Monday, May 3, 2010

Grant Morrison's "The Filth"

Just read and wanted to shout out to The Filth, a comic that covers about every topic we've discussed in this blog in ~318 bizarre and visually stunning pages. Its author, Grant Morrison, is perhaps best known for the frightening, allusive Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, a Batman comic so legit its artist, Dave McKean, felt he would have been selling out by drawing the Dark Knight as anything but a weird, bat-like wisp suffering a mental breakdown. "The repressed, armored, uncertain and sexually frozen [Bat]man in Arkham Asylum was intended as a critique of the '80s interpretation of Batman as violent, driven, and borderline psychopathic," says Morrison in a note on Arkham.
The meta-parody is more obvious in The Filth. When a superhero called "Ultra-Huminatarian" is "smashed against the fiction wall," one character says, "we'll just fix it in the continuity," inventing a typically lame parallel-universe situation for the dead character.
"Not supermen but super-slaves in a synthetic prison," another character says later, regarding the same situation. "Playing out crummy meaningless adventures written by amoral monsters."
Of course to praise a work only for its meta aspects is to confuse literature with criticism, but I think all this stuff did need to be said in a comic book, and it's a great sci-fi adventure besides, one which demonstrates a lot of good ways for comic writers to solve the rut of being unable to make a story visually stimulating without having it feature tons of super-battles. Most of the violence is as disturbing and sad as it is funny, and the book also contains lots of weird sex, crazy machines, talking animals, monstrous spermatazoa... I mean you should probably just read it, I can lend it to you.

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