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Author Topic: Holy cow, am I ever tired of Grant Morrison  (Read 29807 times)
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« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2007, 10:02:41 PM »

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Yes, it is true Grant and Johns are writing in totally different editorial periods and perhaps this should be taken into account. It's hard to imagine an editor circa 1998 greenlighting a return of Hal Jordan. This is why Johns was able to bring back so many ideas from DC's past: he had a sympathetic ear in Silver/Bronze ager Dan Didio.

My point here, though is that whether it's because of a friendly editorial, or a change in comics readership or whatever it is...list side by side what Johns and Morrison have done to restore to the DCU elements from the company's history, and the list is weighted far more in Johns's corner...which either way, makes calling Morrison the "Silver Age guy" a little weird. Which is what I was responding to.

And that's my point, all of the recent revitilizations of Silver/Bronze Age ideas have come under Didio's tenure. In contrast, Morrision worked on JLA during Carlin's time as EIC IIRC.

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True - I was referring more to the fact that Johns set up exactly how the Corps was going to "look" with the rings as much more computerlike and sentient, more like Star Trek tricorders, no weakness to yellow, tens of thousands of GLs, cameos by Mogo and the plant-head guy, etc.

This brings up an interesting point: I argue that of the two, Johns is the more truly Silver Age writer. But neither are Silver Age, because both of them, for good or ill, have unique "voices." Johns brought back Hal and the Corps, but he put his own spin on them as well...which keeps it from merely being Silver Age nostalgia or regurgitation as someone like Jeph Loeb often does.

Eh, Loeb has never been good at writing a boxed-in monthly title. He's at his best with prestige mini-series or an almost out of continuity book like Superman/Batman.


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« Reply #17 on: June 12, 2007, 10:26:04 PM »

It's been a long time since I read Morrison's JLA, but there are a few things that I remember being really excited about at the time and which were a breath of fresh air and life:

Grant had Superman use his powers in new and exciting ways - like having the Electric Blue Superman move the moon from its orbit.  The post-Crisis Superman had never before moved a planet, not even a small one like the moon.  Pure Silver Age in its audacity.
Grant restored Superman and Batman's friendly relationship from the mutual dislike and mistrust that Byrne had introduced;  Gold, Silver, and Bronze.
Grant gave a new spin to the editorial decree that Luthor never get caught:  While every other writer had Superman be ineffectual and out-smarted by Lex, Grant changed the rules - he showed that the only reason Luthor was still free was because Superman chose to let him stay free, believing that Lex had some good in him and wanting to give him the opportunity to ultimately redeem himself.  This is right out of Maggin's playbook.

In one of the books Morrison wrote, he even managed to sneak in a retcon that Kal-El had been born on Krypton instead of from a "birthing matrix" on Earth.

The "Superman Dynasty" thing from DC One Million is clearly taken from Superman #400, more Bronze Age Maggin (and in this case, Steranko too)

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My impression at the time was that in spite of the insane editorial restrictions in place, Grant Morrison managed to pull the wool over some eyes and write stories very true to both the Silver Age and the Bronze Age Superman.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2007, 10:50:49 PM by Great Rao » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: June 12, 2007, 11:39:09 PM »

Quote from: Great Rao
Grant restored Superman and Batman's friendly relationship from the mutual dislike and mistrust that Byrne had introduced;  Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

Morrison's treatment of the Batman/Superman relationship was so unique I hesitate to call it either Iron Age or Bronze Age.

This is another case where labels like "Silver Age guy" or "Iron Age guy" break down.

They confided in each other, certainly, but it was more like each was the conscience and critic of the other. And it sometimes got pointed and nasty when they had disagreements...remember the ending where Batman set a pair of eyeglasses down and said, "If we want to talk about keeping secrets...you first."

Morrison even had Batman coyly insult Superman at several points, as in "I don't have powers, and I don't wear a bright costume, and I don't trust poorly trained people that do....present company excluded, of course."

Quote from: Great Rao
Grant gave a new spin to the editorial decree that Luthor never get caught:  While every other writer had Superman be ineffectual and out-smarted by Lex, Grant changed the rules - he showed that the only reason Luthor was still free was because Superman chose to let him stay free, believing that Lex had some good in him and wanting to give him the opportunity to ultimately redeem himself.  This is right out of Maggin's playbook.

How can Morrison write a story where Superman is effective against Luthor, when at the end of Rock of Ages, Luthor pretty much DID get away with it? It wasn't because Supes took a dive, Maggin-style, but because Luthor outsmarted Superman and ensured there was no evidence (nobody in Star City technically "died")...in other words, precisely like 5 billion other nineties stories.

