This is meant to be a one-stop shop for discussing the works of Grant Morrison. There’s just a few things I wanted to try on a new thread, as well as bring everything under the one roof. This isn’t a complete list, but I’m hoping to add other stuff as we get to them. (Click on the hyper-links to go to discussions of the different books.) Let’s see how many of these stories we can get through…

 

1985-88 Secret Origins

Captain Granbretan - text story Captain Britain #13 (January 1986, Marvel UK),

• "The Stalking" (text story with illustrations by Garry Leach, UK 1986 Batman Annual)

• "Osgood Peabody's Big Green Dream Machine" (text story with illustrations by Barry Kitson and Jeff Anderson, UK Superman Annual, 1986)

Zoids Marvel UK - March 1986 - February 1987 Part 1 Part 2

• Dr Who Magazine Marvel UK - Changes (issue #118-9), The World Shapers (#127-9), Shock! (#139)

 

1988-90 Animal Patrol

St Swithin's Day  (with Paul Grist) Trident 1989

JLA: Ghosts of Stone Secret Origins #46

Arkham Asylum 1989 (See attachment below)

Animal Man (DC, #1-26, 1988-1990): Vol 1, Vol 2, Vol 3.

Doom Patrol (DC, #19-63, 1989-1993): Vol 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

• "Flash of Two Worlds" (Secret Origins #50, 1990)

Gothic (with Klaus Janson, in Legends of the Dark Knight #6-10) 1990 (Also, see attachment)

• Hellblazer: "Early Warning" #25-26, Vertigo, 1990.

 

1991-94 Odds and Sods

Kid Eternity, with Duncan Fegredo, DC, 3-issue mini-series, 1991

Sebastian O with Steve Yeowell, Vertigo, 3-issue mini-series, 1993

• The Mystery Play with Jon J. Muth, Vertigo, graphic novel, 1994

• Swamp Thing: "Bad Gumbo" (with co-writer Mark Millar and artist Philip Hester,) Vertigo, #140-143, 1994

 

1994-2000 JLInvisible

The Invisibles (Vertigo, 1994-2000): Vol I, Vol II, Vol III.

• Skrull Kill Krew (with co-writer Mark Millar) Marvel, 5 issues, 1995

Kill Your Boyfriend (with Philip Bond and D'Israeli, Vertigo) 1995

• Flex Mentallo (with Frank Quitely) Vertigo 1996

New Toys from Weird War Tales #3 (with Frank Quitely, Vertigo), 1997

 

Aztek, the Ultimate Man #1-10 (with co-writer Mark Millar) 1996

• The Flash: (with co-writer Mark Millar), Emergency Stop / The Human Race 1997

JLA 1997-2000

JLA/WildC.A.T.s one-shot crossover, 1997

DC One Million, 1998 Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Interlude, Week 4, Week 5, Epilogue I, Epilogue II

JLA: Earth 2, 1999

 

2000 - 2004 Marvellous Filth

• Marvel Boy, 6 issues Marvel 2000

• Fantastic Four: 1234 (Marvel Knights) 2001-2

New X-men, #114-156, Marvel, July 2001 - June 2004  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The Filth, Vertigo, 13-issues, 2002

 

2004 – 2013

• WE3 (with Frank Quitely, Vertigo, 3-issue mini-series, 2004

• Seaguy, Vertigo Book 1 2004, Book 2 2009

• Vimanarama (with Philip Bond) Vertigo 3-issue mini-series 2005

Joe the Barbarian, DC 8-issue series. 2009

 

• DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space (tribute to Julie Scwartz) 2004

All Star Superman, 12 issues, 2005 - 2008

 

The Infinite Book

JLA: Ultramarine Corps JLA Classified #1-3 (with Ed McGuiness) DC 2004 (+ dedicated thread here)

Seven Soldiers 2005 -6 (+ dedicated thread here)

• 52 (with co-authors Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid), DC, #1-52, 2006-2007

Batman & Son (includes issues from #655-666), 2006-07

The Club of Heroes Batman #667-669, 2007

The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul with var writers, inc Batman #670-671, Oct-Nov 2007

• The Black Glove Batman #672-675, 2007-08

Batman R.I.P., Batman #676-681, 2008

• Batman RIP - The Missing Chapter 2010 Part 1 Batman #701 (also here)

Final Crisis, May 2008-January 2009

Batman and Robin, June 2009 onwards

• Batman 700 2010

Return of Bruce Wayne 2010

 

2012 - End of the world!

