As the back cover blurb helpfully tells us, Grant Morrison is "possibly the greatest of contemporary superhero storytellers". Whether you agree with that sentiment or not - his work can be quite polarising - there's no denying that he knows the genre about as well as anyone currently working. So, a book by him about the history of superhero comics, which also serves as (the first volume of?) his memoirs, was always going to be an intriguing prospect, and Supergods doesn't disappoint.
It's everything you'd expect from something by Morrison: packed with rich detail, fascinatingly multi-layered, hugely entertaining and, yes, more than a little self-indulgent. For Morrison devotees, and they are many, Supergods is a must-read, and even for those not too sold on his work (such as myself), it's still very highly recommended. If you have any fondness for superheroes at all, there will definitely be a lot here for you to enjoy.
His analysis of the superhero genre's "Dark Age", typified by bleak deconstruction and violent anti-heroes, is particularly insightful: he views it as the genre's awkward adolescence, out of which it has emerged better and stronger than ever. Considering how popular superheroes are today, there's a lot of merit to that argument, and it makes one reconsider a lot of the comics published during that period.
If he spends a little too much time discussing his own work, it's largely forgivable because of how well Morrison's comics stand as representations of what was going on in the genre when they were written. He obviously doesn't have the necessary distance to really get into the meat of what some of his comics are about, but that's a book for someone else to write. He ends the book by talking about All-Star Superman, probably the most popular of his comics apart from maybe Arkham Asylum, and his discussions of who Superman is and what he stands for are remarkably moving. He clearly loves the character, and the whole genre, and Supergods is completely infused with his affection for superheroes. It's hard not to get carried along by it.
He's well known for having taken pretty much every drug there is and for practising chaos magic, and these make their way into his writing as well. It's undeniably fun but thoroughly unbelievable reading, which stands in stark contrast to how plausible his various interpretations of the superhero genre are. Things get really out of hand when he starts talking about passing out and awakening in what he believes was Heaven, from which he saw the universe from a five-dimensional perspective and returned to Earth with actual super-powers. You can't make this stuff up.
If these sequences occasionally border on masturbatory, that should by no means put you off reading Supergods. The breadth and depth of Morrison's knowledge of and love for superheroes is extraordinary, and those who love the genre are unlikely to find a better and more engaging history. And it’s very funny to see his long-running feud with Alan Moore immortalised in print.