Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
From one of the most acclaimed and profound writers in the world of comics comes a thrilling and provocative exploration of humankind’s great modern myth: the superhero
The first superhero comic ever published, Action Comics no. 1 in 1938, introduced the world to something both unprecedented and timeless: 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, Iron Man, and the X-Men—the list of names 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 what are they trying to tell us?
For Grant Morrison, arguably the greatest of contemporary chroniclers of the “superworld,” these heroes are powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them we tell the story of ourselves, our troubled history, and our starry aspirations. In this exhilarating work of a lifetime, Morrison draws on art, science, mythology, and his own astonishing journeys through this shadow universe to provide the first true history of the superhero—why they matter, why they will always be with us, and what they tell us about who we are . . . and what we may yet become.
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