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

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  7,315 ratings  ·  803 reviews
From one of the most acclaimed and profound writers in the world of comics comes a thrilling and provocative exploration of humankinds 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
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Hardcover, 444 pages
Published July 19th 2011 by Spiegel & Grau
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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,315 ratings  ·  803 reviews


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Start your review of Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
Stephen
Scottish madman Grant Morrison deploys a slick, witty, rock-n-roll style to his narrative while providing a brilliant, insightful examination of the creation and evolution of the superhero as both mythical archetype and as a reflection of societal mores, attitudes and aspirations.

Good, good stuff.

I loved his artful, breezy prose, an example of which can be seen in this excerpt from his discussion of the creation of Superman and Batman in the 1930's:
From the beginning, the ur-god and his dark
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Riku Sayuj
Dec 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: r-r-rs
In the title of Supergods, Grant Morrison seems to be promising an exploration of What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God From Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human. Does he live up to that promise? No. If you take up this book expecting moral philosophy or some kind of analysis on how the values in our fiction will help us be better humans, boy, are you in for a disappointment.

I have a sulky feeling that the only reason Grant published this book was to take advantage of
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Dan Schwent
Mar 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human is part history of comics, part Grant Morrison's autobiography, and part Grant Morrison's opinions on popular comics.

I've had mixed reactions to Grant Morrison over the years. I loved All-Star Superman, 52, some of his Batman work, and Marvel Boy. His X-Men were good and I liked his run on Doom Patrol quite a bit, even though I didn't understand it, and I loathed Final Crisis. I
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Kelly
Oct 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
Cribbed notes from my wine-fueled raving at book club:

Imagine you have a crazy friend who loves hopscotch. Grown-ass man, but he loves hopscotch, makes you play it every time you go over to his house. This is his deal, you know this about him. One day, your friend calls you up and says, "Hey, come over to my house, let's play basketball." And you go over to his house, and he actually wants to play basketball! You guys play two whole quarters of a basketball game.

But then at halftime, your friend
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Sam Quixote
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Things dont have to be real to be true

One of the most interesting and best comics writers, Grant Morrison, has produced a chronicle of comics from their inception in the late 30s to the present day, along the way talking about superheroes and their effect on our culture as well as providing a look into his own turbulent life from quiet teen to superstar writer. Supergods is throughout a fascinating look at this wondrous creation, the superhero.

For me, a huge fan of comics and superhero comics,
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Sean Gibson
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I reviewed this brain melter for Kirkus Reviews a few years back: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re...
Kee ✦ Queen
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I confess that I only know Grant Morrison mostly from his Batman comic books but I know that he has quite an impressive body of work under his belt but I have yet to find time to actually read them for myself. Nevertheless, I wanted to read Supergods the moment I have learned about its existence so I proceeded to obtain an online copy and then start to contentedly read it for at least five or six weeks every night since. As far as first impressions go, the book doesn't exactly ease you into its ...more
Bill Bridges
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Grant Morrisons saga of the superhero from its birth to its many tomorrows is a welcome breeze wafting from an endless summer somewhere in the future where we will all become superbeings. Welcome to me, at least, who, like the author, grew up absolutely enthralled by comic books.

And like Morrison, Im tired and bored with the dystopian, snarling pretenders in tights who masquerade as superheroes these days. Im no Pollyanna or prude afraid of the dark Ive spent a fair share of my career writing
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Will
Aug 04, 2011 rated it did not like it
It's neither fish nor fowl. This book starts off as an analysis of Superman and Batman and their mythic significance, tells the story of the artists and writers who came after and built the superhero industry and tropes that we see today, and then...

And then there's the story of superheroes. Much of it is a laundry list of events and characters, which is might be interesting if you're not into comic books... but then again, Identity Crisis? Blackest Night? Civil War? They're manufactured events.
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Barnaby Thieme
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, whatever he might think, owes a lot more to his
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Chris
Jan 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: comic book fans, aspiring superhero writers and artists
There is this interesting mental phenomenon, which you have probably experienced, called paradoelia. Briefly put, it is when our brains find a pattern where there is no pattern, making us believe that we see something that just isn't there. It's why every now and then, someone sees Jesus in a water stain in their basement. Or there's a cloud that looks almost exactly like a dragon. Or when you wake up at four in the morning, and you're squinting against the light and the toilet looks like a face ...more
Brian Norris
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Supergods is part comics history, a pinch of Morrison memoir, and a huge chunk of the social study of comics on society. Is it a book that only people who enjoy comics will love? I say no.

