Just in time for Comic-Con, Grant Morrison’s Supergods publishes today. Morrison combines a cultural history of superhero comics with memoir. And who better? Morrison is a leading comics creator, perhaps best known for Batman: Arkham Asylum (DC Comics), but a prolific writer of many, many others including JLA, New X-Men, All-Star Superman and The Invisibles.
Supergods is an NPR Summer High Flier, #1 in Wired’s “10 Books That Will Fry Your Mind This Summer” and a Publishers Weekly pick of the week. On the other hand, the New York Times review reveals a less stellar opinion.
MORRISON, Grant. Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human. 256p. reprods. Spiegel & Grau. 2011. Tr $28. ISBN 978-14000069125. LC 2010053712.
Adult/High School–Roughly equal parts historical analysis, fanboy celebration, insider exposé, and transcendental memoir, this quirky look at the past, present, and future of the superhero alternately delights and infuriates as Morrison cycles through perspectives faster than a superhero changing costumes. Nevertheless, as the creator of some of the greatest comics of the past few decades, the author has earned these perspectives, and his ability to blend them into a continuous narrative is impressive. He starts as he must with the birth of Superman, and divides his narrative into sections on “The Golden Age,” “The Silver Age,” “The Dark Age,” and “Renaissance,” following the conventional historical markers of the history of superhero comics. His take on each age, though, is anything but conventional–his defense of the high-camp of Silver Age superheroes is particularly heartfelt and persuasive–and though comic books are central to his narrative, he spends considerable energy on other media. A chapter analyzing each of the Batman films, for instance, is a marvel of close reading. Explications like these are, in fact, Morrison’s strongest attribute, especially when analyzing a particular issue or even a single page. His attention to every detail of the comic process is expected, but his ability to so fluidly convey his thoughts to the layperson is extraordinary. The fragmentation of viewpoints can grind the narrative to a halt at times, and it is the rare reader who will be equally interested in everything Morrison has to say, but this is essential reading for fans of superheroes in any medium.– Mark Flowers, John Kennedy Library, Solano County, CA