Titles: Marvel Boy tpb; JLA: Earth 2 HC; Seaguy #1 - 3; JLA #1 - 44; Fantastic Four: 1, 2 ,3 ,4
Source (purchased/given/borrowed/the wife’s):all purchased, except Earth 2 which is the wife’s.
Date Purchased: 1995 - 2003
JLA 17 - 18 - extra nerdy review
Thoughts/Memories/ Remembrances: Grant Morrison brings something fresh to the table every time. The man is certifiable, but certifiably ingenious much of the time. Unlike some writers who love and embrace comic book history and nostalgia (Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, James Robinson), Morrison is able to take his fondness for a character, a story, a team, a book, a universe and distill it down precisely to the bare core of existence and then rebuild them for a modern age, rather than just perpetuate or refine. His non-superhero work, like the Invisibles, the Filth, We3, The Mystery Play etc. show him to be utterly inspired in his ability to weave complicated narratives while also imbuing a natural sense of excitement and kinetic action. But it’s in his superhero work, from Animal Man starting back in 1987 through to his Batman work today that he really cuts loose, strangely enough. In the culture of corporate entities where the overlords are watching their properties and investments very closely, Morrison has earned their trust and is able to play with their toys as he sees fit… because they know that if he breaks them, he’s going to fix them so that they’re better than they ever have been.
Marvel Boy was the first breakout Morrison book for me, the one where I fell completely under his sway. I hadn’t been reading Marvel comics for years, and his was one of the first that brought me back into the fold (the other was Busiek’s Marvels). Though my younger mind didn’t quite grasp everything that Morrison was doing (my thoughts were more concerned with how the book fit in with Marvel continuity) but in a post-Matrix world where it became evident that movies could deliver pretty much everything a comic book could, it was Morrison who was able to match and top it in a comic that didn’t play with Marvels’ toys, so much as make radical copies of them for his own amusement. It’s still a high point for me in his very distinguished careers.
Morrison was given the reins to the Justice League for a few years, and his initial impulse was to construct the team from DC’s big players. It was such a logical approach that you had to wonder why it had never been done before. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman, all in the same pages, DC’s most recognizable and most powerful characters. If there’s a team that supposed to defend the Earth, they should be on it. When Morrison first approached the book I kind of balked at his idea. I was a fan of the Giffen era of Justice League, a comedy-action book where the team was comprised of basically no-hitters that functioned like a dysfunctional family more than a super-team. The Justice League to me was not the big guns, each who had a title or two (or five) to their name, but characters who couldn’t hold their own book but form a strong title together. I did eventually (after 5 issues with thunderous praise) climb aboard the JLA bandwagon, but it didn’t resonate with me as strongly as others of Morrison’s work. I was too entrenched in the DCUniverse at the time and the first four issues of the series in trade didn’t make me a fan, because Morrison went too big, but also too narrow. I’m not fond of storylines that impact the planet as a whole, but that’s where Morrison repeatedly went, in his first JLA story and his last. They’re incredible stories, absolutely massive in scope, and I think I had a hard time wrapping my head around them then.
After JLA, over at Marvel, he was handed the keys to the X-Men, giving an intense, exotic and mind-blowing run that was pretty much counteracted once he left. Off to the side, he produced a small story about the Fantastic Four, and for once his typical sense of characterization felt… off. Perhaps it’s because I don’t care about the Fantastic Four very much, but I found 1, 2, 3, 4, frankly, boring when I first read it. Morrison abandoned his usual knack for paring back and rebuilding characters and instead chose to examine them as flawed individuals, using their most prominent enemies to expose their greatest weaknesses Channeling Reed Richards, Morrison’s usual big, out-of-the-box action was sidestepped for more character-centric story and a cerebral confrontation, which was unexpected and atypical.
Marvel Boy was intended to be the first of a trilogy that’s been left sadly unfinished. Sea Guy on the other hand, is a trilogy that looked like it was going to remain incomplete, but the second mini-series was recently announced. Sea Guy is set in a universe of Morrison’s own imagination, where all the superheroes died saving the Earth and society now exists in an uncommon tranquility where the bizarre is commonplace and there’s no need for heroes. Sea Guy wants to be a superhero and searches out adventure and action, but is completely incapable of handling it when he finds it. As Morrison has said of him, he’s as much a superhero as you would be if you put on a wetsuit. I found Sea Guy confusing upon first read, but so incredibly stimulating, a magic within that can only come from someone channeling pure imagination.