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Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human Hardcover – July 19, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 128 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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


Praise for SUPERGODS

"Grant Morrison is the antimatter to the often mundane world of comics - SUPERGODS is the finely tuned death-ray. Far beyond deconstruction, it exposes, challenges, invigorates and detonates everything we know about this modern mythology. SUPERGODS gives meaning to the fictional worlds we create and live within and helps us make sense of the madness within ourselves through the four-color world of the super hero." --Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chemical Romance and author of The Umbrella Academy.

"Excellent ... engrossing ... Morrison is a skilled word magician, seeking creativity in a cosmological dimension." --Publishers Weekly

"Morrison is ideally suited to the task of chronicling the glorious rise, fall, rise, fall and rise again of comic-book superheroes. As thorough an account of the superhero phenomenon as readers are likely to find, filled with unexpected insights and savvy pop-psych analysis. Those who dare enter will find the prose equivalent of a Morrison superhero tale: part perplexing, part weird, fully engrossing." --Kirkus

#1 in Wired's "10 Books That Will Fry Your Mind This Summer" "Grant Morrison has a hell of a tale to tell: The graphic novelist who co-created Batman's twisted game-changer Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth tripped on psilocybin mushrooms, fought movie execs to keep the Joker in high heels and reaped the benefits of going 50 hours without sleep in order to better access his unconscious. Subtitled What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human, this trippy autobiography-cum-critical essay gathers up the deep thoughts and otherworldly hallucinations experienced by the comics writer." --Wired.com

NPR's "Summer High Fliers" "Grant Morrison is one of the world's leading experts on comic books, and he draws on his entire body of work in Supergods, charting the history of superheroes from the very beginning. Morrison places the figures we all know -- Superman, Spider-Man, the X-Men -- in a broad cultural context, invoking art history, science and mythology to explain why we are so fascinated by the superhuman." --NPR.org

Praise for Grant Morrison
“Grant Morrison is one of the great comics writers of all time. I wish I didn’t have to compete with someone as good as him.”—Stan Lee
“Grant’s whole body of work inspired me.”—Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance
“I suddenly realized that everything that I’m trying to say in my nonfiction work, and in some of my fiction work, had been so beautifully and so imaginatively expressed in the work of Grant Morrison.”—Deepak Chopra

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069122
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069125
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #236,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Erik Ketzan on July 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Who should buy Supergods? Some of the negative reviews below are from readers complaining that this book isn't what they thought it was. To clarify: Supergods is partly a history and critical analysis of the superhero concept and partly Grant Morrison's autobiography as an artist. There are dozens, perhaps a hundred pages in the book that analyze key superhero comic book classics (Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, various Golden Age and Silver Age classics), so if you haven't read those yet, start there. Also, in my opinion there's little point in reading a writer's biography if you haven't read some of their best works. For Morrison, the best to start with are Arkham Asylum, All Star Superman, We3, and The Invisibles, (while fans of longer, more traditional superhero series may want to check out his bestselling runs on New X-Men, JLA, and Batman).Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Grant Morrison, comic book luminary, presents a thoughtful dissection of the comic book industry, from its origins to the present. It's not what I was expecting, but it was very interesting, and an analysis worthy of a doctoral thesis. It is, in turns, the biography of the comic book industry, an examination of the sociology of the western world since the depression-era appearance of Superman, autobiography of Morrison himself, and review of how real life and the world of the superheroic are converging.

Morrison begins his book, fittingly, with an examination of what made Superman and Batman iconic when they first appeared. For me, this was fascinating, recognizing that the Superman I knew had started not just as an archetypal hero of strength with bold colors of the daytime, but a symbol of the strength of the individual and middle-American farmers against industry and big business during the Great Depression. On the other end of the spectrum was Batman, a big-city, wealthy hero in the dark of night, whose intellect was his only power. Batman was tested by a series of villains inspired by psychiatric disorders, whom he would physically beat into submission.

From there, the author broadens his scope to track the development of the industry as it is influenced by political and cultural changes such as McCarthyism, heroes from the age of science inspired by Kennedy's presidency, the rise of psychedelia and the drug culture, the gritty vigilantism of the 70s and 80s, the events and repercussions of 9/11, and expansion into the film industry.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Grant Morrison's saga of the superhero from its birth to its many tomorrows is a welcome breeze wafting from an endless summer somewhere in the future where we will all become superbeings. Welcome to me, at least, who, like the author, grew up absolutely enthralled by comic books.

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.
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