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Monday, April 19, 2010

Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes Book Review

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Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes Book Review

About the Book: From occult underground to superhero!

Was Superman's arch nemesis Lex Luthor based on Aleister Crowley? Can Captain Marvel be linked to the Sun gods on antiquity? In Our Gods Wear Spandex, Christopher Knowles answers these questions and brings to light many other intriguing links between superheroes and the enchanted world of estoerica. Occult students and comic-book fans alike will discover countless fascinating connections, from little known facts such as that DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz started his career as H.P. Lovecraft's agent, to the tantalizingly extensive influence of Madame Blavatsky's Theosophy on the birth of comics, to the mystic roots of Superman. The book also traces the rise of the comic superheroes and how they relate to several cultural trends in the late 19th century, specifically the occult explosion in Western Europe and America. Knowles reveals the four basic superhero archetypes--the Messiah, the Golem, the Amazon, and the Brotherhood--and shows how the occult Bohemian underground of the early 20th century provided the inspiration for the modern comic book hero.

With the popularity of occult comics writers like Invisibles creator Grant Morrison and V for Vendetta creator Alan Moore, the vast ComiCon audience is poised for someone to seriously introduce them to the esoteric mysteries. Chris Knowles is doing just that in this epic book. Chapters include: Ancient of Days, Ascended Masters, God and Gangsters, Mad Scientists and Modern Sorcerers, and many more. From the ghettos of Prague to the halls of Valhalla to the Fortress of Solitude and the aisles of BEA and ComiCon, this is the first book to show the inextricable link between superheroes and the enchanted world of esoterica.

Our Take: The Superhero genre really began to decline in the 1990s.  There were too many variant covers, too many companies and things were just too oversaturated and cliche.  I remember, I was a kid.  I was tired of them all.  I turned to indie comics like Grendel.  The world just had no more use for superheroes.  We had no great wars and no strife.   Thats is, until 9-11 happened.  All of a sudden the world needed heroes again. 

Christopher Knowles gives us his take on superheroes in culture and their influences in religion.  Its not a far cry to think that some paralells will exist thanks to creators with religious backrounds.  These godlike figures will inevitably feature some ties and characteristics of religious figures.  More than anything, I enjoyed the brief history of the major comic book staples.

The trends in comics tend to change with culture and right now comics are at a high point thanks to Hollywood finally treating them with respect.  Hopefully that trend will continue.  Knowles has a cool book here, we'd definately recommend checking it out if you're a comic book fan.

How to Buy: or the Weiser Books website