Super-Godsâ by Grant Morrison:
Not As Good As A Three-some with Catwoman & Poison IvyâŠ But Close.
By Ashley Naftule
Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? Why does Superman wear his underwear on the outside? These are the great mysteries of life, the questions that hound us as though we are foxes darting through an English forest, trying to keep two steps ahead of the snapping jaws of incomprehension. And while the first two questions will probably remain forever unanswerable, at least we can finally solve the Riddle of Outer-Underwear, thanks to Grant Morrisonâs âSupergodsâ.
Before I continue, I just want to take a moment to point out that Iâm highly biased here. Iâm a huge Grant Morrison fan-boy. If he were to materialize in front of me right now as Iâm typing this, I would ask him to sign all my âDoom Patrolâ books and then I would lick the top of his shiny bald head. His comic work can be brilliant, inscrutable, pop, dense, light as a feather, sexy, eerie, high concept, dumb as a rock, avant-garde, hopelessly retro, and often times, itâs a combination of 75% of those traits. Aside from Alan Moore, the other capital-g Great occultist/comic writer that England has conjured up, no one is pushing the limits and potential of comics as an art form as hard and as far as Morrison is doing. His âPop Magic!â essay in DisInfoâs âBook Of Liesâ was the straw that broke my agnostic back and got me into actually performing the magical rituals I read about. Heâs done the impossible in his âAll Star Supermanâ books by making Superman F-U-N again. Iâve discovered dozens of bands, writers, philosophers, and film-makers whoâve greatly impacted my worldview, based on references and names Morrison has dropped in both his independent and mainstream comics work. Heâs the Catâs Meow, in other words, the motherfucking Beesâ Knees.
So the odds of my not liking âSupergodsâ were astronomical, to say the least. And though I hate to disappoint all those bookies out there hoping to make their nut on my disliking the book, I can say (with no surprise) that I loved it. âSupergodsâ is a great book. And if you love comic books, kurtlar vadisi pusu 132. bĂ¶lĂŒm izle its an essential read. I have a few quibbles about it, but Iâll save them for after I enumerate the bookâs fine qualities.
Most of âSupergodsâ is a history of comics framed through mythology. So not only do we get the history of Supermanâs creation at the hands of Siegel and Shuster, we also get to hear lesser known facts of the heroâs origin (that Superman was originally supposed to be a Socialist icon, a totem of the working man standing up against the big-wigs and corporate scum) and we also get to see Supermanâs archetypal significance. Morrison brings his occultist perspective to bear on all the great super-heroes, showing how they represent not just aspects of our nature, but idealized aspects of our nature. The title says it all: âSupergodsâ. The new gods of the 21st century, in Morrisonâs estimation, IS the superhero. Superman is our Apollo, our Christ. Clark Kent died for our sins at the hand of Doomsday, only to be born again as our Electric Blue Messiah.
He makes a good case, too, for illustrating how popular characters like The Flash and Batman embody mythological characters, by not only pointing to the stories themselves but by giving us insight into the lives of their creators. In pointing out how incredibly kinky and weird the original âWonder Womanâ comics are, Morrison also points out how the creator of âWWâ was also an S&M aficionado wife-swapperâŠ who, in addition to creating the Lasso Of Truth in the four color world, ALSO invented the polygraph in the real world.
Whatâs refreshing about âSupergodsâ is that Morrison doesnât come across as cynical about comic books. He embraces the very things about comics that some many of its lovers apologize for, like tangled up continuities, ridiculous plot lines & deus ex machina cop-outs. He talks about how, before he became Mr. Grim & Gritty, Batman used to fight magicians and flowers that had peoplesâ faces on them. And Iâve got to admit, after reading Morrisonâs descriptions of those early Dadaist Batman stories, I kinda wished Bats would go back to fighting magical flowers again. In Morrisonâs view, children are much more sophisticated at reading fiction than adults, because they donât waste time asking idiotic questions like âwho changes the tires on the Batmobileâ and âhow does the Hulkâs pants survive his transformationsâ , because kids know its just a story and these things just happen because the story needs them to. It seems thatâs what Morrison regrets about the comic industry today, that itâs trying to be more realistic and grounded to appeal to adults who insist that their art doesnât embarrass them, when the greatest advantage comics has over books and cinema is that it can be totally batshit crazy.
He also throws in some biographical stuff, talking about his experiments with cross-dressing, his alien abduction experiences, his childhood in the U.K., and his years playing in bands that never went anywhere. It doesnât feel out of place with the comics history/theory (and his digressions into talking about the occult and the nature of reality is really interesting), though it does get just a little bit tiring reading about the author talking about how awesome his life was and his. Granted, the manâs life does sound really awesome, but still. It can be a bit much.
My other beef: for a man who writes compelling comics about battling authority and questioning reality, he does an awful lot of excuse-making for the comic industry when talking about how comic creators like Shuster & Siegel got screwed out of their royalties. On an unrelated note: one of the delights of the book is seeing just how envious he is of Alan Moore and how hard he tries to hide it, but fails. Reading his analysis of âMiracle Manâ & âWatchmenâ is fascinating not just for its insight into their impacts on comics, but for how obviously reluctant he is to give Moore props (which he does, but in subtly back-handed ways).
âSupergodsâ is a fun, compelling read. Itâs heady and thoughtful without being bogged down in jargon. If you really want to know why the Bat logo on Batmanâs chest is yellow, why Jack Kirbyâs âNew Godsâ didnât get the reception they deserved, and why Superman rocks the red briefs on the outside, âSupergodsâ has the answers you seek. As for the other great life mysteriesâŠ well, dear reader, youâre on your own.