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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Figserello said:
It's him exactly. Down to the beard and the evening suit. Great find.

Zatanna even fights him in a very similar sequence where they grow in size and throw planetoids at each other.

Zor fills the role of Zatanna's powerful anti-Dad perfectly.

I see that in your version of events, Mark, Zatanna defeated Zor, so I'm presuming you reached out to the fourth wall and transferred your psychic energy. Otherwise presumably, Zor would have been triumphant...

I love that sequence myself.

Well, she succeeds in delivering him to the SUM, who thank her for "subduing the renegade," so I thought that counted as a defeat. But you're right, before she reaches through the dimensional wall and contacts the SUM he does appear to have the upper hand.
I was just being silly, Mark. I was really asking if you'd put out your hand when Zatanna pushes against the page surface. Her winning depends on her making a connection with the 'omniscient higher beings beyond her reality' ie us.

This Melmoth seems to have a lot in common with Dunsany's character Luke. He has to wander the Earth for centuries, cut off from his time-travelling people.
Sorry I got too literal, Figs. But are you really sure these omniscient beings are us? Aren't the Time Tailors even outside of our reality? I'm not really sure. In that way this recalls both The Invisibles and The Filth, and you were right to mention it when we were discussing those titles. Moving on...

Bulleteer Part One: Ballistic: How The Bulleteer Began

Alix Harrower's husband has discovered an indestructible substance he calls Smartskin which bonds with skin tissue. He's thinking about copying the husband and wife team from WW II that called themselves human bullets. He tests it on himself and dies from it, but Alix survives contact with the substance. When she saves some people from a train wreck, Alix decides that she is meant to be a superhero. This series appears to be continuing the exploration of the effect of superheroes in the DCU which was touched on in the opening SSOV issue. In a world with superheroes, wouldn't some "average" people try to obtain powers?

Frankenstein Part One: Uglyhead

This series begins in 1870: Frankenstein is confronting Melmoth and his creatures on a train. By 2005 a city has sprung up in the area where the train crashed. A social misfit with a Sheeda on his back is recruiting other high school students through his ability to read their thoughts. At the high school prom Sheeda maggots take them as hosts, so they can hatch into spine riders. Frankenstein rises up out of the ground and burns down the school to prevent the maggot contagion. He swears vengeance on Melmoth and the Sheeda. The series continues to surprise me: this is the weirdest and most un-DCU like issue so far. But I'm ready for what happens next.

Mister Miracle Part Two: Drive By Derby

Shilo escapes the cars and gunmen who are after him. He follows some homeless men to their camp, and Mother Box reveals them as New Gods. Shilo explains all of this to his therapist, who is revealed as one of the Dark Side. He's been trying to subvert Shilo, and is in touch with a dangerous-looking guy with some kind of clone or robot force.

Bulleteer Part Two: Who Killed Seven Soldiers?

Several time line intersection in this issue. It opens with Agent Helligan, the FBI metahuman specialist, showing slides of the Arizona superhero debacle organized by the Vigilante (the story told in SSOV #0). The Bulleteer had signed up to be the seventh member of that team, but backed out at the last minute. She tells Alix that she was bitten by a vampire the night before (Shining Knight # 4). They visit a super criminal named Ramon Solomo, the Hand (a.k.a the Iron Hand, a.k.a. the Napoleon of Crime) in prison. He had been involved in the defeat of Greg Saunders and the original Seven Soldiers of Victory 40 years ago, and had used his nephew to infiltrate the new group and use the mysterious magic horn to summon the Nebula Man to complete Saunders' defeat. Helligan reveals that Saunders was a werewolf, and she interrupts her sister's wedding to declare her groom as a werewolf as well.
The Vigilante/werewolf element probably derives from World's Finest #214, which I haven't read. The issue teamed up Superman and the Vigilante, and pitted them against a werewolf.
Just wanted to clear up one thing in my earlier post:

She tells Alix that she was bitten by a vampire the night before (Shining Knight # 4).

