The Grant Morrison ready reckoner
Rob Mclaughlin guides us through the career of a great British comics creator - through 2000AD, DC, Marvel, and beyond
Grant Morrison has created some fantastic comics. Here’s the rundown:
Spider-man and ZoidsFrom Marvel UK, this was a weekly reprint that contained US-written Spidey stories and a Zoids back up strip by Morrison. Lifting heavily from Aliens, Doctor Who and numerous other TV shows, after the obligatory toy tie-in issues, the strip went very dark and got a lot better. The final Black Zoid story is excellent.
ZenithA precursor to Morrison’s fascination with superheroes, this is tricky to track down and an expensive missing piece in the jigsaw of Morrison’s work. Some great ideas and a great take on the celebrity of super-powered folk. Be warned: it costs a fortune to buy on eBay.Animal Man DC’s third-string hero gets a new lease of life under Morrison’s penmanship. Eco-friendly and at times controversial, Morrison uses the character of Animal Man to really hit home some very worrying ecological issues, with the conclusion of the story moving off the page when Animal quite literally meets his maker.Doom Patrol The trademark Morrison weirdness goes full tilt with this series, a fantastic take on a DC classic team. It’s the adventures of Negative Man, Steel, Doc Magus and new additions Dorothy Spinner, Crazy Jane and Danny the Street. Then it takes in their battles against the Men from NOW-WHERE, The Candlemaker and numerous other foes. Some of the best and most surreal superhero stories you will ever read.
The best Batman graphic novel ever written.
Batman: GothicThe third best Batman story ever written. (The Killing Joke is second.)
Kid EternityA bizarre gem that is an over-looked title from Vertigo. Touching on surrealism and various other forms of Gnostic thinking, it’s neither a superhero or stand alone piece of work. Kid Eternity is a mix of styles that folds together to create a great, if difficult to read, piece of work
Justice League of AmericaBringing back the seven iconic heroes of the DC universe, Morrison upgrades these legends to a pantheon of superhuman gods. Small four and five issue books create a huge interlinking overall story arc that brings back silly 60s villains to become huge planet-threatening menaces. It concludes with an attempt by dead alien gods to destroy Earth, which is repelled when everyone on Earth gains superpowers. Epic stuff.
AztekOverlooked as a B-list character, this great take on mythology and costumed crime-fighting didn’t last long enough to establish itself. But the sixteen or so issues have some great takes on South American myths legends and folklore, wrapped up in a urban 21st century environment.One Million A huge DC event where the heroes of the far future collide with their present day counterparts. Using blogs, live feeds and 24 hour news, Morrison brings new takes on Batman, Superman and company, in a groundbreaking piece of work.
The InvisiblesMorrison’s magnum opus of magic and future thinking, The Invisibles sums up everything that is right about the medium of comics. Huge in scale, with so many ideas squeezed between its pages, there has been no other comic that has tackled so many issues. It brings in social commentary (of the mid 90s) and sex-magic, through to time travel and evolution, conspiracy theories, and Lovecraft-like horrors from other dimensions to insect intelligences. Then there’s the very devil himself. It’s a must read.JLA – Earth 2 A stand alone JLA book that takes the ‘Mirror Mirror’ evil twin idea but applies it to superheroes. What if Superman was a bad guy, Wonder Woman was a dominatrix and Batman was a cold-blooded killer? That and more are all answered in here. Brilliantly written with superb artwork with Frank Quietly.
(New) X-MenThe best take on X-Men in over 30 years, Morrison bought Marvel’s mutants kicking and screaming into the 21st century, updating and adjusting this corner of the Marvel Universe with so many fresh and fun ideas that the effects are still being felt today.Marvel Boy
Dig out a silly comic idea from the 1960s, brush down and rebuild from scratch using insect technology, bizarre bad guys and the kinkiest side-kick in all of comics. That just about sums up Marvel Boy. Featuring Hulk-clones and a giant green organic computer in a jar.
Fantastic 4 (1234)The best FF mini-series ever? Quite possibly. Deconstructing Marvel’s First Family, Morrison really finds out what makes them tick and puts the heroes in positions and situations they have never faced before. Added to this we have Jane Lee artwork and an appearance of Dr Doom, what more you do you want?The Filth The Filth follows the adventures of Ned Slade/Greg Freeley, who could either be suffering a complete mental breakdown or actually work for a secret special force unit. It’s his job to clean up all the weirdness that breaks into our world, such as porn-dealing necromancers, fake para-personalities and rogue superhuman sex gods . On first read a bit incomprehensible, but it does soon make more sense.
We3Think Incredible Journey but with armour-plated killing machines. When the government-funded special weapons programme goes AWOL, the live animals linked to these cyborg bodies trek across America trying to get back to their owners. Fun, scary and being prepped for a film, this is illustrated and written to be a perfect storyboard for a summer blockbuster.
SeaguyA mix of 1960s action hero, action man and the hypnotic power of a certain mouse-centred entertainment mega-corporation Seaguy is fun, insane and chock full of Morrison weirdness. It’s not up to the mark of some of his work, though.
VimanaramaMix in Jack Kirby and Hindu gods and you get somewhere close to describing Vimanarama. Easy to read but yet full of Morrison craziness, this is a great standalone book that allows you to dabble in the weird and wonderful world of Morrison’s mind. It’s a good starter point before heading off into the epic that is The Invisibles.7 Soldiers Seven different superhero limited series topped and tailed by one-off specials, the 7 Soldiers project is a team book where the team never actually get together. Themes, situations and stories intercross between the titles and can be read as one huge epic or in standalone form. These added links add weight and depth to this monumental comic undertaking, but it also means you don’t have to read everything if you don’t want to, yet can still get involved in this ambitious comic undertaking .
All Star SupermanBy far the best Superman book on the shelves at the moment, Morrison and Quietly once again team up to bring a sense of epic-ness and wonderment to the mythology of Superman. From Bizarro worlds and alternative dimensional Superman to Lex Luthor at his most sinister, Morrison uses the best 1960s and sliver age concepts, updates them and adds whole new dimensions of fun and creativity to bring us one of the most enjoyable Superman stories ever.Authority/Wildcats Only one or two issues in, both series have potential for greatness, but the chronically late scheduling for both the books is a huge disappointment and a wasted opportunity.
Channelling Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams, Morrison returns Batman to his bare-chested badass-ness of the 1970s. Moving away from the dark and broody Batman of recent years, Morrison injects the right amount of fun and mad ideas to take the character in a whole new direction, and yet still manages to capture all the elements of what makes Batman great.
Not read: Sebastian O, Flex Mentallo or Kill Your Boyfriend