• Supergods

  • What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
  • By: Grant Morrison
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 16 hrs and 42 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (893 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From one of the most acclaimed and profound writers in the world of comics comes a thrilling and provocative exploration of humankind's great modern myth: the superhero.

The first superhero comic ever published, Action Comics #1 in 1938, introduced the world to something both unprecedented and timeless: Superman, a caped god for the modern age. In a matter of years, the skies of the imaginary world were filled with strange mutants, aliens, and vigilantes: Batman, Wonder Woman, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and the X-Men - the list of names is as familiar as our own. In less than a century, they've gone from not existing at all to being everywhere we look: on our movie and television screens, in our videogames and dreams. But what are they trying to tell us?

For Grant Morrison, arguably the greatest of contemporary chroniclers of the superworld, these heroes are powerful archetypes whose ongoing, decades-spanning story arcs reflect and predict the course of human existence: Through them we tell the story of ourselves, our troubled history, and our starry aspirations. In this exhilarating work of a lifetime, Morrison draws on art, science, mythology, and his own astonishing journeys through this shadow universe to provide the first true history of the superhero - why they matter, why they will always be with us, and what they tell us about who we are... and what we may yet become.

"Grant Morrison is one of the great comics writers of all time. I wish I didn't have to compete with someone as good as him."
—Stan Lee

©2011 Grant Morrison (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Morrison is ideally suited to the task of chronicling the glorious rise, fall, rise, fall and rise again of comic-book superheroes.... [T]his is as thorough an account of the superhero phenomenon as readers are likely to find, filled with unexpected insights and savvy pop-psych analysis - not to mention the author’s accounts of his own drug-fueled trips to higher planes of existence, which add a colorful element.... [T]hose who dare enter will find the prose equivalent of a Morrison superhero tale: part perplexing, part weird, fully engrossing." ( Kirkus)
"When Mr. Morrison puts care into his close readings, his prose can soar: a philosophical passage in which he breaks ranks with writers he considers to be 'missionaries who attempted to impose their own values and preconceptions on cultures they considered inferior,' and identifies himself with anthropologists who 'surrendered themselves to foreign cultures' and 'weren’t afraid to go native or look foolish,' is among the book’s most engrossing sections." ( The New York Times)
“With a languid and pontificating tone, John Lee narrates Morrison’s long reflection on the history of comic books…From the birth of Superman to the contemporary comic book landscape, Morrison identifies some of the key moments within the world of comics and identifies how the publishers, mainstream culture, and historical events changed the way people think about comics today. Lee’s British accent and cool attitude work in unison to create an image of Morrison that resonates with his public personality.” ( AudioFile)

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What listeners say about Supergods

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Average history of comic books

Make no mistake, this book is an autobiography. The fun part is this book reads almost exactly like the comic books Morrison writes: long, adjective-heavy sentences that are meant to describe and enliven a static scene, this time his written words. You get the sense early on, and he never lets up, that Morrison is writing a philosophical history book with the prose techniques that have made him the successful comic book writer he is. Sadly, it can at times weigh the book down with long periods of prose that say little or advance the "story" to the point where I'd forgotten what the book was about. And then I realized that Morrison was telling the story of comic book history by telling us his own story. His slow creative climb into the business, the influences of drugs, music, fashion and British trends on his life and his career. This isn't a book about Superheroes, this is a book about Grant Morrison's life with superheroes. So, if you're a fan of Morrison and his work, pick it up and make it a favorite. If you're looking for an in-depth history and analysis of superheroes and comic book history, you might want to look elsewhere.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Geek Gospel

I know guys who know a lot about comics. I know a lot about comics. But Grant Morrison may be the alpha geek.

Going back to the beginning of superhero time and working forward to the present day - the guy gets into the nitty gritty of the books, the heroes, the creators, the socio-political environment.

It's as if he has actually read and can effortlessly recall every issue of every superhero funny book ever published.

I've been wishing for this book to be written and am blown away by the way that Morrison grounds the book in his personal relationship to the form - and also links it to the cosmic forces that shaped the medium.

I am blown away by this work - but it may not be for everyone. If you can't visualize the difference between the styles of Jack Kirby and Neal Adams then you may need to start elsewhere.

