular unrepeatable virtue: It showed something no one had ever seen before. It looked like a cave painting waiting to be discovered on a subway wall ten thousand years from now—a powerful, at once futuristic and primitive image of a hunter killing a rogue car.
 
The vivid yellow background with a jagged corona of red—Superman’s colors—suggested some explosive detonation of raw power illuminating the sky. Aside from the bold Deco whoosh of the Action Comics logo, the date (June 1938), the issue (no. 1), and the price (10 cents), there is no copy and not a single mention of the name Superman. Additional words would have been superfluous. The message was succinct: Action was what mattered. What a hero did counted far more than the things he said, and from the beginning, Superman was in constant motion.
 
Back to the cover: Look at the black-haired man dressed in a tight-fitting blue and red outfit with a cape trailing behind him as he moves left to right across the drawing’s equator line. The bright shield design on his chest contained an S (gules on a field or, as they say down at the heraldry society). The man is captured in motion, poised on the toes of his left foot, almost taking flight as he weightlessly hefts an olive green car above his head. Using both hands, he hammers the vehicle to fragments against a conveniently placed rocky outcrop in what appears to be a desert landscape. In the bottom left corner, a man with a blue business suit runs off the frame, clutching his head like Edvard Munch’s Screamer, his face a cartoon of gibbering existential terror, like a man driven to the city limits of sanity by what he has just witnessed. Above his head, another man, wearing a conservative brown two-piece, can be seen racing north to the first man’s west. A third, equally terrified, character crouches on his hands and knees, jacketless, gaping at the feet of the superhuman vandal. His abject posture displays his whimpering submission to the ultimate alpha male. There is no fourth man: His place in the lower right corner is taken by a bouncing whitewall tire torn loose from its axle. Like the bug-eyed bad guys, it too is trying its best to get away from the destructive muscleman.
 
In any other hands but Superman’s, the green roadster on that inaugural cover would boast proudly of America’s technological superiority and the wonders of mass manufacturing. Imagine the oozing ad copy: “luxurious whitewall tire trim makes it seem like you’re driving on whipped cream,” and black-and-white newsreel cars in mind-boggling procession, rolling off the automated belts at Ford. But this was August 1938. Production lines were making laborers redundant across the entire developed world while Charlie Chaplin’s poignant film masterpiece Modern Times articulated in pantomime the silent cry of the little fellow, the authentic man, not to be forgotten above the relentless din of the factory floor.
 
Superman made his position plain: He was a hero of the people. The original Superman was a bold humanist response to Depression-era fears of runaway scientific advance and soulless industrialism. We would see  this early incarnation wrestling giant trains to a standstill, overturning tanks, or bench-pressing construction cranes. Superman rewrote folk hero John Henry’s brave, futile battle with the steam hammer to have a happy ending. He made explicit the fantasies of power and agency that kept the little fellow trudging along toward another sunset fade-out. He was Charlie’s tramp character, with the same burning hatred of injustice and bullies, but instead of guile and charm, Superman had the strength of fifty men, and nothing could hurt him. If the dystopian nightmare visions of the age foresaw a dehumanized, mechanized world, Superman offered another possibility: an image of a fiercely human tomorrow that delivered the spectacle of triumphant individualism exercising its sovereignty over the implacable forces of industrial oppression. It’s no surprise that he was a big hit with the oppressed. He was as resolutely lowbrow, as pro-poor, as any savior born in a pigsty.
 
