Grant Morrison

Swamp Thing 143 (June 1994)

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The Parliament of Stones? What’s the Parliament of Stones?

Morrison and Millar end the issue on a couple ominous notes, the aforementioned new Parliament being one of them. They also have the handful of strange guys playing handheld video games (the video games have to do with Alec’s quest).

The rest of the issue is an awesome action issue. Phil Hester doing Swamp Thing monster action needs to be seen. He manages the brutality, the size and the various plant roots quite well.

And it’s good the writers have the end surprises, because there’s really not much else to the issue. Abby and Alec break up again, after he saves her. Apparently, Morrison and Millar change continuity a little–Abby lost Tefé to the Parliament of Trees, she didn’t abandon her–and the break up feels like a repeat of a few issues ago.

It’s fun. Fake smart, but fun.

CREDITS

Desert Hearts; writers, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

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Swamp Thing 142 (May 1994)

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Well, Morrison and Millar sort of explain how Alec Holland ended up separated from the Swamp Thing but not really. At least not to anyone who has been reading the comic for a while. And it’s not a particularly visual sequence, so it comes off perfunctory. They wrote themselves into a corner and have to get out.

The Swamp Thing monster doesn’t have a lot of scenes; Alec gets on its trail eventually. Abby has some scenes–she’s on the run–but the writers don’t give her much to do. They try to be very writerly, actually, with this awkward moment with a chauvinist pig.

Most of the issue is talking. Not quite talking heads–Hester does get some good stuff to draw–but it’s the Traveller (a new, long haired mysterious guy versus the Alan Moore stand-in who had a beard) telling Alec about the world.

Just okay.

CREDITS

Soul Train; writers, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 141 (April 1994)

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Morrison and Millar open this issue with the Alan Moore Cajun dude stand-in getting killed. The new, mindless Swamp Thing kills him. Cajun Alan Moore dies protecting his family.

Mindless Swamp Thing is after Abby next. It’s kind of hard not to read into what Morrison and Millar are doing–violently refreshing the series. An indeterminate amount of time has passed since the Collins run ended too–little Tefé is old enough to call Abby on the phone.

Wish there’d been a panel of a pay phone in the Parliament of Trees.

The writers take a very black magic approach to the series. Nothing gets explained–it’s either wanton violence, mystical mumbo jumbo or Alec Holland’s internal blathering about his scientific research.

Good art from Hester and DeMulder–there’s not a single mundane panel in the whole issue–and the weirdness carry it. The writing is just over complicated.

CREDITS

Bad Gumbo; writers, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Swamp Thing 140 (March 1994)

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Grant Morrison and Mark Millar take over the book, starting with Alec Holland–a human one–waking up in Peru. Swamp Thing was just a bad trip but he’s better now.

It’s a good idea of how to relaunch the character, only they don’t even keep the concept the entire issue. Abby shows up about halfway through, then some people in Chester’s house, then something looking like Swamp Thing.

All while Alec Holland is in Peru getting stoned.

The structure’s a mess–half the comic carefully exploring the new Alec, the other half a lot of action involving the old Alec. Morrison and Millar are obviously trying to get the reader curious, but they don’t actually do anything else.

Phil Hester’s art is nice. He handles the human scenes with a lot of emotion and the horror elements are definitely disturbing.

The lack of personality makes the writers seem desperate.

CREDITS

Vegetable Man; writers, Grant Morrison and Mark Millar; penciller, Phil Hester; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Richard Starkings; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes 1 (February 2012)

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Famously (or infamously), the Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes special burned off the remaining Inc. issues from before the “New 52.” It’s less a cohesive big issue than just two issues packaged as one, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Actually, the big reveal in the second story–Leviathan’s identity–isn’t a bad reveal. Morrison even jokes at the obviousness of it all; he just did a good job distracting with all his busy work. He keeps up that busy work for the second story and, though Burnham’s art is excellent, the payoff’s lackluster.

The first story, with Cameron Stewart art, which involves Stephanie Brown going undercover at a girl’s school of assassins is a lot of fun. Stewart’s art is slick and Morrison’s script is fun. He writes Stephanie better than anyone else in Inc., except maybe Selina.

Instead of writing the best story, Morrison’s too concentrated on seeming smart.