11 people found this helpful

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From a Comics Fan

Grant Morrison's Supergods is all that the summary describes and more. Unfortunately that is not always good. Being a Superhero/Comics fan I have read a lot of Morrison's work and I find it at best hit and miss. He has done some of the truly brilliant, seminal superhero stories but he has also written a lot of self-indulgent mediocrity. This book isn't entirely that, but parts of it are ultimately unneccessary. When I read the description I did not expect an autobiographical work but a history nd commentary on comics superheroes. Of course I figured on Morrison talking about himself since he has been so long in the field and has been a powerful influence on it, but there are whole chapters here devoted to his inner growth and inner demons that I did not expect nor was particularly interested in. This does not mean that the book is bad: it does deliver on its promised subject, but it has shortcomings. First of all there is the overly lyrical, arabesque language. Especially from the mouth of the narrator, who rfeads most every passage with a hint of sarcasm, it comes across as presumptuous. Also Morrison's insights are a bit miopic and self-serving. He duels entirely too long on his own work and ignores quality comics done by others. He postulates a theory of cycles of violent, materialistic "punk" comics and esoteric, pacifist "hippie" comics and gives plenty of examples that support his theory but ignores examples that don't. He dismisses important, influential creators because they do not fit into his ideas or because he simply does not like them. An example being "Hellboy" a comic that has been quite popular and influential and does not fit his cycles and is not mentioned at all. One can argue that Hellboy is not a superhero comic but then, the author spends several chapters talking about his own "Invisibles" which is even less so. The book works best, in my opinion, when Morrison is talking about the comics before his time as a professional; and later on when he concentrates on the product of others as well as himself. It is also interesting to hear him talk about events behind the scenes in the major comic companies because it goes directly to the influences for some of the comics stories that have appeared throughout the years. It does not work when he spends chapter after chapter prattling on about his drug addled vacations accross the world or his dubious achievements as a "Chaos Magician". All in all not a bad book and for any die-hard fan of Morrison, highly recommended. He takes you on something of a rollercoaster ride through the life of a famous Comics writer and the way is which his work formed. But for those of you looking for a scholarly account of the history of superheroes think on this: Early on in the book, the author mentions another book: "The Ten Cent Plague" by David Hajdu: A simpler prose book that very effectively describes the Golden Age of Comics and how culture and history influenced them. A book with far less personal commentary. Would that Grant Morrison had taken pointers from non-comics celebrity Hajdu.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Part Comic book history - Part Morrison memoir

Grant Morrison starts by analyzing comics from the beginnings of Action and Detective Comics to his (and other's) modern comics. In the meantime, you get to hear Grant Morrison's childhood, his coming of age antics, and his interesting theories on culture and society. Not a book for everyone, but definitely one that a comic fan would be interested in. I found myself bookmarking and making lists of comics that Morrison had written or found noteworthy so I could peruse my local comic shop for some gems that I had lately missed.

6 people found this helpful

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The Ravings of an Unhinged Mind

What would have made Supergods better?

There is nothing that could have improved on this book unless it would be to get a new writer.

Would you ever listen to anything by Grant Morrison again?

I will never subject myself to Grant Morrison prose again.

What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

The reader did his best he could with this job.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

There are some interesting moments in the first few chapters after that nothing. It also helped to explain why Morrison's comic books are so confusing and scattered. The man gets his ideas from mushroom induced trips. That actually explains so much.

Any additional comments?

This is a self gratifying trip written by a drug inspired narcissist.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Gospel of Superman

Grant Morrison is one of the best comic book writers to have ever held a pen, so naturally I was curious to read his history of the American comics industry. I definitely got that, but also so much more.

In addition to being a top notch writer, Grant Morrison is incredibly through with his research into the history of superheroes. If you’re interested in the funny books, this is a resource unlike any other. Furthermore, this book also serves as Morrison’s autobiography. His life story lends a more personal touch to the history and his unique perspective as a comics fanboy turned globetrotting professional writer is wild ride.

Morrison’s focus never leaves comics, but connections he is able to draw between them and related areas of human condition are mind blowing. For him, related areas include pop culture, counter culture, metaphysics, music, philosophy, and even shamanism. I know of nothing else like this book. Lastly, John Lee’s narration is excellent, especially considering that he shares the same Scottish accent as Morrison. What more can I say? Beyond highly recommended!

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great read for fans of comic book superheroes.

You should know that this is 50% impassioned history of the superhero in popular culture (primarily comic books) and 50% autobiography. Grant Morrison is often self-congratulatory and sometimes too kind to his friends in the industry, but the writing is always entertaining and engrossing. There were many times I found myself disagreeing with Morrison's assessment about certain writers and artists, but this never interfered with my enjoyment. I often wished I had a notebook with me while listening so that I could jot down the names of obscure writer artist teams that I want to read.

Morrison is certainly an expert in the field, a well respected comic book writer and fan from childhood. He also brings a completely unique and compelling viewpoint to this book. There are times when he gets side tracked by his weird drug-induced new-age quasi-religious experiences, but the writing is strong enough that even these passages are engaging.

John Lee's performance is professional and engaging. He gives this book the same level of energy and showmanship he brings to fiction, even switching into appropriate (and utterly believable) accents when reading direct quotes.