Returning to the cover again, notice how the composition is based around a barely hidden X shape, which gives the drawing its solid framework and graphic appeal. This subliminal X suggests the intriguing unknown, and that’s exactly what Superman was when Action Comics no. 1 was published: the caped enigma at the eye of a Pop Art storm. He stands at the center of the compass, master of the four elements and the cardinal directions. In Haitian voodoo, the crossroads is the gateway of the loa (or spirit) Legba, another manifestation of the “god” known variously as Mercury, Thoth, Ganesh, Odin, or Ogma. Like these others, Legba is a gatekeeper and guards the boundary where the human and divine worlds make contact. It makes perfect sense for Superman to inhabit the same nexus.
As a compositional crossbar, the X composition allowed Shuster to set a number of elements in a spinning motion that highlighted his central figure. There are moving people with expressions on their faces, car parts, and very bright colors, but layered over the firm brace of the X, they form a second, spiral arrangement that drags our eye up and around on a perceptual Ferris wheel, eliciting frantic questions as it compels our minds to motion:
 
Why is this running man so scared?
What’s this car doing up here?
Why is it being smashed against a rock?
What is the man on his knees looking at?
 
Knowing what we do of Superman today, we can assume that the fleeing, frightened men are gangsters of some kind. Readers in 1938 simply had no idea what was going on. Undoubtedly, action would be involved, but the first glimpse of Superman was deliberately ambiguous. The men we’ve taken for granted as fleeing gangsters could as easily be ordinary passersby running from a grimacing power thug in some kind of Russian ballet dancer kit. There’s no stolen loot spilling from swag bags, no blue five o’clock shadows, cheap suits, or even weapons to identify the fleeing men as anything other than innocent onlookers. Based on first appearances alone, this gaudy muscleman could be friend or foe, and the only way to answer a multitude of questions is to read on.
 
But there’s a further innovation to notice, another clever trick to lure us inside. The cover image is a snapshot from the climax of a story we’ve yet to see. By the time the world catches up to Superman, he’s concluding an adventure we’ve already missed! Only by reading the story inside can we put the image in context.
 
That first, untitled Superman adventure opened explosively on a freezeframe of frantic action. Siegel dumped conventional story setups and cut literally to the chase in a bravura first panel that rearranged the conventional action-story arc in a startling way. The caption box read, “A TIRELESS FIGURE RACES THRU THE NIGHT. SECONDS COUNT . . .DELAY MEANS FORFEIT FOR AN INNOCENT LIFE,” to accompany a Joe Shuster image of Superman leaping through the air with a tied and gagged blond woman under his arm. The image is as confident, muscular, and redolent of threat as Superman himself.
 
By the second panel, we’ve reached “the Governor’s estate,” and Superman is already sprinting across the lawn, calling back over his shoulder to the bondaged blonde in the foreground, whom he’s dumped by a tree. “MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE! I HAVEN’T TIME TO ATT END TO IT.” We don’t know who this girl is, although Superman’s gruff demeanor implies that she must be a bad egg—unless, as the cover is willing to imply, the star of the strip is the villain.
 
 Already we are compelled through the narrative at Superman’s speed and required to focus on the most significant, most intense elements of every scene as if with supersenses. The only solution is to be swept up in the high velocity slipstream of his streaming red cape, one breathless step behind him.
 
When the governor’s dressing-gowned butler refused to open the door to the well-built stranger in the skintight suit, Superman smashed it down, sprinted up the stairs with the butler held screaming above his head, then tore a locked steel door off its hinges to reach the terrified (and clearly security-conscious) official within. The butler, in the meantime, had recovered his wits enough to seize a pistol. “PUT THAT TO Y AWAY,” Superman warned, advancing with a clenched fist. The butler fired, only to discover the muscular hero’s immunity to bullets, which bounced harmlessly off his brawny, monogrammed chest.
 
This virtuoso kinetic overture alone would be worth ten cents from the pocket of any fantasy-starved reader of the Depression. But Siegel and Shuster were not yet done. They still had a masterstroke to play. Just when we think we have this incredible Superman concept figured out, after witnessing the Man of Steel’s prodigious strength and determination, we are treated to Clark Kent—the man behind the S—a man with a job, a boss, and girl trouble. Clark the nerd, the nebbish, the bespectacled, mildmannered shadow self of the confident Man of Steel. The boys had struck a primal mother lode.
 
