Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human Paperback – June 26, 2012
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2011: According to Supergods, Superman comics say less about Superman than they do about Clark Kent. Superman was conceived as a symbol of strength and individualism for the Depression-era middle class--perhaps a more compelling portrait of the era than much literature of the time. But this is just one of the many superhero mythologies author Grant Morrison unpacks to give colorful historical and cultural context. Morrison, a prolific comics storyteller with a career spanning 20 years writing for both Marvel and DC Comics, may be the world's most qualified superhero scholar. (Morrison's reinvention of the Man of Steel, the All Star Superman series, is arguably the best comic of the past decade.) But Supergods isn't a book that appeals strictly to fanboys. Like his comics, Morrison's prose is swift yet powerful, and it's the broader strokes of the Supergods narrative that resonate most. The book succeeds at being a great history of comic books over the past century, but it's an even more convincing exploration of humankind as a whole. --Kevin Nguyen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Seventy years of superhero history with erudite analysis and autobiography thrown in—an account of what it’s like to plunge your brain into these fictional universes for decades, refusing to come up for air.”—Rolling Stone
“Morrison writes with such flair, humor and insight that Supergods may be the season’s most winning exploration of pop culture and the creative process.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A personal and erudite history of the medium by one of its most intelligent and articulate practitioners . . . Morrison lays out the history of comics with infectious passion and amusement.”—Financial Times
“A blast, a pure hit of hero worship and deep understanding of comics as mind expansion . . . It’s hard not to be swept up in [Morrison’s] vision.”—Austin American-Statesman
“The perfect textbook for fanboys and the mainstream alike.”—USA Today
Top customer reviews
About half the book traces the history of the comic book superhero, from its creation in the Golden Age of comics through its multiple (and discrete) evolutions in the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, and '00s. Morrison analyzes key superhero comics at length, and his dissections of their creative origins, meaning, psychological underpinnings and relation to their times are generally fun and interesting. I sometimes skipped his descriptions of comics I haven't yet read. Morrison brings his best insights to sustained explications of The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, and although these masterpieces have been analyzed to death by commentators over the past two decades, Morrison's analyses are surprisingly fresh and original. I've read Watchmen half a dozen times and Morrison points out a number of things I never noticed or considered. Which, let's recall, is what important critics do. Unfortunately by the time Morrison gets to the '90s and '00s, he has little negative or truly critical to say about other prominent and/or best-selling superhero works, most of which were written by his friends or colleagues (Mark Millar, Mark Waid, Warren Ellis and others). Although he analyzes their importance well enough, I got the sense that he didn't want to say anything bad about the works of his friends or creators younger than himself.
Morrison's not shy about engaging the works of Alan Moore, though, and Supergods is his most sustained explanation of his relationship with Moore's works. Morrison and Moore are arguably the two greatest living interpreters of the superhero concept, rival gods warring over the same turf who have planted their career-defining flags on the same soil (deconstruction of the superhero and the incorporation of "magic" into narrative)... and Morrison has always seemed uncomfortable, even insecure, about that. I've read a dozen interviews over the years where Morrison casually dismissed or outright insulted Moore and his works. In Supergods, though, Morrison seems to set these petty issues to rest. He admits his praise for Moore's work and maturely articulates what he did and does dislike about some of them, while keeping a bit of the (bestselling, fan-favorite) Morrison/Moore super arch-rivalry intact.
The third string in Morrison's narrative quartet is his autobiography as a comics creator. He recalls his family upbringing in Scotland, followed by a portrait of the artist as a young man and his climb up the ladder of the small but vibrant UK comics scene of the '80s. We get a solid history of when and how he wrote his major works, starting with the "British invasion" of the early '90s under the Vertigo label (a golden age that I, and many comic readers of my generation, fondly recall as practically life-altering in influence). We also get a lot on his travels around the world, his fascinating attempts to make his art influence his life, and his experiments with psychedelics, including an extended description of the (seemingly drug-induced) vision/out of body experience/"alien abduction" he experienced in Kathmandu just as he began writing The Invisibles. Morrison's views on "magic" and "rituals" would get tiresome in the hands of lesser writers, but the fact that he's built one of the most artistically and financially successful careers in comics on those foundations makes his exploration of those far-out concepts hard to dismiss.
