Posted tagged ‘Grant Morrison’

Review: Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance

March 23, 2010

Joe Casey excells at two things in particular when it comes to superhero stories, characters with an awareness marketing concerns (Wildcats, the Intimates), and characters that owe a huge debt to Jack Kirby (Godland).  So now he’s been given what is essentially a dream job with Dance, a mini-series focusing on Grant Morrison’s Super Young Team.

The Super Young Team is a group of five Japanese teen heroes, who Morrison used as a replacement for Kirby’s hippie-radical Forever People.  With their publicity agent in tow they spend this series trying find a way to redefine the role of modern superheroes, although they never quite succeed, and sadly neither does Casey, although he does come fairly close.

There’s a lot to love here, but it’s all things that Casey has done better elsewhere.  For example Most Excellent Superbat’s (he of the power of being unbelievably rich) running Twitter feed along with the narrative works great, but not quite as well as the meta-commentary scroll bar Casey used in the Intimates.  More importantly considering the team only has five members, it’s an issue that one is entirely ignored and another written off as little more than a lush.

It’s still worth a read though, especially if you’ve never been exposed to Casey.  But he is capable of better.

Review: Final Crisis

June 20, 2009

Final Crisis is kind of a frustrating book, epitomizing both the best and worst of Grant Morrison.  There are big ideas on display on every page and the scale of the story is overwhelming.  This is a tribute to the legacy of Jack Kirby, its a meditation on the role of superheroes in pop culture, and its the summation of Morrison’s entire career at DC.  Thus while it is often great, it’s more often prohibitively dense.

You really have to wrestle with this story in order to grok it, and while normally that’s a very rewarding experience with a Grant Morrison book, it doesn’t really work when the comic in question is supposed to be a widescreen tent-pole event.  Huge events happen in this book, the silver age Flash returns from the dead, while both Batman & the Martian Manhunter meet their ends, and yet these moments get lost in the somewhat experimental narrative.  

This is soooo close to being a great book, but somehow it just doesn’t quite work.

Review: Seaguy

April 2, 2009

My most anticipated comic for the year came out yesterday, I am of course speaking of Seaguy: the Slaves of Mickey Eye.  This is the second part of a planned trilogy, that began 5 years ago and has been in limbo while writer Grant Morrison worked on some more mainstream projects and spent time coercing DC into publishing the sequel.

Their caution is understandable, Seaguy was an incredibly bizarre comic, even by Morrison’s standards (a man famous for desiring a self aware DC comics universe), but it’s also perhaps the single best summation of his career to date.  All of his themes are here, all of his brilliance, and some of the best examples of his run away imagination (I particularly like the image of the moon crying for help, shedding heiroglyph encrusted bricks down on the happiest place on Earth).  Morrison is compleately unrestrained in this book, it seems like every stray thought he had during the writing process has found a way into the story, and that largely works, and even when it doesn’t it’s hard to resist the sheer joy that seems to be present on each page (despite the fact that the story is pretty much a dystopian tragedy).

A large part of that joyous impression is due to artist Cameron Stewart, one of the most versatile and underutilized people in the industry.  He gained a decent amount of attention two years back with the Other Side, Jason Aaron’s career-launching Vietnam tale, for which he traveled to the country to get the landscape right, so clearly he can handle realism.  But here he has to draw flying fish-like creatures, hordes of clockwork, Atlantian moths, and of course the unfinished portion of the Moon (and the Mummy who lives there), all so that they fit into a cohesive world.  The result is one of the most eye pleasing books Vertigo has ever produced.

So thank you DC for finally letting the story continue.

Review: All Star Superman

September 26, 2008

This week saw the release of the final issue of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman.  I don’t usually bring up these things until they’ve been collected, but I’m making an exception in this case.  This series is a masterpiece, it’s probably the best Superman comic ever written and is one of the only 2 sure to be classic stories to come out of Marvel and DC (not counting Vertigo) in the last decade (the other being Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier).

I’ve seen comparisons out there on the internets to Watchmen.  And it may very well be that good, although it’s a very different sort of story.  Where Watchmen sought to deconstruct the superhero genre All Star Superman seeks to embrace it instead.  The book can feel a bit anachronistic at times becuase of this approach actually, many of the issues are based heavily off of the rather silly Superman comics of the silver age.  But that’s also one of the book’s strengths, as Morrison is telling what is really a foundational superhero comic.

There is so much I could say about this book, but Timothy Callahan over at CBR already summed it up far better than I could:

“This Superman rises above genre conventions to become something mythic. He is a god. He is the perfection that we can only dream of. And only Morrison and Quitely, at the top of their game, can even attempt to tell his stories.”

Reserve the collected editions of this book now!  It should be an essential part of any serious comic collection.

