25 October 2011

Book 29 of 2011

Despite planning to grade on our first furlough day of the year, the doctor diagnosed me with an ear infection, nixing my plans. Instead, I read the last 60 pages of this book. This review, however, has taken much longer to write.

29) Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human by Grant Morrison
This is something that's hard to classify. It's part memoir, part comic book literary criticism, and part philosophical dissertation on mysticism and transcendentalism. What's really important, though, is that Grant Morrison is my favorite comic book writer, and this book both explains and shows why. 

Morrison explains his humble beginnings as the son of an urban liberal middle-class divorced couple and how that shaped his worldview in unexpected ways. His forays into punk music and crossing the line from a straight-edge lifestyle into one influenced by hallucinogenics draw a picture of a person who puts every aspect of himself into his work and endeavors to stretch the boundaries of the comic book medium. The most exciting and riveting chapter in the book deals with Morrison's experience in the fifth dimension and discovery of his own super powers of perception.

You didn't misread that last sentence. 

It's a fascinating read that demonstrates how Morrison possesses an adept grasp of comic book characters. He gives Superman, Batman and others their proper reverence, offering a history of their meaning to society while also properly analyzing the different phases of comic books as a medium. A recommended reading list supplied at the end is both exhaustive and illuminating and worth attempting. 

Look, this is just excellent, and sometimes excellence is more difficult to write about because people find it easier to tear things down than build them up. It's sizable compared to similar books in the genre, but worth the effort for anyone who is at all looking to explore superheroes beyond what's available at the box office each summer. 

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