 

2013 Beyond Batman

 

Happy (with Darrick Robertson), Image, 4-issue mini-series, 2012-13

 

(682 - 20/03/12)

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Morrison is also playing with Zatanna's first ever appearances in the DCU. There she appeared in a series of issues of different comics, looking for her missing father, whereas here he's gone for good and she is looking for his books. They were from the 'checkerboard era' and collected as Zatanna's Quest which is a nice little snapshot of what DC comics were like in the late 60s.

Ibis the Invincible was a real Golden Age magician too. I have artwork from his comics in Chip Kidd's The Golden Age of DC Comics, which focuses on the artwork and individual panels.

And what about Sook's artwork? He knows his stuff. I honestly can't say who my favourite artist is in Seven Soldiers, as they are all so good and well-matched to each book.
Yeah, I especially like Sook, but they're all good. In the Introduction to the first collection Morrison talks about the fun and challenge of using minor DCU characters. His main interest was in writing super-hero stories from a new perspective, but still set in the DCU rather than the "real world." So I think he enjoyed being able to make use of DCU minutiae that only long-term DCU fans would know, but that was a bonus. He didn't expect most of the readers of this series to know that stuff. I'm somewhere in the middle, having preferred DC as both a kid and an adult. But I never got very far beyond the major characters, and never liked team books. In some ways the decision to reinvent minor DCU characters is a lot like the Vertigo reboots over the years. I've always wondered about the intended audience. Readers who remember the original (probably a minority) are likely to be disappointed that the character resembles the one they remember in name only. And new readers are likely to not know the original at all: so what's the point? I don't think it's surprising that those "Vertigo twist" reboots have not been very successful, regardless of the quality of the work done on them. With this series I can see Morrison hoping to interest superhero readers in other work like The Invisibles, but not vice-versa. Superheroes are still the dominant genre in American comics, so why try to pull other comics readers in to them? Anyway, to go on with the first volume:

Klarion The Witchboy #1

This was the strangest miniseries so far for me. No history with the character at all, and could it really come from the DCU? The whole setting reminds me of the character Petrefax and the Necropolis Litharge in Gaiman's Sandman. I liked the dominant greenish-blue color scheme, with the cat Teekl serving as a splash of orange contrast.

Shining Knight #2

We see the Knight beginning to adapt to his new surroundings, and Neh-Buh-Loh from the Ultramarines series shows up riding some kind of mutant spider.

Guardian #2

Jake's episode with the Subway Pirates ends badly, as he is unable to save everyone ("Nice rescue. Did this woman have a broken neck before?"), and he wants to quit the Guardian job. This whole underworld episode reminded me of Gaiman's Neverwhere. Maybe we should be talking about the Gaiman influence on Morrison?

Zatanna #2

In which Zatanna recovers most of her self-confidence, and traps the shape-shifter Gwydion, at least temporarily. The Mysterious Stranger shows up in the last panel. The Newsboy Army is mentioned, and a character who wound up wandering homeless in Los Angeles. Some potential inter-series connections there.
Klarion was originally an antagonist of the Demon. He appeared a couple of times in the Kirby series. Wikipedia tells me he was brought back in other features after Crisis.
You say a lot that's right on target regarding Seven Soldiers, Mark.

Mark said In the Introduction to the first collection Morrison talks about the fun and challenge of using minor DCU characters. His main interest was in writing super-hero stories from a new perspective, but still set in the DCU rather than the "real world." So I think he enjoyed being able to make use of DCU minutiae that only long-term DCU fans would know, but that was a bonus. He didn't expect most of the readers of this series to know that stuff.

OK, this doesn't have a lot to do with your enjoyment of this series, but its definitely part of the context that produced it. The fact is that creators are strongly discouraged from creating any new characters or concepts for either of the Big Two. They don't have ownership of them, they can't influence how they will be used (Ask Liefield how gay Shatterstar is!), and they won't make any money off them beyond the page rate. That's the bottom line.

