First let me start by saying that I am a HUGE Grant Morrison fan. In my mind, he can do no wrong. And when I’m presented with an instance where I’m not sure about something he’s written (such as his SEVEN SOLDIERS maxi-series from several years ago*) I usually just chalk it up to my own inability to understand or fully comprehend the Magick he has woven on the pages before me, not a faux pas on his part. Yet Morrison’s recent run on BATMAN, which ended with the much-hyped R.I.P. storyline book-ended by the possibly even more infuriating Last Rites (which apparently makes a lot more sense when read in the context of Infinite Crustacean, which I’m waiting for the hard cover on) is really pushing the limits of my ability to react favorably to Morrison’s trademark through-the-eyes-past-the-brain-direct-to-the-central-nervous-system weirdness.
Not saying I didn’t dig reading it, just saying I’m not sure if, when all is said and done, it actually makes sense.
Now, I know, I know. My brothers and sisters in the Morrison camp (and there are a lot more of us now aren’t there?) will tell me I’m being dismissive, but I don’t know. Take for instance the BLACK GLOVE storyline from earlier in the run. A three-part murder mystery highlighting a whole slew of F-level DC Batman wannabe characters** this one started off so freakin’ awesome it wasn’t even funny. Dark, violent*** and intriguing as all hell I read it monthly longing for each consecutive issue. But then the ending of the arc did what I like to call the ‘XMEN Crossover technique’ – where the set up and escalation of the events runs until about the last two pages and the ending just kinda falls from the sky. You know, in the old X-men crossovers (everything post Inferno) you’d get something like twelve issues of build-up and then in the most desperate ‘there is no hope now’ Rogue would say something like, “Hey Sugah, I bet if ah used mah power combined with yours and yours and yours we’d really kick some ass out of these baddies!” And they’d do that for two panels and cue the happy fucking ending.
Not what I want from Morrison.
Ok, maybe The Black Glove’s ending wasn’t that bad, and I may be being premature here with the rest of the run too. I’m really kinda thinking that once I reread the whole thing again concurrently with Infinite Triskets it will all make at least a little more sense. However, there still is something to be said for at least some semblance of self-containment. I mean, what if I didn’t want to read Infinite Cheetah-wheelies? That would surely be the case if it wasn’t Morrison writing it. I believe I’ve blogged here before about the kind of contempt I have for the DC Universe. But from what I’ve been hearing it sounds like Grant may have a spot of contempt for the last fifty years of evolution of the DCU as well, esp. the Kirby stuff, and all of this, from 7S to Batman to Infinite Crispies are all an attempt at fixing the continuity. For good.
Although we all know how long ‘for good’ lasts in comic book Timespace.
And as for the Batman, it has been suggested to me that as far back as Morrison’s ARKHAM ASYLUM in 1990 he’s been building toward an elimination of the Detective’s continuity and a total re-vamp, and it looks like that is what’s happening. Golden Age Batman continuity explained off as a sensory deprivation experiment to understand the Joker’s madness? (or something like that, thanks Mike for the explanation by the way) SOUNDS GREAT! Does anyone really harbor any love for that preteen caped crusader bullshit? I thought not.
So I guess just like ol’ GM I’ve gone backwards and forwards from where this rant started, but even though I’m unsure about my satisfaction (at this point) with the run, it’s still heads and tales better than any Batman story I’ve read since he did what I consider the best ever, Legends of the Dark Knight 6-10 GOTHIC****. And I’ll be reading it when he starts up on it again.
* See (**) below, it applies to 7S, but I’ve read the fucker a couple times through and still don’t quite get it.
** Low-level characters are always a plus instead of a minus with Morrison. I got into him reading Animal Man and I think my exact words when the entire twenty-something issue run was thrust upon me by an insistent friend was, “Who the fuck cares about Animal Man? I mean, what, he’s got the powers of animals? Bwahahaha!’ But of course five issues in I was convinced. And it’s been that way with every shit character he’s utilized since. I mean, he had Plastic Man as part of his JLA run. And it worked! Amazing.
*** Always love to see one dude wearing another dude’s face – unless it’s mine they’re wearing of course, but that kinda thing really sets a tone, right?
**** Of course I haven’t really read it very much since then. I’m the kind of person that feels like there are already enough Batman stories in existence, so unless it’s a writer I like, why bother reading it? And sure, I realize my putting GM’s 5 issue arc in LOTDK over Frank Miller’s original Dark Knight Returns will get some boo’s, but it’s really close and of course Frank has been on my shit list since that All Star Batman and Robin where Batman calls Robin a ‘retard’ immediately following the murder of his parents (we won’t even talk about the spirit).
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey