Morrison Mondays in May!

Recently, Second Printing ran a series of polls assessing what Grant Morrison's seminal work was (read: his Watchmen), and while the winner was not what I would have picked, it's still a worthy selection. It's a public poll, so of course it was going to be skewed towards more popular, more accessible and more recent works. So I thought I'd round up some less well-known Morrison works and give them the ol' Siskoid treatment. Every Monday this month of May: Morrison! You can't beat that kind of alliteration!

KID ETERNITY, DC Comics, 1991Remember Kid Eternity? Well, in the 90s, Morrison revamped him for the Vertigo generation as an older, sarcastic and bitter spirit working for the Lords of Chaos to create a new human race. Or something.

This mini-series was, and still is, utterly mystifying. I'm not quite sure what to think about it. The real protagonist is Jerry, a stand-up comic that dies at the hands of a demon escaping hell. The Kid escapes hell at the same time and enlists Jerry's help in going back to rescue a totally demonized Mr. Keeper, and in the process, learns the truth about order and chaos, about his origins, and his mission on Earth.

I think.

See, the trouble is that the story really meanders. There's Jerry and the Kid, but there's also the demon's story, and this whole riff on urban legends coming true, and you know what? Most of the problems stems from Duncan Fegredo's painted art. Don't get me wrong, I love his scribbly, anxious pencil art, but his painted stuff is muddy and messy. It's obvious the images are supposed to be disturbing and creepy, but --??? Like, what am I looking at here?
I think that another style would have greatly helped the story, drawn clearer parallels between images (I can sort of see them in the script, but then can't tell if the images correspond). Not to say Morrison's story is guiltless. There's just too much here, between the animated Picasso painting, the summoning of Kid Eternity through a scrabble board, a man trapped into telling stories (is this a veiled reference to the House of Mystery/Secrets stories? That's what it made me think of), the Kid calling on Walt Whitman subconsciously (no, I don't get why), and a whacked out version of hell. Here's a sample of the horrors Morrison has cooked up:
"Where men and women are made monstrously huge. Bodies so big they cannot move. They can only scream and cry out as other damned creatures burrow and build in their flesh." Classic Morrison stuff, but lost in a ocean of dark inks and confusing storytelling.

Oh, and not enough calling on dead western stars and pro wrestlers. The series could have done with a gratuitous roping or two.
Further Morrison reading:
My pick for the win: Doom Patrol
Flex Mentallo
Zenith

2 comments:

Devon Sanders said...

Ummm... I never read this one.

Sounds like I didn't miss much.

Wanna know an interesting aside as to why the art was so badly colored?

Fredrego is a colorblind painter.

I'm not making this up.

Baal said...

Fredrego's always gonna be special to me because of my love for his and Milligan's Enigma. I give Morrison most of the blame for how bad this was and even then have to admit that Nocenti taught us that this concept could indeed get worse...

 

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