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Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us about Being Human by Grant Morrison

Virgil for Superheroes

A review by Greg Baldino

Whether they be gods or angels, the idea of sentient beings beyond us mere mortals but recognizably similar has influenced human thought since the earliest days of tale-telling around the fire. In some tellings, they are of a state of grace from whence humans fell; in others they are a potential, something that might, by labor or virtue, be reached by all. In the 20th century, these tales were given new form with the advent, at the publishing of Superman's first adventure in Action Comics #1, of the superhero. This sub-genre of a sub-genre, born of the highest mythologies and the lowest pulp denominators, rose up from a declasse and maligned artform to become the dominant mythology of the modern world, influencing philosophical discourses as much as box office receipts.

Grant Morrison is no stranger to these creatures. Long before he became one of the most acclaimed and popular comics writers of the last two decades, being trusted with the corporate treasures of Batman, Superman...



Previously Reviewed by Rain Taxi
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Mister Wonderful: A Love Story by Daniel Clowes

In many respects Daniel Clowes's Mister Wonderful cannot be properly described as a graphic novel (Clowes, for the record, refers to the book simply as "a love story"). While the book is certainly what might broadly be defined as an "illustrated narrative" -- or what the less fussy among us still...


Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue by Eric Felten

Loyalists, these days more than ever, are tragic fools. Watch as the longtime company man is replaced by an ambitious twenty-something with social-media skills, the friend-in-need realizes they were actually an accomplice-in-deed, the duty-bound soldier marches into a storm of bullets, the...


Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir by Susie Bright

How many erotic minds did Susie Bright open? Her influence on the happiest cultural sea change of the past quarter-century -- the broadening American attitude toward sex, sexuality, and homosexuality -- was profound, if indirect. After editing the pioneering lesbian erotic magazine On Our Backs in...


Universe of Things: Short Fiction by Gwyneth Jones

The Universe of Things collects fifteen short stories published between 1985 and 2009, and one of the most remarkable qualities of the collection is the consistency of Gwyneth Jones's style over that time. With only a few exceptions, the stories, regardless of their point of view, are narrated in...


Open City by Teju Cole

Teju Cole's second novel builds on the promise of his first (Every Day is for the Thief, Cassava Republic, 2007). Here, as in his elegant debut, which was set largely in Lagos, Nigeria, a circumspect walker explores both the visible and invisible aspects of the cities he is drawn to. The scale of...


Arthouse by Jeffrey De Shell

In Vivra sa vie (1962), master auteur of arthouse cinema Jean-Luc Godard divides the story of Nana Kleinfrankenheim into twelve tableaux. Each begins with a title card which not only summarizes the action that will take place and but also hints at the tone of the tableau to come. Godard employs...


West of Here by Jonathan Evison

Jonathan Evison, author of the 2009 Washington State Book Award-winning All About Lulu, returns with West of Here, a fantastic 482-page doorstop of a novel chronicling the clashing cultures of a peripatetic group of immigrant settlers and Klallam Indians in the fictional town of Port Bonita, in the ...


Trilogy of Resistance by Antonio Negri

The three plays within Trilogy of Resistance are very much plays of the dialectic -- like Waiting for Godot but without the road. Or the tree. Or the radish. That is, they do almost nothing with the stage, and yet these director's theater-style scripts are goldmines of potentialty. In fact, in the...


Walking the Dog's Shadow (A. Poulin, Jr. New Poets of America) by Deborah Brown

In his foreword to Walking the Dog's Shadow, Tony Hoagland writes that the poems of Deborah Brown's debut collection "make thinking look easy." As this assessment and the title itself suggest, these poems are full of ideas; they pursue not so much things as the impressions things have left on the...


Us by Michael Kimball

An elderly man wakes to find his wife in the throes of a seizure. She falls into a coma. The husband sits by her bedside in the hospital, caring for her, waiting -- pleading -- for her to wake. Rare moments of hope are overshadowed by moments of despair as the story progresses toward an inevitably...