And nothing can be further from Maggin than how Morrison characterized Luthor. Maggin occasionally had Lex do the right thing: for instance, save Superman's life at the end of MIRACLE MONDAY. No such action is visible in Morrison's Luthor.

This is what I mean when I say Morrison can't do characterization: having Superman say "there's some good in you" but having no actions on Lex's part to support this statement is "tell not show." In other words: bad characterization.

Quote from: Great Rao
Grant had Superman use his powers in new and exciting ways - like having the Electric Blue Superman move the moon from its orbit.  The post-Crisis Superman had never before moved a planet, not even a small one like the moon.  Pure Silver Age in its audacity.

True, fair enough. I've not argued Morrison is completely 100% lacking in influence from DC's past. And some of the stuff he had Superman do as an electric guy was pretty cool - for instance, faking an asteroid explosion with holograms.

In fact, I think this conversation has been derailed by a very unfortunate kind of thinking. Whether Morrison is more or less Silver Age is irrelevant. Let's say he DID play Luthor Maggin-style. Let's say he had Superman moving planets left and right. It would be Silver Age, certainly.

But would it be GOOD?

Even if something is Silver Age in "tone" (whatever that means) doesn't make it GOOD. For instance, "Rock of Ages" had many other problems: it wasn't clear WHY it is the Worlogog would result in Darkseid ruling Earth. And what's more, the story where a supervillain rules in a dystopian alternate future has been seen eleventy-billion times in everything from GI JOE to CAPTAIN PLANET. And there was no confrontation between the JLA and Injustice Gang; the gang could not have been there and the story would be the same.

I don't forgive the flaws in "Rock of Ages" because it had electric Superman move a moon here and there.

I've always argued that a story that violates continuity is by definition bad, but that does not mean that a story that sticks to continuity is by definition good.
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« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2007, 12:14:00 AM »

One thing you are forgetting is that the true Silver Age was actually defined by a variation in characterization and the writers not taking it so seriously.

The Superman/Batman relationship in the Silver Age could be odd from story to story.  Batman positively is down-in-the-dumps and feeling inferior until Superman "cheers" him up by taking him to Kandor where no one has powers (World's Finest 1964: "The Feud Between Batman and Superman!").  On another occasion, Superman is so obsessed and brooding over a game that he ignores emergencies (World's Finest 1965: "The Game of Super Identities!").  Superman can cheerfully shrug off what he thinks is a subliminal suggestion and do the intergalactic boogie (Jimmy Olsen 1965: "The Swinging Superman!") or feel crushing loss at a duplicate Krypton populated by androids (Superman 1966: "Krypton's Second Doom!").

A big piece of the Silver Age was the story driving characters rather than the characters driving the story.
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« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2007, 05:43:49 AM »

Quote from: Great Rao
Grant restored Superman and Batman's friendly relationship from the mutual dislike and mistrust that Byrne had introduced;  Gold, Silver, and Bronze.

Morrison's treatment of the Batman/Superman relationship was so unique I hesitate to call it either Iron Age or Bronze Age.

They confided in each other, certainly, but it was more like each was the conscience and critic of the other. And it sometimes got pointed and nasty when they had disagreements...remember the ending where Batman set a pair of eyeglasses down and said, "If we want to talk about keeping secrets...you first."

Morrison even had Batman coyly insult Superman at several points, as in "I don't have powers, and I don't wear a bright costume, and I don't trust poorly trained people that do....present company excluded, of course."

I have to say this interpretation of that little interlude in the Morrison White Martian story for JLA is "unique "- but it is stretching it that this is an insult to Superman and the superpowered ilk.  I completely identified with that analogy - and in this instance, Bats was "confessing" to Superman his difficulties dealing with metahumans - and a quite realistic concern (considering this is a comic book) for a human to have among metas.  One careless use of a meta's power and people die.  Actually it was all these little interludes amongst the heroes that made me so interested in the Morrison JLA.

Further, Superman and Bats had genuine admiration for each other, for the first time I've seen since World's Finest pre-crisis.  The biggest kick I got was Superman realizing that Batman was still free and the whole "the most dangerous man alive" thing, as well as the confidence knowing that the Martian's time was up with Bats on the loose.  I loved it!

I would not go as far as stating Morrison was the new Silver Age poster child.  I would go as far as to say that Morrison's JLA had more realistic commaradere than any interpretation I've since since COIE - and on that note, it does harken back to the "club" aspects of Silver Age JLA - admittedly with a more modern and sofisticated slant.