Keeping Current with Comics

August 30, 2008

Yesterday I tried to remove whatever collection development credentials people thought I had.  But I did say that the one area of particular expertise I might actually possess is in comics.  So I figured I’d take a shot and do a batch of brief write ups on current comics libraries should be aware of.

Secret Invasion: For the past decade at least the Summer has been the time for large scale comics events and crossovers.  Actually for the past few years the events have all kind of blended together to the extent that some fans are complaining of event overload.  Secret Invasion is Marvel’s entry this year, and it concerns an alien invasion of shape shifters who have been posing undetected as some of Marvel’s most well known characters (in some cases for quite some time).  The book has received decent reviews overall and I’ve been enjoying it, but there are accessibility issues for those who haven’t been following the last few years worth of Marvel stories.  In the end it will probably prove more significant for the effect it has on the Marvel line to come than for the story itself.

Final Crisis: Final Crisis is DC’s answer to Secret Invasion.  It’s being marketed as the day evil won.  The writer on this one is Grant Morrison, a personal favorite but someone who’s more eccentric writing tendencies don’t always lead to clearly told stories.  Final Crisis has also suffered from poor editorial control (the story did not match up with many of the details from the books that led into it, including the death of a major character).  Again I fear it’s going to become essential reading because of its effects (notably the return of the Silver-Age Flash, Barry Allen) and not because of its own merits.

Final Crisis: the Legion of Three Worlds: The Legion of Three Worlds is a pseudo-spin-off of Final Crisis (because the worlds Final Crisis are in the title), and so far it’s shaping up to be far superior to its parent book.  The story, crafted by the workhorse Geoff Johns and drawn by George Perez at the top of his game, is an attempt to redefine the Legion of Superheroes, one of DC’s best loved but most muddled books.  Early reviews have uniformly praised the book and it is becoming a series I am greatly looking forward to the ending of.

Green Lantern: Another Geoff Johns book.  Johns relaunched Green Lantern a number of years ago now, bringing back classic ring bearer Hal Jordan and focusing on crafting a true mythology for the character.  Having succeeded at his initial goals he has worked to steadily up the ante on the action in the story.  Last year he gave us the Sinestro Corps War, in which a Universe wide battle broke out involving most of the villains from the biggest events in DC history.  Since that time he’s been steadily building to The Blackest Night, a story which probably has more buzz going for it than anything in comics at the moment (including the 2 current events).  Keep an eye out for it.

Batman: RIP: In a similar bit of character redefinition, Grant Morrison has been steadily working on a deconstructionist take on Batman for awhile now.  His run has met with mixed reviews so far, albeit with a few standouts to date (the League of Heroes collaboration with J.H. Williams was one of my favorite comics last year).  But the culmination of his approach to the character is in the current story arch, in which Bruce Wayne suffers a massive psychological break and all of the events that led to the creation of the Batman are thoroughly reexamined.  It’s been a riveting story and it seems pretty certain that the Batman coming out of it will be different than the one that went in to it.

The Punisher: Garth Ennis has just wrapped up what has been by far the best take on the Punisher in the character’s history.  Make no mistakes this is an adult comic, in which the Punisher is portrayed as a near mythical force of nature.  It it grim, it is tightly plotted, the art is gorgeous, and it left me never wanting to read another Punisher comic because everything else can’t help but come across as a disappointment after this.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8: Exactly what it sounds like.  Joss Whedon has reassembled a large portion of his writing staff from the classic show along with a number of comics writers with tv writing experience and has crafting a follow up season.  And it’s really good.  If you were a fan of the show or know someone who was make sure to pick up this book as it has lost none of what made the Buffy great to begin with.

The Umbrella Academy: Easily the most enjoyable comic last year.  My Chemical Romance’s front man Gerard Way has crafted an entirely original take on superhero comics (or is that dysfunctional family stories).  The art from Gabriel Ba is perfectly suited to the material (I don’t know of anyone else who could nail something like a robot zombie Gustave Eifle with such wild abandon).  The sequel launches next year.

Criminal: Criminal is a show case for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to tell the sort of crime stories they love.  Besides the story each issue (which have consistently been the most well crafted comic of each month) the comics contain a wealth of interviews, reviews, and letter columns concerning the history of the crime genre.  The book is nearly as good as a reference resource as it is for the stories.

Collections: The last few years have been a great time for collected editions.  Bookstores and libraries have opened up to nicely bound editions and the major publishers have been doing a great job of dusting off their back catalogs.  A few archival projects are of particular note.  DC has been republishing some great hardcover editions of James Robinson’s Starman, Grant Morrison’s JLA, and everything Jack Kirby did for them in the 70’s (The Fourth World Omnibus’ have a place of honor on my bookshelves).  Some other recent highlight are Image’s collections of Mike Allred’s Madman, Oni’s new editions of Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country, and another personal favorite, Marvel’s recently released omnibus edition of Howard the Duck (which really is an essential read, albeit a pricey one).