CREDITS

Chapter 1: The School of Night; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Cameron Stewart. Chapter 2: Leviathan Strikes!; writer, Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham. Colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Katie Kubert, Rickey Purdin and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 8 (October 2011)

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Who knew Morrison was a fan of Batman: Digital Justice? Or is he just a fan of Tron?

Batman and Oracle team up to play a really cool VR game where they have to defeat a bad guy in the grid. Artist Scott Clark contributes the digital art, which at times sounds like it’s supposed to look cheap and retro, but Clark never changes up his style.

The result would be a disaster if it mattered. Morrison plays a lot with Batman, Inc. This time, the play leads to a crappy comic. The writing isn’t terrible–just dumb when it comes to technology–but Clark can’t integrate the text into the art. It’s ugly and confusing.

Morrison’s idea of the future of technology is a lot like the mid-nineties, only he drops modern tech buzzwords. Those moments particularly distract.

I’m failing to think of anything I liked.

The end?

CREDITS

Nightmares in Numberland; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Scott Clark colorist, Dave Beaty; letterer, Dave Sharpe; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 7 (July 2011)

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This issue might be Morrison’s best Inc. so far. He doesn’t try anything special, just tells a good story about a Batman and Robin pair on an American Indian reservation. When Batman shows up, he admires how the Batman–or Man-of-Bats–has done it low budget. The Man-of-Bats is a doctor too (and his identity’s public knowledge). It’s the most realistic Morrison’s been on the series and it’s to the comic’s benefit.

All of the global conspiracies and shadow organizations have made Inc. distinctive but, combined with Morrison’s literary influences, they’ve also made it distant. This issue features real people with actual problems. Morrison usually deals in icons. It’s nice to see him expand.

Morrison’s pacing is particularly effective. He introduces a cast, a ground situation and has time to refocus the narrative on Man-of-Bats’s sidekick, his son.

It’s a fantastic comic all around.

CREDITS

Medicine Soldiers; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 6 (June 2011)

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Had I just slammed my head against a wall three times, I would have produced about as much confusion as this issue of Batman, Inc. Admittedly, I would have missed out on some funny dialogue and nice art from Chris Burnham. Not a fan of Burnham’s Bruce Wayne however. He draws him like a big, dumb oaf.

This issue is worldwide setup. Setup for what? Something mysterious and bad. It’s like Morrison wrote a bunch of single-page “countdown to Crisis on Infinite Earths” he’d usually put in regular monthlies and threw them all together.

The only time this comic has any actual personality is when Damian makes wisecracks or Jim Gordon pops up. Otherwise, it’s a mess.

It’s a funny, beautifully drawn mess, but a mess.

Morrison’s rattling the sabers–announcing how cool Inc. will eventually get to be. So what? It’s not there yet; he’s burning through goodwill.

CREDITS

Nyktomorph; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 5 (May 2011)

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Saying it’s all red herrings might be a little harsh, but it is accurate. Morrison went through a lot of creative trouble to introduce a new villain–and a new Batman, Incorporated franchise (while never exactly explaining what happens in Argentina). But the whole thing with Batwoman? Both Batwomen? Unresolved. The modern Batwoman is a very nice cameo though. Morrison writes her better than Batman here; Batman hasn’t had a personality in Inc. since Catwoman left.

Paquette is back on the art and he has the same problem he had last time. Everything is great except Batman. Paquette’s Batman is just wrong.

Morrison’s lack of ambition is frustrating. He’s a tease… All those labyrinths he promised? They’re not even real in a labyrinth sense. He doesn’t just fail to realize the comic’s potential, Morrison eschews the idea of it having any potential.

Still, it’s a breath of fresh bat-air.

CREDITS

Masterspy; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Yanick Paquette; inker, Michel Lacombe; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 4 (April 2011)

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Morrison should have titled the story, “Pay Attention.”

He juxtaposes Batman and El Gaucho dueling against Batwoman, but not just one Batwoman. He also goes into the history of the first Batwoman–the first Kathy Kane–and her relationship with Batman. Seeing Morrison try to marry the Golden Age Batman to the modern one is always a lot of fun and this issue is no different. But it remains to be seen if he’s going to pull off a deft narrative or just provide some amusement.

It helps he’s got Chris Burnham on the art. Burnham does a fantastic job with the modern Batwoman and also the flashback stuff. His Batman pages are questionable, but only because they’re barely present in the issue. He doesn’t have time to define himself.