No-one wants to end up like Steve Gerber or Jack Kirby feeling that their best work has been exploited by someone else. It goes back a long way. I heard from Roy Thomas' own mouth that that was the reason why he didn't create any new characters, and spent his mainstream career working with old properties. He saw with his own eyes how Kirby felt about his contribution being undervalued. Even Thomas' most original long-lasting creation, The Vision, has the name of one forgotten Timely character, the artificial body of another, and the memories of a recently dead Avenger. That's making some kind of point!

Even look at Moore's run on Swamp Thing. Everyone was dazzled at the time by how well he handled them, but he was much more intent on reusing old properties than bringing new ones into the mix. As Moore conceived him, Constantine was a plain-clothed plot device rather than a new DC character.

To my mind this state of affairs led to two terribly wasted opportunities by DC in my time as a reader. Both involved bringing big names ffrom other media in to write DC heroes. One was Kevin Smith's Green Arrow, and the other was Brad Meltzer's Justice League (of America, mind you!).

Even though it revisited much of Moore's Swamp Thing, which I loved, the GA reboot was mired in continuity, and I was really disappointed, knowing that it would be very off-putting to new readers. The same with Meltzer's Justice League. That was a wallow in previous continuity, and unlike the GA stuff, it didn't even explain enough to make anyone who hadn't been there the first time remotely interested. I could care less about the Red Tornado! His JLA/JSA crossover was a farce, totally dependent on prior knowledge of some comic that was published 30 or 40 years ago.

Superhero comics are in a real bind at the moment. There's just no impetous for new ideas or concepts to emerge and superhero comics are largely about other superhero comics, rather than saying something about the lives we live in the 21st century. Its as much to do withteh fans as the producers, but its a ridiculously tiny niche market however you look at it.

The ownership issue is very tricky to get around. Gaiman's Sandman only got the green light as it was originally a DC property, and its probably the exception that proves the rule, in that they all have to jump through hoops to keep Gaiman onboard. They can't do more Sandman stories because they refuse to give him any more percentage of the sales. Having Daniel take over was as much about keeping the property going as the outworking of Gaiman's story.

I've made the arguments above several times here, but it seems its the elephant in the sitting room that no-one wants to acknowledge. Which is strange, as its the single factor that most influences how any new superhero series is set up and the developments in every comic series on a month-to-month basis.

(I know I'm preaching to the choir in your case, Mark, as you've had the good sense to walk away from such a creatively hamstrung corner of the entertainment industry long ago, and shaken the radioctive dust from your shoes.)

That is the context in which Seven Soldiers was written.

Like any supremely creative person, Morrison has looked hard at the negatives and found a way to turn them into positives.

You can only use characters that have already been created within that company?

Well, why not use characters and concepts from across all 70 years of publication, instead of just the ideas that were cool when you were 12, but that have been done to death since?

The readers and creators have insisted that all the stories must tie together and ‘count’?

Well, in that case you have a world with several generations of famous superheroes who are looked up to and revered and envied. Such a world would have its own superhero sub-culture, complete with journalists, groupies, specialist therapy groups etc. This is a true ‘alternative Earth’ like Watchmen. Of course the DCU doesn’t change from our Earth in big particulars, but its fun to exploit its differences like this.

Supporting villains were last seen with some faddish gimmicks and reappear decades later as super-cool deadly assassins?

Well, why not take us behind the curtain and show us how the transformation occurred?

All Kirby’s great creations have been done to death?

Not quite. Klarion, the Guardian and the Newsboy Army all are shown to be great, fresh concepts here. There’s probably a few other Kirby Kreations in Seven Soldiers too, but that’s only at first glance.

As you say, Mark, it doesn’t matter that you don’t know who these characters were before they appeared here. Morrison has either dug them up from such obscurity that no-one would be expected to know, or he has rebuilt them from the ground up in front of our eyes. In both cases they may as well be new creations. They all feel like it. But he is working within the limitation of not creating new properties for the mega-corporation, and he’s showing how it’s done. A Masterclass, in my view.

He turns what is a con into a great pro. No recently created world would have such a feeling of depth and breadth. It has its own natural laws, especially regarding the fates of those on different tiers of the superhero scale.

