When they began their run on Action Comics in 2011, Grant Morrison was at a crucial juncture in their comics career. After returning to DC in the early 2000s following the end of their run on New X-Men, they launched into a staggering creative frenzy that took them through the first act of their Batman epic, their cult classic take on The Seven Soldiers of Victory, and the multi-Eisner Award winning All-Star Superman with their defining artistic partner Frank Quitely, along with significant contributions to the acclaimed 52. Their mid-naughts imperial phase culminated when Dan DiDio finally handed them the keys to the kingdom and allowed them to do their take on a classic DC Crisis event, leading to the seven-issue Final Crisis with J.G. Jones and Doug Mahnke. Instead of delivering a classic crossover action comic (heh), Morrison wrote a baroque, austere story about the apocalypse powered by symbolism and metaphor as much, if not moreso, than by narrative logic, an ontologically dense exploration of DC’s icons that contrasted them with grimy images of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World New Gods to advance Morrison’s concept of the Justice League as the gods of the Fifth World. [Read more…] about The Old 52: Action Comics & The Birthplace of Modern Morrison
On February 25th, 2013, the New York Times arts desk column exclusively revealed that Damian Wayne would meet his untimely death at the end of Batman Incorporated #8, a story which naturally spread like wildfire among sites like IGN, ComicsAlliance, and Newsarama. DC then announced that throughout March 2013, the Bat-titles would take part in a month-long event called Requiem, with each issue adorned with an ‘R’ logo in tribute to the fallen Bat-family member. It was now clear why the second volume of Batman Incorporated was in-canon; DC wanted a news story and a sales boost. [Read more…] about The Old 52: Morrison’s Batman Incorporated Pt. 2
The Old 52 is not a series examining Grant Morrison’s seminal Batman run. If I were writing about Batman Inc. (Vol. 2) for such a series, I wouldn’t hesitate to praise it to the stars. The end of Morrison’s monolithic run was characterized by consistently astonishing artwork from Chris Burnham, Morrison’s typically playful and inventive profusion of ideas, and excellent characterization of each of the lead characters. I’ve previously argued that it’s a fitting end to one of the greatest superhero stories ever told and that it’s due for a critical reappraisal.
This begs the question, of course, why it received such a lackluster reception at the time. It wasn’t necessarily that critics or fans thought that it was bad, per se. It’s more accurate to say that Morrison’s ending felt spoiled, both in a literal sense (which we’ll get to), and in the sense that the disdain DC editorial held the comic in was so obvious that it felt self-evident that the events of the series weren’t what Morrison had originally intended. Reading it on a monthly basis was an ambivalent experience; Morrison’s vision of a Bat-story drawing upon the character’s entire history had already been hopelessly compromised by DC’s baffling new line-wide continuity demands, and readers watched in horror as the situation was exacerbated by the publisher’s willingness to permanently compromise the story’s effectiveness in exchange for momentary publicity gains.
Even though Batman Inc. is a relatively special case within the New 52 — the only other series that was a direct continuation of a pre-reboot run was Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern. Its demoralizing publication history ironically makes it a perfect case study through which to examine the staggering editorial mismanagement that hobbled the entire initiative. So, instead of a critical deep-dive into the themes Morrison & Burnham explore through the series, this article will tell the story of one of DC’s most colossal failures over the five-year history of the New 52. [Read more…] about The Old 52: Batman Incorporated Pt. 1