With the who’s who of sequential art descending upon the Big Apple this weekend for New York Comic Con, CBR News tracked down one of the event’s guests of honor, Grant Morrison, to discuss the superstar writer’s work at DC Comics and to help fans get geared up for all of the weekend’s fun and festivities.
Tuesday, we kicked off our three-part presentation of ALL STAR GRANT MORRISON with a detail-heavy preview of the hugely anticipated Final Crisis, “and followed suit Wednesday with an equally candid conversation about Batman and specifically, the controversial “R.I.P’ storyline. Today we wrap with a look at the end of All Star Superman and test the waters with quirky cult favorite Seaguy.
As readers have no doubt gleaned, Morrison has a death wish that would make Charles Bronson proud. He’s preparing the DC Universe for the day evil wins in Final Crisis at the same time he’s writing Bruce Wayne’s apparent obit in Batman. Even the Man of Steel is looking over his shoulder to see who is tugging on his cape.
The Eisner Award-winning All Star Superman will end this summer with issue #12, and Morrison told CBR News “It’s the last Superman story, wherever you want to place it. It’s at the end of his life.”
Asked if by “end of his life,” he meant the world will experience the second Death of Superman, Morrison responded, “I would never just kill a character. It’s better than that. But yes, you will see the end of Superman.”
Morrison admitted he would love to keep the title going but his artist and friend Frank Quitely was ready to call it quits and it wouldn’t be the same without him. “We’re stopping mainly because Frank really doesn’t want to draw Superman for the rest of his life,” Morrison confirmed. “The two of us have some other projects we’d like to do so we had to make it finite. We wanted to say our piece and leave. Personally, I could write that book forever. I just love it. I could write stories about Superman every month but the book was designed from the start to be something complete, and to have a beginning and an end. So that’s the way we are playing it.”
Morrison did add, however, he hopes to write a series of one-shot in All Star Superman specials one day as his schedule permits. “As I was working on the book, a bunch of other ideas came to mind and one was an idea for an All Star Superman/Batman book. So that was one of the stories, a thing called 'Son of Superman.’ It was a kind of take on the Super Sons idea from the 1970s, which I really liked. So I wanted to do that one. And there is another one set in the far, far future with the Superman Squad. So they were stories that were more tangential to Superman.
“And I wanted to do a story of Superman’s first year in Metropolis when he wasn’t so powerful and he was a bit more of a liberal activist. And to do that kind of Superman, the big heavy guy who can only pick up trucks and be killed by an exploding shell, you can kind of do that as the first year and see the differences between that guy and the incredibly powerful, self-assured man-god in the main All Star Superman book. So those are the three stories I came up with and as I say, they were slightly off the main storyline but related to it so I hope to do those when the current workload eases up because as I say I could just keep doing that Superman stuff forever.”
Something both critics and comic shops owners would love too. Indeed, Morrison is well aware that All Star Superman has touched a nerve with both hard core fans and mainstream masses and is proud of the iconic instant-classic he has created with his fellow Scot.
“Both Frank and I really appreciate the response, especially to the emotional stuff in the book. It proves that Superman still has resonance and relevance, for want of a better word,” Morrison explained. “And without seeming to boast, because it may sound like a boast, it’s what we set out to do. We wanted to do a comic that was worthy of its subject. Superman is the original and best superhero and he deserved the very best work we could do so there was always the intention to try to make this book special, so it's really gratifying when it works and connects with the audience the way it has.
“The way I write stuff, for me, it’s kind of like invocation in a magical sense. I’m trying to summon characters from the 'imaginal’ world and allow them to speak through me, so in most cases that requires a kind of complete surrender to the spirit of the character that’s close to a possession. Which means things can come as a surprise even to me as the writer. For me, Superman was a big surprise. Because although I had a mission statement to write the quintessential Superman story that you could give anyone and they’d be able to understand it, I didn’t know how that ’Superman’ energy might manifest begin to take over.
“It’s quite funny and Superman is a very distinctive energy. It’s quite a big deal for me that people like it so much because it means they like Superman, maybe more than they knew. And it’s good to like Superman. He’s one of the greatest, most utopian role models the human imagination has created. He really is here to save us all. So to me, it was kind of a conversation with Superman is almost what I am trying to get at. I was sitting down thinking what would Superman have to say? And the more you think like Superman, the more you start to behave like Superman and do things with the single-minded purity and clarity of Superman. It’s kind of interesting.
“All Star Superman is, in that sense, an attempt to do the book that Superman would write. It’s very tight and very controlled and Apollonian. At the same time, it’s got a lot of emotion in it. My contact with Superman has made me a better writer, that’s for sure. The book is intended to be like Superman and it feels like very rooted and very strong where Batman is very much like Batman. It’s darker, it’s pulpier, it’s faster. It has a looser kind of feel to it - Dionysus to Superman’s Apollo.”
