It’s hard for me to figure out a nice starting point for this review. SuperGods is part history of the comic industry, history of Grant Morrison himself, and a history of how both of those things were both affected by popular culture and how they affected popular culture. I am not much of a comic book fan, but I am enough of one to see this book on the shelf and be pulled to it and want to see what it is all about. Being a (somewhat) writer, I also am drawn to the characters and their stories as how they are being told. I adore character depth in a way that is probably not healthy, and so when I read about or hear about characters that are years and years old or have been part of dozens of amazing storylines I want to understand them better, so wikipedia and TV Tropes are necessities to my understanding of the comic book universe. Even after all of that, a lot of what Morrison has written about was completely over my head.
The book covers, obviously, from the creation of Superman and the first Human Torch all the way through late 2010, and in places got into things that just – honestly – bored me. It probably has a good bit to do with the fact that I wasn’t consciously aware of the Cold War until well after it was over. I was born in the early 80s, so hearing about how the wars affected society and how society affected him as a person was only interesting in passing. I bought the book because it’s f’n Grant Morrison (and, being Morrison, he curses quite a lot in 400 plus pages) and he knows his comics (and it shows). I wanted to read about the comics. My fascination was there and there alone, though in later chapters I did find myself compelled at his drug stories and coming of age as an adult comic writer more than his youth of being some punk pacifist kid and how much the world was garbage. Forgive me if I get any of that wrong, but like I said, it did bore me.
Also, I am not much of a Marvel fan, even if I did come to respect the interwoven continuity of the brand opposite DC’s haphazard quilt of insanity that led to way too many reboots, retcons, and hapless mish-mashing of characters to try and replicate the style of their opposition. Yes, I want Batman and Superman to be in the same world, I love the Justice League (even the sillier variations), and am not as much an X-Men or FF fan because even though those characters somehow feel closer to reality (experiencing 9/11, for starters, which takes up a part of the book) I just got into a mood years ago that as much as the two companies can be analogous of each other (especially when you realize just how many artists and writers have moved between them) I felt the need to pick one as my favorite and well, Batman as a character is probably my favorite as far as character depth and use of storyline ever, so they win. I don’t even care about the movies so much, because I grew up engrossed in the cartoon universe and the growth of the modern DCAU, and even if Christian Bale is the best live-action Bruce Wayne ever, Batman is still a cartoon whether on the page or the small screen and I am much more receptive to that as a medium with which to live out the fantasies of facing the Joker for the zillionth time, running from Killer Croc with a big rock, or saving the day by using his brain rather than just throwing demi-god muscles at it and hoping it breaks before it destroys something of worth to the universe.
So yeah, I’m a fan, and outside of probably less than twenty pages of exposition that I found ‘boring’, I loved reading this book, getting through it mostly in my spare time of trying to be productive in other facets of my life (and failing, of course), but in those pages I found some bit of muse that could help me in the future. It might not have been exactly what Morrison intended, but showing the wonders of the comic book world through the eyes of one of its most decorated creators made me look at the comic page differently. It made me look at society differently. I looked at myself as more of a SuperGod than I care to admit, because if one truly wants to be a writer, especially in fiction, they have to be able to create on a level that rivals a God. Whether or not he was aiming for that, I don’t know, but as the book comes to the end speaking of superpowered humans in our world, I saw that as something as a call to arms. I might never be able to leap a building, stop a bullet, or travel through time, but I can still create a universe as deep as I so desire – just as Morrison and all the rest have done the last 70 years. That was enough of an inspiration for me. Give it a read, I am sure you will feel the same way at the end, even if you have no knowledge of comics. It is that good. I super-promise.