Hercules was always Hercules. Agamemnon and Perseus were heroes from the moment they leapt out of bed in the morning until the end of a long battle-crazed day, but Superman was secretly someone else. Clark was the soul, the transcendent element in the Superman equation. Clark Kent is what made him endure. In Clark, Siegel had created the ultimate reader identification figure: misunderstood, put-upon, denied respect in spite of his obvious talents as a newspaperman at Metropolis’s Daily Planet. As both Siegel and Shuster had learned, to their cost, some girls preferred bounding heroic warriors to skinny men who wrote or drew pretty pictures. But Clark Kent was more than the ultimate nerd fantasy; everyone could identify with him. We’ve all felt clumsy and misunderstood, once or twice, or more often, in our lives. Just as everyone suspects the existence of an inner Superman— an angelic, perfect self who personifies only our best moods and deeds— there is something of Clark in all of us.

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Supergods 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Part history of comics, part personal history of Grant Morrison and part psychedelic post-modern shamanistic voodoo spell, SuperGods frames the Superhero in the larger context of American and British culture, as both a commentary and a guide for future reference. If you can get past the fact that it shifts gears so suddenly from Grant's personal story back to the history of comics, there are excellent insights to the behind the scenes world of comics and his alien abduction. (no seriously.)
Malcolm_Q More than 1 year ago
Grant Morrison does, with his trademark grandiosity, something a bit unexpected: he not only discusses the history and implications of superheroes (where they came from, what they did and what they mean to us), but also gets at the deeper underpinnings of creation, generally, as the most personal media of self-understanding. For Morrison, superheroes aren't are best selves--flying above the skies in the name of truth justice and the American way, or our worst selves, men made petty and pathetic (despite our ability) by our inability to live up to potential--but just ourselves, as we really are, if a bit more colorful and muscly.
humblefool More than 1 year ago
Part history of superhero comics, part memoir. Morrison tells the story both of superheroes and his own fascination with them, as well as interesting parts of his own life, including what I think is the most complete version of his infamous abduction experience. It loses the thread a little bit toward the end as he complains about fandom culture's corrosive effects, but remains a fascinating read for any comics fan.
ericrosenfield More than 1 year ago
Always good to take a journey into the insane mind of Grant Morrison.
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In law school, we used to joke about a class that would be called ¿Law and What I¿ve Been Thinking.¿ This is ¿Comics and What I¿ve Been Thinking.¿ In all honesty, this is not so bad in a book, but overall I wasn¿t incredibly interested in Morrison¿s acid trips (though he does strike a pretty good balance between `I totally believe in the mystical transdimensional experience I had¿ and `this is valid for me, but I¿m not telling you that I believe it¿s the factual structure of the universe¿) or his opinions on the various Batman films.
LancasterWays on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Supergods, like its author, celebrated comic book writer Grant Morrison, is a complicated book. This is no primitively rendered Golden Age Superman. Nor is it some drug-induced phantasmagoria from the '60s or '70s. (More on that below...) Supergods, rather, is a sleekly designed tome delivered to us from the future. Like Medieval serfs delivered a computer, we poke, prod and stroke it, we admire it and guess its possible uses, but we are unable to comprehend its true potential.Supergods is, superficially, a history of superhero comics from their inception through approximately 2010. (The book was published in 2011.) It begins as any reader might expect: with Superman. Morrison expertly deconstructs the cover of the issue of Action Comics in which Superman first appeared, evoking the mystery of this new character archetype. He further elaborates on the story, discussing the artwork and dialog panel-by-panel. Morrison's analysis is impressive but worrying; the reader will wonder if Morrison's discussion of each character will be this exhaustive. Batman undergoes a similar analysis. But Morrison is setting the stage: the eternal tension in comics between darkness and light. Although Morrison devotes the bulk of Supergods to superheroes, dividing the text into four units, each reflecting his understanding of the history of comics (Golden Age, Silver Age, Dark Age, Renaissance), the book is at its most interesting when he discusses his own life and his career as a writer. From his first impressions as a child near a US Naval base in Scotland, we are given a detailed biography of Morrison. The result is fascinating in an almost perverse way. Morrison seems, frankly, insufferable: