Robot 6

Grant Morrison on Mark Millar, Identity Crisis, Alan Moore and more

Grant Morrison

I really, really enjoy Grant Morrison interviews, even if they tend to arrive in bunches, with one entertaining Q&A sometimes indistinguishable from the next. He’s immensely quotable, peppering his comments with humor, observations of the holy-cow-I’ve-never-thought-of-it-that-way variety and occasionally surprising honesty.

This new interview with Rolling Stone is little different, with the writer discussing Supergods, the Action Comics relaunch, Alan Moore, Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis, and his strained relationship with former protege Mark Millar. While it may feel like we’ve read some of Morrison’s remarks before, others feel fresh, and even a bit brutal. Some highlights:

On his chances of encountering Millar in Glasgow: “There’s a very good chance of running into him, and I hope I’m going 100 miles an hour when it happens.”

On Meltzer’s divisive Identity Crisis: “He’s a nice guy. I have a lot of interesting conversations with him so I tried to focus on what I thought was good about it and there was actually quite a lot when I read it again. The first time I read it I was kind of outraged. I thought this was just … why? What the fuck is this, really? It wasn’t even normal. It was outrageous. It was preposterous because of the Elongated Man with his arms wrapped several times around the corpse of his wife. I thought something is broken. Something has gone so wrong in this image. [...] It’s hard for me to believe that a shy bespectacled college graduate like Brad Meltzer who’s a novelist and a father is a really setting out to be weirdly misogynistic. But unfortunately when you’re looking at this beloved character who’s obviously been ass-raped on the Justice League satellite, even saying it kind of takes you to that dot dot dot where you don’t know what else to say.”

On sexism in DC Comics: “There’s been lots of things, the sexism in DC because it’s mostly men who work in these places. Nobody should be trying to say we’re taking up a specifically anti-woman stance. I think it would be ignorance or stupidity or some God knows what. I was reading some Alan Moore Marvelman for some reason today. I found one in the back there and I couldn’t believe. I pick it up and there are fucking two rapes in it and I suddenly think how many times has somebody been raped in an Alan Moore story? And I couldn’t find a single one where someone wasn’t raped except for Tom Strong, which I believe was a pastiche. We know Alan Moore isn’t a misogynist but fuck, he’s obsessed with rape. I managed to do thirty years in comics without any rape!”

Needless to say, the entire interview is worth reading. There’s also a more involved profile.

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36 Comments

Oh, that quote on Identity Crisis, yes, yes, a thousend times yes!!!!!

Was someone raped in A Killing Joke?

I never quite “got” or rather “knew anything about” the whole Millar / Morrison breakup bad blood thing. I loved them on Aztek the Ultimate Man.

My takeaway from this article regarding the topic, it appears that GM would have no problem driving a car over MM, as apparently MM disrespected his mentor.

Actually, Tom Strong was raped in his sleep. But, yeah, I found it creepy how often rape is used, and usually its for a rather sick punchline. The difference between Meltzer and Moore, is that Meltzer was trying to be daring in the most implausible sense, and that’s just disturbing. Moore just has a disturbing sense of humor.

@Matt -

There’s at least an element of sexual assault, as the Joker undresses and photographs Barbara.

I don’t think anybody got raped in the Killing Joke, but Barbara got crippled and they apparently did a bunch of awful things to her when taking pictures.

And now that Morrison mentioned a few creators fucking a bunch of fangirls, I WANT NAMES!

Wow. He pulls no punches, about anything. And I TOTALLY with him about Chris Ware.

His comics may or may not be awesome all the time. But he is one of the most interesting and unpredictable members of the human race.

One thing to keep in mind is context. Most of Moore’s work centers around violence (both psychic and physical) and hostility towards women, minorities and the very Earth itself as endemic of what he sees as the sickness of modern Western society. Works like V For Vendetta and From Hell revolve around this, and I don’t think anyone (at leas anyone with any reading comprehension, at all) would call Moore a homophobe because of the violence towards gays depicted in V. There’s a point to what he’s doing; it’s a far cry from thowing rape and murder into an issue of Teen Titans just to scream “this ain’t your dad’s DCU!”

George Bush (not that one)

August 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Maybe its the fact that GM is only 5 years older and we both did a lot of acid,but I seem to always agree with his thoughts. Almost as if he is reading my mind sometimes. I was saying that stuff about geeks to my wife just the other day. No mater what happens to comics, Morrison will be able to get my money.