In fact, Morrison added that he draws energy from tapping DC’s two biggest icons as he shifts back and forth from writing All Star Superman and Batman.
“Like I said, Superman is very rooted and grounded and all the 'i’s are dotted and all the 't’s are crossed. It’s a very structured book,” he explained. “And then jumping over to Batman, it’s really quite free form and improvised. I know where I am going with it but it’s like Batman. It jumps around a lot. And he gets himself a lot of scrapes and bumps and bruises. And writing the book is a little like that. And like I say, I try to express the personality of the characters through the way the book is written.”
Asked if he thought DC had made a mistake not setting All Star Superman in the same shared universe as All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, in a fashion similar to that of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, Morrison said he’s not sure that the two titles aren’t!
Explained Morrison, “I don’t know if it would have worked. For me, I guess I do see it all taking place in the same world even though they seem like very different characters. Frank Miller is doing Batman at the beginning of his career and I am doing Superman at the very end of his life, in the years beyond All Star Batman. But it could be the same character as far as I am concerned. That’s where they may have ended up. Because all of the superheroes started out pretty rough and ready in the Golden Age. Superman threw people through windows and Batman carried a gun so I like the way that we can incorporate that into the continuity to create more convincing, rounded characters. Because once upon a time, those guys were a little bit crazier. They did some mental things and then mellowed out a little to further their careers.
“To me, Frank Miller’s Batman is a nutcase but he's also meant to be 20-years-old. Sure, DC could have had some continuity in the All Star line and made it a new 'universe’ but I don’t think it’s what they wanted. I think they wanted to get big iconic visions of the characters. The 'Ultimate’ universe was a way of re-imagining a lot of classic stories from the 1960s. So you see the origin of Spider-Man again. You see the beginnings of the Avengers and the first appearance of the Skrulls or the Black Panther or Galactus or whatever, pretty much following the original 1960s continuity but updated and reframed with modern haircuts, slang and pop culture references.
“Where I think the idea behind All Star was just to give big names free reign to see what they could come up with to do their own personal takes on characters so in the case of All Star Batman that can just run and run or it can be something like All Star Superman, which ends at #12.”
Speaking of the All Star imprint, Morrison said even though Adam Hughes has long been linked to All Star Wonder Woman, he would love to supersize the Amazonian Princess too. “I’d love to do Wonder Woman because I’d love to do the last story for each of the Trinity and I have a really good idea for Wonder Woman too. That’s something that I may do in the future, whether it’s set in All Star or something else, I don’t know?”
When CBR News spoke in January with Geoff Johns, Morrison’s co-writer on the Final Crisis preview DC Universe: Zero, the Ã¼ber writer said he had two years’ worth of Iron Man stories ready to go in his notebooks. Morrison admitted he also has epiphanies about characters that he’s not currently writing and said he would love to word balloon the Kirby creation one day too.
“Oh yeah, I do that all the time. You just pick something up and you suddenly hit on an arc. Iron Man is another one. He must be popular because I have a take on him too,” he laughed. “There are certain characters like that who just ring a bell. And we’ve all got stories. I’ve got a huge Legion of Super-Heroes story that might never get seen. Geoff is just getting to do his now. We’ve all got a book of things that we’d love to do.”
ALL STAR GRANT MORRISON IV: Seaguy
Like music and the cowbell, comics can always use a little more Seaguy. And Morrison confirmed he plans to deliver that to Vertigo later this year with the release of Seaguy 2: The Slaves of Mickey Eye.
Seaguy, a graphic novel released in 2004 with art by Cameron Stewart, chronicles the adventures of an ordinary guy in a scuba suit who exists in a world without villains. Seaguy has never actually had an adventure when the book opens and instead awaits his call to duty playing chess with Death while watching a cartoon called Mickey Eye - a Big Brother inspired psychopathic eye.
“It’s so much fun,” said Morrison. “The other ones are hard work because you are doing other people’s characters and trying to be faithful. But this is my own stuff. I originally thought about it as three books. The first book was his childhood. And it’s the idea that you’re quite ignorant and you just want to have adventures. And you have all your talking pals and imaginary friends. So that was the child Seaguy. This is the teenage version of Seaguy. It’s quite dark and gloomy and glossy and weird but it’s quite funny, as well. And the final one is a mature adult, so it’s a different version again. But it’s basically just this guy growing up and finding out the truth about things.”
So we can expect Seaguy 3 as well?
“Yes, we are going to get to finish the story,” Morrison confirmed. “Which is great. People will finally get to understand it! Some of the stuff that they didn’t get in first one is obviously cleared up by events in the second.”
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