I probably should have said "Helligan tells Alix..." It's the FBI agent who was bitten by Glorianna telling the Bulleteer about it.

Oh, and another random observation. There are two train wrecks in this group of issues, and there was the whole subway sequence in the Guardian mini, which also bled into the Klarion mini. Trains are a pretty big motif in Seven Soldiers, whatever that means.
The Guardian #1-4

"He said you were a natural born superhero, waiting for a secret origin to get him started. So we gave you one." – Ed Starguard to Jake Jordan.

Issue 1 The Origin – Of all the soldiers, the Manhattan Guardian is perhaps the most ‘Marvel’ of them all. He is the most down-to-Earth, and the most at home on the streets of Manhattan too. Concerning his origin, it struck me as being very similar to Spider-man’s, but with a more grown-up slant. Whereas geeky kid Peter Parker’s one mistake led indirectly to his uncle’s death, Jake’s mistake, which we get in only a one panel flashback, was of a different order. He made a mistake of judgement while working in the hugely responsible job of an armed policeman which directly cost a child his life. We hear later that Jake had quit the force from guilt. We read stories practically every day of dubious acts carried out by the police, that no-one has to resign over, so this says a lot about Jake’s character and the standards he sets for himself.

Jake’s guilt, which drives him towards his superhero career, is very central to many superhero stories. 5 of the 7 soldiers are driven by guilt that I can see, even if it is only survivor’s guilt, which itself is a big part of both Superman’s and Batman’s psychological make-up.

We find out that Carla’s parents are called Larry and Lauren. Presuming that Larry is the short for Laurence, its significant that the two names collapse into each other, just as Peter Parker’s two ‘parents’ collapsed into one parent when Uncle Ben died. Again, Jake’s relationship to Larry and Lauren is the grown up version of Peter’s relationship to Ben and May. They both look up to the older generation, but Peter was allotted his family by life’s lottery whereas Jake chose his new family. Carla's parents are wonderfully un-clicheed. They obviously have huge respect and sympathy for Jake, rather than being judgemental or critical of him, which would be more typical behaviour of prospective in-laws in a melodrama.

The Mini-series – From the first 3 issues, and maybe the 4th, the Guardian’s street-level perspective is a means to tell stories that highlight social issues. The subway pirates; homeless addicts and schizophrenics; are indeed like Gaiman’s denizens of Neverwhere, in being invisible to us ‘sun-lubbers’. A superhero tale, however has to keep pushing forward with the action and incredible events, so this tale of the homeless is demented and fantastic.

I couldn’t help but see Alan Moore in All-beard though, depicted as he was as a drug-fueled visionary, spewing psycho-geographical insights.

Further, he depends on others to transcribe his rantings, just as Moore depends on his artistic collaborators to express himself fully. No-beard, the Morrison analogue, depends on his treasured ‘Hands’ to actually carry out what he wishes to be done.

Similarly, Morrison comes up with a great superhero framework for discussing the inequalities of the world at large in the Century Hollow theme-park. This reminded me very much of the huge Utopia-at-sea in The Filth. It is a model of the world’s population that goes belly-up when someone starts performing experiments on it. Jorge Control even cites the ‘Spartacus Virus’ he uses to send the ‘population’ over the edge.

If Morrison created the term ‘Spartacus Virus’, it’s quite clever, as slaves killing each other for entertainment was just an accepted part of the status quo in ancient Rome until that one guy changed the programme. Who knows what unacceptable parts of our own status quo will tip the next social revolution off?

The action in issue 3 is fast and furious, but Morrison is able to throw in some pointed commentary on the world we live in. “Leaving out the guns just seemed so dishonest,” declares Jorge, about the sanitised theme-park.

Bush-era paranoia is reflected at us when we find out: “The Hollow is modelling a world where everyone is a terrorist

These are however, just throwaway lines, and there’s a school of thought that this is probably as far as you can take social commentary in a proper superhero story.

