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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I'm just about to read it Mark.  Thanks for the heads up.

I thought I'd start out with the Vertigo summary of the reprint edition:

"Slim and fast, KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND is perfectly teenaged pop perfection, equal parts glam and bang, sex and violence, whimsy and menace." — Matt Fraction on artbomb.net

A Vertigo cult classic returns with this new, third printing of KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND, written by
Grant Morrison (FINAL CRISIS, THE INVISIBLES) and illustrated by Philip Bond (VIMANARAMA) and D'Israeli (THE SANDMAN). Originally published in 1995, KILL YOUR BOYFRIEND is an over-the-top black comedy of rebellion and teen romance topped with a heady mix of random violence and dark humor.


A British schoolgirl yearning for excitement joins up with an angry rebel boy intent on tearing down middle-class England. Through their violent, anti-authority joyride – filled with sex, drugs, and anarchy – Morrison offers a scathing, often-hilarious take on the British suburban landscape, where edgy behavior provides an escape from
sanity. This new printing also includes Morrison's 1998 afterword to the story and the origami "fortune teller," with bizarre messages specially created by Morrison.

I read the original edition, so there was no afterward or origami.  I tried to find the afterward online, but the best I could do was a Morrison interview on the occasion of the reprint.  This will do to start with; I'll be back later with my impressions.

Reading this again, I was struck by how absurd it is: it really is a black comedy above all else.  There certainly is some social commentary, but it's so over the top that it's hard to take it seriously.  The teenage protagonists are doing the age-old teenage protest against authority, but they're doing it with guns.  The bit about Dionysus and his female followers the Maenads which Morrison mentioned in the afterward and the interview is actually briefly brought up in the story (p.4, by the Girl's high school teacher).  But then then the story quickly goes on its merry ultraviolent way.  I thought the most direct target was the group of avant-garde artists, with all their revolutionary talk that turned out to be just talk.  

The story really has two endings.  The first is the conclusion of the killing spree, where the Girl resolves to go all in by shooting her father, only to discover that she's out of bullets.  Presumably she miraculously escapes all blame, because on the final page we see her ten years later as a housewife with a young daughter.  She is slowly poisoning her husband with rat poison (earlier she had added "I'm a housewife with a jar of rat poison" to her list of possible personalities).  So this is her revolt against the boring life she wound up with?  It's all done with a wink to the reader, so we probably shouldn't read much into it.

The first time I read this comic (not so long ago), I thought it was too obviously Morrison giving us his version of a Brechtian drama, where we are shocked into re-assessing the boundaries of morality and socially acceptable behaviour.

 

I think this quotation from wiki on Brecht's methods shows some of the similarities with what Morrison is doing in Kill Your Boyfriend:

 

Brecht created an influential theory of theatre—the epic theatre—that proposed that a play should not cause the spectator to identify emotionally with the characters or action before him or her, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of the action on the stage. Brecht thought that the experience of a climactic catharsis of emotion left an audience complacent. Instead, he wanted his audiences to adopt a critical perspective in order to recognise social injustice and exploitation and to be moved to go forth from the theatre and effect change in the world outside. For this purpose, Brecht employed the use of techniques that remind the spectator that the play is a representation of reality and not reality itself. By highlighting the constructed nature of the theatrical event, Brecht hoped to communicate that the audience's reality was equally constructed and, as such, was changeable.

 

There are lots of distancing techniques in the comic.  It's hard to identify with a pair of nihilisitic murderers for a start, and then there are the comedy elements, as well as the asides to the reader.

 

We can just about make out what the Girl is rebelling against in the comic, but much of it we have to surmise for ourselves.  Her parents aren't that bad, nor is her life, really. It is just boredom and the need to 'work now to play later' that she reacts against.

 

My problem with it was that it was quite dated.  Morrison didn't really update the template of teenage rebellion and the assault on hypocritical bourgois morality.  The art students on the bus and their Marxist Dialectic Deconstruction seemed to be straight out of the 60s or 70s.  The world has moved on since then.

 

Rereading it now, I can see it's a bit more complex than just a do-over of 60s agitprop theatre.  The young rebels seem to have fire in their bellies and truth on their side when they accuse the art students of being all talk and no trouser, as you've picked up on, Mark.

 

The funny thing is that we are only reading this story of the murderous attack on middle class values because a young arty type wrote a comic strip for it.  The Girl tells them that their artistic 'events' won't change anything, only shock the middle classes and the guardians of morality - much like this comic would have.  Morrison seems to be on the side of the young couple, but actually he's on the side of the art students, giving us a fiction on (ie only talking about) rebellion.

