“We tell our children they’re trapped like rats on a doomed, bankrupt, gangster-haunted planet with dwindling resources, with nothing to look forward to but rising sea levels and imminent mass extinctions, then raise a disapproving eyebrow when, in response, they dress in black, cut themselves with razors, starve themselves, gorge themselves, or kill one another.”
– Grant Morrison, Introduction to Supergods
As important as logic and reason are to our rational, technological modern lives, one of the most egregious absences from the current worldview is that of myth. Politicians, rock stars, and reality television celebrity idiots have infiltrated most available slots in the mass consciousness set aside for admiration, mimetic representation, and plain old hero worship. This is not a good thing. Such cults of personality distract us from art, and therefore distance us from our own imaginations. When we fail to engage our imaginations, we neglect something crucial that allows us to repurpose and transcend our ordinary lives. We forget that an essential aspect of life is to seek always discovery and ultimate meaning.
Supergods is rather pointedly not the universal answer to all of humanity’s ills. It doesn’t really claim to be. It is an impassioned analysis and celebration of what one hyper-creative writer sees as a evolutionary step forward from the myths and legends that once enthralled and sustained a burgeoning human awareness. Superheroes are the latest step in the logical progression from gods and demi-gods and urban legends. They invigorate and augment the stories that feature them. They straddle the razor’s edge between being as flawed as us all and being everything we wish we were. They show us that there is a better path to choose that is seldom an easy one but one ultimately leading us all to a finer world. They inhabit a comic book world for now but they are infiltrating our culture through television and film, advertisements and online strips. They want only the best for us all, and they will strive against anything to ensure our survival.
Comic books and graphic novels may not be for everyone, but Grant Morrison isn’t looking to recruit only nerds and geeks to his way of thinking. Supergods is an argument toward embracing any art that makes you stand a little straighter, feel a little better, and smile more at everyone you pass. Readers who have forgotten how to dream of things larger than themselves and are hopeful about finding a new and more confident paradigm won’t merely find entertainment in Supergods. They’ll find inspiration.
Kyle Mares is a MFA student in Writing & Poetics at Naropa University. Born in Denver, he finds his return to Colorado (to attend school in Boulder) to be strangely invigorating after living in Chicago and outside Los Angeles. Having worked for three years in a southern California comic book store, being a bookseller at Boulder Book Store has proven to be a much quieter, less argumentative experience. He's not much for off-roading but he is considering bungee-jumping for the very first time.