[More excerpts from my thesis: “All-Star Grant Morrison: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Twenty-first Century Comics.” This may go on all summer, so please let me know if this is annoying you and I’ll stop. In the meantime, check out the Table of Contents.]
Since his first major work, for the following twenty-five years of his career, Morrison has written more creator-owned books than any of his contemporaries, and has provided memorable runs on the biggest corporately-owned superhero characters in comics from the Justice League, to Superman, Batman, and the X-Men. His work has been so intriguing that he has been the focus of three academic worksand a documentary. University of Massachusetts at Amherst English Professor Timothy Callahan’s book, Grant Morrison: The Early Years, establishes a discussion of the Scottish writer’s early work and how it grew from the pages of 2000AD and thrust him onto the American comic book shore with his best-selling Batman: Arkham Asylum and Animal Man. Callahan takes us right up to Morrison’s career in the mid-1990s where Patrick Meaney picks up the ball and runs with it in his book Our Sentence is Up, which studies Morrison’s masterpiece The Invisibles on an issue-by-issue basis. Both Meaney and Callahan’s works give us a view of Morrison’s talents, but the critical narrative previously ran out with Meaney’s work, which only focuses on The Invisibles, a series that ended in 2000.
What this essay will do is pick up where Meaney left off and discuss Morrison’s twenty-first century work, specifically focusing on his seminal run on All-Star Superman. We will do it with a focus on Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, whom Morrison discusses at length in his autobiography Supergods as a seminal ingredient in all of his work. My intent is to show how Morrison uses the principles of Pico’s Oration on the Dignity of Man in his current work. Callahan brings us the early stages of Morrison’s career, where he largely worked with lower class (serf-like) characters like Animal Man and the freakish team of biological rejects called the Doom Patrol. Meaney examines Morrison’s most celebrated work, The Invisibles, which establishes the model that Morrison likes to work with. Following the end of The Invisibles, Morrison goes on to write forty-two issues of X-Men from May 2001 to March 2004, and provides what is largely seen as the best Superman story of the twenty-first century in All-Star Superman which ended its twelve issues in 2009. His artist is Frank Quitely, who is known for a high level of detail. We will conclude this chain in his historical autobiography Supergods and his rebooting of the comic that started the superhero movement, Action Comics, in September 2011.