Part autobiography and part history of the superhero this is all literary flair. Grant Morrison writes an interesting and captivating non-fiction work with heavy elements of metafiction included. As a result the end product is a book which is as informative as it is entertaining.
While most people would not associate a graphic novel writer with great literature ability Grant Morrison here demonstrates that he is a writer. His work is full of beautifully composed prose and draws on a variety of quotes, images and references. As such the finished product contains much literary power, with some of Morrison's phrases being particularly notable in their poetry.
The one fault for me with this work was in Morrison's tendency to leave the superhero for long periods to talk about his drug taking, alcohol fuelled lifestyle and spiritual journey. For a book that was supposedly meant to be about superheroes it did seem as if the author did at times turn the attention solely on himself which was a detour from the interesting nature of the superhero material he was discussing.
Grant Morrison however was at his best when he was talking about the superheroes which was about seven eighths of the entirety of this novel in my estimation. He discussed the birth of the hero with Superman in Action Comics no. 1 and the rise of other costumed characters like Batman. He discussed the rise of the superhero worlds and what that meant and means for our three dimensional reality. He analysed the nature of how these heroes represented ancient ideas and archetypes of the old gods and mythologies. He mentioned the characters involved in creating the superhero filled world, from the likes of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee to the more contemporary Alan Moore and Frank Miller.
Speaking of which I view Miller's work in reinventing Batman as more important than Moore's Watchmen. Certainly Watchmen is a technically amazing graphic novel and receives a lot more applause from all critics for its scope and ideas (ironically it concludes with an idea which Morrison points out requires the audience to believe that the most intelligent man on the planet would do the stupidest thing.
) However I would argue that Miller's ideas have been more influential in defining the struggles of heroes. Whereas Watchmen stands on its own for me and has fewer of its ideas incorporated into modern comics/graphic novels.
Finally Grant Morrison concludes with looking at the transference of the hero to the screen. Which he uses to look at his biggest argument across the entire book: that superheroes are representative of old and grand ideas and as such can transfer across universes. He points out that while many people struggle to figure out whether those heroes trapped in their paper worlds have become real identities we are like them. We can be the superheroes. An idea which whether you accept it or not is intriguing in its way.
I do recommend this as a book for anyone interested in superheroes to read. You may even gain a glimpse at the workings of the graphic novel or comic business as well. But I'm sure whatever you find in this you won't be too disappointed.