 

The Invisibles had a very ambivalent attitude to education, and so does this story.  The Girl finds school stultifying and to some extent she is right that part of its remit is to produce obedient drones who will people the future.  Still, that is great stuff the teacher tells them about the Maenads and Dionysos.  I wish my teachers had taught me stuff like that) (But then again, school was also a place where I could learn more than just what was on the curriculum, and us students did sometimes share stuff we'd learned like this.)  The Maenads story is exciting and gives the Girl a framework on which to build her rebellion.

 

She doesn't really take her rebellion very far.  She complains about being moulded into an obedient drone, but says that the best thing about the path she takes in response is that she is allowing someone else to decide her personality and behaviour.  Like the Maenads she is surrenderring her free will and sense of responsibility for her actions. 

 

There is complexity also in the depiction of how young people today actually live.  Instead of the promiscuous, drug-taking sociopaths that we are constantly told our youth are becoming, the Girl and her friend are hard-working, clean-living and hesitant about becoming sexually active.  It's only when we get into the black comedy, over-the-top farce that we see the young people we recognise from the tabloid newspapers - meaningless violence and all.  We all have understandable urges to break conventions the way this young couple are able to do with such freedom, but possibly, society projects those urges onto the youth in our society.  Middle class guardians of morality certainly spend a lot of time ruminating on the fun other people are having!

 

I think that the title 'Kill Your Boyfriend' is another reference to the "Meet the Buddha, Kill the Buddha, meet your parents, kill your parents" philosophy.  To teenage girls, obsessed with fitting in and being 'normal', the boyfriend is the most important person to them.  Killing your boyfriend means shattering what is expected of you and going down your own path. 

 

And the heroine does actually try to kill her father before it is all over. 

 

Kill Your Boyfriend probably bears comparison to St Swithin's Day.  Both are about young people trying to assert themselves in a dull modern British context.  The Girl's story is less engaging than that of the Boy in Swithins, because of the distancing techniques, the farcical elements and how beyond the pale she actually goes against people who don't really wish her harm.  Her story doesn't have the little details that make her a 'real' person, the way the Boy in Swithins does.  I'd like to say they are two parts of a trilogy, but can't think what the third part might be.  Perhaps that two-part Hellblazer story about the butcher's son in smalltown England?

 

Thanks for the great interview link, Mark.  I deliberately didn't read it before posting above, as I figured (correctly) that the horses mouth would render redundant a lot of what I thought about the book.  This book is just about explained by the idea in the interview that art is the non-violent means that Morrison can stick two fingers up to conventional society

 

Bond serves the story beautifully though, doesn't he?  Comics being what they are it's hard to add much more by way of critique of the art.  Although he obviously made deliberate choices about the colouring and framing and layout of his pages that make it work well here.  I wonder why we don't see more of his work?  He must be raking it in as a commercial illustrator or designer or something.

I'm glad you enjoyed the interview, Figs.  I agree about Bond.  I had a little trouble with his Invisibles work, because it didn't blend in with the other artists.  But it's great here.  And a couple of other comments:

My problem with it was that it was quite dated.  Morrison didn't really update the template of teenage rebellion and the assault on hypocritical bourgois morality.  The art students on the bus and their Marxist Dialectic Deconstruction seemed to be straight out of the 60s or 70s.  The world has moved on since then.

Absolutely.  It reminds me of Godard's film "Breathless," which was made in 1960.  Of course I'm more or less a child of that era, so it's like old home week for me.

Kill Your Boyfriend probably bears comparison to St Swithin's Day.  Both are about young people trying to assert themselves in a dull modern British context.  The Girl's story is less engaging than that of the Boy in Swithins, because of the distancing techniques, the farcical elements and how beyond the pale she actually goes against people who don't really wish her harm.  Her story doesn't have the little details that make her a 'real' person, the way the Boy in Swithins does.

This makes St. Swithin's Day sound even more interesting than the first time you mentioned it!  I'm really going to have to be on the lookout for a copy.

Kill Your Boyfriend probably bears comparison to St Swithin's Day.  Both are about young people trying to assert themselves in a dull modern British context.  The Girl's story is less engaging than that of the Boy in Swithins, because of the distancing techniques, the farcical elements and how beyond the pale she actually goes against people who don't really wish her harm.  Her story doesn't have the little details that make her a 'real' person, the way the Boy in Swithins does.

I completely agree. That sense of reality also takes the story into self-pitying adolescent autobiographical indie territory, as Cap mentioned in the original St. Swithin's Day thread, which I just went back and reread. But I think Morrison transcends most of that stuff. He manages to paint a picture of contemporary British society and the boy's sense of alienation in just a few pages. BTW, I had to go research the song "There She Goes" that he mentions a couple of times. Given the time frame, he must be referring to the original version by The La's. That flew below my radar at the time, but I heard the cover version by Sixpence None the Richer many times when it came out in 1999. It's a great pop song, which no doubt is evocative of the period for Morrison.