Like Spider-man and its ilk, the external struggles and foes of the hero are a reflection of his own internal and social conflicts. We see that the adventure in Century Hollow is the perfect way to channel Jake’s anger at how his life is shaping up. We see his battles with the violent robots juxtaposed with his unhappy home life.

I don’t know if it’s in the script, but the art seems to show that the tough old guy who fought the communists in the jungles of Asia (“Thumbs down!”) now has an Asian grand-daughter himself, which partially gives a lie to the set statistics that Century Hollow is based on.

Episode 4 is a very special episode, and although we do get a lot of background of the whole 7 Soldiers grand narrative, it could work as a complete issue of a Manhattan Guardian ongoing series, or mini-series. In it we find out the secret history of Jake’s so far mysterious boss and benefactor, whose background as one of New York’s original Newsboy Army would generate a ton of new stories. We only get a peep into one typical adventure before their little gang meets its fate, but we can safely assume they had a lot of adventures like it.

In any case, Ed’s story becomes immediately relevant to Jake as he learns that he has to now face the foes that undid the Newsboy Army back in the day.

Issue 4 is the episode where the most simple straight-forward superhero of the seven gets drawn into one of the most meta-textual strands of the grand narrative.

A very close reading seems to indicate that Morrison is commenting on superhero stories as they have developed over the past few decades. The Terrible Time Tailor is one of the Seven Unknown Men, who may represent the writers of the DCU. It is they who take I, Spider behind the scenes to remake him for his latest adventure.

When Ed is explaining their power, he says that he went from being idealistic and young to his present sad state over his lifetime, but in their world “only a day may have passed”. Maybe for the writer only a day did pass between Morrison creating the Newsboy Army’s early adventures and writing this scene of Ed as an old manbaby?

The Terrible Time Tailor represents the creative forces that went into the change from the innocent fun of the Newsboy Army comics to the Johnsian dismemberment and sordid sexual crimes that make up the plot elements of more recent comics. Mo Colley’s violent rampage in Nowhere Square is what passes as ‘realism’ amongst today’s writers.

The Terrible Time Tailor admits as much when he says “I brought her kind here to kill people like you. My world has no place for smart-arse kids.” Slaughter Swamp is one of the places where modern writers retcon out the innocence of the comics of yesteryear, much as Meltzer did in Identity Crisis.

(The Tailor refers to the evil baddies of this collection as ‘the Sheeda-strain’, which continues the virus/microbe imagery of The Filth.)

In any case, the Newsboy Army’s troubles begin when they reach adolescence. It is clear that Chop Suzy was the victim of Captain 7’s ‘child molestation’ as she seems to be pregnant in those frames leading up to their trip into Slaughter Swamp. She is dead by 14, and not in the frame where the rest of the Newsboy Army punish Captain 7 for his transgressions.

Comic character’s troubles really begin when their readership grow old enough to want to see them dealing with the sordid crimes and violence of ‘real life’.

But the history of comics explored here doesn’t just go from innocence to ‘Grim’n’Gritty’. There is also a trajectory from the mundane street-level story to the ‘cosmic’ battles with extra-dimensional beings and rogue gods.

Baby Brain expects their trip to the Gold house to present them with just such an adventure, as Captain 7 says “This had better be the cosmic adventure you promised.”

Jake, who has been street-level (and below) all the way so far, isn’t so keen on the transition to cosmic: “I don’t do time and space, Ed. Don’t do this to me!

This is very reminiscent of the Whip’s musings in issue #0 and Batman’s sudden change of gears in the JLA prequel.

There are some pointers outside the pages of SSoV too. All-Beard refers to “New York’s secret trainway lines, builded by the tricky architects in the dawn days of the great nation above us.” These tricky architects were the Founding Fathers, who became part of the Bat-verse in a run of Peter Milligan Batman/Riddler comics in the 1990s which Morrison is drawing from in his current Bat-titles.