In some ways the decision to reinvent minor DCU characters is a lot like the Vertigo reboots over the years. I've always wondered about the intended audience. Readers who remember the original (probably a minority) are likely to be disappointed that the character resembles the one they remember in name only. And new readers are likely to not know the original at all: so what's the point? I don't think it's surprising that those "Vertigo twist" reboots have not been very successful, regardless of the quality of the work done on them.

To stay on the same tack as above, I guess some of the impetus behind the ‘Vertigo reboots’ was to repeat the success of Swamp Thing and Sandman, and hold onto the ownership rights. I’m sure Vertigo wanted more DC owned series like Shade and Black Orchid than creator-owned properties like Preacher and Y- The Last Man. It’s hard to imagine that they were depending on reader recognition of characters like Mr E, or Kid Eternity, who hadn’t been seen in a comic for decades.

That Seven Soldiers wasn’t published by Vertigo is strange, in some ways. The end of issue 0 was pure horror, and there is a lot of horror subsequently. But the powers that be are very happy with violence anyway, so it’s not such a big problem. There are a lot of sexual references too, though, and references to the procreative act have been proven to weaken the rigour and vitality of any upstanding nation within half a generation. (Heh heh.)

Morrison’s whole point with Seven Soldiers is that you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater by getting rid of the context the DC heroes operate in. (The better metaphor would be that the bathwater is the most precious contents of the thing!) Vertigo reboots often get rid of the context in this way. Seven Soldiers conceptually has to be a DCU book. It’s the whole point. (Or one of the main points)

A lot of Constantine’s past and connections to other magic users is wiped out in his current Vertigo life. Fair enough. His Vertigo series is its own thing. I didn’t notice it until it was pointed out, but any mention of poor old Constantine was deleted from Zatanna’s memories of her father’s death in Zatanna #1. Erasing him from the DCU is a bigger loss than erasing the DCU from his comics. The DCU is all about its richness, and it’s sad to cut anything out.

With this series I can see Morrison hoping to interest superhero readers in other work like The Invisibles, but not vice-versa. Superheroes are still the dominant genre in American comics, so why try to pull other comics readers in to them?:

Exhibit A: Mark Sullivan.

Morrison has developed his own loyal following, many of whom had moved on from superhero comics or never read them in the first place. Much like yourself. He is definitely leveraging that influence to bring them over to a series steeped in DCU lore and minutiae.

Morrison loves superheroes and loves this big interconnected universe that you can’t find anywhere else. Seven Soldiers is a manifesto. It’s saying that all those layers of detail and events, if used the right way, are something to lose yourself in and celebrate rather than something to turn people off. Further, he’s saying that superheroes can come in far more flavours than just Geoff Johns Vanilla. High fantasy knights, funky magic users, grizzled cowboys, cosmic warriors and more are all possible and can exist together (even if they never meet, as here.)

Being the "dominant genre in American comics" isn't such a big deal if its the dominant genre in a tiny niche market.

Morrison does have big dreams for his chosen artform, and he is working really hard here to drag it out of its little niche ghetto, and bring in people who appreciate a creatively put-together tale in any artform, rather than just create another tale for the comicshop fanboys. He is deliberately eliminating much of the off-putting conventions that superhero fans take for granted, like the skintight suits, the over familiarity that characters have with each other and the endless depictions of violence without consequences. All the violence in SSoV has consequences. SSoV is a template for a radical makeover of the traditional superhero, and Morrison is no doubt hoping that its worth a try to stretch the market a little.

Some of his passions are running counter to each other here, I can see that. He’s creating stories that you don’t need any prior knowledge of other stories to enjoy, and at the same time he’s celebrating the vast multi-textual world these stories are set in.

He succeeds on both counts, in my view.
Luke Blanchard said:
Klarion was originally an antagonist of the Demon. He appeared a couple of times in the Kirby series. Wikipedia tells me he was brought back in other features after Crisis.

He was a longstanding character in Peter David's Young Justice series. I don't know if it was there or in Alan Grant's great Demon series that he took to introducing himself as "Klarion ... bum, bum, bum ... the Witchboy!"

