Last month when writer Grant Morrison hyped Nameless, his newest Image Comics collaboration with artist Chris Burnham, by name-dropping concepts such as “nihilistic philosophy,” I found myself thinking “Christ on a crutch, that sounds dreadful.” Years ago I made my peace with how to appreciate Morrison. I do not dislike Morrison–I count his Animal Man and Doom Patrol runs among among my top 10 favorite comics series that I have read.
But over the years, there has been an increasing amount of obtuseness and seeming inaccessibility to the ambitious subtextual narratives he constructs. I do not begrudge Morrison’s desire to creative pursuits. I would not want him to cash the paycheck doing Batman for 15 years, just to please fans. I respect his desire to challenge himself–and despite my distaste for certain elements (the lead character is a genius, but in two moments of stress in the first issue uses the term some people refer to women derisively that starts with “c” and rhymes with “runt”)–my personal bias cannot cloud my appreciation of Morrison’s powers as a storyteller.
The reason I love Nameless, and I am a guy who typically hates horror stories is solely because of the inspired art of Chris Burnham. Lest I sound like an idiot, I know Burnham would not be on this collaboration if he did not love/respect Morrison’s script and storytelling acumen. The art reaches such heights of greatness because of how Morrison inspires the artist. I am not dismissing Morrison in the slightest. I am merely admitting what makes me relish and heartily recommend Nameless is Burnham’s response to Morrison. Like a musical jam session, Morrison’s steady bass line encourages Burnham’s endless visual guitar solos. Oh, and for colorist fans (including myself), this series would not rock as well as it does without the creative team’s drummer–colorist Nathan Fairbairn.
The layouts alone feel like a master class in how to hook an audience. I cannot stress enough how much I reveled in this first issue. As some people love Warren Ellis’ work on Avatar (given the no hold barred/writing for a mature audience) this is clearly what Morrison and Burnham are striving for in Nameless. This series likely could not and would not be published by DC or Marvel: maybe the Vertigo or Icon line. But this series seems right at home in the Image staple. If you had told me when Image first formed that by 2015 they would have a line like they do know, there is no way I could have grasped the publisher’s evolution. This is another comic that reminds me what a creator-owned bliss era we currently enjoy.
[Editor’s note: Each Sunday, Robot 6 contributors discuss the best in comics from the last seven days — from news and announcements to a great comic that came out to something cool creators or fans have done.]
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