In 1938 Action Comics #1 introduced the world to Superman. In a matter of years, the skies of our imaginations were filled with mutants, aliens and vigilantes. Batman, Wonder Woman and the X-Men - in less than a century they've gone from not existing at all to being everywhere we look. But why?
For Grant Morrison, possibly the greatest of contemporary superhero storytellers, these heroes are not simply characters but powerful archetypes whose ongoing story arcs reflect and predict the lives we live. In this exhilarating book, Morrison draws on history, art, mythology, and his own astonishing journey to provide the first true chronicle of the superhero.
A Scottish playwright and comic book writer, Morrison (Arkham Asylum) traces the rise of superheroes from the 1940s golden age to the comics industry of today. This excellent survey of pop deity origins begins with "the ur-god and his dark twin," Superman and Batman. As Morrison sees it, "archetyped, pop-mythic tales of superpowered heroes and villains" soared into our collective imaginations in an explosive fashion. Superman, "the personification of a thrusting industrial tomorrow," had a primal impact. Soon there was a pantheon of gods and figures from legend and myth: Hawkman ("an avatar of hawk-headed Horus"), the Flash ("the Greek god Hermes") and Captain Marvel, whose magic word, "Shazam," was an acronym: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury. When writers brought the superhero gods down to Earth and gritty real life (as in Watchmen), Morrison went back to basics: "I decided I would plant my flag in the world of dreams, automatic writing, visions and magic." The second half of this engrossing book covers his own comics career while also probing his personal psyche. Morrison is a skilled word magician, seeking creativity in a cosmological dimension.