Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human (2011)

I’m about half-way through famed comic-writer Grant Morrison’s Supergods. A title that gives fair and adult treatment to a medium that as of late has been taken seriously as a serious art-form. While Morrison takes some interpretive freedoms, kind of like a Werner Herzog joint, it isn’t without the realistic backdrop of history. U.S. mostly,  spanning great events of WW2,  the holocaust, the a-bomb, suburban life, psychoanalysis, drug use, sex movements, political upheaval, hippies, Vietnam, racism, capitalism and so much more consistently inform comic-book writers and their stories. Morrison’s portrayal of authors from the late 30s to early 80s comes off as near hero-worship, save for the fact that he describes them as humanly as possible, highly regarded in their medium but just like us (and fallible) in every other facet. Supergods is crafted with collegiate literature analysis. What I mean by this is that Morrison employs English criticisms, anthropological, historical, biographical, and scientific facts and art to tackle the birth and movement of comic-book heroes, themes, illustration, etc. He also gets deeply personal, discussing his upbringing, parental turmoil, youth angst, and making it in the comic world.

Comics allow readers to get lost in new worlds and creatures, escapism with hope for a better tomorrow. But as Supergods draws out, Comics don’t exist in a vacuum. Their ties to the real world are as significant as music, news, and literature (maybe even more so). Comics also exist in an odd dimension: plainly in the 2D, but we can flip back in time when it comes to comics, journey into the future, and writers even put themselves into the strips (jumping from our dimension to others). In more ways than one comics offer space-time warp.

I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in comic-books or anyone interested in comics as a source of cultural memory, art, history, and/or story-telling. Lastly, Grant Morrison being Scottish makes his take all the more interesting.


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