Art by Gian Nicdao
In the introduction to his book Supergods, an important text on the history and cultural relevance of the superhero genre’s mythology, renowned comic book writer Grant Morrison describes his life as a young boy in Scotland growing up during the Cold War. “And the Bomb, always the Bomb, and grim and looming, raincoated lodgier, liable to go off any minute, killing everybody and everything,” he wrote of a childhood steeped in the apocalyptic imagery of his time — missiles and astronauts, antiwar zines and pro-military propaganda — and how it shaped his view of the world and the kind of power he held in it.
Then the first comic shop in the United Kingdom arrived, and with it, superheros (Marvel and DC alike) whose feats of strength and derring-do easily outclassed anything the atomic bomb could dish out. Morrison, who would eventually go to work on numerous Superman and Batman titles, saw these stories of superheroes who “rained down across the Atlantic, in a dazzling prism-light of heraldic jumpsuits, bringing new ways to see and hear and think about everything” and found hope. Stories of strong individuals, punching bad guys in the face and making the world a better place, exorcized from Morrison’s brain the fear that the Cold War produced. Suddenly, the Bomb wasn’t a big deal.