As Morrison readers know, the man has a seemingly unlimited supply of ideas that erupt from his brain onto the page, too numerous for him (or us) to begin to explore in depth, and this is the root of his biggest strengths and weaknesses. The pages of Supergods are littered with mostly interesting asides and concepts, whole handfuls of them just tossed out there, but the book can get a bit exhausting, especially because of insightful but fairly long descriptions of comics we either haven't read or don't have in front of us for comparison, like listening to film commentary tracks without seeing the films. Morrison's ardent belief in a few questionable new age concepts may raise some eyebrows (like the ability to heal pets through sheer force of will and a theory on solar radiation and zeitgeist that made even me, a lifelong Morrison reader, shake my head), but again-- it's Grant Morrison. His best works are never easy and I'm willing to roll with some occasional nonsense.
The fourth and arguably most important part of Supergods is the theory Morrison uses to tie this all together. In the illuminating final chapters, Morrison weaves together the lessons from his life, his art, and the superhero, and points out the ways that we, the readers, can begin to apply them to our own art and lives.
In short, Supergods is a summation of Morrison's lifelong artistic journey, a synthesis of lessons learned from years of fearless (and tireless) personal and artistic experimentation. And surprise! The psychedelic enfant terrible, the Johhny Rotten of comic books, has mellowed and matured into one of the sanest, most grounded, most decent, most human voices in the medium. I've never personally thanked a writer in an Amazon review before, but thanks, Grant. I feel truly enriched by your many great journeys and now by Supergods.
And like Morrison, I'm tired and bored with the dystopian, snarling pretenders in tights who masquerade as superheroes these days. I'm no Pollyanna or prude afraid of the dark - I've spent a fair share of my career writing about dark worlds present and future - but there's still that kid in me who grew up believing in Stan Lee's admonition that "with great power comes great responsibility." Too many superheroes have mistaken their shirking of responsibility for a punk rebellion against authority.
The contrasts between the Green Lantern and Captain America movies highlight this problem. Hal Jordan allows himself to be convinced - all too easily - that he doesn't deserve the ring he's been given by a dying hero. His acceptance of his role finally comes rather perfunctorily, as a necessity for the final act, rather than from any real desire to live up to his destiny. Not so with Steve Rogers, who is untiring in his efforts to shoulder more responsibility than his weak frame can handle.
Morrison thinks superheroes are archetypes of aspiration, untiring and, in the end, always undefeated. His book chronicles the pop culture history of this archetype in many of its manifestations, not just in comics but also in similar trends in music and fashion. I've read many of the comics he calls upon as exemplars, and I loved reading another author's heartfelt and deeply illuminating appreciation of these works.
Heartfelt is the key word for this book. Grant Morrison is laying it bare, confessing to his love of the good guys, and using biographical moments to back it up. Even if I were inclined to disagree with his analysis - and I am surprisingly on the same page for the majority of it - I could never argue with his passion and love for the writers and artists whose work consumed by childhood.
I do, however, have a geek critique. Even though Morrison admits that he couldn't give a shout out to all his favorite comics stories, I still would have liked to have seen more attention given to Steve Englehart for his Secret Empire saga in Captain America and his Detective Comics collaboration with Marshall Rogers, both of which I feel are keystones worth mentioning in the evolution of the superhero in the `70s and early `80s. But I can't complain too much - he does give proper attention to Starlin's Warlock, after all.
This is probably the best book to give to someone who hasn't read comics in a long time and might be looking to rekindle their interest in the men and women of tomorrow. It's also a great introduction for Jungians and archetypal psychologists who have yet to turn their analytical gazes to the primordial pop culture pool in which our culture swims.