Supergods is separated into 4 sections based on the comics of that "era". We start with the classic Golden Age of Superman and Batman's first appearance in comics. Morrison does a fantastic job of explaining the huge impact that these kind of super heroes had on a world that was spiraling into darkness. The
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Jonathan Terrington
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonathan by: Stephen
Part autobiography and part history of the superhero this is all literary flair. Grant Morrison writes an interesting and captivating non-fiction work with heavy elements of metafiction included. As a result the end product is a book which is as informative as it is entertaining.

While most people would not associate a graphic novel writer with great literature ability Grant Morrison here demonstrates that he is a writer. His work is full of beautifully composed prose and draws on a variety of
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C
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Let me start by saying that the only previous book of morrison's that I read was arkham asylum many many moons ago. I enjoyed it, but I got out of mainstream comics around the time he began writing them.... So, there weren't many preconceptions coming into this. I bought it for the title, primarily.

For me, this book ranged from interesting (the initial sections on the history of the silver and golden ages), to boring (the early personal history of the author), to annoying (his constant
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James
Aug 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is your brain on drugs. I've always had a love hate relationship with Morrison's comics. When he's good, he's very good (All-Star Superman) but, when he's bad, he's bad (Final Crisis). This book suffers a bit from being unfocused in it's approach. It can't seem to decide if it is a history of comics, a biography or a manifesto on his philosophy and approach to writing. What you can expect though is a very educated and literate discussion on all things Morrison. His digressions into his ...more
Shawn
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: nf-r-comics-1own
A good friend got me this as a birthday present, knowing how much I like Morrison's work, and I was finally able to schedule a read.

FIRST TIER REVIEW
Who would be interested in this book? A good question, because it really is THREE different (but not unrelated) books in one - so any indicator I give should be tempered by that knowledge. The majority of the book would be of interest to fans of Grant Morrison's work in superhero comics (duh), and those interested in an (admittedly) subjective and
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Laura
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Matt Segal
Recommended to Laura by: NPR
So you grow up next to a doomsday weapon. Its existence has changed the structure of the life in your town, now defined by the American military base on Scottish soil bringing guarding the bombs and bringing in the artifacts of an alien, American, life. You watch your fathers impotent marches against the looming darkness those bombs. Your nightmares are apocalyptic and oh-so-plausible. And your mothers a science fiction fan. What to do?

The healthy mind finds ways to cope, and Grant Morrison
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Michael Adams
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Partly an autobiography, partly a high-level comic book history lesson, partly a series of in-depth critical reviews and essays about various iconic comic book works from the 80s, 90s, and 00s. Intelligent, articulate, and meaningful observations on an often under appreciated art form from one of its most daring auteurs. Highly recommended to classic and modern comic books aficionados. ...more
Scott Foley
Nov 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have to be honest Ive always found Grant Morrison to be fantastic at creating concepts, but his actual writing in comic books always left a bit to be desired. I fully acknowledge that this may have been more to a lack of available space or a miscommunication with artists than actual ability, yet his work tended to feel rushed near the endings and often discombobulated.

However, it goes without saying that he is a master of the medium, wildly appreciated, and a student of the art, and so when I
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Lionel
May 10, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: auto-bio, comics
I really wanted to like this book. But despite my initial enthusiasm, I ultimately found myself struggling to finish it.

I've been a comics fan for 35 years, and am fairly well versed in the classic super-hero books. The book begins as an exploration of the super-hero, covering territory that is well known to anyone with a passing familiarity with comics history.

There really isn't anything new on the historical front. The book is divided into four parts, Golden Age, Silver Age, Dark Age, and
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Trey
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it

I started out thinking this was going to be a fantastic book. The well-reasoned critical discussion of comics history (for example, I had never thought to do an in-depth artistic analysis of the Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27 covers) and its relation to the contemporary culture that influenced it is terrific for many chapters. Everything was going smoothly... until Grant Morrison was born.

Once Morrison reaches an era where he can access his own memories, he immediately inserts himself

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Jared Millet
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Anyone who comes here looking for a safe, quiet, dry history of comic books and superheros is going to be disappointed - but then again, if you're a comics fan you probably already know the name Grant Morrison, and you know to prepare for weirdness.