More central to Seven Soldiers itself, however is how Morrison uses his story to once again explore the idea of higher dimensional beings. In The Invisibles he tried to show what they might look like to us. However, here he is able to use the readymade DC Universe to show us what our world might look like to them.

We are the higher dimensional beings in this story. We know so much about these characters – everything there is to know in some cases, and we can view their stories in any order, not just in the linear way the characters experience them. (In fact myself and Mark are reading them in different orders!) The story is designed to be non-linear.

This is a further development of the ideas in The Invisibles about players experiencing the story from different angles each time they enter it, just like John A’Dreams seems to. These ideas have been developed through The Filth, especially in the comicbook Secret Original segments of it.

Obviously what the universe might look like to Higher Dimensional Beings is hugely problematic to explore, not least because we patently aren’t HDBs! Still, the DCU being such a well developed universe-within-a-universe does allow us some sense of what it might be like to be outside time-and-space, looking in.

An Ongoing series – There was a lot of potential here for further adventures of Jake Jordan to explore. I’m sure the Golem and the new Newsboy Army have stories in them. A superhero connected to a major metropolitan(!) newspaper is never going to have to look hard for mysteries to explore. Ed, the former Baby Brain, would have a very interesting life, awash with story starters, and he was in the same kid-gang as Jake’s deceased father-in-law, to boot. Jake is a great character, and he is only really starting his career as a superhero on the last page of the miniseries here.

I was very disappointed when I saw that the Guardian who appeared in a Superman comic a few months ago wasn’t Jake Jordan. Wind back the clock again. Don’t move forward. Stay in the past.

Influences – A lot of Spider-man here and Kirby too, obviously. Also there are passages where the meanwhile boxes take off on their own purple prose commentary that is very like the great writers of the 70s such as Gerber and Englehart.
But are you really sure these omniscient beings are us? Aren't the Time Tailors even outside of our reality? I'm not really sure. In that way this recalls both The Invisibles and The Filth, and you were right to mention it when we were discussing those titles.

The Time Tailors/7 Unknown Men are in fact on a level between our reality and the DCU. They are a means for Morrison to represent the writers of the comics in a language which makes sense to the characters in the DCU. Powerful, faceless, interfering agents. In the same way, the 'Grant Morrison' who appeared in Animal Man wasn't really Grant Morrison. He was a representation of him on a higher plane than Buddy Baker's everyday life, but Animal Man obviously didn't wander across that dowdy park in Glasgow and knock on Grant's door in real life.

Zatanna, however did get within a conceptual sliver of actually reaching out and touching the real readers. In a way the readers are even more powerful than the writers/7UM, in how they influence comics storylines long-term. Further, they breathe life into these beloved 2-dimensional characters in a way that the writers don't. The writers treat them in a much more coldly mechanical way, which agitates the readers no end. (You don't have to look further than this board for proof of that!)

Further, Zatanna realizes that in that single moment of her life, she is reaching out to tens of thousands of us, spread over time and space on our plane of existence. Its a good illustration of how time and reality are so different on each plane. So it's not just one higher being that Zatanna is drawing power from - its a legion. With powerful mojo like that on her side, she gets the strength to beat Zor/The Terrible Time Tailor.

Zor himself is an illustration of a concept that came up often in The Invisibles. He is one of the higher level beings who descends into the world he helped create, and once there he falls into the classic Gnostic trap of thinking that the world he is in now is the 'real' world, and that all that he is is the role he's playing. That's why the baddie in Manhatten Guardian #4 is so different to the baddie in Zatanna #4. The bald guy in MG was aware of what he was doing on a metatextual level - getting rid of innocent childish adventure stories - whilst the same guy in Zatanna #4 is a more pantomime evil comicbook character. He's like Ragged Robin and many other Morrison characters who've fallen into the world they created, and their earlier existence on a different plane is only dimly understood by them.

These are hard concepts to get across, which is why Morrison returns to them again and again, and each new take sheds further light on his earlier attempts.

