In 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created The Fantastic Four and changed comic books forever. In the five decades since, Marvel Comics has become a multimedia empire of thousands of characters, hundreds of comics and hundreds of millions of dollars. But how it got there, and where it went along the way, wasn’t always pretty. In what will no doubt become an indispensable volume for comics fans and pop culture junkies alike, Sean Howe explores the wild, often messy story of the people who made Marvel what it is today. This is Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.
If you were to make a list of every successful mainstream comics writer of the past 20 years, then whittle that list down to the select few that have truly owned the medium, you’d still have a pretty hefty set of names. Grant Morrison would be on that list, as would Alan Moore, Jeph Loeb, Bill Willingham, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Matt Fraction, Neil Gaiman, Brian Michael Bendis and maybe even J. Michael Straczynski. If you were to then ask yourself, really ask yourself, who among these titans of comics has the best grasp on the tangible and often mystical pull of superhero comics, Morrison would stand alone.
It’s not that the others don’t understand superheroes. Their work is proof that they do, but Morrison has a peculiar habit of revitalizing and reinventing superheroes throughout mainstream comics while somehow still staying true to who and what they are. He made the Justice of League of American a pantheon of Olympians watching the Earth from above, then went to Marvel and restored the X-Men to their former glory. Then he turned his eyes on Superman and transformed him from the Big Blue Boy Scout to a sacrificial sun god. Through all of this, he never seems to betray the characters. He revels in them, celebrates their legacy, and adds his own thoroughly original pieces.
Supergods may not be Morrison’s last word on the power and glory of superheroes, but it is his most fully formed. Drawing on his decades as both a comics fan and writer, exhaustive (and probably lifelong) research into the creation of the world’s most influential superheroes and his own approach when it came to writing some of his most memorable work, it’s part treatise, part memoir and part master plan for understanding why superheroes are not just read about, but worshipped.