Quote from: Great Rao
Grant gave a new spin to the editorial decree that Luthor never get caught:  While every other writer had Superman be ineffectual and out-smarted by Lex, Grant changed the rules - he showed that the only reason Luthor was still free was because Superman chose to let him stay free, believing that Lex had some good in him and wanting to give him the opportunity to ultimately redeem himself.  This is right out of Maggin's playbook.

How can Morrison write a story where Superman is effective against Luthor, when at the end of Rock of Ages, Luthor pretty much DID get away with it? It wasn't because Supes took a dive, Maggin-style, but because Luthor outsmarted Superman and ensured there was no evidence (nobody in Star City technically "died")...in other words, precisely like 5 billion other nineties stories.

And nothing can be further from Maggin than how Morrison characterized Luthor. Maggin occasionally had Lex do the right thing: for instance, save Superman's life at the end of MIRACLE MONDAY. No such action is visible in Morrison's Luthor.

This is what I mean when I say Morrison can't do characterization: having Superman say "there's some good in you" but having no actions on Lex's part to support this statement is "tell not show." In other words: bad characterization.

Julian, once again, this is a bit of a stretch here.  Lex's getting away with it in Rock of Ages isn't that he outsmarted anyone as much as a really intelligent way of making the whole fiasco disappear.  The Worlogog basically was infinite possibilities.  I should like to simply point out here that Lex's 1st action is to make the entirety of the situation vanish as if nothing happened.  Lex could have done anything and left the damage and got himself out of it.  I don't mean to say I can't see how you'd interpret that "Lex outsmarted Superman", but technically, nothing happened, which I thought was the beauty of it.  Lex did get busted, but he did ultimately do the right thing and made it all go away as if it never happened.  Actually, I thought this was very Silver Age type characterization and very Maggin-esque, without actually saying that.  So you don't get the "Lex - I knew there was some good in you" but I would think some of what Morrison has to deal with is the editorial decrees of who Supes and Luthor are now - in Lex's case, the ruthless business man/scientist stuff.  Unfortunately Morrison's probably got to deal with this as much as anyone used to.  But that's not so much Morrison as it is Byrne, Wolfman and maybe Miller.  I thought as far as post-COIE (not that that matters anymore) his Luthor was as enjoyable as Loeb's, and TAS.

Quote from: Great Rao
Grant had Superman use his powers in new and exciting ways - like having the Electric Blue Superman move the moon from its orbit.  The post-Crisis Superman had never before moved a planet, not even a small one like the moon.  Pure Silver Age in its audacity.

True, fair enough. I've not argued Morrison is completely 100% lacking in influence from DC's past. And some of the stuff he had Superman do as an electric guy was pretty cool - for instance, faking an asteroid explosion with holograms.

In fact, I think this conversation has been derailed by a very unfortunate kind of thinking. Whether Morrison is more or less Silver Age is irrelevant. Let's say he DID play Luthor Maggin-style. Let's say he had Superman moving planets left and right. It would be Silver Age, certainly.

But would it be GOOD?

Even if something is Silver Age in "tone" (whatever that means) doesn't make it GOOD. For instance, "Rock of Ages" had many other problems: it wasn't clear WHY it is the Worlogog would result in Darkseid ruling Earth. And what's more, the story where a supervillain rules in a dystopian alternate future has been seen eleventy-billion times in everything from GI JOE to CAPTAIN PLANET. And there was no confrontation between the JLA and Injustice Gang; the gang could not have been there and the story would be the same.

I don't forgive the flaws in "Rock of Ages" because it had electric Superman move a moon here and there.

I've always argued that a story that violates continuity is by definition bad, but that does not mean that a story that sticks to continuity is by definition good.

Gee whiz... I don't see what anyone needs to forgive to "Rock of Ages".  It was a great read.  For starters, who cares why it is that the Worlogog would result in Darkseid's ruling Earth?  Darkseid's been after Earth for a long time, and Darkseid is just plain Darkseid.  It's just an alternate future, and served as nothing more than really playing up the foreign aspects to our timelost heroes.  I thought it was nicely done there, and it never once occurred or mattered why or how Darkseid got Earth.  He just did.  So here, we have this little sub-plot happening which really served as nothing more than a backdrop to the whole Worlogog/Injustice thing.  Ultimately just color and not too much to take my attention off the storyline - but a really enjoyable alternate future thing.

The thing I really liked about what Morrison did was again, he really handled the team dynamics really, really well - better than anyone else I've seen, and the heroes and villians looked sooo well done.  Some of the best moments (Superman breaking free in White Martians, Batman stating how Lex is about to go up against the best in corporate takeovers, Bruce Wayne, Atom giving Darkseid a lobotomy, Lex's making it all go away, and on and on) I've had reading comics post-crisis were in his run of JLA.  The point is that again, the club aspects of the League very much harkens back to the Silver Age.  The mutual respect between the members again, harkens back to Silver Age.  (Remember Jurgens run, just before Doomsday?  Don't even get me started.)  The compentance of the team, unique uses of powers and strengths; all harken back to those days - again just with the more sophisticated and modern slant and darn, darn, darn clever.  Better than the writers of those individual heroes books got it in many cases.  (Electric Supes was soooo much better in JLA than in his own books.)  Otherwise, them heroes were really heroes - not morally challenged bullies or otherwise.

I personally thought the guys writing was phenomenal and frankly, thanks to him, my favorite heroes started getting the love they deserve and knocked those darn X-books off the top ten lists for some time.
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« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2007, 03:31:42 PM »

In the interests of fairness, there were a few good "bits" in ROCK OF AGES.

Grant's display of Argent's full, frightening power, for instance. It's the only time Argent has ever been cool, and I'm amazed that other writers haven't "paid off" on the promise this story offers.

Aquaman telepathically commanding the weird, mutated sealife of a polluted earth. COOL.

Four Words: Jem, Son of Saturn. These sort of guest-appearances are what Geoff Johns would later perfect in JSA and his other writings.

But none of these cute little bits make up for the fact that the story makes no sense.

Why would Metron, under the control of Darkseid, send heroes from the present to the future where they would learn it and prevent it? Why does Metron do anything in this story? His motivations aren't clear.

Luthor has the Worlogog, but he did NOTHING WITH IT. The whole concept behind the Thanos War is that Thanos + Cosmic Cube = Oh Crap.

Speaking of things that do nothing, I hate to repeat myself here, but the Injustice Gang did nothing but sit around Luthor's satellite Castle Greyskull.

The seduction of Green Arrow was laughable. "Gee, Conner, I bet she's totally not evil or anything." Does anyone seriously believe that Green Arrow would be made to turn against his friends by some obviously evil chick? Also: does anyone know how WEIRD it would really be if Green Lantern and Green Arrow in full costume just went into a random diner and bought coffee?

Could someone explain to me what the point of the hard light hologram attack on Star City was meant to actually accomplish? Why were the hard light sprites not used again in the story?

Why is Wally West still alive? His identity was public knowledge, you really think he can disappear as some random human grunt? I'm not saying there isn't an explanation, but what I am saying is that Morrison didn't think this Darkseid world through. Compare that to say, the alternate world Busiek created in "Morgan Conquest," which hints at a history and geopolitics as complicated as ours.

Amazo was just thrown away. It's a pet peeve of mine, but it bothers me that a villain as powerful as Amazo has become a goofy paper tiger that can be taken down with one punch by Black Adam. Here the robot was disposed of five seconds after the battle began by computer viruses. Even the heroes were cavalierly dismissive of Amazo. "Oh, no, we can't take on Darseid! All we've got is a reprogrammed Amazo! Now, if only Elongated Man had survived we'd be somewhere..."

PLASTIC MAN. Oh, God, kill me NOW. Just when I thought Snapper Carr was the most annoying person in JLA history, Plastic Man comes in with spastic circa-1996 pop culture references to BABE. This is just the sort of thing austistic people find hilarious.

(And Waid found Plastic Man hilarious enough to be the only Morrison guy besides the Founders he kept. I hate to give these armchair diagnoses, but I sincerely believe Waid has Asperger's Syndrome. An inability to understand human emotions and motivations, anxiety bordering on terror when confronted with sex, jokes that aren't really jokes...)

Morrison's attempt to give his whole run something of a coherent plot is likewise lame. While Busiek was actually writing THUNDERBOLTS and AVENGERS long-term arcs with stories like the Scarlet Witch/Wonder Man/Vision love triangle and the conspiracy and media manipulation of the Triune Understanding, Morrison mentions Meggido and says, "hey, look, a big monster! When will the JLA fight it, gentle reader?"

Make no mistake, comparing Busiek to Morrison is like comparing LOST to professional wrestling. "When will Superman bodyslam Megiddo? Tune in next month, at Wrestlemania XXV!"

Oh yeah, and the whole octopus with the glowing red gem between the eyes look? I liked that idea best when it was called Pyaray, Lord of Chaos. This is not being catty or nitpicky. Seriously, that design is IDENTICAL to Pyaray from STORMBRINGER.

Quote from: Criadoman
It was a great read.  For starters, who cares why it is that the Worlogog would result in Darkseid's ruling Earth?  

The Worlogog/Darkseid connection is important because it unites the Injustice Gang story with the Days of Future Past Darkseid story. Otherwise, the Darkseid thing becomes a tangent.

It isn't necessary for two stories to coincide: Englehart had the Avengers encounter the Serpent Crown the same time as "Go West, Young Gods," for instance...but neither of those stories pretended to unity with the other.

What's worse, at no point is there any "payoff" for this thread with the Darkseid/Worlogog. The reason this is a problem, the reason why we should care, is because if we never see WHY it is so important, then destroying or not destroying the Worlogog becomes an entirely arbitrary course of action, like flipping a light switch connected to nothing.

Quote from: Criadoman
I personally thought the guys writing was phenomenal and frankly, thanks to him, my favorite heroes started getting the love they deserve and knocked those darn X-books off the top ten lists for some time.

The best job Morrison did in knocking off the X-Books...was when he was writing the X-Books.

Quote from: Criadoman
Further, Superman and Bats had genuine admiration for each other, for the first time I've seen since World's Finest pre-crisis.  The biggest kick I got was Superman realizing that Batman was still free and the whole "the most dangerous man alive" thing, as well as the confidence knowing that the Martian's time was up with Bats on the loose.  I loved it!

True, there was admiration, but there was also a mutual sort of suspicion and criticism which makes it not quite the usual friendship. Morrison laid the boundaries for Waid's "Tower of Babel" with Batman and Superman's disagreement about trust after the secret mission with Barda and Orion. I was responding to the point that Morrison is somehow "Mr. Silver Age" when his dynamic is complicated.
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« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2007, 04:54:16 PM »

Very simple test, which one of these comics appear to be more in the spirit of the Silver Age and which looks to be more in the spirit of the Iron Age? Both deal with with the same subject, good old Bizarro:

Grant's take on Bizarro:


John's take on Bizarro:


« Last Edit: June 18, 2007, 02:58:11 AM by Super Monkey » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2007, 02:54:09 AM »

Here's why that argument doesn't move me:

If a story is meant to channel the spirit of the Bronze and Silver Age, and the intention is to be sincere and appreciative and take the concept seriously, instead of being motivated by nostalgia or ironic appreciation...such a story would not, at first glance, look like a Silver/Bronze Age story at all!

The Paul Levitz LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES is the best example I can think of for this phenomenon.

Stop and think about it: at their core, Levitz's tales are based on duplicating the formula of the Shooter/Swan-style "big" Legion story (over the top stakes, omnipotent opponents, etc.) But Levitz was in love enough with classic Legion, and sincere enough, that he didn't bring in something like Elastic Lad or Insect Queen when they would compromise the Legion's dignity...and so for that reason it's hard to identify Levitz's tale as Silver Age Legion immediately. But look closer: hell, even Levitz's magnum opus, Earthwar, was based on, and built directly from, earlier Curt Swan Mordru and Dark Circle tales from the 1960s.

Here, at the core, is why I don't like ALL-STAR SUPERMAN:

It has a story where Lois gets powers for her birthday.

Some ideas from the Silver Age are a wonderful blessing and a great framework, and we should thank all those classic writers and artists for bestowing them on us: Qward, for example, a world dedicated to absolute evil. But the idea of a "world dedicated to evil" is silly and not workable, and so later writers made Qward no less evil, but a ruthless science fiction culture whose evil was practical in nature.

Lois getting powers, though and Superman fighting Atlas and Samson for her hand can't be played straight. The very fact it is being done at all implies insincerity, and worse...ironic appreciation.

That's the problem with a work like Mark Waid's THE SILVER AGE: it duplicated all of the terrible and unfun and annoying parts of the Silver Age that made no sense (the Teen Titans talking in goofy slang, for instance), and removed the things that made the Silver Age classic. In other words, it was insincere.

For instance, there was one part where the Flash in Mr. Element's body tried to make it look like the Flash solved a crime by sending up a magnesium flare that's supposed to be the Flash running, and he sent an oxygen tablet that caused objects to float upwards.

ONE: Oxygen just does not work that way;

TWO: As a boatman, I've seen many flares in my time. How many looked like a running red guy?

And fear is GOOD. Nobody could ever be afraid of Insect Queen or John Jones. In order to be afraid of something, you can't be able to laugh at it.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2007, 02:58:51 AM by JulianPerez » Logged

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