Batman, Inc. remains a lot of fun and rather well-written, but it’s hard to say if it’s truly successful.

CREDITS

The Kane Affair; writer, Grant Morrison; artist, Chris Burnham; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 3 (March 2011)

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Sometimes being too ambitious–especially if well-read–can get a writer in trouble. In this case, Morrison tries marrying a Batman comic to a Borges labyrinth. It’s an interesting comic, but the pacing is all off and that pacing ruins the reading experience.

There’s just too much “regular” comic here. Morrison opens with a prologue set in World War II, he then has a Bond-like intro with Batman and an Argentinian crime fighter, then he finally gets the actual story going. Wait, I forgot… he has Bruce tango with a female assassin. Very Bond this issue.

Anyway….

He gets to the Borges part and it’s intriguing, but then it turns into a regular Batman comic again for the finish.

On one hand, maybe Morrison is introducing Borges to a new audience. On the other, he should be concentrating on producing the best comic, not doing a literacy campaign.

CREDITS

Scorpion Tango; writer, Grant Morrison; pencillers, Yanick Paquette and Pere Perez; inkers, Michel Lacombe and Perez; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editor, Katie Kubert, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 2 (February 2011)

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All in all, Morrison’s resolution to the first Batman, Inc. outing is conventional. Batman and Catwoman take down the bad guy. Sure, he’s an interesting bad guy–Morrison mixes an absurd character with some creepy powers–but he’s nothing special. Morrison amps up the violence (though it’s all action-oriented or off-panel) in an attempt to make the reader take him seriously.

Paquette still draws a strange Batman (and Bruce Wayne), but otherwise the art is good. He brings an element of fun to Selina, both obvious and implied.

The most peculiar element of the issue is Morrison’s handling of Bruce’s ethics. Killing a heinous villain is out, but a fate worse than death? Well, it’s okay. And Selina being a high profile jewel thief? Just as long as Bruce can foil her, it’s okay with him too. His condescension could even be considered sexist.

Nevertheless, it’s great stuff.

CREDITS

Resurrector!; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Yanick Paquette; inker, Michel Lacombe; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Batman, Inc. 1 (January 2011)

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Yanick Paquette is a fine artist for Batman, Inc. but he’s not a good artist for Batman. He draws him very large than life and Inc. has enough Tom Strong similarities, it doesn’t need one more.

Obviously, Morrison is having a lot of fun–he ends it with the “Batman” TV teaser for goodness sake, but his most impressive thing is Bruce and Selina. He writes a sexual Bruce Wayne, which is sort of strange to actually read, but it works just great. The banter between Bruce and Selina alone would make the book.

The humor all pays off too, which is nice, and Morrison creates a likable side character who the heroes end up saving. Sort of. They get there a little late, which lets Morrison reveal a hilarious cliffhanger.

His storytelling is abbreviated, letting him make an impression without spending too much time on exposition.

It’s excellent Batman.

CREDITS

Mr. Unknown is Dead; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Yanick Paquette; inker, Michel Lacombe; colorist, Nathan Fairbairn; letterer, John J. Hill; editor, Janelle Siegel and Mike Marts; publisher, DC Comics.

Action Comics 3 (January 2012)

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Almost nothing happens this issue. Clark has a nightmare of Krypton (where we learn of some new menace who can follow him to Earth), he argues with the cops and then Lois. He’s got a “Deep Throat” source too. It’s kind of hilarious how Morrison writes a thirties crusading reporter in the modern newspaper age.

It’s less realistic than the flying alien.

And then the bad guys show up at the end and Lex wants to get busy with them.

Get busy in the supervillain team-up sense.

Somehow, it’s Morrison’s best issue of Action even without the action. He’s finally establishing the setting with nuance, instead of neon. Too bad it’s not Morales’s best issue. While Gene Ha does some nice work, Morales just draws Clark Kent as a nerdier Harry Potter. It’s sort of ludicrous… his body shouldn’t change shape between identities.

But the comic’s finally getting compelling.

CREDITS

Superman in Chains; writer, Grant Morrison; pencillers, Rags Morales and Gene Ha; inkers, Rick Bryant and Ha; colorists, Brad Anderson and Art Lyon; letterer, Pat Brosseau; editors, Wil Moss and Matt Idelson; publisher, DC Comics.