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Technology hates me: Graeme talks 10/18 Grant Morrison.

Graeme McMillan

Is it too much for me to ask to have a working laptop that doesn’t crash every two minutes? Really? That’s the question I’ve been asking since this weekend, when my usual laptop started to die a series of very slow, very annoying deaths, forcing me onto this old, semi-abandoned laptop that has a “B” key that doesn’t really work, and entirely intermittent internet access. So if you’re wondering why I’m reviewing things a couple of days later than usual, and why I’m only reviewing two books, it’s because writing anything else may drive me into a rage that could result in the murder of the entire staff of Dell Computers worldwide.

Which may not be a bad thing.

(To give you an idea as to how bad that “B” key is, that last line took roughly seven attempts to make that sixth word not say “ad”. And during that time, my internet access has come and gone four times. Science, my friends. It sucks.)

WILDCATS #1: I have to admit, I wasn’t convinced by this book by the time I reached the second last page. It seemed as if Grant Morrison’s script was trying to do too much, having too many ideas to try and explain and too many characters to introduce (or reintroduce, I guess, but I never really followed any previous Wildcats series), giving us fragmented scenes and awkward expositionary dialogue like “All these widescreen battles and public displays of stupidity: It’s vulgar and frightening. Adolescent. How would truly adult superheroes behave?” Meanwhile, Jim Lee’s art continually felt as if he had wandered into the wrong book and was trying to keep up – he’s a great superhero artist (ironically, perhaps, being one of the best for those public displays of stupidity that Grant seems to keen to get away from), but he can’t do subtle emotion very well, and there’s something about his idealized bodies that seemed at odds with what the story wanted to say (for me, at least; the sex scene in particular seemed really strange because Lee’s characters are so sexless and stiff, even before you got to the odd coloring and blurring that was, I presume, meant to suggest some form of surviellance or something). But then that second last page happened, and it was so beautifully ridiculous, with the generic superhero action being given not just stupid over-the-top narration, but stupid over-the-top narration in German that I was… not exactly sold, exactly, but willing to see where it was going to go next issue. Every character seems more like a character type, but with that narration – Grifter is confusion! Grifter is chaos! And death! And death! – it was almost as if that was intentional, at least for this part of the story, and that Morrison was not only aware of that but perhaps had plans for where it was going to go in the future. Alternatively, maybe he just thought it was funny. Okay, but for the best reasons, in a weird way – it’s too ambitious for its own good (and probably way too ambitious for a book that’s not going to make its bi-monthly schedule), but I guess there are worse reasons for something to fail, right? Much more successful was…

THE AUTHORITY #1: Maybe it’s just me, but as I read this, I kept wondering what the hardcore fans of Mark Millar’s Authority would make of this. This was a book that came closer to fulfilling Morrison’s above promise from Wildcats, being entirely devoid of widescreen battles or public displays of stupidity – or anything resembling superheroics at all, at this point – which, let’s face it, is what the Authority as a book is known for, thanks to the run that made Millar’s name. Would everyone who picked this up wanting to see a return to superheroes who swore and fucked and smoked joints be disappointed in this? Bored by it? Confused? The sheer difference in tone that this had from all the previous versions of the series – and this is also apparently the fourth volume of the series, like Gen 13 last week, but somehow more shocking considering this book is only six years old – felt both ballsy and necessary, but I’m wondering whether it’s something that’s going to alienate as many readers as it excites (Judging from the reaction on Millarworld so far – where people are complaining that they’re dropping the book because none of the title characters made an appearance, and how dare this not be a double-sized first issue so that there can be some action and punching – that seems to be the case). It’s not a complete break from what the book started as, though, as it still feels like a movie… It’s just that it’s now the beginning of a science fiction movie, in a way: Reality before the aliens invade, but an extremely stylized reality – one where the most apparent thing to the reader is how empty everything is. The dialogue and the artwork (most panels devoid of background, and colored in such a way to seem devoid of energy and life, too) are sparse to the point where it’s almost parody, and the story moves forward slowly, building atmosphere by keeping its distance from its characters and the true nature of the plot (If Wildcats is Morrison playing with his idea of recompressed superheroics, as he did for Seven Soldiers, then this book is a reclamation of decompression, in terms of speed and structure of the storytelling. It’s as if Bendis had started watching early Spielberg instead of Mamet). The way that “reality” is portrayed, as something beyond mundane, is a familiar Morrison trick, as seen especially in the final issue of his Doom Patrol run and sections of The Filth, but given a new charge here because you know that they’re just prelude to what’s to come, and because you don’t really know what is to come. This was Very Good, but I’m worried that the reveal of the Authority themselves is going to ruin the whole thing.

Meanwhile, now that Wildcats #2 has been moved to March, can we assume that the Worldstorm relaunch is more of less fucked already? Ah, probably. Shame.

Based on these two books, it’s obvious what’s my PICK OF THE WEEK and PICK OF THE WEAK. I would’ve had a TRADE OF THE WEEK, and it would’ve been the Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall graphic novel, had I remembered to pick it up. But I didn’t, because, well, I suck. But luckily, and to be honest, somewhat surreally, I found it in my mailbox today sent to me by DC. So somewhat confused (but no less grateful) thanks, Sierra, and the rest of you, expect me to review it next week. When either my laptop and internet will work again, or I’ll steal Kate’s because she won’t be working on freelance design stuff anymore.

This week: Seven Soldiers #1, right? That’s got to be pretty exciting…

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