Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Grant Morrison’

Batman Incorporated (2012) #1

July 31, 2012 Leave a comment

June 10, 2012

Title: Leviathan Part One: Demon Star

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art:
Chris Burnham
Letters:
Patrick Brosseau
Colors:
Nathan Fairbairn
Cover Art:
Chris Burnham
Editor:
Mike Marts
Publisher:
DC Comics

Returning for what promises to be the finale of his Batman run, Grant Morrison kicks off the second volume of Batman Incorporated with a pretty startling story. Talia Head’s Leviathan is growing in power, attacking on several fronts, targeting members of Batman, Inc. and bringing the conflict straight to the doorstep of the Dark Knight.

This issue is surprising on several fronts. Morrison has wasted absolutely no time getting into the heat of the moment, starting us in the midst of the action with several attacks already executed and several battles already over and done. The energy here is about as high as it’s ever been during Morrison’s tenure with the Bat.

This is a New 52 title, but aside from a few cosmetic changes it doesn’t appear that Morrison has been forced to make too many concessions for the sake of setting it in the changed world. Bruce and Damian are still Batman and Robin, Dick was Batman for a time in the not-too-distant past, and the assorted members of Batman, Inc. are virtually untouched… even Batwing, who now stars in his own solo title. This is basically a good thing. Morrison had quite a momentum built up, and the lapse since the previous Leviathan Strikes one-shot may actually have served to help keep the pace brisk. The differences in the New 52 have all been suitably explored in the other titles and there’s no pressure to do so here.

Chris Burnham came into the previous series rather late in the game, but he’s making it is how. His style is influenced somewhat by frequent Morrison collaborator Frank Quitely, but not so much as to deem him a copycat. He’s drawing a classic Batman and a strong Damian, with the more monstrous characters depicted in a fashion that feels very consistent with what’s been done in the past.

The end of this issue, of course, is the real shocker, and if it were anybody but Morrison behind the wheel I’d be virtually certain there’s a stunt in the works to reverse what we seem to see on the last page. There still could be, of course, Morrison could be playing his own game, but from him it does feel more organic and less forced than it would be in many titles.

All in all, this issue stands as a fine beginning to a final act.

Rating: 8/10

Advertisements

Animal Man (1988 Series) #11

July 14, 2012 Leave a comment

July 13, 2012

Title: Out of Africa

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Chas Truog & Doug Hazlewood
Letters: John Costanza
Colors: Tatjana Wood
Cover Art: Brian Bolland
Editor: Karen Berger
Publisher: DC Comics

Getting into the meat of his run, in this issue Grant Morrison had Animal Man and Vixen in Africa, running afoul of a strange pair who have unusual designs on the pair. Meanwhile, the strange aliens who gave Buddy Baker his powers in the first place are back, tampering with his life from behind the scenes.

I have to admit, having an inkling of what’s coming up, the Vixen/Africa storyline isn’t really holding my attention the way it should. The subplot about the aliens, about Buddy’s true origin, and where the comic is going have me much more interested. That’s what I really want to follow here, and the book isn’t getting me there as fast as I would like. It’s hard to put yourself in the mindset of the reader from 23 years ago, who didn’t know where the story was going, much as I wish it could.

As usual, Chas Truog’s art isn’t helping matters for me. The stuff with Buddy, Vixen, and the aliens is okay. The villains actually don’t look bad at all. But when we go back to the rest of our cast, to where Ellen and her friend try to piece things together, or when we see other humans besides Buddy at all… it just doesn’t work.

I’m hoping to ramp up my reading of this book, because I’m ready to get to the good stuff.

Rating: 7/10

Animal Man (1988 Series) #10

June 23, 2012 Leave a comment

June 11, 2012

Title: Fox on the Run

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art:
Chas Truog & Mark McKenna
Letters:
John Costanza
Colors:
Tatjana Wood
Cover Art:
Brian Bolland
Editor:
Karen Berger
Publisher:
DC Comics

When former Justice League member Vixen shows up on his doorstep, Buddy Baker begins to think about the origins of his powers. Meanwhile, in Arkham Asylum, the Psycho-Pirate begins having very strange delusions.

