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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
  • Amazon
  • SOUTH ORANGE, NJ, United States
  • 08-22-11

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • RKR
  • Georgia
  • 12-14-11

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

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  • Bradford
  • Omaha, NE, United States
  • 09-30-11

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 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Gonzalo
  • MIAMI, FL, United States
  • 09-02-12

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

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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

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  • Robert
  • Surrey, BC, Canada
  • 10-21-11

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 3 people found this review helpful

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Classic Morrison

Overall, this book is pretty solid as far as detailed histories of the comic book medium go, although it's a little light on teaching us about being human, as the title suggests. Much like Morrison's comic book work, Supergods is sometimes self-indulgent, in ways can be a little uncomfortable for the listener/reader, or just downright boring. His chapters on the Golden Age are the best- while heavy on Superman, it's a thoroughly detailed section of the book that was very rewarding to hear as a comic book fan who did not live through those years, but has done a great deal of reading on them. However, beyond that, things tend to devolve frequently into personal narrative, and it's clear that Morrison is mostly writing about the books he liked, not comic books in general. Although, that complaint only goes so far when there is such a vast amount of superhero comics out there. We can't expect him to have read everything! My only wish is that he had sometimes taken a bit more of an impartial view of the subject. It's clear that he's more of a DC guy than Marvel, as much of the Marvel material in this book is quickly glossed over, with the exception of the introduction of Spider-Man in 1962. Otherwise, the book is great and John Lee does a excellent job narrating.

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Really enjoyable with caveats

The short review here is simply: I have always liked Grant Morrison's work and this is no exception.

The more expanded version is that this is a book that is partially very interesting opinions and insights about landmark comics and the industry as a whole and partially biography. I happen to like both (not in equal measure, but I did still like them) but be aware that both exist and the ratio of each is different depending on where you are in the book. The beginning is more industry and the latter is more biography, although you get some of each all throughout the book.

The other thing I would mention is the narrator. I liked his as far as conveying emotion and his range of accents but also found him to be slower than I cared for. I have only done this for one other book, but once I changed the speed to 1.25x I enjoyed the book much more after that. To be honest I listened to this book in 2 days. This made the book shorter than advertised, but I still felt like I got my money's worth personally and wouldn't expect them to factor in my expedited listening clearly.

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Wonderfully entertaining and insightful

As someone with an interest in comics and superheroes but by no means an obsessive, this was a brilliant book. The narrator does a great job in capturing the author's voice and the depth of research, witty reviews and interspersed with personal anecdotes which show a lot of humility. It was a fascinating book that engaged me all the way through. I would recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in superheroes, comics and their links to pop culture.

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Would be perfection if read by author!

I love how the author (a favorite comic book author of mine) intertwines the history of comic books with his own narrative, which reinforces the author's take on how fictional characters manifest themselves in our reality. A real head trip that provides a solid foundation for anyone interested in the history of this medium, as well as a trippy journey into psychedelia and choas magick. The performance was 5 star, but the author has such a wonderful voice, I would have like to hear him perform his own book. The Scottish brogue is obtrusive at first, but subsides into more of a generic UK accent as the book goes on. I'm assuming this decision was made to reassure fans of the writer that the performer is Scottish, but relinquishes so that it does not become distracting.

Beautifully written. Elevates it's subject to intellectual and spiritual heights that allow the reader an unembarrasing exploration. Inspired me to try my own hand at magick.

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  • MatCult
  • 10-04-15

A must for comic fans

Superb. Part autobiography, part superhero deconstruction. Great writing and decent narration (although, as an American, he does struggle with some of the British references, making Govan sound like somewhere in Middle Earth and rebranding boyband Bros as Bro's).

Narration niggles aside, this is wonderful, inspiring stuff, as Morrison (creator or several seminal milestones in modern comics history) revels in his deep knowledge and infectious passion for the superhero genre.

His own life history merges and mingles with the evolution of the comics artfor, as art and life cross over and over until the boundaries between reality and imagination become beautifully blurred.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pete Lachaise
  • 08-30-12

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

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • M Jordan
  • 12-03-13

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Colman
  • 01-25-17

superhero history/theory with a sprinkle of Grant

A very interesting listen if you're interested in superhero history, our relationship with fiction, and a bit of a look behind the curtain during the latter half of the previously mentioned history.

it helps if you like Morrison's work, and the audiobook is made somewhat comical by having a fairly posh/bbc English voice reading the words of a foul mouthed Scottish writer.

Morrison's insights are interesting and quite often convincing, there's some quite interesting details of the medium's history, and his autobiographical elements aren't entirely intrusive and often equally of interest.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-06-17

Hugely rewarding

Once it settled, this history / memoir / celebration / call-to-arms was enthralling. Interesting, funny, moving, and genuinely inspirational. Reawakened my love of Grant Morrison. Unsure of the voice reading at first, it was masterfully executed. Writing and reading very Hunter S Thompson in places, if you like that sort of thing, which I do.

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  • Tommie Kelly
  • 12-08-16

Great mix of History and personal biography

I really would have loved if Morriosn had read this himself but I suspect his Scottish accent would ahve been difficult for many people. John Lee does a fine job anyway.

The best way to describe this books is that it is the history of comics through the eyes and experiences of the author (who is a very well known and accomplished comic writer) rather than an objective outside view. I'm a fan of Morrison so this isn't an issue for me, but it may be for those with no interst in Morrison's life, particularly the more esoteric magick sections. Personally, the biography passages where my favourite parts.

Great book, well read.