I think he’s got a lot of nerve ripping Identity Crisis after the suck-fests that were Final Crisis and Batman RIP.

Final Crisis was a bit of a mess OK.

But Batman RIP? I was trying to hunt down issues in Nepal, Japan, India, Indonesia like a loony. (to no avail)
Morrison’s Batman is the best ever.

“I think he’s got a lot of nerve ripping Identity Crisis after the suck-fests that were Final Crisis and Batman RIP.”

Actually, I think he’s pretty much justified in that Final Crisis and Batman RIP are failures (if at all) in ambition, not for shock.

The worst you can say about them is that they didn’t work for you. They worked quite well for a lot of other people.

Yet another reason why I don’t like Morrison. I loved Identity Crisis, and I didn’t even know who the Dibnys were prior to reading it. It’s my favourite of DC’s Crisis quad (the others being On Infinite Earths, Infinite, Final).

I’ve always thought that Millar puts more rape into his work than any other writer.

I loved Identity Crisis too….and the reasons I hear from others who hated it fall into 2 categories: fear of change and fear of the dark (stories). Brad Metzer was not writing shock for shock sake or to be exploitative or misogynistic. Just because a story has a rape in it does not mean the writer hates women any more than a story written about war means the writer hates peace or the Superman story where he renounces America as a sign the writer hates America. Brad’s work in novels are suspense thrillers with mysteries. Brad wrote a murder mystery and mysteries often involve dark secrets coming to light that people desperately want to keep hidden. I love that Brad gave us the answer to why Doctor Light went from being a very competent and VERY dangerous villain to being an easily defeat-able joke. I love that a Crisis book had ACTUAL stakes and consequences that made me feel something, from Sue’s rape and murder to how DC heroes are divided on how to handle the extreme criminals ans when their crimes become very personal to those heroes. Don’t want rape and murder in your super hero books? There are PLENTY of more shallow and superficial reads that are more like amusement park rides where you are warned ahead of time, you’re strapped in for safety, you move around alot, but are returned safe and sound to status quo. I grew up with that type of story too. Half the time it’s fine to see a hero fight the same villain knowing they’ll go back to prison soon or team up with another hero, have a minor argument, but will be BBQing with them by the time the storyline ends. But I am an adult who needs variety, complexity and yes more grown up tastes in my fiction. I need to see change and conflicts that make me go “Whoa” else, why am I spending $2.99 and up per issue to see the same hero/villain fights I grew up with?

“I loved Identity Crisis too….and the reasons I hear from others who hated it fall into 2 categories: fear of change and fear of the dark (stories).”

I have no fear of either of those things and I hated it. The biggest problem with it (that often gets overlooked because of other parts of it) is that it’s a horrible mystery. Actual personal stakes are great, shocking revelations are fine. But there has to be a plot that makes sense first.

“Morrison’s Batman is the best ever.”

I just threw up a little in my mouth. Then I realized you weren’t serious.

Were you? Holy f*ck.

Maybe you mistyped “Superman” as “Batman.” I don’t even know that I’d agree with that statement, but I could understand it. All Star Superman was pretty good. Morrison’s Batman (at least his Bruce Wayne Batman) has been dreadful. Unless you want to go all the way back to to Arkham Asylum, the “Gothic” story arc, and his JLA stuff. Not that more recent garbage though.

“But there has to be a plot that makes sense first.”

Which is why I couldn’t stand Batman RIP or Final Crisis. I didn’t like Identity Crisis either, but Morrison’s hardly one to talk.

Yeah, Shaun the plot is there and it does make sense.
It’s just not a simpleton one.

In fact Morrison’s plots shame every other Batman epic. (Year One, Dkr)

I’m guessing you dont have a lot of background knowledge of the silver age Batman, which is something you need to fully enjoy Morrion’s Batman.

“Morrison’s Batman is the best ever.”

Larry Hama’s post-NML run was better. [That's how much I hated RIP (and everything pre and post it); I would actually prefer to read more god-awful dreck like Hama's Batman instead of any of what Morrison's written.]

Actually the “plots” to Batman RIP and Final Crisis were quite simple, derivative and forgettable. It was the atrocious dialogue, out of character characterization and unnecessarily length that made them so unbearable. They would have worked better if they focused on new characters as Watchmen did. Seeing those bastardizations of DC characters go on like that literally for years was a special kind of pain. At least Meltzet told a serviceable story that worked with the existing characters and their histories. Zur-en-arh is my new short form exclamation for “this sucks, kill me now”.

