Tag Archives: Grant Morrison

Today’s Super Comic — New X-Men #117 (2001)

Apparently, the first X-Men movie reminded Marvel that Xavier was supposed to be running a school for gifted youngsters, not merely sheltering a team of superheroes trapped in an infinite loop of melodramatic soap operas. Granted, the soap opera approach served the X-Men extraordinarily well at times, resulting in some of the greatest superhero comics ever printed.

But by 2001, yeah, it was time for something different. So along came writer Grant Morrison with a fresh tone and fresh energy. X-Men became ­New X-Men, and it earned that adjective, by gosh and by golly.

Issue #117 is early in the run, though not too early for a major status-quo shift to already have taken place. The world now knows Xavier and his students are mutants, and if you know anything about the X-Men, you know how positively thrilled folks are upon hearing the news.

It’s a great development, though. The X-Men have been a metaphor for persecuted minorities since day one, but being able to easily pretend they’re not mutants doesn’t do the metaphor justice.

Also welcome is the fact that the school is actually a school for more than five people. Xavier’s mansion has extras in the background. The X-Men have expanded from a family into a community, and the main characters have actual jobs—teaching these kids.

Those main characters are also changing. The Beast gets the most focus in this issue. His mutation has evolved, or perhaps devolved. Instead of being a blue, furry man-ape, he’s now a blue, furry man-feline. It’s quite an adjustment, and there’s a lot of pain behind his jolly demeanor.

Meanwhile, Jean Grey is feeling increasingly detached from her husband Cyclops, who seems to be drawing the attention of Emma Frost, the formerly villainous White Queen, so Jean starts flirting with Wolverine, who we all know has been in love with her since the good old days. Yeah, you can’t totally extract the soap opera element from the X-Men. It’s infused in its DNA.

But there’s more going on, and none of it feels like a rehash of your favorite childhood X-stories. It’s exactly what the X-Men needed at the time. (Well, they didn’t need to trade their colorful superhero costumes for lots of black…or maybe Hollywood said they did need to.)

Writer: Grant Morrison

Penciler: Ethan Van Sciver

Inker: Prentiss Rollins

Cover: Frank Quitely

Publisher: Marvel Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Marvel Unlimited; Comixology; included in New X-Men by Grant Morrison vol. 1 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comic — The Flash #134 (1998)

flash_v-2_134The original Flash takes over for an issue in #134, and it’s an enjoyable change of pace.

The then-current Flash, Wally West, sustained a serious leg injury in the previous storyline, so Jay Garrick comes out of semi-retirement to fill in during Wally’s recovery. And playing the hero again is an absolute hoot for the old man, making it fun for the reader, too. He gets to run around and knock the stuffing out of bad guys, speak to a classroom of children, catch up with old friends, and still make time to celebrate his golden wedding anniversary.

As the cover says, the issue is framed as “a day in the life.” And his overarching goal throughout this otherwise episodic day is to save an old enemy who has become a friend. It’s not so easy, though. His friend, known as the Thinker back during World War II, is dying of a brain tumor…but maybe, just maybe if Jay can find the man’s old thinking cap, the Thinker will be able to devise a cure for his tumor…

Even in his golden years, Jay can still learn a lesson about the limits of what a superhero can accomplish. A solid done-in-one story.

Writers: Mark Millar and Grant Morrison

Penciler: Paul Ryan

Inker: John Nyberg

Cover: Steve Lightle

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in The Flash by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comics — JLA #16-17 (1998)

jla_vol_1_16The Justice League and the Avengers love changing their lineups. It’s a staple of both franchises. They also both like to shake up their rosters in issue #16, apparently. But whereas the original Avengers #16 replaced the old guard with mostly new members, the ‘90s Justice League reboot instead doubles its membership in JLA #16.

So we’ve got fourteen JLAers, plus the party-crashing Catwoman, and about a hundred reporters aboard the Justice League’s moon-based headquarters. And of course a new villain strikes and starts taking the team down one member at a time.

This villain, Prometheus, instantly appears to be a formidable and credible threat. His motivation is sketchy, but in writer Grant Morrison’s defense, he is juggling a ton of characters in the course of two issues and still manages to give everyone time in the spotlight.

The plot is pretty basic, but it’s really all about showing off the new team and introducing a highly skilled and intelligent new villain to DC’s ranks. And in that regard, it succeeds in being tremendous fun. Prometheus may be underdeveloped here, but he certainly shows potential. Maybe one of those CW shows might want to consider using him. Just a totally random thought there.

Writer: Grant Morrison

Pencilers: Howard Porter and Arnie Jorgensen

Inkers: John Dell and David Meikis & Mark Pennington

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in JLA: The Deluxe Edition vol. 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up

Today’s Super Comics — JLA #1-4 (1997)

JLA_1This is how you do a classic-style Justice League of America story with a modern sensibility.

In 1997, DC Comics injected fresh energy into the franchise by relaunching the title as JLA and reuniting the original lineup from the early ‘60s (the current versions of those characters, anyway). For probably the first since those earliest days, the Justice League consisted exclusively of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash (Wally West, not Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner, not Hal Jordan), Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter. All A-listers.

First on the itinerary is—what else?—thwarting an alien invasion. The aliens claim to be benevolent superheroes here to save the world, and they instantly get the public on their side. But of course things aren’t what they seem.

This entire JLA lineup, except poor Martian Manhunter, had their own series, so no major character developments were allowed in these pages. The trick to a great JLA story, then, is to simply let the characters be their awesome selves and interact with their awesome teammates as they awesomely save the world. Split them up, pair them off, knock them down, and let them get back up again and heroically prevail. Writer Grant Morrison gives everyone moments to shine, and artist Howard Porter makes them look suitably epic as they do so (he draws a particularly excellent Batman).

I remember when this series first came out. It was exciting, and I looked forward to each next issue. It’s good guys being good guys—exactly how the JLA should be.

Writer: Grant Morrison

Penciler: Howard Porter

Inker: John Dell

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; JLA: New World Order (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — All-Star Superman #3 (2006)

2352256-all_star_superman__2005__03I have to admit that Grant Morrison’s writing sometimes gets a little too weird for my tastes, but with All-Star Superman, he picked precisely the correct amount of weirdness to bring to the table.

The series is set in its own continuity, already well into this Superman’s career…toward the end of it, actually. This Superman is dying from issue #1, and he makes sure his remaining time counts.

In #3, Superman allows his one true love to spend a day in his world. As a birthday present, Lois Lane receives all his powers for a full 24 hours. The events are deliberately ridiculous, complete with additional super-powered suitors determined to impress Lois, but an underlying melancholy balances out the goofiness due to Superman knowing he has little time left. Plus, Frank Quitely’s depictions of Superman and Lois flying together and sharing a kiss on the moon are nothing short of romantic.

It’s a charming episode within a great series. This is the “Death of Superman” arc we should have gotten in the early ‘90s. It may not be an in-continuity Superman, but this interpretation is definitely true to the spirit of the character.

Writer: Grant Morrison

Penciler: Frank Quitely

Inker: Jamie Grant

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; All-Star Superman (TPB)

Appropriate For: 12 and up