MINDY NEWELL: SuperGod – Thus Spake Zarathustra
I came home from work on Friday to find a package had arrived from Amazon. It was Supergods, by Grant Morrison. I had first heard about the book while reading the Rolling Stone interview with Morrison, which I mentioned last week. Between that interview and all the hoo-hah about Action Comics Vol. 2 #1, both my own reaction and those in the media, I had to read it.
(The debate continues, by the way. Today, Sunday, National Pubic Radio – NPR – devoted a segment of its “Studio 60” program to the reboot, with two interviews: the first with a comic book shop owner in Brooklyn, and the second with Jill Pantozzi, who herself is a redhead and in a wheelchair. Jill wrote an absolutely brilliant and terrific Op-Ed piece for Newsarama about the transformation of Oracle back into Batgirl, entitled Oracle Is Stronger Than Batgirl Will Ever Be. You should check it out.)
Anyway, back to Supergods. The subtitle is “What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, And A Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human.” I’ve only read the introduction, and browsed through it, and already I’m enthralled.
Now granted (no pun intended – or maybe it was), Morrison is not the first to write about the mythology, the übergeist – I think I just made up that one from a combination of Yiddish and German – the collective consciousness of humans creating heroes to reflect themselves, their darkness and their light, their trial and tribulations. If you didn’t have to read it in college, you learned about Joseph Campbell and The Hero With A Thousand Faces from George Lucas through a little thing called Star Wars. But as one of the preeminent contemporary writers of superheroes, I can’t wait to really sit down and read it.
I think about God a lot. When I was a little girl, I had this recurring dream. I was somewhere in the middle of a field. It looked like the field in “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth, complete with the farmhouse at the top of the hill. Of course it was a dream, so it was a totally warped “Christina’s World.” I was standing there, and it was blue skies and sun. All of a sudden the sky was black with clouds. There was an absolutely huuuuge clap of thunder and a lightning bolt, and suddenly God was standing before me. Well, all I could see was the bottom of his long, black Supreme Court Justice robe. I craned my head up and back and up and back and the robe went up and up and up beyond the sky. Then God bent over, and I could see His face, and it wasn’t happy. His long white hair and beard mixed with the grasses of the field, and He looked at me with stern black eyes, and just shook his finger at me as if to say, “You’re a bad, bad girl, Mindy.”
I don’t know why I dreamed that dream. Probably got punished by my mother or my father for something I did that I don’t remember. Talk about Jewish guilt!
God and theology continued to fascinate me as I grew up. I didn’t go to Hebrew school, wasn’t bas-mitzvahed, and I got kicked out of Communion class for asking the rabbi how the Jews could be so sure that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God, and saying that maybe we just screwed it up. (I asked a lot of questions that the rabbi didn’t like, like the time I asked him if Jonathan and David were maybe more than “just friends.”) But I read all the stories from the Old Testament that my brother brought home, and I read bits and pieces of The New Testament. I devoured movies like The Robe and Quo Vadis, and brought the books home from the library. My favorite though was, and still is, Ben-Hur.
There’s a line in Ben-Hur towards the end, when Esther and Judah Ben-Hur are taking his mother and sister from the Valley of Lepers to see Jesus. Judah’s mother is afraid, and Esther says, “No need. The world is more than we know.”
I know it was only a line in a movie, but I think the writer got it right.
Like Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, maybe the world was created by God because he’s a writer, and that’s what writers do, create, and we’re just the four-color two-dimensional characters in his comic book. Like Alan Moore’s Promethea, maybe we create the world out of our collective consciousness. Like Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, the world is nothing but a dream set in motion by Morpheus.
Maybe there’s an obelisk on the Moon, just waiting to be discovered.
TUESDAY: Michael Davis