Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero by Grant Morrison
|Supergods: Our World in the Age of the Superhero by Grant Morrison|
|Category: Graphic Novels|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A superlative study of graphic novels - plus some needless musings and drug-taking later on. Shame, as it spoils a very important academic volume.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 480||Date: July 2012|
Consider the super-hero comic. Borne out of a need to create cheap and franchise-friendly content for newspapers in America, it's grown into a billion-dollar industry, with Hollywood jumping on the bandwagon of several major characters now their FX have finally caught up with the printed page. Disposable? - once upon a time, yet now collectable to the tune of a million dollars or more. Frivolous? - probably, yet not exclusively now, if ever so. At one point here, they are just one product of the infinitely powerful imaginary system each of us carries in our brain, and at the other ethereal, paper-thin constructs of unfettered imagination.
Such a dichotomous fabric of our culture, whether low- or high-brow, deserves academic study, and such we get here. Histories of Superman, Batman et al have been given us before, but never from someone who has made the creation, adaptation and furtherance of such franchises their bread and butter for so long. Morrison's insider knowledge (added to a brilliant erudition) lends veracity and authority to a volume such as this.
But once he's passed by his individual appraisals of major texts like the Watchmen, he latches his autobiography onto the history of graphic novels. OK, his self-owned titles never floated my boat much, but many people will see too much of this later section as self-indulgent. Eye-opening (drug) trips abroad, as he surfed on a surfeit of profits from writing comics, do not give conviction to his works such as The Invisibles.
Yet Morrison can only write as himself, and so we see brilliant accusations levelled at the earlier TV versions of Batman, and (less reasonably) Eisner's The Spirit reduced to one line. He remains, however, one of the most erudite authors in the field, and his unbounded knowledge for copious references to psychology, other fictions and more help force this book off the shelves of Forbidden Planet and onto those in academe, as he discusses the effects superheroes in real and comic form have on our real lives - and proves comics have been doing the same for decades.
Not to be dismissed as anything other than the most important book in this field this year, never incapable of knocking those people who think sequential arts are inconsequential to the ground - this is flawed definitely, but a must-have for those with any interest of any kind in men in tights.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
To open your study of the genre beyond the caped contrivances, we urge you to consult The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels by Danny Fingeroth.
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