A great read for a fan of comics and superheroes, but I'm not sure it offers much of value to the non-fan.

3 people found this helpful

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A good history of Comic Books but too much bio. .

As a general history of comic books this is a great book and definitely reccomended. It is a great listen for comic geeks and those of a more literary mindset who want some literary criticism and cultural history of comics. However at times it is greatly hindered by Grant Morrison's biographical information. I admit Grant Morrison is a major player in the development of comics especially the modern era (so it is kind of like John Lassetar giving a history of animation). But he goes into some rather non-constructive autobiographical information like story about his alien abduction and there is also segements where he spends too much time talking about his own projects (and his online critics) that he could have used to discuss other topics. But as a whole there is way more to like in this book especially the more philosophical elements about gods and evolution.

3 people found this helpful

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A love song to Comic Book Stories

A detailed history of comic books, and a chronology of his own career. Morrison’s narrative is a truly loving offering to the medium in which he has become a legend.

1 person found this helpful

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Love the book, wish the narrator was better

Morrison's treatise on superheroes is a fascinating and idiosyncratic recounting of their history and impact, illuminating important creators and characters, with a British -- verging on semi-autobiographical -- perspective. As a fan of comics and of Morrison, I found it a great listen, marred only by the evident lack of research by narrator John Lee. From countless mispronounced names to passages with confusing emphasis, he is the only thing off key in this otherwise gripping audiobook.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Graham
  • 08-30-12

Part biography, part comic book history.

I knew of Grant Morrisons work on Batman and Superman but really was not sure what this book would be like. I am pleased I bought it as it is an insight into the writer, the history of comics and recent superhero cinema but above all its a philosophers view. Sounds pretentious - well its not supposed too. I have now revisited Grant Morrisons comics and graphic novels and also a number of films which the author discuses in some depth and details how the genre has developed. Didn't like Unbreakable first time round - after reading this book and seeing the film again I realise its a bit of a gem.

I would challenge any reader, comic collector/reader or not, not to enjoy this book. I would ay it will enlighten you but mostly it will make you think, At the end, you may just doubt that there are no such things as super heroes.

I liked it. Grant Morrison is great writer. Ok I wasn't too impressed with the writings of a drug induced coma half way through but that too help in the way the writer shows his passion and eagerness to get right to the core of superhero worship.

I still gave this book 5 stars as if there is a similar book out there, I have never see it. And I am sure there isn't going to be one which is so inspirational

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MatCult
  • 10-04-15

A must for comic fans

Superb. Part autobiography, part superhero deconstruction. Great writing and decent narration (although, as an American, he does struggle with some of the British references, making Govan sound like somewhere in Middle Earth and rebranding boyband Bros as Bro's).

Narration niggles aside, this is wonderful, inspiring stuff, as Morrison (creator or several seminal milestones in modern comics history) revels in his deep knowledge and infectious passion for the superhero genre.

His own life history merges and mingles with the evolution of the comics artfor, as art and life cross over and over until the boundaries between reality and imagination become beautifully blurred.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael Colman
  • 01-25-17

superhero history/theory with a sprinkle of Grant

A very interesting listen if you're interested in superhero history, our relationship with fiction, and a bit of a look behind the curtain during the latter half of the previously mentioned history.

it helps if you like Morrison's work, and the audiobook is made somewhat comical by having a fairly posh/bbc English voice reading the words of a foul mouthed Scottish writer.

Morrison's insights are interesting and quite often convincing, there's some quite interesting details of the medium's history, and his autobiographical elements aren't entirely intrusive and often equally of interest.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • M Jordan
  • 12-03-13

Part biography/part superhero history

If you could sum up Supergods in three words, what would they be?

Potted superhero history

What was one of the most memorable moments of Supergods?

This is a factual book rather than fiction but I particularly found the descriptions on how certain visual aspects of comic books were created interesting, it made me think of stories that I'd read in the past in a whole new light.

Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I haven't listened to any other John Lee narration but I thought his tone suited the book really well.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, I found it good to dip in and out of.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • R. McDermott
  • 06-16-19

Not just for die-hard fans

I come away from this book with two overall thoughts:

1) Grant knows what he is talking about: and
2) I'd quite like to have a pint with him.

Enjoyed this very much, despite not being a die-hard comic fan.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Napalmtheelf
  • 05-28-19

Innnnnnnnnteresting.

