Supergod: Warren Ellis's horrific arms-race endtimes

Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny's Supergod is a magnificently grim and horrifying superhero comic, in which a British government scientist narrates the sequence of events that killed the planet Earth, in whose rubble he sits. Supergod is the story of a secret arms-race, in which the major powers of the world all conspired to produce superhuman, godlike beings who were meant to act as their national saviors. Instead, each of these gods becomes a force of ineffable and unstoppable terror, killing and laying waste in unfathomable acts of horrific violence.

The story is pure Ellis. It's both cynical and charming, and pushes out a vision of end-times that goes further over the weirdness frontier than anyone has any right to go. The supergods here are grotesque monsters who are nevertheless lovely and even sometimes sweet (for example, the three British astronauts who are sent into space to be mutated into a godlike state return as a composite fungal hybrid being called Morrigan Lugas, whose spores cause the scientists around it to worship it like a god while masturbating uncontrollably).

Warren Ellis is a strong tonic, and he burns going down, and it's hard to get a good night's sleep if you consume too much before bed, but the burning is a good one, and even a necessary one.



  1. The supergods here are grotesque monsters who are nevertheless lovely and even sometimes sweet (for example, the three British astronauts who are sent into space to be mutated into a godlike state return as a composite fungal hybrid being called Morrigan Lugas, whose spores cause the scientists around it to worship it like a god while masturbating uncontrollably).

    And that is an example of sweet, Cory?

      1. But I don’t give a damn if the Abrahamic god “gets mad.”  

        By contrast, I would care if a god caused me to do something uncontrollably.

  2. A lovely story but we have more to fear from information tech, artificial intelligence, DNA computing and robotic creations. We may be creating a next gen that at best ignores us.

  3. Nothing Ellis could conceive could be more horrifying than the Young Gods of Minnesota Nice and Southern Hospitality overthrowing the ancient Olympians in Wapsi Square.

  4. I find it interesting that the American and Russian Supergods seem to be kind of a distillation of the post cold war in tidy packages.

    This series is best summed up as ‘what if the singularity turned out to be manufactured supreme beings’?  Not Ellis’ best, but still pretty darned good.

  5. Supergod was actually part of a series of Ellis’ takes on superhumans – look up Black Summer and No Hero to see different, but equally cynical, POVs on what it might be like for normal humans to live in a world with superbeings…

  6. I actually got a copy of this from Mom (!!!!) for ChanukkahMass.  It is a FANTASTIC read.  Yes, lots of people die in very gruesome ways.  The thread that ties all the ultraviolence and ultradark science together is the complete believability of the humans who create these  monsters–the Spy vs. Spy reasoning of government agencies and their escalating actions at each turn.

    The art is amazing also.

    Go buy this.

      1. If you Preacher and Transmetropolitan in one-page alternation, a terrible memetic attack on humanity is set loose in your brain.  It causes inexplicable cravings for guns, raw steak and high-resolution digital cameras.

  7. One of the best Ellis works in recent times. It was torture waiting for all 5 issues, but at least it was limited to 5 and we weren’t treated to a “I hope to sweet baby Superchrist this actually gets finished” sort of timeline. Had to get it the first time I glimpsed the cover. Was not disappointed.

    The various gods as vehicles for the voice of men in power comes through wonderfully – metaphor with life breathed into tired old lungs. The art by Garrie Gastonny is just fantastic.

  8. When you see someone promoting “a magnificently grim and horrifying superhero comic” — especially if the writer is British–you should ask yourself, “What Alan Moore-written comic is this riffing off of?” The answer is almost always Watchmen, but Miracleman (nee Marvelman) is a close second. Moore retconned an old Captain Marvel-ripoff character from British comics as the result of a long-shuttered British supersoldier program, and his former sidekick, Kid Miracleman, destroys half of London in a matter of a few hours, and only takes that long because he takes the time to invent new forms of cruelty (such as tossing occupied cars several miles into the air so that their occupants have time to contemplate their fates as they plunge back to earth). Take away a few typical Ellisian grace notes (such as the masturbating scientists), and what you’ve got is basically a What If scenario where other countries create their own Miraclemen, and they turn the earth into a Crapsack World pretty quickly.

    1. Assuming this simplistic exegesis,  so what?

      you’d rather Ellis just sat back and wrote more Batman, Xmen, throway plots for the rest of your life?

      If all this “basically” is is just another Moore-riff, that’s still better than 95% of the comics out there.

      1. What Warren Ellis decides to do with his time and talent is certainly no business of mine. (He doesn’t seem to take criticism very well, in any case.) But there’s a lot of comics that don’t concern themselves with retreads/reboots/reworking of threadbare genre tropes; see, for example, the work of any of these fellows, who have been producing superior work for decades. I’m not necessarily knocking genre work, mind you–I’m still buying Batwoman–but if I were going to pick one graphic novel to feature this month, it would have been Chris Ware’s Building Stories, which is both literally and figuratively staggering. I’m sure that Cory has long since come to grips with the fact that not all of his readers agree with his assessments of things, at any rate. 

        1. Please check your links after you post. You keep posting masked links with an extra space in the html.

          1. There’s a floating space in the Disqus comment box which they can’t seem to fix. You have to make sure that it doesn’t show up in your tags.

    2. It was a dystopian scifi riff looooong before Alan Moore, and arguably has antecedents in mythology and folklore. 

      Besides, the point of the comic isn’t just to be edgy and dystopian, but to actually explore the relationship between superheros, religion, and fascism that Moore refuses to admit exist.

      1. I’m not claiming that Alan Moore invented the superman, but if there’s precedents for what I was describing–Superman-level superhumans being created by the government as part of a superhero arms race–published before Moore started his retcon of Miracleman in the early 1980s, then by all means feel free to list them. And if you think that Moore didn’t “explore the relationship between superheros, religion, and fascism” in Miracleman, then you’re just not very familiar with the series, particularly the third book that was illustrated by John Totleben. (I know that it’s difficult to find copies of it, due to the long-running copyright dispute between Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane which has kept it from being reprinted, but you may be able to find scans somewhere online.) Again, I should emphasize that I’m not saying that Ellis isn’t doing anything original with this book; I just don’t find it particularly groundbreaking.

  9. So… it’s basically a re-telling of “The Seven Days Of Fire” where man-made bio-engendered God-Soldiers incinerate the world due to the folly of their flawed human creators, from Hyato Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (manga version), but with all the humanity and genuine pathos (of both the humans and the gods) sucked out.

      1. By complete coincidence, I was humming Nausicaa’s Theme/Nausicaa Requiem earlier this evening.

        I’m glad I read the manga; it’s a shame the movie was just that: a single movie. And it was produced and completed before Miyazaki was done the manga anyway. But I would’ve loved to see what he could’ve done if he had had the production facilities and budget to make a “full” Nausicaa OVA/movie series.

        Hayao Miyazaki needs to be cloned about 5 times from his cells circa 1985.

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