The Free World by David Bezmozgis

Tiger, Tiger: A Memoir by Margaux Fragoso

Netsuke by Rikki Ducornet

And If You Don't Go Crazy I'll Meet You Here Tomorrow by Filip Marinovich

Death-in-a-Box by Alta Ifland

Sad Stories of the Death of Kings by Barry Gifford

On Paris (On) by Ernest Hemingway

The Harlem Renaissance Revisited: Politics, Arts, and Letters by Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar

On Tact, and the Made Up World by Michele Glazer

The Animal Part: Human and Other Animals in the Poetic Imagination by Mark Payne

Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry by Christine Sneed

Urn Burial (New Directions Pearls) by Thomas Browne

Zabime Sisters by Aristophanes

Gryphon: New and Selected Stories by Charles Baxter

Determination by Kit Robinson

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me by Kate Bernheimer

Self Portraits: Fictions by Frederic Tuten

Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson

It Is Right to Draw Their Fur: Animal Renderings by Dave Eggers

Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

The Scoundrel and the Optimist by Maceo Montoya

Tales of Woe by John Reed

The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide by Eva Talmadge

The Book of Things (Lannan Translations Selections) by Ales Steger

Siegel and Shuster's Funnyman: The First Jewish Superhero, from the Creators of Superman by Thomas Andrae and Jerry Siegel

Picture This by Lynda Barry

C.G. Jung in the Humanities: Taking the Soul's Path by Susan Rowland

Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg (Zippy Annual #10) by Bill Griffith

Your Republic Is Calling You by Young-ha Kim

I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita

Tumor Signed Edition by Joshua Fialkov

The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam by G. Willow Wilson

Phantom Noise by Brian Turner

Bones of the Tiger: Protecting the Man-Eaters of Nepal by Hemanta Mishra

Black Life by Dorothea Lasky

Firework by Eugene Marten

War Is Boring: Bored Stiff, Scared to Death in the World's Worst War Zones by David Axe

Sore Throat and Other Poems (10 Edition) by Aaron B. Kunin

Ideas That Matter: The Concepts That Shape the 21st Century by A. C. Grayling

Obabakoak: Stories from a Village by Bernardo Atxaga

Wilson by Daniel Clowes

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt

The Summer Book (New York Review Books Classics) by Tove Jansson

Cradle Book: Stories and Fables (American Reader #13) by Craig Morgan Teicher

Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New and Selected Poems by Chase Twichell

The Novel: An Alternative History by Steven Moore

Museum of Eterna's Novel: The First Good Novel by Macedonio Fernandez

Library of America #203: The American Stage: Writing on Theater from Washington Irving to Tony Kushner by Lawrence (edt) Senelick

The Losers Vol. 1 & 2 by Andy Diggle

Juvenilia (Yale Series of Younger Poets #104) by Ken Chen

The Ticking Is the Bomb: A Memoir by Nick Flynn

Head in Flames by Lance Olson

Nox by Anne Carson

The Shaking Woman or a History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt

The River Gods by Brian Kiteley

Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez

Happy: A Memoir by Alex Lemon

The Abyss of Human Illusion by Gilbert Sorrentino

Shot by Christine Hume

I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir by Mickey Leigh

My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century by Adina Hoffman

A Mouth in California by Graham Foust

Alec: The Years Have Pants (a Life-Size Omnibus) by Eddie Campbell

The Book of Whispering in the Projection Booth by Joshua Marie Wilkinson

The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin

Textura: Valencia Street Art by Luz Martin

Where I Stay by Andrew Zornoza

American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell

Legend of a Suicide: Stories (P.S.) by David Vann

Missing Her (09 Edition) by Claudia Keelan

Black Elvis (Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction) by Geoffrey Becker

Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser

Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Postwar Philosophy by Alain Badiou

Azorno by Inger Christensen

Subway Art 25TH Anniversary Edition by Martha Cooper

Call Me Ahab: A Short Story Collection (Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction) by Anne Finger

Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos Papadimitriou

A Village Life by Louise Gluck

The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations by Daniel Heller-roazen

Eunoia by Christian Bok

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Invisible by Paul Auster

Lost Girls by Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie

Far Arden by Kevin Cannon

Little Oceans (The Hollyridge Press Chapbook Series) by Tony Hoagland

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest by Barbara Guest

The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess (Public Square) by Andrei Codrescu

Lisa Roberton's Magenta Soul Whip by Lisa Robertson

The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman (Women in the West) by Margot Mifflin

Genesis (06 Edition) by Bernard Beckett

Imperial by William T. Vollmann

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

See Jack by Russell Edson

Nocturnal Conspiracies: Nineteen Dreams, from December 1979 to September 1994 by David B.

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex by Incite Women Of Col

Wonderful World by Javier Calvo

Drood by Dan Simmons

Collected Poems by Mervyn Peake

The Wolverton Bible by Basil Wolverton

Bodies: Big Ideas/Small Books by Susie Orbach

The Book from the Sky by Robert Kelly

Death in Spring by Merce Rodoreda

Minè Okubo: Following Her Own Road by Greg Robinson

Flowers of Flame: The Unheard Voices of Iraq by Dan Veach

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Swamp Thing #01 by Alan Moore

Brothers by Yu Hua

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

The Lagoon by Lilli Carre

Something to Tell You by Hanif Kureishi

Well-Built City Trilogy #01: The Physiognomy by Jeffrey Ford

The Cosmopolitan by Donna Stonecipher

On Purpose by Nick Laird

The Reverend's Apprentice by David N. Odhiambo

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Alan's War: The Memories of G.I. Alan Cope by Emmanuel Guibert

Apocalypse Nerd by Peter Bagge

Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan

What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction by Toni Morrison

The Ghost Soldiers: Poems by James Tate

Tonoharu: Part One (08 Edition) by Martinson

Rex Libris by James Turner

The Fortieth Day (American Poets Continuum) by Kazim Ali

Dictation: A Quartet by Cynthia Ozick

All Souls by Christine Schutt

A Curious Earth by Gerard Woodward

Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen

Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, the Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound by Paul Drummond

The Stone Keeper: Amulet, Book One (Amulet #01) by Kazu Kibuishi

American Music by Chris Martin

Existentialism Is a Humanism by Jean Paul Sartre

What's the Use of Truth? by Richard Rorty and Pascal Engel

Shining at the Bottom of the Sea by Stephen Marche

Laura Warholic: Or the Sexual Intellectual by Alexander Theroux

The Entire Predicament by Lucy Corin

The Dark River: A Novel (Fourth Realm Trilogy #02) by John Twelve Hawks

Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe

Regards from Serbia by Aleksandar Zograf

8: A Memoir by Amy Fusselman

Varieties of Disturbance: Stories by Lydia Davis

The Salon by Nick Bertozzi

John Peel: Margrave of the Marshes by John Peel and Sheila Ravenscroft

Allah Is Not Obliged: A Novel by Ahmadou Kourouma

The Neddiad: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization by Daniel Pinkwater

The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World's Most Troubled Drug Culture by Richard J. Degrandpre

Fangland: A Novel by John Marks

Trial of Flowers by Jay Lake

Glacial Period: A Graphic Novel by Nicolas De Crecy

The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination and Spirit by Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham and Terence McKenna

The Uncomfortable Dead: A Novel of Four Hands by Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Subcomandante Marcos

Academic Freedom After September 11 by Beshara Doumani

The Flowers of Evil (Wesleyan Poetry) by Charles Baudelaire

The Mystery Guest: An Account by Gregoire Bouillier


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Rain Taxi, a winner of the Alternative Press Award for Best Arts & Literature Coverage, is a quarterly publication that publishes reviews of literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction with an emphasis on works that push the boundaries of language, narrative, and genre. Essays, interviews, and in-depth reviews reflect Rain Taxi's commitment to innovative publishing.

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