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Monday, August 01, 2011 

The NYT isn't impressed with Morrison's "Supergods"

I never expected the New York Times to publish a disappointed review of Grant Morrison's new book, Supergods, but that's what they've done now, and the reviewer came away otherwise dismayed with the end result:
In his own work Mr. Morrison has brought a mythological and metaphysical approach to superheroes. His wonderfully imaginative mini-series, “All-Star Superman,” originally released by DC Comics from 2005 to 2008, regarded the Man of Steel as a 21st-century Hercules, performing trials on a cosmic scale for the wonderment of his mortal admirers. His “Final Crisis,” however, was a rambling, baffling attempt to construct a unifying narrative for DC (and to include seemingly every character in that publisher’s pantheon). It created a lot of question marks in the thought bubbles above readers’ heads.

I’m afraid to say that I had a similar reaction to “Supergods,” a sprawling and scattershot book that seems as uncertain of its thesis as it is unclear about its intended audience. Readers who wouldn’t know Plastic Man from Mr. Fantastic are likely to find Mr. Morrison’s overview of comic heroes too impressionistic an introduction to the subject, while die-hard fans will be disappointed by the author’s superficial analysis of the ambitious ideas he conjures so readily in his storytelling.
The following, however, is where the NYT writer's leftist bias unfortunately comes in, yet does tell how Morrison holds a very dismaying view of Boy Scouts:
Mr. Morrison does not show up as a character in his own book until Page 83; this is jarring at first, then increasingly comforting as he reveals himself to be a vulnerable Virgil in the underworld of geek culture. Raised by his parents to follow “nonviolent principles,” Mr. Morrison spurns the Boy Scouts as a “paramilitary organization.” His mother attends astronomy classes with him and takes him to see “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
Since when were the Boy Scouts a military movement? Come to think of it, since when were even the Girl Scouts? My own father was a member of the Boy Scouts in his own childhood, and their prime specialty is hiking, swimming and cooking. It was not the same as the army. And by non-violence, I suspect they mean little more than anti-war stances. But, the reviewer does improve when saying that:
...it is disappointing to watch as “Supergods,” which never stays with a particular point for very long, comes increasingly unraveled in its final chapters, forgoing thoughtful examination in favor of shout-outs to Mr. Morrison’s industry colleagues and an unnecessary, 16-page summary of the “Batman” movie franchise.

“Supergods” is most frustrating because it is a missed opportunity. The comics industry is imperiled by stagnant sales and is turning repeatedly to gimmicks — killing off and resurrecting characters or resetting all of its titles at issue No. 1, as DC Comics is about to do — in hopes of renewing readers’ interest. If Mr. Morrison, who will be the writer of DC’s rejuvenated Action Comics series, has any thoughts about this existential crisis on infinite Earths, he has omitted them from this book.
I'm amazed that the NYT would be willing to publish an honest point about the reality of the medium today, how the mainstream especially became hijacked by cheap gimmicks that don't hold the audience's attention span for long. For too long, they didn't seem to ever do that. Now, all of a sudden, they're willing to wake up to that particular problem.

Amazingly enough, even CBR was willing to view this as a disappointment. On the other hand, The Irish Times decided to bias themselves in his favor, but they did note one more disturbing problem, that:
Morrison’s spiritual beliefs are eclectic, and have been shaped by his use of hallucinogenic drugs.
And if he makes it sound as though that were a good thing, then he's not presenting a good role model, nor could he possibly have been inspired by the superheroes he read about.

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Jumbled? Disconnected? Incomprehensible? Why, you'd almost think it was written by a drug abuser or something...

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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