RIP better than DKR? LMAO

But I am an adult who needs variety, complexity and yes more grown up tastes in my fiction.

And you went looking for it in a Justice League comic…?

Wow, am I really gonna have to defend Morrison here? I’m a big fan of Brad Meltzer’s body of prose work and even some of his comics work, but in 10 years the number of folks that will remember Identity Crisis fondly will be seriously outnumbered by those swearing by Morrison’s recent body of work (such as Batman RIP). Batman RIP did not work for me, admittedly, but it’s a superior work to IC.

he looks like christopher daniels

For those who care about such things, ‘Batman: RIP’ actually does make total narrative sense; it’s just that you had to stick with the rest of the story, through ‘Batman and Robin’ and ‘The Return of Bruce Wayne.’ It all pays off quite well, as the narrative folds back in on itself, things are explained, and Hurt’s identity is revealed. If you only read the title up through RIP, you’ve only read half the story. You might as well have been reading a mystery novel up to the half-way mark, and then complaining that the story made no sense. It’s all in the reveals. If you don’t like Morrison’s work, or his take on Batman, that’s fine, but don’t say his Bat-run doesn’t make sense; it does, if you’ve read the WHOLE story. If you have, and you still don’t understand it, I don’t know what to say. Stay away from Claremont’s original X-Men run, I guess.

Though from what I remember it, RIP is pretty much self contained.

Taking silly 50ies sci fi Batman stories and making weaving them beautfiully into current continuity (Zurr Enn Aaahr for instance) has never been done before up to that point. Hurt is the quintessential Villain with a lingering shadow to the Waynes, and the psychological Backup persona of Batman was just sheer brilliance.

The only thing that dissapointed me about RIP was the ending. It would have been perfect if Batman would have actually died, paving the way in an absolute way for Grayson.

“I’m guessing you dont have a lot of background knowledge of the silver age Batman, which is something you need to fully enjoy Morrison’s Batman.”

see, now that’s the problem. i have no interest in the shitty batman stories from the 50′s that i have to read to understand morrisons run.

Look guys, stop trying to fight it.

FINAL CRISIS WAS A MASTERPIECE.

I’m sorry if you aren’t bright enough to “get it”, but Final Crisis is awesome front to back.

Also, Morrison’s Batman run will go down as the best Batman run ever.

My problem with people hating on Grant is that they offer no suitable alternative to his books. In fact, they just sound like they prefer boring, run of the mill crap. I’m sure you can dig up some Chuck Austen books in a dollar bin somewhere…

No one has to read my “shitty stories from the 50s” to enjoy my current books. You just have not be an idiot.

It seems like Grant is more willing to talk about his relationship with Millar these days.

Anyone know if Millar has given his side of the story in any interviews? I’ve never seen anything from him…

I know Morrison hates Moore for some reason, but his characterization of his work is not quite fair. Someone already mentioned the ideas Moore focuses on above, but I would simply point out that there’s quite a good number of Moore stories without rape. In fact, I think his best, darkest work, From Hell, has none. I’m trying my best to remember, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have any (plenty of explicit sex though). I don’t think Top Ten has any either. Big Numbers? (been a while since I read it). Top Ten? Ditto for Supreme (his best superhero work) and his mainstream DC superhero stuff.

It’s been sort of touched upon above, but it bears repeating. The presence of rape by itself does not make a work bad or its author a mysoginist or whatever. It’s the way it’s used (and in what kibd of work). I think (hope?) the consensus is that Identity Crisis is exactly the wrong way of doing it (and for the wrong, “shicking!” reasons).

The Batman stories from the 50ies can be read and enjoyed for its craziness.
BUT you can also read them with the surreal undertone they certainly have and get a very psychedelic experience from them.

Either way they were NEVER shitty. (something which can’t be said about modern day Batman)

No those stories from back in the day suck. that craziness and surrealism i hear about is just another excuse for shitty stories. there are good comics from back in the day, but those werent some of them.

And not liking RIP doesnt make me an idiot. just means i dont like crap comics.
Final Crises was pretty damned good til it fell apart in the end. Morrisons JLA and X-men rocked hard. his batman, however, is crap in a hat.

Freduardo Bobbardo

August 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm

He still hasn’t written anything better than Alan Moore. I cherish that and assume it explains his hostility.

I love Grant Morrison, but he’s talking crap when he says nobody has been raped in his comics. No less a duo than Dan Dare and Britney Spears have been raped in British Morrison strips

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