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

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. In this exhilarating work of a lifetime, Grant 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 #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 is 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.

"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."
—Stan Lee

©2011 Grant Morrison (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Morrison is ideally suited to the task of chronicling the glorious rise, fall, rise, fall and rise again of comic-book superheroes.... [T]his is as thorough an account of the superhero phenomenon as readers are likely to find, filled with unexpected insights and savvy pop-psych analysis - not to mention the author’s accounts of his own drug-fueled trips to higher planes of existence, which add a colorful element.... [T]hose who dare enter will find the prose equivalent of a Morrison superhero tale: part perplexing, part weird, fully engrossing." (Kirkus)

"When Mr. Morrison puts care into his close readings, his prose can soar: a philosophical passage in which he breaks ranks with writers he considers to be 'missionaries who attempted to impose their own values and preconceptions on cultures they considered inferior,' and identifies himself with anthropologists who 'surrendered themselves to foreign cultures' and 'weren’t afraid to go native or look foolish,' is among the book’s most engrossing sections." (The New York Times)

“With a languid and pontificating tone, John Lee narrates Morrison’s long reflection on the history of comic books…From the birth of Superman to the contemporary comic book landscape, Morrison identifies some of the key moments within the world of comics and identifies how the publishers, mainstream culture, and historical events changed the way people think about comics today. Lee’s British accent and cool attitude work in unison to create an image of Morrison that resonates with his public personality.” (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Bradford Omaha, NE, United States 09-30-11
    Bradford Omaha, NE, United States 09-30-11 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Average history of comic books"

    Make no mistake, this book is an autobiography. The fun part is this book reads almost exactly like the comic books Morrison writes: long, adjective-heavy sentences that are meant to describe and enliven a static scene, this time his written words. You get the sense early on, and he never lets up, that Morrison is writing a philosophical history book with the prose techniques that have made him the successful comic book writer he is. Sadly, it can at times weigh the book down with long periods of prose that say little or advance the "story" to the point where I'd forgotten what the book was about. And then I realized that Morrison was telling the story of comic book history by telling us his own story. His slow creative climb into the business, the influences of drugs, music, fashion and British trends on his life and his career. This isn't a book about Superheroes, this is a book about Grant Morrison's life with superheroes. So, if you're a fan of Morrison and his work, pick it up and make it a favorite. If you're looking for an in-depth history and analysis of superheroes and comic book history, you might want to look elsewhere.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon SOUTH ORANGE, NJ, United States 08-22-11
    Amazon SOUTH ORANGE, NJ, United States 08-22-11 Member Since 2007

    Third Smartest Man In The World

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Geek Gospel"

    I know guys who know a lot about comics. I know a lot about comics. But Grant Morrison may be the alpha geek.

    Going back to the beginning of superhero time and working forward to the present day - the guy gets into the nitty gritty of the books, the heroes, the creators, the socio-political environment.

    It's as if he has actually read and can effortlessly recall every issue of every superhero funny book ever published.

    I've been wishing for this book to be written and am blown away by the way that Morrison grounds the book in his personal relationship to the form - and also links it to the cosmic forces that shaped the medium.

    I am blown away by this work - but it may not be for everyone. If you can't visualize the difference between the styles of Jack Kirby and Neal Adams then you may need to start elsewhere.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RKR Georgia 12-14-11
    RKR Georgia 12-14-11 Member Since 2007

    Drama teacher and Sci-Fi/Fantasy fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Part Comic book history - Part Morrison memoir"

    Grant Morrison starts by analyzing comics from the beginnings of Action and Detective Comics to his (and other's) modern comics. In the meantime, you get to hear Grant Morrison's childhood, his coming of age antics, and his interesting theories on culture and society. Not a book for everyone, but definitely one that a comic fan would be interested in. I found myself bookmarking and making lists of comics that Morrison had written or found noteworthy so I could peruse my local comic shop for some gems that I had lately missed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Surrey, BC, Canada 10-21-11
    Robert Surrey, BC, Canada 10-21-11 Member Since 2011
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    "A good history of Comic Books but too much bio. ."

