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)
• 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.
• "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
• 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
• JLA: Earth 2, 1999
2000 - 2004 Marvellous Filth
• Marvel Boy, 6 issues Marvel 2000
• Fantastic Four: 1234 (Marvel Knights) 2001-2
• 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
• 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
• Final Crisis, May 2008-January 2009
• Batman and Robin, June 2009 onwards
• Batman 700 2010
• Return of Bruce Wayne 2010
2013 Beyond Batman
•Happy (with Darrick Robertson), Image, 4-issue mini-series, 2012-13
(682 - 20/03/12)
A few of you may be interested in a great dissection of Morrison's Seven Soldiers, by Andrew Hickey. It consists of a series of chapters of a book he's about to put out. I've found it fascinating.
Hickey declares Seven Soldiers of Victory to be one of the great superhero masterpieces of the last ten years. I can't disagree with him. If you are prepared to do a smidgin of thinkin while reading it, its a real treat for any superhero fan.
I identified, while reading the comic series, that there were some elements of it that appeared problematic, such as Frankenstein's final showdown with Neh-Buh-Loh, and the relationship of the Mr Miracle section to the rest. Hickey's exploration takes in Black Hole theory, Isaac Newton and the Forbidden Fruit of western myth on the way to opening out the text a bit.
(Read them from part one through to part ten, going to the 'previous page' from part one.)
There's a lot in them there books!
I think Seven Soldiers will just grow and grow in respect from the fans. There are certain people on this board that haven't read it yet, and I am sad for them if they never read it... :-(
I wouldn't say that about many comic stories.
This thread has become such a labyrinth that I'm not sure this is the right place, but I thought I'd start the discussion of Kid Eternity here. The character had a history going back to Quality Comics in 1942. I have no experience with the original character, and would welcome commentary by anyone on the board who has. DC had revived the character in the 1970s, but apparently Morrison and Duncan Fegredo largely went back to the original back story for the three part Prestige format series they created in 1991. It's very much a Vertigo-style approach, but since it predates Vertigo it was originally published as a DC title with the "Suggested For Mature Readers" tag.
The story begins with a then-nameless narrator, who appears on stage like a stand-up comedian. We immediately cut to an emergency room (working on an accident victim), then to a trendy party. It is here that Kid Eternity finally makes his appearance, summoned by the word "eternity" played in a Scrabble game. Mayhem ensues immediately, as the party-goers begin to die in unusual and graphic ways. The Kid introduces himself to the narrator (sketching out his origin in the process), as the narrator realizes he's dead.
So far the story is looking a lot like a Deadman story, but a very surreal one. It's hard to make sense of the various scenes presented, although the Kid's commentary begins to explain the connections. The project was probably intended to be a kind of sequel to Arkham Asylum. But it's far stranger, and lacks the hook of The Batman, a character familiar to any comics reader.
The second part of Kid Eternity contains Cantos III - IV (using this name for sections is a reference to Dante's Inferno, the first part of the epic poem Divine Comedy). This installment gets down to the whole point of Kid Eternity's appearance, which is to rescue his Keeper from Hell. First our narrator Jerry takes a side trip driven by guilt. One part of it involves a fundamentalist Christian preacher who also appeared in the first issue. It's not yet clear to me what his relationship to Jerry is, but it appears to be part of his childhood. After acquiring a map of Hell the pair begin their journey. At the end of the issue they find the Keeper, but something is terribly wrong. Hopefully all questions will be answered in the third and final issue!
Issue 3 of 3, in which all answers are revealed! Well, pretty much, anyway. Turns out that the whole story has a very Hellblazer-like struggle between Heaven and Hell behind it. Kid Eternity has been manipulated into playing his role right from the beginning, even before he died at sea. Jerry Sullivan (how could I have forgotten his last name?) also has a role. When he is visited in his hospital room by the preacher who has been cutting people like Jack the Ripper, he switches bodies, and goes on to a new life (and the beginning of a new age) with Val Hoffman, the woman who has had a recurring story all through the story. Apparently the Kid had summoned the Ripper years before and forgotten to send him back to Hell. In this issue we also see him using his summoning power explicitly (he used it back in Issue 1, but there was no explanation).
The basic set up of the Kid Eternity character certainly opens up cosmological questions, but I'm betting the previous stories had largely sidestepped them. Leave it to Morrison to make them central to the story, even though he takes a while to reveal them. I spent a good deal of my reading time somewhat confused about how the various story lines fit together, and the payoff wasn't totally satisfying in the end. This probably explains why I had only a vague memory from my first reading. It is gorgeous to look at: so if you like Duncan Fegredo's work, you'll want to check it out. The original Prestige format covers fit together to form a portrait of Kid Eternity.
Thanks for the cover image, Figs. I hadn't thought about seeking that out after I mentioned it. I agree that the concept overwhelms the story here. After two readings (with The Invisibles in between) I still felt like I wasn't completely following it. Unlike you, I do blame Morrison for his ambition in this case. Cripes, does every one of his longer stories have to boil down to the war between Chaos and Order? Hooray for the linearity of Joe the Barbarian!
