Peter Tupper's Reviews > Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes

Our Gods Wear Spandex by Christopher Knowles
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's review
Jun 20, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: superhero

This book argues that superhero comics, and their literary antecedents, are descendents of ancient tales of gods and heroes, and they inspire a devotion that is literally cultish. In the past century or so, a lot of it comes for theosophy, a distinctly modern fusion of religion and pseudo-science.

While some of this is interesting, it ignores all the other genres that have contributed to modern superhero stories, including crime/detective fiction, science fiction, fantasy and so on. Sometimes Knowles' thesis stretches thin, as when he grudgingly admits that he can't find any occult influences in the life or work of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Knowles rightfully gives respect to Alan Moore, but damns Grant Morrison with faint praise. This is odd, as Morrison's own recent work seems to be operating from the same ideas as Knowles.

See Klock's "How to Read Superhero Comics and Why" for a much more thoughtful discussion of the genealogy of this genre.

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