    As a general history of comic books this is a great book and definitely reccomended. It is a great listen for comic geeks and those of a more literary mindset who want some literary criticism and cultural history of comics. However at times it is greatly hindered by Grant Morrison's biographical information. I admit Grant Morrison is a major player in the development of comics especially the modern era (so it is kind of like John Lassetar giving a history of animation). But he goes into some rather non-constructive autobiographical information like story about his alien abduction and there is also segements where he spends too much time talking about his own projects (and his online critics) that he could have used to discuss other topics. But as a whole there is way more to like in this book especially the more philosophical elements about gods and evolution.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gonzalo MIAMI, FL, United States 09-02-12
    Gonzalo MIAMI, FL, United States 09-02-12 Member Since 2006
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    "From a Comics Fan"

    Grant Morrison's Supergods is all that the summary describes and more. Unfortunately that is not always good. Being a Superhero/Comics fan I have read a lot of Morrison's work and I find it at best hit and miss. He has done some of the truly brilliant, seminal superhero stories but he has also written a lot of self-indulgent mediocrity. This book isn't entirely that, but parts of it are ultimately unneccessary. When I read the description I did not expect an autobiographical work but a history nd commentary on comics superheroes. Of course I figured on Morrison talking about himself since he has been so long in the field and has been a powerful influence on it, but there are whole chapters here devoted to his inner growth and inner demons that I did not expect nor was particularly interested in. This does not mean that the book is bad: it does deliver on its promised subject, but it has shortcomings. First of all there is the overly lyrical, arabesque language. Especially from the mouth of the narrator, who rfeads most every passage with a hint of sarcasm, it comes across as presumptuous. Also Morrison's insights are a bit miopic and self-serving. He duels entirely too long on his own work and ignores quality comics done by others. He postulates a theory of cycles of violent, materialistic "punk" comics and esoteric, pacifist "hippie" comics and gives plenty of examples that support his theory but ignores examples that don't. He dismisses important, influential creators because they do not fit into his ideas or because he simply does not like them. An example being "Hellboy" a comic that has been quite popular and influential and does not fit his cycles and is not mentioned at all. One can argue that Hellboy is not a superhero comic but then, the author spends several chapters talking about his own "Invisibles" which is even less so. The book works best, in my opinion, when Morrison is talking about the comics before his time as a professional; and later on when he concentrates on the product of others as well as himself. It is also interesting to hear him talk about events behind the scenes in the major comic companies because it goes directly to the influences for some of the comics stories that have appeared throughout the years. It does not work when he spends chapter after chapter prattling on about his drug addled vacations accross the world or his dubious achievements as a "Chaos Magician". All in all not a bad book and for any die-hard fan of Morrison, highly recommended. He takes you on something of a rollercoaster ride through the life of a famous Comics writer and the way is which his work formed. But for those of you looking for a scholarly account of the history of superheroes think on this: Early on in the book, the author mentions another book: "The Ten Cent Plague" by David Hajdu: A simpler prose book that very effectively describes the Golden Age of Comics and how culture and history influenced them. A book with far less personal commentary. Would that Grant Morrison had taken pointers from non-comics celebrity Hajdu.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jonathan Eau Claire, WI, United States 12-14-11
    jonathan Eau Claire, WI, United States 12-14-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Great read for fans of comic book superheroes."

    You should know that this is 50% impassioned history of the superhero in popular culture (primarily comic books) and 50% autobiography. Grant Morrison is often self-congratulatory and sometimes too kind to his friends in the industry, but the writing is always entertaining and engrossing. There were many times I found myself disagreeing with Morrison's assessment about certain writers and artists, but this never interfered with my enjoyment. I often wished I had a notebook with me while listening so that I could jot down the names of obscure writer artist teams that I want to read.

    Morrison is certainly an expert in the field, a well respected comic book writer and fan from childhood. He also brings a completely unique and compelling viewpoint to this book. There are times when he gets side tracked by his weird drug-induced new-age quasi-religious experiences, but the writing is strong enough that even these passages are engaging.

    John Lee's performance is professional and engaging. He gives this book the same level of energy and showmanship he brings to fiction, even switching into appropriate (and utterly believable) accents when reading direct quotes.

    A great read for a fan of comics and superheroes, but I'm not sure it offers much of value to the non-fan.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mark muncie, IN, United States 01-14-14
    mark muncie, IN, United States 01-14-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Morrison's rambling egotistical take on comics"
    What disappointed you about Supergods?

