- Books, Literature, and Writing
Grant Morrison's Five Best Comics
If you have even a passing interest in comic books, chances are you've heard of Grant Morrison. A verifiable golden god, he has an intense love of the comic book industry combined with an encyclopedic knowledge of little known characters and a true literary gift. From Batman to Egg-Fu, the Chinese Egg Monster he can make any character new and exciting. As his history making run on Batman winds down over the next few months, we should take a look back at his other greats.
Justice League of America
Everyone knows the Justice League, right? Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and all their best friends fighting the universes toughest villains. Well, that wasn't always the case. For a long period in the '80s and early '90s, the Justice League was filled to the brim with second stringers. Which isn't to say it was bad, but it didn't have the grand appeal of the biggest names in DC comics.
Grant Morrison came in and changed all that. He turned the JLA into a true team of all-stars. In addition to the "big three", you had The Flash, Aquaman, and a rotating cast of DC Comics best and brightest. This comic really helped to shape what the Justice League would be for years to come.
Plus, Morrison helped to redefine the character of Batman. Already brought into a darker, gritty world by the likes of Denny O'Neil and Frank Miller, Morrison helped to establish Batman as the man with a backup plan for everything who is able to hold his own against powerhouses like Superman and the Martian Manhunter through his strategy and detective work.
Grant Morrison really excels when he gets to be weird. You'll see it again and again in this list, but here is where he really got to start out Doom Patrol originally came out at nearly the exact same time as Uncanny X-Men did. Both featured eerily similar plots about a wheelchair-bound leader bringing together a team of freaks to fight for justice.
Decades later, Grant Morrison would take over and really ramp up the freak angle. His bizarre pack of superheroes included characters such as Crazy Jane, who gained a new super power depending on which one of her nigh-on-infinite multiple personalities she was currently inhabited by. Weaving in elements of Dadaism as well as satire of the comic book genre, Morrison showed the X-Men who were really Earth's strangest heroes.
It gets weirder, all right. The Invisibles is the story of a cell of a larger resistance group fighting meta-physical invasion against agents of entropy, order, and disease infecting the world through parallel universes. The team consist of a teenage chav out of Britain who just might be the next Buddha, Jesus Christ, or both, a transsexual Mayan priestess who commands the powers of the filth god, a witch from the future who paints her face like a clown, and a regular old NYC cop who is just good at punching things. Oh, and a bald mystical hippy who eerily resembles Morrison himself.
A three volume work, The Invisibles covers a lot of ground. The joys of hallucinogens, religion, mysticism, and the tune out drug culture of the 70s are just the tip of the iceberg. If you're ready to sit down and think between bad guys getting punched, this is the book for you.
One of the best single issues in Invisibles spent the entire book detailing the life of a single henchmen killed by the protagonists earlier in the novel. After spending 30 pages learning about his hopes and dreams and secret hurts, you see your hero killed him with a witty turn of phrase and never a second thought. It forces the readers to confront their own amusement in the wanton murder they often revel in as fans of high action, and from there on out forces you to look at each death of even the most minor character in a new light.
These are all collected in trade paper back format, and I would definitely suggest picking them up if you're even slightly curious.
One of his first major comics, Grant Morrison was given the opportunity revamp a little known character named "Animal Man." Granted with the ability to copy the skills and traits of any animal within a certain range, Animal Man never really found an audience.
When Morrison started the new series, he quickly brought Animal Man into territories most superhero comics never dare to touch. In Animal Man, our hero Buddy Baker sees himself get more in touch with his animal side, embrace vegetarianism and radical animal rights groups (a cause Morrison himself is a strong believer in), and eventually face the death of his own family.
That's right, the wife and children of a superhero were brutally murdered. In his quest to find their killer, Buddy travels the time, dimensions, and eventually meets God. Or rather, his God, who in this instance happens to be a Scottish comic book writer named Grant Morrison.
Breaking the barrier between artist and subject, the two converse about the reality of comic books and how gods should treat their subject. Heady stuff for a guy who used to stop bank robbers.
A true epic. Seven different limited edition comic books, each running four issues each with a prologue and a final chapter that brings it all together. None of the characters interact, but all affect one another. The only mainstream character in the series is the magician Zantanna, the rest are new or little used character. These B-listers include Klarion, The Buleteer, and even Frankenstein's Monster.
Each mini-series dealt with an overarching theme of the sins of family and the past, and personal responsibility. You know, in addition to the extra-dimensional alien invasion.
Seven Soldiers is an unprecedented use of the comic medium to tell a unique story. Would that more authors had Morrison's bravery.
Hopefully, if you weren't interested in Grant Morrison before, you are now. He's one of the few greats in the comic book industry and he deserves your attention. Right now, he is in an exclusive contract with DC Comics, so you can see his work (including the mega event Final Crisis and the character defining Batman RIP) over at their official website.