Posts Tagged ‘grantmorrison’


March 9, 2009

Admittedly, I’ve never been a big Superman guy. While his plethora of super powers and inimitable imperviousness have allowed him to consistently trounce his foes and secure the mantle of relative king of superheroes (at least of the DC universe), I have always found him kind of dull and uninspiring. Superman’s sheer strength allows him to muscle out of just about every sticky situation, and I’ve always found his stories to be rather boring in that respect. He always seemed to lack any kind of concrete personality (especially hamartia), and with most obstacles crumbling before him, I always wondered why I should care about a hero so untarnished by weakness, both physical and emotional?

But because I approached it with these preconceptions, I found Morrison and Quitely’s ALL-STAR SUPERMAN to be particularly engaging and complex, at least at its onset. Immediately, Superman is confronted with a new kind of fallibility: after being exposed to an exorbitant amount of solar radiation, Superman’s cells begin rapid apoptosis, and his life is immediately at stake. Superman’s new weakness really piqued my interest. Not only was Superman made suddenly vulnerable; he was forced to grapple with a condition much akin to the cancers and diseases that plague real people.

In the vein of stories such as Akira Kurosawa’s IKIRU or even THE BUCKET-LIST, our now mortal Superman proceeds to set his affairs in order with Lois Lane in preparation for his demise. I really enjoyed this premise and storyline, but it seemed to be quickly abandoned in the later issues of ALL-STAR for more typical beat ‘em up Superman fare.

While not quite as innovative as WE3, I found Quitely’s panel layouts to be enjoyable. One spread I particularly liked was the scene in which Clark Kent interviews Lex Luthor as he walks down a prison stairwell. Time is effectively stretched in the scene, as we follow them down the stairs and track their conversation (I couldn’t find a picture online of this spread, but I’ll keep looking).

However, having now read two Frank Quitely / Jamie Grant artistic collaborations, I feel as though I am not a huge fan of their style. They tend to have a very slick and digitized feel, and to me lack a certain human, hand-drawn quality that draws me into comics. Perhaps my feelings towards Quitely / Grant’s visuals can stand as a metaphor for my feelings towards Superman as a whole: while visually stimulating and fun, the dramatic, human element is hard to find.


“to the domesticated dog on the manicured lawn…”

February 21, 2009

we3The cover of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s WE3 is somewhat misleading, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Depicting our three animal protagonists in pastel colored mechanized suits atop a grassy hill against a cloudy blue sky, I assumed that I was in for a cutesy affair in the vain of Homeward Bound or The Adventures of Milo and Otis (which may be messed up in its own right, but who knows). Having read the comic book, I now realize how wrong that assumption is.

WE3 is the story of three domesticated-animals-turned-superweapons who, upon discovering their imminent destruction as “failed” science experiments, are loosed by a caring lab worker to roam the land for safe haven, leaving a trail of carnage in their wake. It is a violent, disturbing, adrenaline-pumping escape story told mainly through panels devoid of human dialogue.

Although I wasn’t particularly enthralled by the story or characters of WE3, I really do believe it was the most perfect action comic I’ve ever read (though admittedly, I haven’t read many). It’s basically one long thrill ride of animals killing, flying, and blowing stuff up with brief interludes of character development and back story sprinkled throughout. I believe that WE3 is most interesting from a stylistic angle, mainly because of its usage of disjointed narratives and jumbles of micro-panels woven through scenes of particularly frenetic destruction. Quitely cleverly employs this technique to heighten the sense of chaos and horror that accompanies these bloody battle scenes.

we3 action spread

Although it didn’t seem to be a major theme of the story, what I found most interesting in WE3 was the concept of rogue pets on a killing spree. While the shadowy government guys noted that the natural survival instinct was what best suited the three heroes of WE3 to being government killing machines, this instinct was the exact thing that caused them to go wild when the government tried to pull the plug on them. Perhaps because my reading’s proximity to the recent Connecticut chimp attack, I have been pondering the role that domesticated animals play. We expect them to act a certain way and serve our needs (as pets, as food, or whatever), so how should we feel when they return to their animal instincts, and deviate from what we decide is acceptable domesticated animal behavior?

If anything, I would say WE3 is the anti– Homeward Bound. While Homeward Bound was the story of three animals that refused to be left behind by their human owners, so embark on a pseudo-perilous journey to be with them again (because they can’t bear to be apart from them for a couple of weeks, how pathetic is that?). WE3, on the other hand, is a tale of rebellion. Refusing to be cast aside as obsolete and unnecessary when they are no longer needed, these three creatures strike out against their human masters, and will decimate both humans and animals alike that stand in their way. And though they do end up with a human companion in the end, in no way does it seem like a pet / owner or slave / master kind of relationship. Because their human companion is similarly ragged, weary, and simply trying to survive, they all really seem more like equals.

Mount Eerie – Domesticated Dog (live @ Red Raven in Fargo, ND)