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What lies beneath,
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This review is from: Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human (Hardcover)
When I read a book, I like to do the author the courtesy of taking it seriously in the terms in which it's presented. So when Grant Morrison offers a history of comic books shot through with scattered observations about metaphysics, cultural history, comparative religions, and psychology, my impulse is to take those observations seriously and evaluate them as such.
On that basis, I simply can't get behind his "reality as useful fiction," which strikes me as a bit facile. Reading this book persuaded me Morrison is a comic book writer who dabbles in philosophy, not vice versa.
When you peer behind the curtain at an artist's creative process, you often experience something of a disappointment. A great work like "The Invisibles" speaks for itself, and attempts to account for it simply diminish its scope. Many artists understand this and refuse to entertain questions about the origin or meaning of their work, but Morrison is surprisingly willing to play this game. Often, his work is concordantly diminished, as the stage mechanics of what seemed like divine inspiration come to light.
I get the sense that he gave in to the temptation to write this novel-length self-analysis because it gave him another outlet to elaborate and play with his public persona. As I read Supergods that increasingly seemed like his primary commitment, as little else binds this book together.
Morrison presents a roughly-chronological and fragmentary history of superhero comic books, offered in breathless drive-by analyses of whatever topic catches his interest for two or three pages. It consistently reads like he narrated the entire thing into a tape recorder, and an intern typed it all out.
Supergods occasionally delivers a top-rate insight, but it's too fragmentary and disorganized, too incoherent in style and subject, to qualify as guilty pleasure. Mostly I feel relieved to be done with it.
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Initial post: Jun 20, 2012 7:29:39 PM PDT
Homer Simpson says:
Simply put, this is the perfect book review. Thank you sir.
Posted on Jun 26, 2014 11:14:07 AM PDT
As a major comic book fan who loves reading about its history, I was also very disappointed with this book. Morrison starts off beautifully when he's explaining the significance of Superman in Actions Comics #1, but then you realize two annoying things about the book: 1) It becomes more about Morrison and his relationship with the world, and 2) unless you've memorized a thesaurus and understand many historical references, the book is hard to enjoy.
I soon started skipping over the parts about his love for music and drugs. Maybe that's what people want to read about, but it certainly doesn't say that's what you're getting on the cover.
Morrison is one of my all-time favourite writers. He wrote my all-time favourite comic book story (All-Star Superman), and I *get* that he's a writer who doesn't always simplify things for you. That's what makes him so unique. But for *this* effort, I would've preferred a more simplified, focused look at the history and philosophy of superheroes, rather than a mash of comic book history, Morrison bio, and a brain-straining use of the English language. This book should've been co-authored.
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