A too cool for school teenager; a self-impressed ¿artist¿; a comics phenom. Morrison relates bluntly how successful he is, how youthful he appears (repeatedly), and how wealthy he has become. Although off-putting, one can't help but be impressed by his honesty.Morrison has his quirks, and he freely relates them. (He likely doesn't see them as quirks.) He practices and believes in the efficacy of Chaos magic. He heals his cat's cancer through sheer willpower. In one particularly eye-popping passage, Morrison relates a ¿vision¿ he experiences in Katmandu, temporarily leaving this reality and traveling to another world whose inhabitants appear to him as a constantly shifting array of fluorescent light bulbs. (This is, he claims, unrelated to the hashish he ingested immediately prior to said experience.) Horrified, one can't help but read on.Supergods is, ultimately, strangely, inspiring. Morrison's story is that of someone who is completely comfortable with who he is. He creates for a living and earns considerable wealth doing it. More impressive, though, is his take on life. He accepts his artistic medium of choice, comics, on its own terms, and insists that superheroes needn't be ¿realistic¿ (or ¿grim 'n' gritty,¿ as we called them in my day) in order to be interesting and meaningful. This attitude is reflected in his own life: he acknowledges that something doesn't need to be objectively true for one to believe in it and, touchingly, in this age of cynicism and snark, insists that it's perfectly fine¿even desirable¿for one to believe in and feel strongly about things, without worrying what someone else might say about it. What a strangely liberating thing to hear, buffeted as we are by negative comments and Internet memes. Recommended less for comic fans than for writers and other creative types.
midnightbex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'll be the first to admit I had a very difficult time getting through this book. As a long time comics fan and reader of Grant Morrison's comics work I thought this book would be right up my alley. In many ways it was. When Morrison writes about comics and superheroes and their history you can feel how much he cares about the topic. Often the book was extremely interesting and engaging, but it was very uneven. The style of prose was rambling and often unfocused.If you don't mind the writing style and are a big fan of Marvel and DC Superhero comics, this book is probably exactly right for you. However, for the casual reader I'd give it a pass.
aadyer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This started well, very promising, and very intelligent analysis of the main protagonists of comic book history. The middle two quarters though, were very different, and really were more autobiographical in nature. At times Morrison veers from quantum physics, patterning & string theory to his own drug use. This would have been fascinating if I thought that I wanted to read a biography of Grant Morrison. What I thought that this was, was an attempt to try to understand the appeal of the comic book hero over history to their audience. Here, I think that it failed. His return to the films of the Marvel organisation & also the latter parts of the book were more readable and more engaging. Overall, I think that you would have to be a Grant Morrison to get the absolute maximum out of this. The rest of us, comic book fans too, would be best to avoid.
RockStarNinja on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Admittedly, I am not a huge comics fan and I mostly requested this book because of my BF who is a huge fan and I was hoping to understand a little of what he has going on. That being said, most of this book (the first 3/4) was interesting, but I couldn't help but think the whole thing would be much more enjoyable as a documentary. The last 1/4 of the book I found to be very slow going. I think I felt like the history of the comics was more interesting than Morrisons insights into his own comics. I also think that towards the end I got a little confused because he kept jumping around in time, he would mention something going on in the early 2000's and then jump back to 1988, and never really go back to where he started. Without the background in comics I lost some of what Morrison was trying to do and I didn't really get some of his references, but his points about the cyclical nature of society and human nature were valid and worth exploring.I got the book through the GoodReads giveaway.
MarcusH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting book. Morrison, who is most well known for his work writing plot lines for comic books, takes the reader on a historical, philosophical, psychological, and at times, autobiographical journey through the mythology of the superhero. The book is split into four eras of comic book creation (The Golden Age, Silver Age, Dark Age, and the Renaissance). For older comic readers Supergods may be somewhat boring, as Morrison covers much of the background behind the foundations of DC and Marvel comics, as well as, the creative origins of some of the most famous superheroes (Superman, Batman, Spiderman, the Fantastic Four, etc.). For readers who are unfamiliar with Morrison's work, the autobiographical tangents may distract from the meat of the text. However, those tangents do provide some entertaining and insightful moments (i.e. Morrison's thoughts on the multiverse).As the title suggests Morrison's purpose is to show the reader what the superhero can teach us about being human, and he does this with a clarity that only someone of his comic presence and experience can. Morrison shows us that every family can be a Fantastic Four, every dork or nerd can be a Superman or Spiderman, and everyone can face adversity and rise above it.
