The comic world loves Grant Morrison.
It seems like an inescapable truth that the world of comic books has had a love affair with Grant Morrison since his reinvention of Animal Man for DC Comics back in the 1980's. I remember the run, and can tell you with some certainty that he turned an otherwise laughable character into an intriguing and creative title that was a must-read throughout his tenure on the book. (Makes me wonder if I was on to something with my argument about Blue Beetle & Booster Gold earlier!) He followed it up with many commercial successes, and even more critical successes. In a simplified chronology of what has garnered his greatest fame I present this to you:
1. Animal Man
2. Doom Patrol
3. Arkham Asylum
4. Kill Your Boyfriend
5. Aztek (*highly underrated!)
6. Justice League (the relaunch that might have the best Justice League story ever!)
7. The Invisibles
8. JLA: Earth 2
9. New X-Men
11. Seven Soldiers Megaseries
12. All Star Superman
13. 52 (contributing writer)
15. Final Crisis
16. Batman & Robin
Why walk you through the seminal moments of his career? Easy. Because for me Grant Morrison is a strange mixture of must reads and over-thought frustrations.
Let's just get this out of the way really early on in the conversation; the man is smart. Sometimes I wonder if he isn't too smart to be writing comic books. He's smart like my friend the math genius, who makes me feel like that dumb bastard Affleck in Good Will Hunting. Why is that a problem? Because sometimes his stories are so smart that they lose me in their layers and levels, leaving me wondering if he's just wasted my time, instead of marveling at his brilliance and insightfulness.
A conversation with another one of this blog's followers brought about the same evaluation of Batman Rest In Peace. He found the story overdone to the point that much of its layered brilliance was lost on him. Does Morrison actually expect that enough of his audience is in tune with his goals that they appreciate his efforts to tie together aspects of every era of Batman story telling that has ever existed? And even if, with the light of reason targeted on it, you can follow the subtle details that make it all work.......does that give him an excuse for trying to write Bat-Mite into a story arc? Is there any excuse for that?
At its heart, the story was smart and the manner in which he drew upon pieces of Batman continuity long abandoned and tied it together to make it relevant once again showed a literary genius that will win him many, many awards. It might even win him some fans. But it will never, in my humble opinion, accomplish what he managed to achieve on other projects where he didn't beat his readers over the head with their own ignorance. What amongst his work did I like best? I was obviously very high on his Justice League relaunch, in which he was tasked with overhauling the team and bringing back the "big guns." The first four issues were tremendous, and the moment where Superman declared Batman the most dangerous man alive was epic.
I also loved his (now) lesser recognized tales, like Aztek (which he did with soon to be VERY famous Mark Millar - he of Kick Ass fame) and Kill Your Boyfriend. Animal Man was a personal favorite as well, but I have a soft spot, as you all know, for fringe characters who are given reworks by major writing talents. His newest work on Batman & Robin has also been very impressive, as he details the story that he set the stage for when he killed Bruce Wayne in Final Crisis (more on that shortly.) His pairing of Dick with Damien makes the book work, and brings a different style to the classic Dynamic Duo. Also, I did enjoy 52. A weekly book tying together a series of seemingly unrelated events, all culminating in Final Crisis? Good work.
Now Final Crisis was a different issue. It was really a story about the end of the Fourth World and the coming of the Fifth World. I was good with that part. But it also became so much more, and for me that was where the problems started. Sometimes I find Grant's stories a little bit too all-encompassing. The net result of which is that in tying up every loose end (which for continuity's sake many people like) I often find that I'm being distracted from the story I care about for the story that seems to just be added in for no reason. There were so many elements going on in Final Crisis, that it felt convoluted instead of smooth. Did I like the overall story of the conquest of Earth, and Darkseid's fall at the hands of "just a man." Yes. Did I need to have myself distracted with stories of renegade Monitors at the end of time, or virus' from parallel dimensions?
So this may just be personal taste.......and maybe it's because I'm just not that smart a guy.......but more Grant Morrison would be great (and guess who is writing Batman back into DC?).......but if he could just suffer some head trauma first?
That would be great.
Dumb it down a little Grant.
That's all I'm asking.