C.W. Smith's Reviews > Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human

Supergods by Grant Morrison
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Apr 14, 2012

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Read in April, 2012

I wasn't put off by Morrison's erratic transitions between Supergods as a history of comics and Supergods as an artistic biography of Grant Morrison. Such a non-linear approach is characteristic of Morrison as a like-whoa postmodern writer and mystic--and, although he's classy enough to avoid stating so outright, an argument can easily be made for Morrison's emergence being directly related to the history of comics since the 1980s, as he ranks alongside Alan Moore as one of the visionaries of the medium (Joyce and Pynchon, if you like).

What kept me from loving Supergods--and I most certainly enjoyed it--was the impression of conceit I couldn't shake in Morrison's prose voice. I adore the man's fiction, but Morrison seems to be stroking his own ego without complimenting himself or denigrating others (frankly, I was surprised by the relative absence of mud-slinging in a book like this). Morrison's history is thorough and informative, and his shamanistic perspective breathes life into his unorthodox interpretations of classic comic storylines and creative teams. But the language is consciously crisp and intellectual, perhaps to a fault. The best way I can explain this is by comparison: last year, I read a brief history of Andy Warhol by a member of the art scene. Although informative, the author's writing style reeked of "art scene"--the prose voice took precedent over the material. That's a pet peeve of mine, and Morrison is at times too wrapped up in Morrison's oh-so-daring intellectual and creative world when the reader just wants to get on with the history. (Not that Morrison's crazy drug tales aren't interesting, 'cause I dug them in spades; more restraint would have improved the book's focus and appeal is all I'm saying.)

Look at me, dwelling on the negative! I have to admit that Morrison's thesis and concluding idea in Supergods, that we should treat the superheroes like the gods we should and can become, is one we would be wise to follow. Art imitates life and life imitates art; if we tell stories about progress, peace, and love, maybe that'll make us a little more successful in our efforts to realize those ideals in the material world.

Good read, but I'd recommend catching it at a library. I'm thinking about donating mine. No reread value here, but the first time's pretty fierce.
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