Upbeat Cynicism

what do you mean i lost my mind?

Oh the dangers of having no firm grip on reality

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So, when exactly did Grant Morrison go completely bat-sh*t insane?

I used a lot of this M-Theory, brane multiverse stuff in Final Crisis. Doug Mahnke did a great 3-D drawing of an inter-brane corridor in the Superman Beyond segments — and it ties in fine with how I see things operating on recursive, isomorphic scales, or dimensions. I’m ready to accept that our entire lives are playing out across a 2-D film as thin as soap bubble skin, since — as above, so below — we already have our own examples of such branes in the form of movie and TV screens, the pages of books and of comics.

Waaaay back when I collected comics, Morrison’s name was a stamp of quality. If he wrote something, it would certainly be weird or odd, but it was almost always engaging and thought provoking.

Yes, he was obsessed with the idea of story being an alternate reality, as evidenced by his (brilliant) last few issues of Animal Man. But even there, he did not let his obsession overwhelm the quality of the work.

Apparently, that is not the case anymore.

Final Crisis starts out as a coherent straight out superhero story: the investigation of a god’s death. From there it begins to devolve into something that is less than the sum of its parts. It is self referential, but it gives little or no context for those references. Readers from month to month have deal with characters dropping in and out of the series with little coherence. Even when a character does come back from a previous issues appearance, there is no traditional editor’s note to reference this. Readers also have to deal with the daunting task of trying to keep track of the events of the story, as they are not told in a linear fashion. The linear storyline has a 5000 year tradition, reading comics should be a joy, building a puzzle should be a joy; Morrison took those two ideas, melded them together and then burned a quarter of the puzzle pieces, asking the reader to put it all together. I have learned to hate Morrison in seven months or less.

That reviewer isn’t the only one to find fault with Morrison’s writing on the series, either:

So FINAL CRISIS finally gave up the ghost last week, collapsing a universe of plot threads into a chaotic black hole of crushed data bits, and triggering a flood of back and forth online excoriations and defenses, condemnation and praises that all (at least what I read) missed the single salient, unassailable fact of FINAL CRISIS #7:

It’s gibberish.

But fun gibberish. Morrison at his worst is far livelier than most comics writers at their best, and energy still counts for a lot, especially in superhero comics. To say the series “defied expectations” is a bit like punching our teeth out then kicking us in the stomach for mumbling, to steal a Leigh Brackett line[….]

From the start, characters walk in without context, and frequently without being named let alone introduced. To keep track of what’s going on, any track, it helps to know the vast bulk of DCU history from at least CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS on, and probably from JIMMY OLSON 133 on (“Kirby is HERE!”) as soon as the short-lived Anthro wanders into the story. But this isn’t continuity being continued. Morrison’s out to unmoor (unMoore?) DC continuity, and largely succeeds, even as he jettisons the storytelling traditions of the form.

Sounds like Morrison fell completely in love with his own “cleverness” and lies staring at it reflected in the pool all day and night. (The first reviewer’s reference to James Joyce’s Ulysses seems incredibly apt, in this context.)

He is not only unmoored from comics continuity, he has apparently become unmoored from reality itself.

Going back to that Wired interview first quoted above:

We’ve deconstructed all our icons. We know politicians are lying assholes, we know soap stars are coke freaks, handsome actors are tranny weirdos and gorgeous supermodels are bulimic, neurotic wretches. We know our favorite comedians will turn out to be alcoholic perverts or suicidal depressives. Our reality shows have held up a scalding mirror to our yapping baboon faces and cheesy, obvious obsessions, our trashy, gossipy love of trivia and dirt.

We know we’ve fucked up the atmosphere and doomed the lovely polar bears and we can’t even summon up the energy to feel guilty anymore. Let the pedophiles have the kids. There’s nowhere left to turn and no one left to blame except, paradoxically, those slightly medieval guys without the industrial base. What’s left to believe in? The only truly moral, truly goodhearted man left is a made-up comic book character! The only secular role models for a progressive, responsible, scientific-rational Enlightenment culture are … Kal-El of Krypton, aka Superman and his multicolored descendants!

Gosh, doesn’t he have just a lovely view of life and his fellow man?

But it follows from his complete lack of interest in reality. We “know” that we’ve effed up the atmosphere? No. We do not know it. It is a conjecture, and a weakly-supported one at best. The “lovely” polar bears are doomed? Hardly, only in the minds of people who only accept what they read and see in Newsweek. (One wonders if Morrison still finds Obama to be eloquent and capable, as well. It would not shock me.) And only someone whose sole experience with polar bears comes through cartoons, Coca-Cola commercials, and enviromentalist propaganda can possibly think them lovely. (However, I am willing to believe that he has just enough of a grip on reality, at least at a subconscious level, that he would not go up to one and hug it, chanting “I love you I love you I love you” in a singsong voice, and thus become polar bear chow.)

It all follows, quite logically, from the fact that he has no philosophy (apart from sophistry and “cleverness”) and no interest in reality. He clearly only listens to “facts” which he wants to hear, which please and soothe him on an emotional level, which rationalize his utterly vile and despicable view of mankind and life in general.

And finally, a quote for the horror file, not from Morrison, but from the author of the second critique, Steven Grant:

[Final Crisis] fixates on good and evil, where we’re all now very aware, even if we don’t admit it, that the concepts are basically nonsense. To have meaning they require a singular society, and a reason why multiculturalism is denounced by many is that it forces a constant reexamination of what those terms mean. In a world of moral relativity — and, yes, that is our world, and, really, always has been — we need better terms than those.

I am aware, Mr. Grant, that the concepts of good and evil are not nonsense, and I am further aware which side anyone who claims that they are must be on. At least you have declared yourself openly.


Written by [IMH]

20 March 2009 at 6:26 pm

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