Morrison felt that all this talk of bumming the witchboy wasn't really being respectful to Kirby's vision!
Thanks for the compliment, Figs. In turn I'd say that I agree with everything you said in your reply, but there are a few things I thought I'd comment on.

The same with Meltzer's Justice League. That was a wallow in previous continuity, and unlike the GA stuff, it didn't even explain enough to make anyone who hadn't been there the first time remotely interested. I could care less about the Red Tornado! His JLA/JSA crossover was a farce, totally dependent on prior knowledge of some comic that was published 30 or 40 years ago.

I actually enjoyed the Meltzer Red Tornado story when I read it recently, despite not having any history with the character. I thought the characters I did know were written believably. Which doesn't disprove your point, so much as demonstrate that I do have some history with the DCU.

Morrison has either dug them up from such obscurity that no-one would be expected to know, or he has rebuilt them from the ground up in front of our eyes. In both cases they may as well be new creations. They all feel like it. But he is working within the limitation of not creating new properties for the mega-corporation, and he’s showing how it’s done. A Masterclass, in my view.

He turns what is a con into a great pro. No recently created world would have such a feeling of depth and breadth. It has its own natural laws, especially regarding the fates of those on different tiers of the superhero scale.

Great point, I completely agree. You know you're in the DCU, even without having Superman make an appearance in each issue. The JLA are in the background somewhat, demonstrated most strongly in the Zatanna issues.

To stay on the same tack as above, I guess some of the impetus behind the ‘Vertigo reboots’ was to repeat the success of Swamp Thing and Sandman, and hold onto the ownership rights. I’m sure Vertigo wanted more DC owned series like Shade and Black Orchid than creator-owned properties like Preacher and Y- The Last Man. It’s hard to imagine that they were depending on reader recognition of characters like Mr E, or Kid Eternity, who hadn’t been seen in a comic for decades.

I'm sure you're correct here. My point was that owning the rights to a property is meaningless if the property isn't a success in the first place. I own the rights to all of the music I've composed, but that doesn't mean anything in monetary terms unless somebody wants to pay to perform or license it. With most of the Vertigo reboots DC lost that bet, because they didn't do well enough to mean much in the long term. The only exception I can think of is Diggle & Jock's update of The Losers, which now looks like a successful film. There's money in that, plus the new trade paperback sales it will hopefully generate. Those comics are copyrighted by DC Comics, so they own them, although I get the impression the creators have some kind of participation.

A lot of Constantine’s past and connections to other magic users is wiped out in his current Vertigo life. Fair enough. His Vertigo series is its own thing. I didn’t notice it until it was pointed out, but any mention of poor old Constantine was deleted from Zatanna’s memories of her father’s death in Zatanna #1. Erasing him from the DCU is a bigger loss than erasing the DCU from his comics. The DCU is all about its richness, and it’s sad to cut anything out.

Yes, and there are lots of Vertigo readers who have felt that way all along. In the beginning former DCU characters formed the core of the line, and the decision to erect a wall between Vertigo & the DCU didn't happen until later. The only character who has moved between them is Zatanna. I would argue that her Vertigo appearances are actually more consistent with the character than the DCU ones, especially given the marginal role of magic in the DCU in recent years. But I'm glad to see her in Seven Soldiers, and I agree that the series has greater resonance set in the DCU than it could have had as a Vertigo title.

Exhibit A: Mark Sullivan.

Morrison has developed his own loyal following, many of whom had moved on from superhero comics or never read them in the first place. Much like yourself. He is definitely leveraging that influence to bring them over to a series steeped in DCU lore and minutiae.

Morrison loves superheroes and loves this big interconnected universe that you can’t find anywhere else. Seven Soldiers is a manifesto. It’s saying that all those layers of detail and events, if used the right way, are something to lose yourself in and celebrate rather than something to turn people off. Further, he’s saying that superheroes can come in far more flavours than just Geoff Johns Vanilla. High fantasy knights, funky magic users, grizzled cowboys, cosmic warriors and more are all possible and can exist together (even if they never meet, as here.)