Supergods starts off strong as a mythological and psychological history of the very concept of the superhero, up until the point where the author himself enters the story and it becomes an autobiography. I can't really fault Morrison for not
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Michael
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A combination of biography and analysis of superhero comics with a dash of nutso. Grant Morrison is allowed to be nutso. The products of his nutso are wonderful. He strays a bit towards the end with an oddly-placed chapter on movies but otherwise it's a crazy hellride that I would recommend to comics fans or people who want to make more sense of the superhero cultural phenomena.

On a more personal level, I'm glad to have a better understanding of the origin of Morrison's Invisibles series, which
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Leo
Dec 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics, 2014
I'm gonna quit reading this because frankly, I have too many books to read (and don't get me started in the TV shows I have to watch) and I'm not that much of a fan of superheroes. And everyone that is, probably already knows the book and has read it.
I found some interesting things, but also a lot of information about comics I have never heard of.
I have to say that listening to Morrison speak so highly and passionately about his love for comics upped the book, even though I'm not that interested
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Ian Carpenter
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it
A massive, wide-ranging dissection of comic history and trends. Morrison is honest about his favourites, brilliantly acerbic about those that left him wanting. It's more than anything a book about DC comics (not my faves). He goes deep with his own history and journey as a writer, delves into his excess and spirituality and philosophy and how he feels all that connects to his art and process.
Steven
SHORT AND SWEET: This is a good book despite a number of flaws in the telling. As with this author's best works, I know I'll end up buying and rereading this to fully absorb/digest what he's written here.

RECOMMENDED TO: folks looking for an interesting new take/approach to self-help books or folks interested either in Morrison or comics from the writer's perspective.


Fair warning--if you're not already a fan of Grant Morrison's writing, this book may not be for you.

I'll admit to being
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Matt
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Supergods, like its author, celebrated comic book writer Grant Morrison, is a complicated book. This is no primitively rendered Golden Age Superman. Nor is it some drug-induced phantasmagoria from the '60s or '70s. (More on that below...) Supergods, rather, is a sleekly designed tome delivered to us from the future. Like Medieval serfs delivered a computer, we poke, prod and stroke it, we admire it and guess its possible uses, but we are unable to comprehend its true potential.

Supergods is,
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Ramie
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
At the time I am writing this there (June 6th, 2011) this book is available for pre-order, the blurb has this quote from Stan Lee: "Grant Morrison is one of the great comics writers of all time. I wish I didn't have to compete with someone as good as him.", and the book itself has been in and out of the graphic novels bestsellers listings on Amazon. Make no mistake, despite Stan Lee's quote, the amazing cover, etc etc this is NOT a graphic novel so if you do catch it during the times when it's ...more
Wendy
This book is a wealth of information and insight on the industry that even includes suggested further reading and a thorough indexing. The book inspired many interesting discussion points for my book club, but while I appreciate Grant Morrison's passion for comics, Grant Morrison's passion for Grant Morrison and his industry biases were quite clear.

This was a difficult read, mainly because of the writing itself. It is clearly written by someone used to having his words quickly translated into
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Tommy Carlson
Aug 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Just finished reading Grant Morrison's Supergods.
By "finished," I mean gave up two-thirds of the way through.

It's just awful. First off, it's misleading. The subtitle is "What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human." And it does indeed start as an examination of comics and society. It's not a great examination. Most of it you've heard before. The rest just sounds like Morrison thinks tossing loads of adjectives together will impress.
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Superheroes and C...: Supergods by Grant Morrison 2 20 Mar 04, 2014 12:31PM  

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Scottish comic book author Grant Morrison is known for culture-jamming and the constant reinvention of his work. He is known for his nonlinear narratives and countercultural leanings in his runs on titles including DC Comics' Animal Man, Batman, JLA, The Invisibles, Action Comics, All-Star Superman, and Doom Patrol, and Marvel Comics' New X-Men and Fantastic Four. Many of these are controversial, ...more

Articles featuring this book

Batman, Superman, X-Men—this comic book writer works with the greats. His new nonfiction book, Supergods, tells us how superheroes can save the rea...
36 likes · 3 comments
“Adults...struggle desperately with fiction, demanding constantly that it conform to the rules of everyday life. Adults foolishly demand to know how Superman can possibly fly, or how Batman can possibly run a multibillion-dollar business empire during the day and fight crime at night, when the answer is obvious even to the smallest child: because it's not real.” 258 likes
“We love our superheroes because they refuse to give up on us. We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish we could be.” 130 likes
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