Last issue I mentioned that the story here wasn’t quite as wild as we’ve come to expect from Grant Morrison. Here’s where he makes up for it. Buddy’s origins were always kind of odd, so the examination of them that begins here feels perfectly rational. The places that examination takes us, however, are really far out. It’s also easy to forget, all these years later, that the original Crisis on Infinite Earths had ended just two years prior to this story, the streamlined DCU (sans the multiverse) was still relatively new, and only Psycho-Pirate remembered the truth. That said, the way he treads on the fourth wall here is really quite unusual and entertaining. Morrison has built a career on metafiction, and as far as his work in American comics goes, this is where that all began. The way he draws not only on Animal Man’s past, but on the DCU as a whole, makes it a stronger story.

Would that I could say the same for the art. I’ve been down on Chas Truog’s pencils before, but this issue is really dreadful. The faces in particular are weak – ill-defined lines, eyes that are out of proportion with one another and misplaced… mistakes that a high school art teacher would call attention to. This issue actually sent me to the internet to see how long Truog stayed with the book… to my chagrin, I found he was there (minus the occasional fill-in) until the end of Grant Morrison’s run.

I’m really enjoying the story here, it’s just getting better and better. Now I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping Truog had an off-day when he was drawing this one.

Rating: 7/10

Animal Man (1988) #9

June 16, 2012 Leave a comment

June 10, 2012

Title: Home Improvements

Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils:
Tom Grummett
Inks:
Doug Hazlewood
Letters:
John Costanza
Colors:
Tatjana Wood
Cover Art:
Brian Bolland
Editor:
Karen Berger
Publisher:
DC Comics

It’s been a rough few months for Animal Man – the alien invasion introduced a gene bomb that has made his powers go haywire, and he’s concerned that his new position as a member of Justice League Europe may be in jeopardy, plus Mirror Master just trashed his house. But being a Leaguer has its benefits, as we see this issue when the Martian Manhunter drops in for a visit.

Here’s where we start to drift away from those Animal Man issues I’ve read before. Although I know that Grant Morrison is going to get meta in the coming issues, I don’t know too much about what direction he’s going to take, which may be the reason this issue seems a little by-the-book for me. It’s not a bad issue at all, far from it. It’s nice to see Buddy and company interacting more with the rest of the DC Universe, and the Justice League in particular. What we don’t get much of, though, are the larger ideas and bigger picture that Morrison has been slowly building towards. This feels very much like a standard DC Universe story, although a bit funnier than most (a feeling that’s mostly accomplished thanks to the workers J’onn brings in to fix up Buddy’s house). Not bad, but not what we’ve come to expect from Morrison.

I’ve been a big fan of Tom Grummett for years, since his Superman days, which actually happened after he drew this issue. The stuff I liked about his work then and now was already present here – it’s very clean, very bold work. The characters are expressive and the action is clear. It’s traditional superhero work, to be sure, but he does it very well. Brian Bolland, as usual, knocks it out with a great cover that really captures the feel of the story and the characters.

Rating: 7/10

Animal Man (1988 Series) #8

April 14, 2012 Leave a comment

April 14, 2012

Title: Mirror Movies

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art:
Chas Truog & Doug Hazlewood
Letters:
John Costanza
Colors:
Tatjana Wood
Cover Art:
Brian Bolland
Editor:
Karen Berger
Publisher:
DC Comics

Following the Invasion, two big things have happened to Animal Man. First, he’s been made a member of Justice League Europe. Second, his powers are all scrambled, not functioning properly. This turns out to be a bit of a problem when the Flash’s old foe, Mirror Master, attacks him in his own home.

At first glance, this issue seems pretty standard for a superhero comic. Buddy is placed in a predicament when he’s attacked by a villain and is, in essence, powerless. We’ve seen it several times. What’s more, the book even suffers just a tad by having the main character’s circumstances dictated by a recent crossover without actually explaining anything. People who didn’t read the Invasion! Crossover at the time probably would have no idea what’s wrong with buddy or how he wound up with the JLE. Having read a lot of those comics, though, I’m pretty comfortable with this stuff, and have a pretty simple time of inserting this into DC Continuity of the era.