OK, I'm here, so I can't argue with that. And I suppose that the group of readers who once read superhero comics but have moved on is large enough to be worth targeting, especially given the size of the current comics market. But I think the reason the series works for me is that Morrison is really pulling a bait and switch. He's calling this a superhero comic, but it's actually a series of interrelated fantasy stories, with a slight superhero connection. Of the ones I've read so far, only the Seven Soldiers prologue and the Guardian series look much like superheroes. And even those have horror and fantasy elements, as you pointed out.
He's calling this a superhero comic, but it's actually a series of interrelated fantasy stories, with a slight superhero connection.

I'm with Morrison. This is a superhero epic. For one thing, only a superhero universe allows time-lost Celtic knights, magical stage performers, Gothic monsters and people gifted by sci-fi Gods to co-exist. Maybe the Buffyverse too, but I'd argue she's a superhero in a superhero universe.

Yes, my definition of a superhero is very broad, but that's the whole point. They don't have to be so narrowly defined. They don't all have to wear their underwear over their trousers. When people think of superheroes they think of all the tired old conventions. The masks and the chin-punching. Superhero universes have offered so much more for a very long time, and Seven Soldiers foregrounds some of the alternative types that have appeared. They don't nessecarily even have to be selfless, or committed to their mission.

We're also seeing that the presentation of these stories can be in a multitude of styles. We're getting art from cartoonish to illustration to painted, from 4-colour superhero fun to moody gothic monochrome. It's fitting that the mercurial chameleonic JH Williams is opening and closing this treatise on all the possibilities within the 'genre'. (I use the scare-quotes, because superhero stories come in a multude of genres.)

And why shouldn't a superhero story be equally inviting to someone with no emotional investment in that universe or those characters, or prior knowledge of them? Superhero stories have things going for them that leave other genres far behind, so why not invite everyone to the party?
The whole setting reminds me of the character Petrefax and the Necropolis Litharge in Gaiman's Sandman.

This whole underworld episode reminded me of Gaiman's Neverwhere. Maybe we should be talking about the Gaiman influence on Morrison?

Morrison wears his Moore and Kirby references on his sleeve in SSoV.

All-beard and No-beard, battling for supremacy of a marginal, largely unnoticed kingdom, might be bathetic analogues of Moore and Morrison. The Zatanna first issue has references to Promethea as well as Swamp Thing, and it's interesting that it's in the character arc about the father-issues. Zatara's death scene is very respectfully recreated. There are a lot of other Moore refereneces scattered throughout SSoV.

Similarly, there's much of Kirby in the series, as well as dollops of a run of Len Wein Justice League comics that obviously had an affect on Morrison. That's where Neh-Buh-Loh comes from.

However, you've probably hit on something regarding the Gaiman influence on this series especially. Klarion's unconventional time-lost community is very Gaiman, and there is Gaiman elsewhere too. The Celtic faerie aspect of the Sheeda. I hadn't thought of the similarities to Neverwhere. The huge range of narrative styles and seperate stories to tell one overarching story is exactly what Sandman did so well.

Hmmm! I'll need to think about this one a bit. Thing is, is it deliberate or subconscious? I'm thinking subconscious, as there doesn't seem to be any commentary on any of Gaiman's works the way Morrison says a lot about Moore and Kirby's work in SSoV.

"Nice rescue. Did this woman have a broken neck before?"

The series is just full of great lines like this, isn't it? It would be tedious to list them, but I kept laughing on the bus while reading some of the books. As usual, there is much entertainment along with the cogitating.
I'm with Morrison. This is a superhero epic. For one thing, only a superhero universe allows time-lost Celtic knights, magical stage performers, Gothic monsters and people gifted by sci-fi Gods to co-exist. Maybe the Buffyverse too, but I'd argue she's a superhero in a superhero universe.

Yes, my definition of a superhero is very broad, but that's the whole point. They don't have to be so narrowly defined.


That's fine, but couldn't all of those things just as easily be called fantasy? Sandman could have had all of those elements; it certainly had lots of things like them. After the success of Watchmen & The Dark Knight Returns a lot of people were saying things along the lines of "you can use superheroes to tell any kind of story." Which is true enough, but why would you want to, other than the ability to attract an audience that wants superhero stories. I agree that Morrison has chosen to do so because he loves superheroes and was attracted by the ability to use a preexisting fictional universe. But I still think he's hedged his bets a bit by avoiding obvious super powered individuals. He could have probably used characters like Blue Beetle or Booster Gold if he'd wanted; he didn't have to avoid costumed heroes altogether, just the Big Guns.
He could have probably used characters like Blue Beetle or Booster Gold if he'd wanted; he didn't have to avoid costumed heroes altogether, just the Big Guns.