    This book makes it clear that the only true "super god" in the multiverse of Grant Morrison's mind is Grant Morrison. I wish this book had taken a better researched and more well-round approach to the subject matter. Instead what is on offer here is Morrison's own opinions about some of the "big" writers and their creations iin comics. Most of this can be summarized as "When that creator came up with that idea and everyone loved it, it really wasn't that great. Now when I wrote pretty much the same story 5 years later, it was awesome and perfect." Really, Grant? Just because you write comic books doesn't mean it's not time to grow up.

    The book gets even worse when he break off to drone on about his personal quest for enlightenment and inspiration. Who knew that you could make allegedly getting abducted by aliens while tripping your gourd off in the desert mind-numbingly boring? Somehow (Zip! Pow! Sock! Choke!) he manages to do exactly that.

    I bought this book and I listened to all of it just so I could write this review. Now, much like the Rime of the Ancient Submariner, I am warning everyone- if you love comics, do not waste your time on this book.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bruce Hobart, Indiana, United States 06-12-13
    bruce Hobart, Indiana, United States 06-12-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "what a long strange trip its been"
    What made the experience of listening to Supergods the most enjoyable?

    I like Grant's child like quality at times


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Supergods?

    you get to find out what he was thinking what he wrote what he wrote and why.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    when he writes Arkham .


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I like that he had the balls to kill big names in his books


    Any additional comments?

    when he talks about the Superman and X-men titles and their 9/11 links.......creepy, get those books its cool as hell just to see them in that light.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    karltonwrites Huntsville, AL United States 02-22-13
    karltonwrites Huntsville, AL United States 02-22-13 Member Since 2005

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "How I Became a Great Comics Writer, Nay, a God!"

    What I expected: I don't like to write reviews based on my dashed expectations of a book, but I feel like I was led on a little bit here. Look at the very long title. I cannot be faulted in expecting a book that examines the cultural relevance of superheroes and how they have enriched the world.

    What I got: While I did get a little bit of cultural history, everything seemed to be based on how they related to the author. The book is mostly autobiography: how the great comics of the past made Grant Morrison a great writer, and how Grant Morrison's great writing made the comics of today great.

    Morrison's writing is indeed very good, and I know he believes all of his ideas will change the world. Still, I'd rather marvel at the miraculous feats of imaginary heroes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Temperance, Michigan, United States 11-12-12
    Shawn Temperance, Michigan, United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2009

    Ex-military high school math teacher.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Comics seen from a life of troubles"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I thought this would be more of a philosophical, sociological and anthropological look into the world of comics. It was only partly so. The tangents into the author's own life and his years of finding himself in the fever of drugs and his own sexual identity did nothing but detract from the book.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I'm headed for the escapism of fiction. I have read nine of the Jim Butcher Dresden Files, and enjoyed every one of them. Number ten sounds like it too will be a winner.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Narration was fine.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes, it has some great historical and sociological aspects as the author walks his readers through the decades of comics and describes the changes they have gone through as influenced by an ever changing society.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 15 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Mr. G. Bridgeman-clarke
    Rayleigh, United Kingdom
    8/30/12
    Overall
    "Part biography, part comic book history."

    I knew of Grant Morrisons work on Batman and Superman but really was not sure what this book would be like. I am pleased I bought it as it is an insight into the writer, the history of comics and recent superhero cinema but above all its a philosophers view. Sounds pretentious - well its not supposed too. I have now revisited Grant Morrisons comics and graphic novels and also a number of films which the author discuses in some depth and details how the genre has developed. Didn't like Unbreakable first time round - after reading this book and seeing the film again I realise its a bit of a gem.

    I would challenge any reader, comic collector/reader or not, not to enjoy this book. I would ay it will enlighten you but mostly it will make you think, At the end, you may just doubt that there are no such things as super heroes.

    I liked it. Grant Morrison is great writer. Ok I wasn't too impressed with the writings of a drug induced coma half way through but that too help in the way the writer shows his passion and eagerness to get right to the core of superhero worship.

    I still gave this book 5 stars as if there is a similar book out there, I have never see it. And I am sure there isn't going to be one which is so inspirational

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • M Jordan
    Leeds
    12/3/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Part biography/part superhero history"
    If you could sum up Supergods in three words, what would they be?

    Potted superhero history


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Supergods?

    This is a factual book rather than fiction but I particularly found the descriptions on how certain visual aspects of comic books were created interesting, it made me think of stories that I'd read in the past in a whole new light.


    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I haven't listened to any other John Lee narration but I thought his tone suited the book really well.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, I found it good to dip in and out of.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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