Magus_Manders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grant Morrison is a great storyteller, but in this case had far too many stories to tell. Supergods presents itself as an examination of what superheroes tell us about humanity, and what we might be able to teach ourselves from them. Its chapters follow the development of the superhero from Action Comics #1 to this summer's movie blockbusters in roughly chronological order. Thus, it begins as something of another history, though Morrison keenly summarizes the archetypal beginnings and purpose of those early characters. In this, he joyfully displays his love of comics and the creators behind them with praise and respect for even the poorer or goofier publishing periods. He doesn't quite stay on point, but we readers can hope that the subtitle will work its way in later. Things start to veer off wildly when his timeline hits 1960, the year of his birth. Then, Supergods becomes a memoir of his creative life with some history of comics thrown in. Readers familiar with Morrison may know that he is a practitioner of magic; all well and good, but it's awfully distracting when he goes on for eight pages about his drug-fulled transvestite spirit-quests from which he culls many of his ideas. He is clearly proud of living a very... varied life, and occasionally comes off as meanly dismissive of those who have lived anything less, which appears to include many comic fans. Some chapters become rambles, with no focus or even clear subject, jumping from one idea, anecdote, or bender to the next. Supergods does bring up some very interesting ideas. I was particularly fascinated by Morrison's idea that the universes in comic books, and all fiction, are just as real as our own, they just occur on paper. Likewise, the idea that an author can craft a "fiction suit" through which to affect and explore their creations is an eye-opener for the creative process. Finally, his closing comments on the usage of superheroes to show our greatest strengths, to which we can reach and aspire, was heartening and provocative. Indeed, many segments of Supergods were engrossing, but the book as a whole was unfocused and often terribly self-indulgent. Fans of Morrison (of which I am one, though perhaps not enough of one) will find some enlightenment, or at least back-story, to his work. However, it ultimately does a half-hearted job of meeting the promises of its albeit beautiful cover, having the potential of being more alienating than alluring.
jmgold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I went into this book with very high hopes, being a long time fan of both Grant Morrison's comics and his prior writings on the medium. Unfortunately I was left severely disappointed.The main problem is that Supergods is extremely unfocused, bouncing between various threads without much in the way of connective tissue (or in the proof I read from copy editing). The early development of the super hero gives way to Morrison's travelogue of Nepal, which goes on to the history of Batman's costume changes in the movies, and every step of the way Morrison inserts quotes from his own bibliography. Some of these parts can be intriguing, particularly when Morrison goes into his own theories on the nature of fictional worlds, but the whole doesn't really hold together and the book ultimately comes off as a vanity project (particularly when Morrison starts name dropping people he's met like Sean Connery and Robbie Williams).
rsottney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Comic books are not a new creation. The medium may be a 20th century creation, but the form follows a long history of mythology, legends, religions, cave art and glyphs. Superman is always compared to Jesus Christ, but he could just as easily be Samson, Achilles or Moses. The cape and tights are new, but his story is thousands of years old. Grant Morrison is an award winning comic book writer who understands the nuances and implications and possiblities of the medium; who better to write this book? If you like comics, mythology or pop culture studies, this book is a must-add to your library.