But Booster Gold and Blue Beetle are the skintight cozzies and masks sort of superheroes. Morrison's point is that there are more types than that.

For what its worth, Blue Beetle had just had his brains blown out at the start of Infinite Crisis, and at this point in the 'grand narrative' of the DC there were big plans for Booster Gold. Infinite Crisis is actually tied into SSoV, but in an extremely obtuse way. Don't worry, no-one will ask you to read it. Once was certainly enough for me. You might very well enjoy Booster's next appearance, as it is in one of the works in my list up there. I won't say anything more...

But I still think he's hedged his bets a bit by avoiding obvious super powered individuals.

So maybe he's writing a superhero story for the Vertigo/Invisibles audience then?

I can see we're like two men looking at the same stain-glass window, but from different sides. So I don't want to drag it out.

Morrison is definitely using SSoV to examine where superheroes come from. He's going back to the well to revitalise them. Back through simplistic two-fisted do-gooders like Bulletman and the Guardian, hard-riding, sharp-shooting cowboy heroes, 19th century scientific monstrosities like Frankenstein, rosters of new Gods and new cosmologies as created by the likes of William Blake and the whole cultures that created other races of gods and super-beings to worship. Back through the ancient and modern weird tales of the folk who live under the hill, and dragon-slaying tales of gallant chivalry.

It was the same creative impulse that led to Jason's argonauts, and Arthur's knights coming together that brought teams like the JLA and the Avengers together. The only 'point' I can see for both superteams is the post-modern one one of seeing how these diverse characters, originating in different strands of folklore and literature will get on together in the one text. SSoV pushes this post-modern aspect of the teambook to the limit, with fundamentally different story approaches and art styles for each hero.

(Completely aside here, but you must be in a minority in not liking teambooks back in the day, Mark. I thought we all loved them! What didn't you like about them?)

In the way it examines the roots of superheroes, SSoV is Morrison's Tom Strong and his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. (I wonder why Moore didn't use Frankenstein? Perhaps he'd have been replicating Hyde's role in the team?)

... a lot of people were saying things along the lines of "you can use superheroes to tell any kind of story." Which is true enough, but why would you want to, other than the ability to attract an audience that wants superhero stories?

It's a fair question. It is hard to put your finger on what the difference is between superhero and other fantasy stories. I'm reading Joe the Barbarian at the moment, and its NOT a superhero story, despite having many of the elements of Grant's other DCU work. The shared universe is a big part of it. Even the self-contained Watchmen seemed to allude to decades worth of stories that we hadn't read, and as you mentioned upthread, Moore was partly reconfiguring a particular roster of known superheroes.

A lot of the idiosyncratic charm of Swamp Thing and the early Sandman was in the shared universe setting, and the use of great established characters in non chin-punching roles. When I first read both, I knew nothing about the Satellite JLA, or any of those characters like Doctor Dee, but their stories had depth, knowing that these characters had histories beyond the pages of the book in my hand. I've just read the recent Sandman collection Endless Nights, and the most charming story in it has Dream meeting the personifications of our Sun, Krypton's Rao and green sun Sto-Oa, which shines on a blue-skinned race. It's a nice closing of the circle, as it is the last story written about Dream and it expicitly sets him in the DCU, as he was in Gaiman's early stories.

Superheroes are about more than the shared universe too, though. Maybe something about the structure of these endlessly repeating stories where good is continually threatened to be overwhelmed by evil and the champions keep on fighting. Final Crisis explores this idea in more depth.

Virtually all the heroes are dealing with unfinished business, some explicitly going back to earlier comics. eg Zatanna's father-issues and Neh-Buh-Loh's existence.

And then there is the sheer fun argument. How else can you have background elements like bank-robbers on atomic-powered pogo-sticks and therapy groups where people take it in their stride that a witch has just released a being that will destroy the Earth?

