Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Taking Comics for Granted

"Great Krypton Nubia! The Republicans are back!"

Grant Morrison, professional 'destructionist', gave an interview to IGN comics after the conclusion of his long-running, far-reaching, practically unreadable Final Crisis. In the last installment one of the many story lines includes the recruitment of multiple versions of Superman from the Multiverse to save our Earth. The primary Superman we see is also the President of his alternate United States, as well as black.

"IGN Comics: How about the African American Superman/President in Final Crisis #7? It seems like you're having some fun with the idea of Barack Obama as this conglomeration of hero, leader and celebrity.

Morrison: Completely. What I was thinking, because I wrote that obviously last year, was that Obama was getting in in February, and I realized this comic would be out right around that time. I knew it was going to happen. And so Final Crisis #7 has Darkseid defeated, and the good guys have won and everything is bright and optimistic again, I knew that the feeling in America was going to be the same. When Final Crisis started, I wanted to talk about the kind of crushing horror of the George Bush/Tony Blair axis we all had to live through. Final Crisis was my fictional diary of how it felt to live through the early years of the 21st century.

By the end of that, there's this wind-of-change feeling that Obama brings to America and by extension everyone else – as to whether things actually change, we'll see. I wanted to open Final Crisis #7 with that feeling that the weather had changed. And it's the DC Universe, where anything can happen so here's a black President Superman and we're off! I think this guy's a little better looking than Obama, though. I mean, Obama's a fine-looking fella, but I don't think he could fill out that Superman suit. [laughs] This guy is more Muhammad Ali. So we have him, and we also have Beyonce as Wonder Woman. That's Beyonce at the microphone. [laughs]"

Like Viggo Mortenson on Charlie Rose comparing Sauron to Bush, Morrison channels his liberal rage and distaste for Bush by equating him with Darkseid, with the sweeping effect of the Anti-Life Equation that destroys the world in minutes, transforming humans and heroes alike into fascist hateful murderers who feel no joy or hope and are justified in their extreme violence and subordination by an allegiance to a dark god. Sounds more like Islam to me.

Morrison rambles ethereally for six pages, pontificating about storytellers and comics and God and other topics so massive and intellectual that I was forced to skim them (Final Crisis had the same effect.) For all his reworking of genres, of destructing the DC Universe, of love stories and reality bending and gore and defeat, he commits the same mistake most liberal artists do when describing their work; he gives about a dozen explanations for what he wrote and verifies the many many layers of theme and 'poetic density'. Then he slaps Bush into the good vs. evil metaphor and shows that at least some of his layers are superficial and pandering.

Popular sentiment on the internet and from fans is generally hateful and disappointed in this series, and his current Batman arcs, while 'official' comic reviewers gush and analyze what they don't understand, compensating with verbosity, a la the Nueva York Times. Morrison acknowledges this, but basically responds that he could care less, that there are those who adore it and dance to its drug addled techno rhythm. Even more insulting, he assumes the position of comic authority, seeing as he gets paid to write them, and compares our amateur criticism to giving doctors advice based on watching last week's House. According to him the very strong sales numbers of FC and Batman: R.I.P. prove his success. Unfortunately he misses the point that people who love Batman always buy Batman, especially when they're told he is going to be killed in that particular story. This is something he should really understand, since he compares us later to fast-food addicts who buy burgers every day and expect them to taste the same each time.

The arrogance and self-importance of GM is not really surprising after reading his work. Correspondingly his connection between ultimate bloody tyrannical evil and George W. Bush is also not shocking, as well as pedestrian and tired especially considering his love for the new guard vs. old guard battle.

While comics can be art, and art can be mind-blowing and epiphanous, Morrison is mired in the need to be unique, revolutionary, a new creator for a new century. In his attempt to subvert, he parrots the most unoriginal idioms of our times and falls far short of true art. Final Crisis is shock-value, is agit-prop pulp, and fails to provide the basic element all comic books should contain: entertainment.

Thanks to Rich at for providing us with the REAL last page of FC#7:

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