Here's what you said about the conclusion, with the SPOILER overlay removed:

I think that illuminates the climax of this story very well. Our boy’s fears and demons were a product of his way of looking at the world, rather than actually personified in a demented old lady. It’s fitting that he uses an imaginary gun to defeat those demons.

I liked the fact that he did not pull out a real gun very much. As you say, actually shooting Thatcher was not necessary to make the point. The Boy took action, and that was enough to get him unstuck. There are only four panels of epilogue, but they show him headed home in the sun ready to accept life. It's an altogether more satisfying conclusion than the one in Kill Your Boyfriend.

Glad you enjoyed it Mark, and hopefully the ending was a surprise.  The more I think about it, the more I consider St Swithin's Day a little gem of a comic.  There's such a lot in those 24 pages, and that's a fantastic twist at the end that subverts everything and puts such a positive spin on it.  I wonder did Cap actually read to the end, if he still has it mentally filed as self-pityingly adolescent?

 

Before Britpop in the early 90's was a Manchester (Madchester) scene, with bands like Happy Mondays and Stone Roses.  They mixed dance music and indie guitar music to great effect.  The La's preceded and were part of that Madchester scene, but were hugely respected and inspriational to the indie music that came after them, even though they only really had one album and one single. 

 

As achingly romantic as it sounds, it's largely accepted that 'There she goes' is about heroin!  Not that neurotic boy outsiders of the 80's would have realised it at the time.

 

The climactic scene of Swithin's is so similar to a key Batman scene in Final Crisis, that they comment on each other.  But that may be a bridge too far for you, Mark!

In the course of my research on the song I saw the heroin theory rejected by a band member...not a definitive proof, of course. Ultimately songs mean what listeners think they mean. You're right about the Batman scene. Might be true, but I'm not going there, despite being a big Batman fan for a few years!

 

And thanks again for sending me your spare copy. I really wanted to read it, and was not disappointed. Mission accomplished!


Figserello said:


As achingly romantic as it sounds, it's largely accepted that 'There she goes' is about heroin!  Not that neurotic boy outsiders of the 80's would have realised it at the time.

 

The climactic scene of Swithin's is so similar to a key Batman scene in Final Crisis, that they comment on each other.  But that may be a bridge too far for you, Mark!

In August 2010, Jeff of Earth-J said elsewhere:

The JLA story is typical Morrison, involving aliens and the hoary Silver Age DC motif of disembodied costumes coming alive.


I was just flipping through the threads and came across this. I've read some of Morrison/Millar's Flash in the meantime and their first storyline involves "the hoary Silver Age DC motif of disembodied costumes coming alive."

When I read the Flash story, the idea seemed fresh enough to me, but then maybe I haven't read enough hoary old DC stories! What are the key DC Silver Age stories of costumes coming alive?

I'm very interested as Morrison uses variations on this theme over and over again. eg, it is the central conceit of the only all-British Captain Britain story you skipped in your look at that character, Jeff.

And just by happenstance, in the last ten minutes I've come across this: the cover of 52 week 30, to pick a completely random example:

 

 

In the Invisibles Morrison coined the term 'fiction suit' to mean the whole set of signifiers of identity that we 'wear' and each of us think of as 'me'. Whereas his argument is that they are just a suit that we can put on or take off as we decide.

Which is taking a Silver Age comicbook concept to quite a philosophical extreme, but that's Morrison for you...

(I've also come to the realisation lately that virtually all of the concepts Morrison uses in his DCU work are developments of ideas in previous DC comics, so seeing here that he was using a hoary old idea, struck me more on this readthrough.)

Figserello said:
 What are the key DC Silver Age stories of costumes coming alive?



I haven't gone through the dozen pages of this thread, so someone may have addressed your question already, Fig. But the seminal story of super-hero costumes coming alive is "Battle Against the Bodiless Uniforms", from JLA # 35 (May, 1965).

 

Though the big finish is the Justice League battling the disembodied costumes of five of their arch-foes, the opening half depicts the five members active in this tale squaring off against their own respective costumes, animated and turned hostile by the hidden villains of the piece.

 

 

 

There are, no doubt, other instances of DC Silver-Age heroes fighting bodiless costumes, but they probably won't occur to me until I hit the rack, long after I post this.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Thanks Commander.  I change the subtitle of this thread as its latest topic changes.  It's a very baggy thread, that has gone down many disparate Grant Morrison-related avenues.

 

So I've only just asked the question about the costumes.  That JLA issue, which I haven't read, looks like a great start.  That cover is wonderful.

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