Of course I'm biased, as I love superhero stories with a passion and of course I'd be quick to claim the hugely entertaining Seven Soldiers as such and a celebration of them too! Morrison certainly wrote it as such.
Morrison is definitely using SSoV to examine where superheroes come from. He's going back to the well to revitalise them. Back through simplistic two-fisted do-gooders like Bulletman and the Guardian, hard-riding, sharp-shooting cowboy heroes, 19th century scientific monstrosities like Frankenstein, rosters of new Gods and new cosmologies as created by the likes of William Blake and the whole cultures that created other races of gods and super-beings to worship. Back through the ancient and modern weird tales of the folk who live under the hill, and dragon-slaying tales of gallant chivalry.

No argument there. Superheroes are certainly a modern version of the heroic epic, as well as the morality tale and the fable. So it's fitting that Moore's Swamp Thing and Gaiman's Sandman both grew out of the DCU, which has featured superheroes for much of it's life (although it's good to remember that at one time American comics featured a wide range of genres, and superheroes weren't always the main focus).

(Completely aside here, but you must be in a minority in not liking teambooks back in the day, Mark. I thought we all loved them! What didn't you like about them?)

That's a good question. I guess it was partly that there were always members of the team that didn't interest me enough to want to read their own stories, and team membership didn't change that. Plus I think even as a kid I could see the problem with the power differential: if Superman is on the team, why would you need anyone else? Writers had to stretch credulity to get those stories to work.

Superheroes are about more than the shared universe too, though. Maybe something about the structure of these endlessly repeating stories where good is continually threatened to be overwhelmed by evil and the champions keep on fighting...
And then there is the sheer fun argument. How else can you have background elements like bank-robbers on atomic-powered pogo-sticks and therapy groups where people take it in their stride that a witch has just released a being that will destroy the Earth?


It's the "endlessly repeating" part that finally did me in. Although there's reference to past stories here, as you've mentioned, the main focus seems to be the threat at hand. And I'm definitely having fun. There are fantasy and science fiction creations that have this kind of thematic range, but they're rare. In Morrison's hands those disparate elements definitely work. Onward with Vol. 2 this weekend!
Moving on to Vol. 2:

Klarion The Witchboy Part 2: Badde

Klarion makes his way to the world above--which turns out to be the Manhattan subway system--and meets Ebeneezer Badde, another former resident of Limbo Town. Badde means to sell Klarion to representatives of Mister Melmoth, but is taken out by the children he had hunted. One of the children shows Klarion the Guardian's golden helmet, which he had given her to borrow her cart in his series, implying a common geography and time line. Klarion finds his way above ground, where he meets Mister Melmoth in the final panel.

Shining Knight Part 3: The Perfect Knight Returns

Justin is in the hands of the police. They call in an FBI metahuman specialist, who in turn brings in Ms. Friday, an expert on antiquities (a last minute replacement, which turns out to be significant). The expert recognizes the sword Excalibur, which the agent is able to unsheath, despite her doubts about her purity of heart. After getting Justin's story Friday reveals herself as the Sheeda queen. She takes Justin and Excalibur, and gives the agent a poison bite. Meanwhile, the queen's agents have found the magic cauldron which fell out of the sky with Justin and his winged horse, and the queen summons the corrupted knight Galahad.

Guardian Part Three: Siege At Century Hollow


Century Hollow is a science park populated with robots built to mirror the demographic dynamics of the world. When the robots become terrorists the Guardian is called in. He succeeds with the help of the Newsboy Army, only to have the woman in charge turn on him. Jake's home life is falling apart, and he goes to his disembodied boss Ed to resign. Ed turns out to be a bizarre big-headed midget on life support. He says that he has a story about the seven soldiers and the secret history of the original newsboy army.

Klarion The Witchboy Part Three: The Deviant Ones

Mister Melmoth plans to use Klarion to get to Limbo Town, which is populated by the lost Puritan colonists who vanished from Roanoke in 1590. He has his kid gang the Deviants steal a drilling vehicle to get them underground. But Klarion has discovered that Melmoth is another liar and betrayer, who means to use the children as slaves. Klarion warns the children, but declines to lead them. He intends to return to the streets above ground, but Teekl insists they return to Limbo Town to give warning.

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