(Still chewing on the trains imagery, btw!)
Klarion The Witchboy #1-4

"It seems so insane. Why are there such rules? Why must we do what the Book of Shadows says?" – Klarion the Witchboy.

Issue 1 The Origin – Klarion begins the first issue with all his powers intact, but his 4-issue series is more novelistic in structure than a typical superhero first arc. The interest for the reader is in finding out what and where Klarion’s hometown is and how it came to be, and how Klarion will fare in his quest for answers.

This is probably the most original of the origins presented in the series, however. Morrison has taken the character's name and costume, mixed it with a little DC Grundy-lore and created something incredibly original. The rain-soaked, isolated underground community of witchcraft-practicing Puritans is something new.

Their religion, which assimilates the same Grundy ability to make the dead rise as we’ve seen in Solomon Grundy’s own story, is quite elaborately thought through.

The idea of our loved ones making us work after death until we fall apart is truly horrifying.

Step lively, Father!”

The community, with its 17th century speech patterns, is a great creation. Their old testament-style speech isn’t far removed from how hellfire and brimstone Ulster Presbytarian clergymen speak and it’s possible that Morrison would have heard their Scottish cousins in full flow too.

I loved that Submissionary Judah seems to have emphasised his disapproving down-turned mouth with make-up! Irving does a great job with the facial expressions, especially Klarion’s almost insane delight at the most inconsequential gee-gaws and baubles of modern life.

The Mini-series – Klarion’s journey seeking answers reads a bit like a Gnostic ‘Pilgrims Progress’. All the way through, our rebellious, questioning hero refuses to accept the received wisdom that is handed down to him. We see that the Limbo-town religion has more to do with social control than ‘revealed truth’. He finds out that the god Croatoan has abandoned them and has long been absent. He becomes a part of several different groups, each with their own philosophy, but he leaves each behind and continues on his own path to enlightenment. Klarion physically makes the journey up and down the levels between Limbo Town and the surface, echoing the journeys up and down the levels of awareness that we see enacted in Morrison’s work again and again.

Finally, in true Gnostic style, he discovers that everything they have been led to believe is false. Not only has their God abandoned them, but they themselves are the product of the Sheeda folk they so fear and they’ve all been ultimately fathered by the Satanic figure of Melmoth himself. Even the authority figures that work tirelessly to keep them all believing in the ‘true faith’ are in fact merely machines put in place at the beginning by the diabolic Melmoth. Their whole community is merely an experiment carried out by him. Makes you think…

I loved reading this series again. It’s great to see a whole original world and culture take shape in front of our eyes. Limbo Town is another example of how, in Ed Starguard’s words “human beings make culture and meaning for ourselves, even down there in the garbage”.

Looking at it now, it does read better at the beginning of the sequence, as a lot of the later plots flow from it. Even though it is all one novelistic story, I can attest that single issues of it make a good read. I picked up 2 non-sequential issues of it cheap a long time before buying the collections, and I enjoyed them.

An Ongoing series – For various reasons this wouldn’t lend itself to an ongoing series as well as the Guardian and the Shining Knight. For one thing, the point of the story is in Klarion’s discovery of the truth of his existence. A new series would have to approach the subject differently.

Still, there is a whole new community here and a location that could be used in other DCU books. Klarion himself would make a great guest star. Croatoan knows, the creators need a few new elements to mix in with their endless reboots and reinventions of the same tired old properties.

Making the dead get up and work again seemed like a good metaphor of how the BIg Two keep resurrecting the same old characters and stories to keep the shrinking isolated time-lost fan community happy.

"Leh Mee Sleeep!"

Influences – King Kirby aside, there are probably more literary influences than comicbook, all in all. Irving's art seems to be original and perfectly suited to this mini-series. Yes, Gaiman is here too. Limbo Town is very ‘Vertigo’ without ripping off any particular Sandman setting.
Zatanna #1-4

"You got me now. Sorceror. Apprentice. Deal?" – Misty to Zatanna.

