writes about nerdy things, celebrates those things as an English teacher, and is the co-founder of the production house ADK MOGUL. He lives in the mountains. Thanks for reading; feel free to leave a message, and please don't ask if he's D(e)Press(e)d.
Superhero stories are sweated out at the imagined lowest levels of our culture, but like that shard off a hologram, they contain at their hearts all the dreams and fears of generations in vivid miniature. Created by a workforce that has in its time been marginalized, mocked, scapegoated, and exploited, they never failed to offer a direct line to the cultural subconscious and its convulsions. They tell us where we’ve been, what we feared and what we desired, and today they are more popular, more all pervasive than ever because they still speak to us about what we really want to be.
from the final pages of Supergodsby Grant Morrison. What I’m thankful for is, well, this book. It gives me a sense that all of us—creative or not—are important and what most of us do is really to help shape a better world. This book has been amazing to read, and I think this is why I took so long to read it because I wanted to savor it.
Finishing it, I realized what my thesis is about: it’s to show that Morrison is at the forefront of this movement to legitimize comics to a sphere beyond those of us who are already in the choir. With this work someone like me feels freshly empowered to bring it to people who would not normally take a look at these ideas and change the way they think about them. That’s super-selfish and pig-headed of me to type but I do it with no malicious intent, and I don’t think that ONLY I CAN DO THIS. The best I can do is share how important this stuff is to me and to put it forward and say I promise this will wow you. I’m thankful to comics, to this book, because without them I’m not sure where I would be, but I’m awfully glad to be where I am. So, thanks, rock on.
Green Lantern’s sudden awareness of people suffering below the poverty line may seem almost farcical, but we can also choose to view the Lantern as a representation of the typical white middle-class young reader and to see in the politically engaged Green Arrow a “fiction suit” or mouthpiece for [writer Dennis] O’Neil, using art to open a few young eyes to some important facts of life.
from Grant Morrison’s awesome analysis of Green Lantern/Green Arrow by Dennis O’Neil and Neil Adams in Supergods.
Two weeks ago, I was talking with Francis about what superhero comic books can teach us about our cultural structure. We were talking about something completely different—probably politics—over our Six Point “Crisp” Ales at Hell’s Gate, and really getting into it. I was making the case that Superman and Batman represent the Cold War divide, before the war was actually initiated. Capitalism takes the form of Batman—a billionaire playboy whose parents were taken from him by a desperate criminal and in response he decides to beat down those low-lives creating a classic have vs have-not battle, and a dissection of capitalism made four-color flesh in the form of Bruce Wayne.
Superman, our beacon of social justice for rich and poor alike, stands for equal rights under the law or as Morrison writes—socialism:
“Superman made his position plain: He was the hero of the people. The original Superman was a bold humanist response to Depression-era fears of runaway scientific advance and soulless industrialism. We would see this early incarnation wrestling giant trains to a standsill, overturning tanks, or bench-pressing construction cranes…Superman offered another possibility: an image of a firecly human tomorrow that delivered the spectacle of triumphant individualism exercising its sovereignty over the implacable forces of industrial oppression.”
This is displayed in the first issue of the rebooted Action Comics when Superman holds Mr. Glenmorgan and threatens to drop him, but just before he does our new Man of Steel promises to release Glenmorgan “Just as soon as he makes a full confession. To someone who still believes the law works the same for rich and poor alike.”
I explained to Francis that Superman and Batman teamed together are called the “World’s Finest.” So, in typical brilliant thought while drinking I proposed the idea that if Batman and Superman are the World’s Finest (Capitalism and Socialism) when they are working together perhaps the finest form of government is both of these things together. Clearly, I shouldn’t drink and talk about comic books anymore.
Could it be that a culture starved of optimistic images of its own future has turned to the primary source in search of utopian role models? Could the superhero in his cape and skintight suit be the current representative of something we all might become, if we allow ourselves to feel worthy of a tomorrow where our best qualities are strong enough to overcome the destructive impulses that seek to undo the human project?
Grant Morrison, from his introduction to Supergods. Yes. Everyone needs to read this now, because I don’t think we’re going to get a better philosophical, historical, and personal narrative of how important superhero comics are. DO IT NOW. GO! GET TO THE CHOPPER!
Still, it’s a little unsettling to hear Mr. Morrison confess the many mind-altering substances — psilocybin, hashish, unspecified psychedelics — that have played a role in his creative development. And when he casually tosses off phrases about “nurseries where omni-anemones fed and grew to become quicksilver angels in a timeless AllNow,” you may wonder whether their effects completely wore off.
From the New York Times Review of Grant Morrison’s book, Supergods, out today. Good effort, NY Times, but you clearly have no frame of reference as to who it is you’re writing about. But thanks for trying.
From one of the most acclaimed and oracular writers in the world of comics comes a thrilling and provocative exploration of humankind’s great modern myth: the superhero.
For Grant Morrison, possibly the greatest of contemporary superhero storytellers, these heroes are not simply characters but powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them, we tell the story of ourselves. In this exhilarating book, Morrison draws on history, art, mythology, and his own astonishing journeys through this alternate universe to provide the first true chronicle of the superhero-why they matter, why they will always be with us, and what they tell us about who we are.