craso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this book and found it difficult to finish. I have read books on the history and sociology of comics and I thought this would be similar. Instead, this book is Grant Morrison's perspective of the world of superhero comics. It is extremely biased and I do not agree with most of his view points. I also disliked his style of writing. He used too many drug culture references, pop psycho-analysis, and profanity. I requested this book because of my love of superheroes and because I thought Morrison would be drawing direct parallels between the human need to create mythical beings and the comic world. What I received was a book written with a twisted post-modern perspective.If you have read Grant Morrison's work before and you are a fan, it would be a great book for you. If you are looking for a sociological look at superhero comics there are plenty more serious, well researched, and well written books out there to read. Ironically, he lists many of these books under "Suggested Further Reading" at the end of the book.
commodoremarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had a very hard time making it through this book: it just never managed to grab me and hold me. The subject matter is at times extremely interesting, but told in a jangling prose that wandered more than I could handle. The result to me was, as another said, more of a "rambling memoir." Morrison clearly has a lot to say, and a great deal of interesting parallels and comparisons to make. Sometimes he goes on too long, others I wanted him to say a bit more. As a comic book fan, the information about the starts of the big houses (Marvel, DC) is great, but as a fair-weather fan at best, sometimes more than I was really committed to absorbing. Overall, the unevenness of the book did it in for me. Glad I was able to learn, but save for needing to write the review, I'm not sure I would have made it all the way through. For true Morrison fans, a must. For the rest of us, take pause.
zzshupinga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Grant Morrison, writer of such standout works as All Star Superman (Vols. 1 and 2) and continued work in the DC Universe on Batman, turns his eye to the history of the superhero--a topic never really fully explored before. Morrison brings his insider knowledge to play and dazzles the reader, not only with the history of super hero comics, but the psychology behind it as well. Morrison also shows us how superheroes fit in to almost every aspect of our lives, reflecting our very selves in these figures that we create.Morrison creates a text, that for the most part, is easy to read and to follow along a linear timeline. He shows us just how much comics and superheroes have impacted our lives. It seems like lately comics have fallen into the realm of "nerd" and not meant for everyone, but Morrison shows us that just isn't true. That they were created for the everyman to give us hope during dark times, laughter (well ok maybe that's not what they meant it for but we can still laugh at them), and inspiration to overcome obstacles. Morrison highlights not only the big names--Batman and Superman--but also introduces us to other superheroes that we have forgotten, but still have meaning.Supergods is not just for the comic book fan/nerd/person. It's a text for everyone to understand how superheroes, whether we know it or not, have impacted our lives and the world around us. This is a must have book for anyone.
dschander on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a mixed bag. It starts off with Morrison exploring the history of comics in a fairly straight-forward, scholarly way. Increasingly, Morrison begins inserting his own opinions and anecdotes into the book, as he becomes a reader then a writer of comics. The problem is that the two really do not sit well together. I kept wishing I was reading one or the other, history or biography. Morrison clearly has biases, as anyone would who has worked in a profession for many years, but I found them intrusive upon the rest of the text.This is not to say the scholarly portions would have been perfect on their own either. The incredibly detailed descriptions of cover images (reprinted in the book) got tiresome, and the organization falls apart toward the end, as Morrison suddenly arranges his chapters by topics (movies, events, cons) rather than time periods.
quilted_kat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Supergods starts out as an interesting history of comic books from early 20th century onward. But, Morrison quickly turns it into a rambling memoir. He starts topics in one chapter, comes to a conclusion, and then revisits them in later chapters without apparently noticing that he already covered the same material.Morrison spends several pages expanding descriptions of a single comic¿s cover in detailed exploration, and then limits entire characters and series to a single paragraph. The writing felt uneven, like he could have used a good editor with a red pen to tell him when he was saying too much.I¿m not sure what I expected this book to be, but this wasn¿t it.
mnorris3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As an avid comic book reader for the last 3 decades, and as someone very familiar with the works of Grant Morrison, I was looking forward to reading his take on comics. The book start off great, the history on the beginnings and growth of the modern superhero genre was insightful and a pleasure to read. But as the book progresses he begins to wander here and there and the book becomes more disjointed. I cannot say I did not like it, but neither can I say I enjoyed it as much as I hoped I would. If you are an ardent Morrison or comics fan there is stuff here for you, if you are not then stay away.