The fight itself is clever. Although the mirror master scenes don’t really push the boundaries of comic book storytelling, Grant Morrison is finding ways to use his powers that I don’t think had been fully explored in the past, at least not all of them. What makes the book stand out, though, are some a couple of perplexing prologue and epilogue pages which both point to a larger conspiracy at work against Animal Man and, at the same time, begin to further set the stage for the really bizarre stuff that is to come.

The Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood art team puts out a good effort this week. You can always tell Mirror Master, even in disguise, due to the expressions on his face, and there’s a nice consistency with the disheveled, just-rolled-out-of-bed look that Buddy maintains throughout the issue.

And as a final note, it’s a nice touch that the issue is dedicated to the creators of Mirror Master: John Broome, Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino… as well as “the late, great Barry Allen.”

Ah, how times change.

Rating: 8/10

Animal Man (1988 Series) #7

April 7, 2012 Leave a comment

April 6, 2012

Title: The Death of the Red Mask

Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencils:
Chas Truog
Inks:
Doug Hazlewood
Letters:
John Costanza
Colors:
Tatjana Wood
Cover Art:
Brian Bolland
Editor:
Karen Berger
Publisher:
DC Comics

With the alien Invasion over (or so it seems), Animal Man has come down to Earth in Miami. Before he can go home, though, the city is suddenly overrun with an army of stumbling, ineffective red robots. As they stumble around aimlessly, Animal Man manages to track down their master, the Golden Age villain called Red Mask… who is at the end of his rope.

Not everything in Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run was super-bizarre or metatextual or a statement about comic books as an art form. This issue, at least, is just a really strong, sad story. The Red Mask we meet here is a man who was legitimately dealt a raw hand by fate and then used it to make his life even worse, leading him up to a terrible and tragic decision. There’s a little humor in here, but mostly it’s a character study of someone who is ill-suited for the world in which he lives.

Oddly, the book isn’t really specific to Animal Man. You could substitute virtually any superhero in his place and the story could play out exactly the same. Morrison was obviously trying something a little different here, and while this may not be a brick in his grander scheme, it was still a very effective issue in its own right.

Chas Truog did some of his best work in this issue. The flashback sequences are very strong, and the war-torn streets of Miami provide a nice visual punch to the proceedings. All in all, this is one of the better issues thus far of an already-legendary series.

Rating: 8/10

 

Animal Man (1988 Series) #6

March 24, 2012 Leave a comment

March 18, 2012

Title: Birds of Prey

Writer: Grant Morrison
Art:
Chas Truog & Doug Hazlewood
Letters:
John Costanza
Colors:
Tatjana Wood
Cover Art:
Brian Bolland
Editor:
Karen Berger
Publisher:
DC Comics

Ah, the Invasion! Crossover. I’d nearly forgotten this one. Back in 1988, a coalition of alien races banded together and invaded the Earth, concerned that their proliferation of superhumans may one day be a threat to the rest of the cosmos. In the “First Strike!” crossovers, such as this one, the Invasion hadn’t begun full-scale yet and many of the heroes didn’t realize quite what they were facing.

Fortunately, even when staring down the barrel of a company crossover, Grant Morrison finds a way to do something unorthodox. Animal Man faces off with a pair of invaders from Thanagar, home planet of Hawkman. Instead of battling a warrior, though, Animal Man is facing a self-styled “performance artist” who uses death as his canvas. It’s a weird, unique way to work the title character into the crossover without doing just another “superhero vs. alien invader” story. It’s still that at the core, of course, but the trappings are different enough to make it feel like a different sort of story, and that’s exactly what readers were hoping for.

Chas Truog and Doug Hazlewood provide pretty strong artwork here. The characters look like a part of the greater DC Universe, with styles and designs that fit in with other depictions of Thanagar and its culture of the time. There isn’t quite as much of a chance to cut loose with typical Animal Man-style weirdness as usual, but it’s okay to go a little more straightlaced once in a while.

This issue is definitely a pit stop, something that takes us off the larger path of the Animal Man arc for an issue, but it’s not a bad one. It’s nice to see something a bit more traditional for a little while.

Rating: 7/10