Issue 1 The Origin –
The first issue doesn’t look like an origin issue at all. Zatanna is obviously in mid-career here, even if she is at an important staging post in her life. We do see her upbringing by Zatara, whose example both as a hard-working, honest single parent and stage-magician and as a good-guy magical superhero obviously influenced Zatanna’s path in life. We also see the moment when he died, leaving Zatanna to carry on the good fight.

Although Zatanna is obviously well-established as a superhero – a sometime member of the JLA no less – this first issue does give us a very basic outline of what kind of series this is going to be. She has obviously reached a personal crisis. It is underplayed, but to place this story in the context of the wider DCU of this time, Zatanna is punishing herself with guilt from her role in the Identity Crisis mind-wiping episode. (Guilt again…)

The cliff-hanger is that she has unwittingly released a very powerful shape-shifting demon that may destroy the entire world.

The route out of her present predicament appears unexpectedly in the form of a new ‘apprentice’ to her ‘sorceror’. Misty makes this new role Zatanna’s life explicit in the final page of this ‘origin issue’. Zatanna, almost paradoxically, can only learn and grow and move on now, by becoming the parent-figure herself. Zatanna is just at the very important stage in life where a person goes from being a child/student to being a parent/teacher.

This is powerful, fundamental subject matter for any work of art. Again, like Manhattan Guardian, it’s a more grown-up slant on the usual superhero tales of personal development.

Influences (Issue #1) – Moore is all over this. Zatanna refers to the scene in Swamp Thing where her father died, and her own attempt to perform a similar séance-type ceremony ends even more disastrously, with all her companions being roasted to death.

Morrison is working through his own issues with Moore as his creative fore-father. Zatanna’s journey through the Imaginal realms is a direct homage to Moore’s Promethea, complete with lectures on magic and strange tricks with the form of the comics page. Zatanna has an extremely intelligent skeptic in tow, though, which trumps Moore’s use of the impressionable Sophie Bangs. Moore seemed to imply that the reality of the higher realms Sophie/Promethea wandered through was only symbolic, whereas Morrison has Dr Thirteen suggest ways they might be ‘real’.

By the way - that Zatanna attended one of Terry's book-signings and invited him on a magical journey suggests that they might have had a more than platonic relationship leading up to the seance. (Although Wiki states this as a fact - natch.)

Gaiman is definitely here too. The group in the first issue arrive at a place where “all the books that were ever written in anyone’s head” are. This recalls Luciens Library of Unwritten Books from Sandman.

More on the rest of the series later.
Zatanna #1 side-bar - Guru Grant

Just a little aside here on an aspect of Morrison’s own teaching method. When Zatanna's group meet Ra-man, he refers to the green six-sided sun which Zatanna invoked to bring the group along with her into the magical realm.

“Call it not a hexagon, call it a cube star from the bright-world and Ra-realm one of the calculations it performs.”

Behind his head is indeed a green sun apparently in the shape of a hexagon, but as Ra-man is pointing out here, suns are three-dimensional objects, and a six-sided cube, when viewed from a certain angle, looks like a hexagon. Also a cube is often rendered with a hexagonal outline when an artist or mathematician depicts it on a two-dimensional plane.

This casts light not only on the significance of the dice in this story, but also on something that occurred way back in Ultramarine Corps #1. A seemingly opaque exclamation from the Master as he was being sucked into the CUBE-like(!) Qwewq universe:

“A Manifold!!!! Absorbing me flat!!! Flat!!!! !!!!I am gone and it grows in me a seed!!!!”

I had to look up what he meant by manifold, but even then still couldn't understand what might be going on here. Basically a manifold is a method used by mathematics, of depicting an object in a format that has less dimensions than the object itself. Thus a 3-dimensional sphere can be rendered as a two-dimensional Circle, and as Ra-man attests, a cube can be rendered as a hexagon.

I’m a bit dumb, to tell the truth, and I still couldn’t quite get the point. However, the way the same concept is returned to and explained in a different way, in a different, new context here does help and I think I understand what a manifold is a bit better now than when I looked up the Master’s strange outburst a few weeks ago.

The idea of the manifold has a relevance to the overall Seven Soldiers saga. For one thing, by looking at this 2-dimensional universe we are getting insights into our own – which is of course true about most comics. All of them in any case represent our 4-dimensional world in 2-dimensions. The head-wrecking part is that the 3-dimensional dice carried around by both Klarion and Misty may somehow be a representation of higher dimensions than the standard four, which is where their power comes from.

Beyond Seven Soldiers of Victory, Morrison continued his exploration of the DCU in both Batman and Final Crisis. In the former, Batman once again meets his 5th dimensional fan – Batmite, and in the latter we see a character using a Rubik's Cube to tap into higher-dimensional power. Both of these elaborate on the ideas touched on above.

Remarks like those already mentioned by the Master and Ra-man above are often cited as examples of Morrison loading his comics with seemingly indecipherable gibberish, often with the charge of too many recreational drugs thrown in. On closer examination, they do add up over the whole body of Grant's work to a series of consistent statements and a sustained effort to communicate difficult but fascinating ideas.

If nothing else, stories showing us tiny glimpses of what it might be like to exist in 5 or more dimensions is the equivalent of how stories showing lost Krypton in Superman's parents time must have seemed to comics fans half a century ago. They are a gateway to wonder and awe.
The Time Tailors/7 Unknown Men are in fact on a level between our reality and the DCU. They are a means for Morrison to represent the writers of the comics in a language which makes sense to the characters in the DCU. Powerful, faceless, interfering agents. In the same way, the 'Grant Morrison' who appeared in Animal Man wasn't really Grant Morrison. He was a representation of him on a higher plane than Buddy Baker's everyday life, but Animal Man obviously didn't wander across that dowdy park in Glasgow and knock on Grant's door in real life.

I just reread Animal Man #26, the final issue of Grant's run that you refer to. In the literal sense of course you're right: this is a comic book representation of Animal Man meeting Grant Morrison. It's not the real world. But the emotional power of that issue depends on the reader feeling that it is real. And the autobiographical elements are meant to heighten that sense of reality. That's what makes the final scene about Grant's imaginary childhood friend Foxy so touching. He attempts to reach across the years with his flashlight, and gives up on getting an answer...but the reader sees that answer after the character Grant Morrison has left the panel (and Animal Man is nowhere in sight). It's moving to me now, even after reading it many times, and I can't say exactly what it means. That's the power of the creative act: it goes beyond our theorizing, and even beyond what Grant Morrison was consciously intending when he wrote it.
Yeah, that scene has a lot of emotional punch alright. It probably gains a lot from being at the end of such a great run with such extremes of emotion leading up to it. It's also the way Morrison keeps the closing action up (almost) at the same level of reality as the reader, as you say. You're right of course that its hard to say why it's so effective. There's something there about the power of these imaginary characters.

My point about it not being as 'real' as me and you at our keyboards, was only to illustrate how the Seven Unknown Men are, like 'Grant Morrison' in Animal Man #26, on a much higher level of 'reality' than Zatanna/The Newsboy Army/I,Spider, but still not as real as you and me.

I've said myself a few times that Morrison doesn't do good endings, but Animal Man's was pitch perfect.

I've thought about those closing scenes a lot (they are so good, and stay with you a long time) and the blasphemous notion occured to me that maybe there was no imaginary childhood friend, and no torchlight signals in the dark. Maybe the cat that died is fictional too. Morrison constructs stories for a living after all. I'd love to think it was all true, and it feels very authentic, but it is such good story that it just might be too good to be true...

If I could ask Morrison one question about his work it would be about these final elements of his Animal Man run. I'd hate to think he made them all up, but its a possibility.

This makes me very cynical, I know.

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