Death_By_Papercut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book starts off interesting enough, especially if you¿re into early comic book history. The origin information is easy to find in many other books and web sites but it¿s made more interesting by the fact that it¿s being relayed and analyzed by one of the comic industry¿s most popular insiders. Of course this also brings with it the pitfall of bias, which grows more prevalent as the book goes on. This is because Morrison seems to use this book as a sort of biography as the timeline gets closer to the present day. While fascinating at times he can be extremely boring at others. When talking about his own experiences outside the comic industry it just seems to drag on and on. Further exacerbating this problem is that, in my opinion, his descriptions are quite self indulgent; using three sentences full of very pretty words to describe everything from a drug ¿trip¿ to a trip to the grocery. You can see when his ego gets the better of him when he describes his own work with the same reverence as he describes the work of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. Unfortunately this book is more about the author than the title suggests.
wilsonknut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What Morrison does very well in Supergods is offer an analytical history of superhero comics from the perspective of a fan and talented insider. The book is organized chronologically and progresses through the Golden Age, Silver Age, Dark Age, and Renaissance. Unfortunately, Morrison interjects his own memoir and new age belief systems, which are not all about comics. The book reads as if it should be two or three separate books, and the further Morrison gets away from analyzing the history of superhero comics, the more disjointed the book becomes.
storyjunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Part critique of creative movements in comic books, part memoir, and part manifesto Supergods is a handy microcosm of the issues facing, and problems of, the superhero comics. Morrison presents his own (highly insightful) interpretation of past works, his own response to movements in comics, his own (industry-effecting) contributions, his underlying creative and life philosophies, and how he got there in a semi-chronological narrative. He does this so effectively that there isn't room for the reader's potential experience of comics as part of this interaction, just his own. A more apt subtitle would have been " What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Taught Me About Being Human". As a microcosm, the work suffers from the same insular, self-reflective, and impermeable boundaries as comic books themselves. In a lot of cases, if you don't already know the people or titles that Morrison is referring to, then you are plain out of luck and his statements will float in a self-important but context-less bubble until he moves on to something that you do recognize. The flip side of this is, if you do know the references, then Morrison's insights as to why certain stories spoke to the self-selecting comic book audience, why there were certain creative movements among comics creators, and his withering critique of the industry machine are very valuable in adding an extra dimension to our understanding of how this pop culture medium works.
andy475uk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like a lot of Grant Morrison's work in comics (which I really enjoy) his take on superheroes starts off relatively straightforwardly covering the early days of Batman and Superman and then careers all over the place to include his personal life, the comics and graphic novels he and others have worked on, cosmic theories and a myriad of other different ideas and concepts. At times my brain felt like it had been put in the washing machine on a never-ending spin cycle (in a good way). I would have loved to have found out a bit more about the comics gossip and creation side of things and it's frustratingly elusive at times (why Zenith is unavailable in trade paperback, We3 isn't mentioned, series like Final Crisis and Batman are skated over rather than covered in depth and the Invisibles probably could have had about fifty more pages on it), but there is much to recommend if you like or have liked comics during the last forty or fifty years.
twiglet12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am the geek this was written for! I love my comics but never really got into Superheroes but wanted to know more and Grant Morrison seemed like a great person to teach me about them. Loved the details about the different ages of the comics, the descriptions of the highs and lows and in the later part; the journey superhero comics were taking paralleled my life and the non-superhero comics I was reading. Really liked the style and autobiographical details as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago