Grant Morrison: Master of Horror (Week)

HELLBLAZER #26, DC Comics, February 1990
Hallow's Eve is approaching, so it's time to open up some horror comics and spend the next two weeks being afraid of the dark (and stranger things still). This week: All Grant Morrison, all the time. Final Crisis may be leaving some people cold, but let's go back, back, back in time before he was a household name!

Yes, back to late 1989 and only the third year of the long-running Hellblazer. Jamie Delano, of course, was the man behind the first 4 years of Hellblazer, but there were a couple of guest writers who did some pretty amazing short stories on it. Neil Gaiman's "Hold Me" is still one of the better issues... but this is Grant Morrison Week! Screw that Gaiman guy! Just before "Hold Me", there was a Morrison 2-parter, with charcoal art by V for Vendetta's David Lloyd.

It features a classic Morrison meme: The town going insane. In this case, the Earth is vibrating wrong and a small town in Northern England is going completely nutters. The principals include a guy sitting at the empty shell of a computer planning the end of the world, a bunch of creepy kids with Halloween masks, and a bishop right out of Return to the Planet of the Apes who worships the Bomb.
The only way to defend yourself is to drown out the tolling bell of doom with loud music. Apparently, Sonic Youth is particularly effective. That's good advice. As far as musical tastes go if nothing else.

The actual classic bit is that one page where Morrison creates disturbing images using words alone. Lloyd draws pictures, sure, but they're subtle, not overt, interpretations. Just slice of life stuff gone wrong:

"Mr. Finn, the fishmonger, is pulling the wings off birds in the pet shop. Canaries. Parrots. Cockatiels. When he has enough, when he has divined the secret of flight, he will jump from the roof of the town hall."

"In Cromwell Street, the children are led smiling to the razor-man who gently removes their faces to make child-masks for the adults. The children depart, with wet red Halloween cake faces, smiling still."

You get the picture. This is the stuff that stays with me. The stuff I have nightmares about. It's not the 6 coffees a day, it's this. I'm pretty sure of it.

So our hero John Constantine tries to stop the town from committing suicide, which they can do, after all, because they've got a military base full of planes with missiles and shit. But in Hellblazer, bad stuff happens, so they succeed:
John survives and discovers something about himself -- He doesn't really give a shit. And so the stain keeps spreading on his soul... Oh yeah, and he flips off a BBC journalist: "Yeah, that's right, mate. Feed them all the old lies. You've got a posh accent, so it must be true."


ShadowWing Tronix said...

Any chance of seeing his Doctor Who work? IDW just started a series reprinting his Sixth and Seventh Doctor stories.


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