Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero

Grant Morrison

Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero

In 1938, the first superhero comic ever published, Action Comics #1, introduced the world to something both unprecedented and profoundly familiar: Superman, a caped god for the modern age. In a matter of years, the skies of the imaginary world were filled with strange mutants, aliens and vigilantes: Batman, Wonder Woman, the Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, and the X-Men – the list of names is as familiar as our own. In less than a century they’ve gone from not existing at all to being everywhere we look: on our movie and television screens, in our videogames and dreams. But why? For Grant Morrison, these heroes are not simply characters but powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence: through them, we tell the story of ourselves. 3.2 out of 5 based on 9 reviews
Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Comics & Graphic Novels, Art, Architecture & Photography
Format Hardback
Pages 464
RRP £17.99
Date of Publication June 2011
ISBN 978-0224089968
Publisher Jonathan Cape
 

In 1938, the first superhero comic ever published, Action Comics #1, introduced the world to something both unprecedented and profoundly familiar: Superman, a caped god for the modern age. In a matter of years, the skies of the imaginary world were filled with strange mutants, aliens and vigilantes: Batman, Wonder Woman, the Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel, Iron Man, and the X-Men – the list of names is as familiar as our own. In less than a century they’ve gone from not existing at all to being everywhere we look: on our movie and television screens, in our videogames and dreams. But why? For Grant Morrison, these heroes are not simply characters but powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence: through them, we tell the story of ourselves.

Reviews

The Independent on Sunday

David Barnett

Supergods is a rather astonishing piece of work that leaves you feeling pretty much as those first readers of Superman in 1938 must have felt: slightly more aware of our place in the universe and cautiously optimistic about the future.

03/07/2011

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The Financial Times

Tim Martin

Individual tolerance for Morrison’s more arcane musings will vary, but it’s hard not to warm to his friendly, urbane prose … [An] unlikely but compelling book, one of the most enjoyable sales pitches for an art form in recent years.

15/07/2011

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The Guardian

Jonathan Ross

... it takes a certain amount of commitment to pick this up in the first place, and I suspect that the average reader — those not already hooked on comics or aware that Grant Morrison is one of the finest writers, if not the finest writer, working in comics today — will find it too much of an ask. That would be a tremendous shame, because Supergods is perhaps the most satisfactory potted history of the American comic book industry I've ever read (and I've read just about all its competitors) while also offering a brilliantly incisive, if very personal, appreciation and analysis of the most important comic books or graphic novels — call 'em what you will — to be published in the past 30 years.

23/07/2011

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The Sunday Telegraph

Robert Colvile

Magnificently idiosyncratic … Supergods is packed with intriguing nuggets of insight, and it will be fascinating to see how the trends it discerns play out.

24/07/2011

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The Independent

Roz Kaveney

… sometimes informative, sometimes maddening … it is stunningly good on the utopian dream that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster kick-started when they invented Superman, and the dark twin that Bob Kane created for the Man of Steel in Batman ... His account of his own best work — All-Star Superman, The Invisibles, Seven Soldiers — is patchy.

05/08/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Robert Colvile

… an enjoyably bitchy score-settling exercise and a personal reminiscence about comics written, drugs taken and epiphanies reached … What really lets things down is not his solipsism, but the editing

31/07/2011

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The Evening Standard

Nick Curtis

I'm enough of a nerd to know and admire Morrison's work. But the allusive, arcane polymath spirit he brings to scripts for the illustrated page do not translate well to this overwritten and uneasy mix of cultural history and autobiography.

14/07/2011

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The New York Times

Dave Itzkoff

… a sprawling and scattershot book that seems as uncertain of its thesis as it is unclear about its intended audience. Readers who wouldn’t know Plastic Man from Mr. Fantastic are likely to find Mr. Morrison’s overview of comic heroes too impressionistic an introduction to the subject, while die-hard fans will be disappointed by the author’s superficial analysis of the ambitious ideas he conjures so readily in his storytelling.

18/07/2011

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The Sunday Times

Dominic Sandbrook

… as the book turns into an extended CV, the analysis of the superhero is forgotten. Above all, Morrison’s idea of profundity is often unintentionally hilarious. Quotations to prove comics’ newfound maturity (“You haven’t heard an ant scream? Well I have — and it’s a sound to haunt a lifetime’s worth of dreams!”) are bad enough. But his attempts at analysis (“McCarthy’s melting super-psychedelic visuals could sprawl across pages in a trancelike pageant of phosphorescent dream imagery, conjuring epic post-Kirby aboriginal visions of city-sized, three-eyed Kennedy heads…”) leave you wondering what his editor was up to.

03/07/2011

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