Grant Morrison is not just a famous comic book writer. As I found out recently, he also writes regular books from time to time. Not too long ago, Morrison wrote Supergods, an account of the evolution of superheroes juxtaposed with his own life experiences. I’ve been enjoying Morrison’s Action Comics run, but could he successfully write a realistic, semi-autobiographical book just as well?
The book is divided into four sections, each focusing on a particular period of superheroes in the Western conciousness, delving further and further into his own life experiences as the book progresses. The first section, titled The Golden Age, describes the original premier of superheroes. Morrison begins in 1938 with the debut of Superman in the original Action Comics #1. Since the entirety of these events happened before Morrison’s birth, the author feels more detatched while recounting this history. Morrison notes how superheroes began as supporters of the little guy on the street, before turning into patriotic Bald Eagle hugging, Stars and Stripes waving, apple pie eating embodiments of American idealism. There’s talk about the origin of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and numerous other classic characters.
The second section is called The Silver Age and delves into the period of the first real superhero boom. Here Morrison explores not only the redesign of heroes like The Flash but also discusses new heroes, such as Spiderman and the X-Men, who would become household names in a matter of years. This is the section where Morrison truly begins recounting his life, noting some of his early exposures to comics and some of his initial ideas for homemade comics during his youth.
The third section details a period Morrison calls The Dark Age. In the 80s, comics became grittier with such famed titles as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore’s Watchmen. Morrison details the rise of Image Comics and their brand of more violent heroes, such as Spawn, who quickly drew in a large fanbase. His discussion also focuses on how he truly broke into the comics industry and began landing full time jobs writing his own series.
The fourth and final section discusses The Renaissance, the period starting in the mid 90s and continuing to today. Morrison believes that some truly amazing new ideas emerged in this time period, and some great comics came about as a result (I’m inclined to agree). This section is almost entirely a memoir, discussing many of Morrison’s writing duties and how various visions gave him astounding ideas. The book comes full circle during Morrison’s afterword, where he briefly discusses his position as writer of the relaunched Action Comics.
To be completely honest, the book is good, but not great. I read it rather quickly and found myself wanting to keep going, but when I finished the book left me with somewhat of an empty feeling. I did enjoy hearing about Morrison’s life experiences as it gave me a better picture of who he is as a person, but at the same time I’d have liked to hear more about what was going on in the comics community during the second half of the book. Still, I think it’s a good read, and even people unfamiliar with comics will probably enjoy it. My suggestion would be to borrow it from a friend or the local library.
Brett Simon is a twenty-two year old comic enthusiast. His mind was blown at least once while reading this book.
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