Note: The first section was posted on 24/9.
There are few comic book writers held in as high esteem as Grant Morrison. He always writes big and outrageous plots, with aspirations toward being high-quality literature. He is praised for playing with continuity in clever ways, for expecting the reader to be intelligent, for demonstrating to the world how it is that a writer is meant to write. Listening to interviews with him, it's hard not to see why his work is so well regarded. He's deconstructing myths and messing with narrative structure and pushing boundaries and all that good stuff! And then I sit down, excited as a little kid, and actually read
And every single time, without fail, I find myself horrified at just how astoundingly bad his writing is. I have tried reading his Batman, I have tried reading his Seven Soldiers, I have tried reading his Final Crisis, I have tried reading his New X-Men, I have tried reading his We3. Without exception, every single issue I have read by Grant Morrison has struck me on almost every page as a mediocre story incompetently told. And I'm doubly frustrated, because it's supposed to be something wonderful. On the internet I hear nothing but praise for Morrison's work, and I recognize the ambition, and I say to myself, "I want to read something by that genius!". I fall for the hype no matter how many times I have been disappointed, no, downright offended by the quality of his writing.
So take the case of All-Star Superman. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more universally-loved comic book. It's won awards, it's dazzled critics, it's even sold well. Every review I see mentions that there's nothing that could possibly be said by a lowly critic which could adequately encapsulate the pure perfection that is All-Star Superman. They just released the twelfth and final issue, and already it's being called an enduring classic, one of the best comic books ever written, etc. etc. etc. And I desperately want to believe them, because as much as I'm comfortable standing out I enjoy a good story more. There really shouldn't be any reason to dislike it- it's considered the most accessible of Grant Morrison's work, after all. A timeless masterpiece, that's what it's supposed to be.
That's what it most emphatically is not, and yet even as I think back to the issue I just read a few hours ago (#1), I'm trying to spin it in my head into something I can admire. I had no such reactions as I was actually reading
it. I got one, overwhelming emotion from it, the same one I get from everything Morrison writes: agitation. That was it.
Why did I even bother reading it? Because I said to myself: "Surely you're wrong. Surely you just haven't taken the time to appreciate it properly. Surely the brilliance is like that of Metroid Prime, which you only get to see once you've spent some time with it." And so I decided (with no irony) to read the entire series, basking in its brilliance, at the end of which I will be enriched and enlightened and understand that Grant Morrison is not
a worthless hack after all.
I still intend to follow through on that commitment. So here is what I'm going to do. I'm going to keep adding bits to this post as I read through each issue. I'm going to force myself to endure the agitation to find the good that may or may not be there. I'll start by rereading issue #1 again, now that I know exactly what to expect (and therefore can't be as horrified as I was earlier today), later today.