It would be fair to say that Grant is one of the giants in comics. His 'This town needs an enema' attitude, while at times seemingly fueled by ego, arrogance and sheer bloodimindedness, is commendable given the industry he made his name in.
An industry notorious for callously bending over and screwing its creators.
But at times I found myself thinking what a pain in the arse he must have been to work with! Such is the burden of genius I guess.
Overall, a valuable story of one man's search to satisfy his desire to take a medium and turn it on its head, while both enjoying the benefits of his success and trying not to self destruct at the same time.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • CJ Thape
  • 09-09-21

Essential

This book is a fantastic overview of the history of superheroes in popular culture, woven together with the author's personal experiences. I found the narrator a little at odds with the book, he had a tendency to make everything sound a little pompous, and portentous (not to mention unfamiliar with the subject- he pronounces flash in the pan 80s pop sensations Bros as "Broze"- a very minor point but it stuck out to me), occasionally undermining the sly humour that's one of Morrison's trademarks. I would have much rather heard the book read by the author, but what are you gonna do, I guess Grant didn't want to do it! Regardless, the book is an essential work and you should listen to it immediately, The Flash's LIFE depends on it!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alison Leonard
  • 06-27-21

History and hope

As well as a history of the comic book industry Morrison also give is his life story. But more than that he gives us the hope of what we will become in the future, The Supergod.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • The Lit Doctor
  • 05-10-21

Mocking the Reader

When I read a really good book, I like to take my time and savour it.
When I read a not-so-good book, I'll usually persevere, unless it's really bad, and I have to give up.
But every now and again comes along a book so awful that I force myself to finish just so I can be absolutely sure it really is that awful. Enter, Supergods by Grant Morrison.

To start with, I was enjoying what seemed to be a good-natured retrospective of superhero history, sprinkled with unremarkable autobiographical details. But then the book fell into a bizarre train of narrative. As the focus shifted more onto autobiography, Morrison was revealed as a somewhat unpleasant man who, whether he realises it or not, seems to harbour a partially submerged hatred of the genre that has made him wealthy and famous, along with a disdain for its fans.

Morrison "treats" us to a long tedious description of his drug-fuelled hallucinations, to which he equally tediously and oh so predictably ascribes meaning, enlightenment, and mind-expanding knowledge. His laughable description of his occult dabblings and spellcasting had me guffawing out loud.

As Morrison's hyperlexical self-pleasuring shot its load further into an abyss of cliched new-age-hippy anti-meaning, the passages of text began to resemble concoctions formed from pressing the refresh button on the Wisdom of Chopra website: Mitochondria as souls, the unified field, faith, he had the lot. He actually name-drops Deepak Chopra at one point, which did make me wonder if the whole book was just an attempt to mock the reader.

Morrison winds up painting himself as a pathetically confused and misguided individual, both in love with and despising the comics genre. He will no doubt be proud of revealing this striking inner conflict powering his depth of character, but the truth is we have no way of knowing whether he really is this daft and nasty, or whether the narrative is an example of him donning his so-called "fiction suit". Again, he would probably be proud of sowing such doubt in the mind of his audience, seeing it as a triumph of his art. It's not art, though. It's paper-thin posing, whichever explanation you plump for.

The audiobook experience makes things even worse, thanks to the narrator demonstrating zero engagement with the subject matter, casually mispronouncing words in such an off-the-cuff manner, you wonder if he was half-cooked while reading it. I kept imagining the narrator as some kind of soaked Bill Nighy-type character, sitting in the recording studio rolling his eyes at the text, a whisky in one hand and a spliff in the other, as he thoughtlessly called Spider-Man's Aunt May "Aunt Mary," Pronounced Mike Kaluta, "Calcutta", and legendary author JG Ballard, "JC Ballard", to point out just a small selection of his errors.

I am flummoxed by the good reviews this book has received. It feels like a work that utterly disdains the reader/listener.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • UMD
  • 02-04-20

An elightening history of both comics & Morrison

An enjoyable journey chronicling Superhero fiction and its evolving contextual relevance, which also happens to include the life of the author.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Belvedere Spudge
  • 08-03-22

A legendary writers personal history of comics

Part history, part autobiography.

Grant Morrison hasn't always been my favourite comic book writer, but his perspective is unique and always worth checking out. Supergods is less an academic history of comic books and more of a personal stroll through the medium by one of its most singular and enduring creators.

Random notes:
-The reflections on the gold & silver ages were fun to listen to, as were the more industry focussed stories Morrison's own career.
-I don't agree with his take on Watchmen, however his perspective is understandable and worth discussion.
-John Lee's narration is excellent and well suited to the material
-Personally I could have done without fifth dimensional flights, magic and the spirit realm, but YMMV.
-The tale of the revitalising impact of meeting Superman in the street was oddly heartwarming

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  • Edan Mumford
  • 04-02-19

Excellent

One of the few audio books I have listened to from start to finish. The book is great and the narrator John Lee just brings it all to life. Highly recommended.