Thanks for getting this up and running, Mark.
I haven’t been able to respond to your posts up to now, but I liked that you chose to review the mini-series on a book by book basis. It kind of highlighted that so much is difficult to figure out until the end.
This is an ambitious set of comics, and Fegredo’s art is ‘gorgeous’ in some ways. However, I thought the writing and the art were suited insofar as they were both wilfully obscure and muddied!
There is much to admire in these books, but on the whole I can’t get as enthusiastic about them as I do for a lot of Grant’s other work. I’m reminded very much of the most recent arc of Doom Patrol that I read for my Doom Patrol thread, issues 38-41, which covered the ‘War in Heaven’ between the Kaleidoscope and the Orthodoxy.
What the two stories have in common is that in both Grant is using a supernatural story to examine ideas about heaven and hell, religion, the Fall, and the questioning of orthodoxies. Both do cover this ambitious ground, but the philosophic elements are presented at the expense of the dramatic elements. Principally, in neither are we given enough about the personalities to actually feel for them, or care what happens to them. I have been putting off reviewing those Doom Patrol issues, because I just know that no-one on this board will care to read about them!
I think sometimes when people (like Randy, lol!) use the ‘weirdness for weirdness’s sake’ argument about Morrison, this is what they really mean. Once you’ve read your way around his work a bit, you can see that he is using nonconventional story elements to explore consistent themes in a structured way. He isn’t just being weird to be weird. What makes the subject ‘weird’ as well as the style, is that he is trying to explore situations that haven’t been sanctioned by centuries of Judeo-Christian western thought. Here it is Order and Chaos at war with each other rather than Good and Evil, and also it's those who seem demonic that are more sympathetic than the ‘angelic’ lords of order.
So it falls down in the characterisation. All that we know about Jerry Sullivan is that he is a stand-up comic (a bad one, judging by the material which opens each book!) Yes, we get the childhood toy talking to him and the flashback to the guilt over the much admired older brother’s death, but they are just tacked on, rather than fully integrated into the drama. Think about how toys, as the recipients of our childhood affection are used so well in Joe the Barbarian, or New Toys, or how a very similar flashback to a lost brother in SSoV’s Mister Miracle was expertly placed at the end to illuminate what Shilo had been struggling against and repressing all along.
The girl who is haunted by the urban myths never becomes more than exactly that: ‘the girl who is haunted by urban myths’ in the story. (Urban myths are a fascination of Grant’s, but he unwittingly uses two playground myths as scientific fact in Animal Man – that dogs can be killed by pulling their forelegs apart and that an earthworm cut in two can go on to become two perfectly viable worms.)
I found much of the story to be steamrolled under the philosophising and the outworking of the mechanistic plot filling in Kid Eternity’s backstory and place in the great war between Chaos and Order. Good works of speculative fiction need plenty of philosophy and of course a well-constructed plot, but they dominate this tale at the expense of character and drama.
I can’t blame Morrison for his ambition, but he’s just got the balance wrong in this tale. It is too dense, with not enough ‘heart’.
Fegredo's art is a little murky in places. Yes, the Preacher, and Jerry and the Jack the Ripper character all dress slightly differently, but there is nothing that immediately tells you which one is being showcased in a particular sequence. They are all young dark-haired men sloping around dark alleys and dimly-lit rooms! The reveal of Mister Keeper at the end of the 2nd book was supposed to be shocking, showing him in his real demonic form, but I wasn't really sure what I was looking at!
I have to admire the ambition and pride that DC were putting on show at this stage, though. These are beautifully presented volumes with high production values. Designed by Rian Hughes too! 'Fully painted' is obnviously much more labour and skill intensive than the normal pencil-ink-colour way of doing things. I love that aspect of it, but I guess the market just wasn't ready for this kind of thing. Just about all of these 'prestige format' books have been stuffing bargain bins since the 90s!
I just thought I'd mention it, but the party scene at the start was really of its time. Yuppies standing around a fancy apartment boasting about how successful they are becoming. We even see some of them with the red braces. I never thought I'd say a good thing about the Young, UPwardly mobile professionals of the 80s, but thinking about that term, I'm reminded that social mobility has halted and reversed since these books came out. Looked at in that light, their demise is a crying shame!
Mark Sullivan said:
This thread has become such a labyrinth that I'm not sure this is the right place, but I thought I'd start the discussion of Kid Eternity here. The character had a history going back to Quality Comics in 1942. I have no experience with the original character, and would welcome commentary by anyone on the board who has.
I was first introduced to Kid Eternity by way of a reprint story in one of those wonderful 100 Page Super-Spectaculars (which we talk about over here). It was a neat enough concept -- a guy sorta kinda drifting around, able to call up figures from the past on a whim. I recall reading two such Golden Age stories, but not the details of which comics I saw them in.
Later, much later, I read the proto-Vertigo Kid Eternity mini-series and ongoing series from Vertigo, all acquired from the quarter bin. All I can say is I that I found them completely incomprehensible.
(So why did I get them? Because I got them all from the quarter bin. I'll get anything if it's that cheap.)
I wrote something about Kid Eternity's pre-Crisis DC life here!