By Andrew Fraley

grant-morrison-comiccon

Batman

2008 was a huge year for Grant Morrison. After making his start in alternative comics in his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, he has slowly built his way up to the top of the world of comics. He’s taken the helm of Batman for two years, taking the Dark Knight to all new places…like the grave. He’s also been the poster child for DC Comics’ most recent—and last? Probably not—crossover series, Final Crisis. Morrison ended his run of both series by killing off Batman…sort of.

Batman_and_Robin_3Well, he didn’t really kill him off. Nobody kills The Batman, after all. That’s the one thing we learned at the end of Batman RIP. But he did send him to the past…or something. I’m not really sure. Regardless, Bruce Wayne will eventually return to his role as the caped crusader. The other thing Grant Morrison taught us about the Dark Knight? He always has a contingency plan.

Now that Morrison has finished with the official Batman series, he has started with a new series, called Batman and Robin. Part of the Batman: Reborn collection of the Batman series—which follows Final CrisisBatman and Robin follows Dick Grayson, former Robin and Nightwing, as he dons the new cape and Damian Wayne, the love child of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, as he becomes the new Robin.

Batman and Robin, in addition to exploring a new dynamic between the two heroes, also experiments with the idea of somebody else in Batman’s shoes. In an interview with IGN, Morrison described a “reverse” dynamic between the two, with a lighter Batman and a darker Robin. The only problem I have with this series is that I can’t stand that little bastard Damian. But I must admit, he is made out to be much more badass than he was in Batman and Son, Morrison’s earlier work.

Apart from an all new Batman and Robin, Morrison has introduced some brand new villains and baddies. The Circus of Crime—made up of fire guy, a toad-faced man, a fat lady and led by a frightening man named Pyg—are the first arc’s troublemakers. Pyg wants to infect the city with fear, and has been turning ordinary citizens into dollotrons to do so. Dollotrons are Pyg’s attempt at human perfection; a terrifying process turns his victims into red-headed, mindless man dolls. By the end, however, Batman and Robin are able to get over their differences and put a stop to the dollotron epidemic.

Morrison has also teamed up again with Frank Quietly, who has collaborated with Morrison on other projects, such as the brilliant All Star Superman. Morrison has reportedly given Quietly much more free range with the art flow and choreography than usual. This can be seen with Quietly’s seamless use of sound-effects and art. For example, the “boom” of an explosion is integrated into the explosion itself. It makes for a pleasing aesthetic and more enjoyable read.

Ultimately, the story falls a bit short of what I’d expect from a Grant Morrison Batman tale.  It’s only the first three issues, and first story arc, so I’m still very excited for this tale’s potential. For the next several arcs, different artists will be rotated in and out, starting with Phillip Tan, before returning to Frank Quietly. Morrison has also hinted at a Joker appearance, with Quietly at the drawing board. Thus, I do expect this story to go far. And with Grant Morrison, even if the story is bad, it’s still pretty good. This will hopefully be a great conclusion to Morrison’s stunning Batman run.

Seaguy

At the  2008New York City Comic Con, during a Q&A with Grant Morrison, a fan asked, “Is Seaguy a superhero, or a detective?” Morrison laughed aloud and, in his thick Scottish brogue, said, “He’s just a guy. Imagine if you or I dressed up in a scuba suit. That’s Seaguy.” I don’t think anything else could better describe this funny, terrifying, whimsical, depressing and phenomenal comic series. And after languishing for five years in publication limbo, Morrison has returned to the comic that he has called his “Watchmen”.

Seaguy began as a simple three issue miniseries for Vertigo in May 2004. Less-than-average sales caused the series’ discontinuation. Morrison had originally planned on having three volumes of the series, the second one subtitled The Slaves of Mickey Eye and the third called Seaguy Eternal. In 2006, it was reported that Morrison had put another series he was working on, 52, on ransom until the publishers agreed to finish the series’ run. In April 2009, Morrison and his fans got their wish, and Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye issue one was released.

seaguyThe story follows a young superhero named Seaguy, and his talking, floating, cigar-smoking tuna friend, Chubby. The world in which Seaguy lives is a dystopia in which the masses are placated by a cartoon called Mickey Eye, which is about an omniscient anthropomorphic eyeball, and by the corresponding Mickey Eye amusement park. Seaguy has never actually been on an adventure, because the world he lives in is perfect and crime-free. When Seaguy is playing chess with Death, he’s also trying to earn the affection of a bearded female warrior named She-Beard. If this doesn’t already sound incredibly weird, Seaguy and Chubby then go on their very first adventure after discovering that a popular food named Xoo is actually alive, and sentient. After a series of increasingly more tragic events, including the death of poor Chubby, Seaguy discovers the secret behind his perfect world.

In The Slaves of Mickey Eye, Seaguy has forgotten many of the events of the past. The Eye and its minions, including the ruthless Seadog—former friend of Seaguy—attempt to rein Seaguy in because of his dangerous knowledge. With guidance from the ghost of Chubby, Seaguy is able to bring down Mickey Eye in the end, and gain the love of the now beardless She-Beard. Nothing really changes by the end, though; The Eye is still in power, and the status quo is unchanged. This leaves the real resolution for the final volume of the series. It is a satisfying conclusion to this chapter, however. It’s certainly happier than most trilogies’ middle chapters.

Eternal Seaguy doesn’t have a release date, yet. I hope that it’s less than five years though, because I’m really excited for the story’s conclusion. And when one of the most prolific authors in the comic industry calls this his “Watchmen,” it’s a series that needs to be finished. Seaguy is a truly unique story that challenges all the conventions of the typical superhero archetype. It’s a perfect mixture of quirky, light hearted humor and dark tragedy, and contains many of Grant Morrison’s trademark characteristics. Look for Seaguy, Volume 1 at your local comic book stores, and expect a trade paperback of The Slaves of Mickey Eye soon. Grant Morrison rules. I heart him.