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The Best of Grant Morrison

A guide to the comic book great’s sprawling work, from ‘Batman’ to ‘The Invisibles’

comic con grant morrison 2006

Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

Grant Morrison has created some of the world's coolest comic books over the past three decades, with a sprawling body of work that includes original works like The Invisibles, We3 and The Filth as well as fresh, imaginative takes on familiar characters such as Batman, Superman and the X-Men. This is a guide to the highlights of his career, with the exception of his fantastically strange Flex Mentallo series with artist Frank Quitely, which has not yet been collected in paperback due to complicated legal issues.

By Matthew Perpetua

animal man grant morrison

Animal Man (1988 – 1990)

Grant Morrison made his American comics debut with a run on Animal Man, an obscure DC Comics superhero blessed with the power to temporarily mimic the skills of animals. Paired with artist Chas Truog, Morrison told the story of a kind-hearted, vegetarian hero who loses his family and is pushed to the brink of insanity before confronting his author in the run's extraordinarily meta finale. "I'm the evil mastermind behind the scenes. I'm the wicked puppeteer who pulls the strings and makes you dance," Morrison tells his hero. "I'm your writer."

arkham asylum grant morrison

Batman: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House on Serious Earth (1989)

Morrison's first big commercial hit – and his first shot writing Batman, a character he would spend a great deal of time with over the course of his career – was this ground-breaking graphic novel featuring the grim, twisted artwork of painter Dave McKean. In this darkly poetic, psychologically rich tale, Batman faces off against the Joker, Two-Face, the Scarecrow and other villains inside Gotham City's house for the criminally insane.

doom patrol grant morrison

Doom Patrol (1989 – 1993)

Morrison's take on this bunch of misfit weirdo heroes didn't look much like previous incarnations, but amped up the weirdness by making the full-body amputee known as Robotman the straight man to a crew of tragic oddballs including the radioactive hermaphrodite Rebis, a gay teleporting transvestite street named Danny and Crazy Jane, a sexual abuse survivor with a horrific superpower for each of her 64 personalities. The group faced off against all manner of surreal threats, from the reality-slashing Scissormen to the madcap pranksters of the Brotherhood of Dada. Morrison's final issue on the series, in which Crazy Jane is trapped in a "hell" that closely resembles the drab "real world," is perhaps the most emotionally gutting comic of his career.

kill your boyfriend grant morrison

Kill Your Boyfriend (1995)

Inspired in part by the myth of Dionysus, this dark comedy illustrated by Philip Bond is the story of bookish teenage girl whose life is turned upside down by a thuggish lad who convinces her to kill her boyfriend and head off on a crime spree full of sexual experimentation and artsy terrorism.

the invisibles grant morrison

The Invisibles (1996 – 2000)

This sprawling, psychedelic story – about a secret organization of sexy mystical libertines battling the oppression of interdimensional aliens who have quietly enslaved the world – is Morrison's magnum opus. Though some of the series' themes and style would be lifted by the Wachowski Brothers for their Matrix trilogy, Morrison's dazzling mélange of counter-culture iconography, sci-fi action and conspiracy-nut weirdness is too distinct and personal to be replicated by anyone else.

jla: rock of ages grant morrison

JLA (1997 – 2000)

Morrison established himself as a mainstream superhero writer with a blockbuster run on JLA in which he and artist Howard Porter reimagined the Justice League of America as a pantheon of gods, with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman and other heroes taking on a series of increasingly enormous cosmic threats.

new x-men grant morrison

New X-Men (2001 – 2004)

In his only major work for Marvel Comics, Morrison teamed up with a rotating stable of artists including Frank Quitely, Phil Jiminez and Chris Bachalo for a 42-issue epic in which he reimagined Cyclops, Wolverine, Jean Grey and the rest of the X-Men as the teachers of a new generation of flamboyant, fabulous outsiders. Though latter-day X-Men writers have a tendency to rehash old ideas, Morrison's run overflowed with fresh concepts, whether he was revamping the dominatrix ice queen Emma Frost, or introducing new creations such as the Stepford Cuckoos, Quentin Quire, Fantomex and Cassandra Nova, who would go on to become mainstays of the X-Universe.

the filth grant morrison

The Filth (2002 – 2003)

The typically optimistic Morrison immersed himself in negativity for this series with artist Chris Weston. It's essentially the unglamorous, ugly, seedy flipside to The Invisibles, with a creepy, porn-obsessed protagonist who works as part of an organization called The Hand to exert a fascistic control over society.

we3 grant morrison

We3 (2004 – 2005)

Morrison returned to the animal rights themes of his Animal Man days with We3, a mini-series illustrated by Frank Quitely that told the tale of a dog, cat and rabbit modified into cybernetic weapons by a shadowy government program. The story is light on dialogue, so Quitely's experimental, meticulously designed pages convey most of the plot through images and action. Even still, Morrison's characterization of each animal is very sympathetic, nuanced and, in the end, totally heart breaking.

seaguy grant morrison

Seaguy (2004)

Morrison collaborated with Canadian artist Cameron Stewart on this surreal yet subtly disturbing comic, which was created as a reaction against dour, "realistic" tough-guy heroes. The naïve, cheerful tone runs up against dark themes of tragedy, loss and oppression, resulting in moments that are at once very silly and incredibly moving.

seven soldiers of victory grant morrison

Seven Soldiers of Victory (2005 – 2006)

Morrison and a stable of artists including J.H. Williams III, Cameron Stewart, Frazer Irving and Ryan Sook subverted the notion of the crossover – the superhero comics convention in which dozens (or hundreds) of characters team up for a blowout of epic proportions – with Seven Soldiers of Victory, a collection of seven very different mini-series that nevertheless told one huge story without any of the characters ever meeting.

all star superman grant morrison

All Star Superman (2005 – 2008)

Morrison reunited with his artistic soulmate Frank Quitely for this 12-issue series, which presents what could be the definitive take on the Man of Steel, as well as Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen. Morrison's Superman is a serene, Buddha-like figure who faces his mortality while laboring for the benefit of all mankind. The story is thoughtful and moving, but the art is utterly astounding, with the technically brilliant Quitely pushing his craft to the limit with graceful, carefully choreographed pages that render his partner's concepts with incredible precision.

batman r.i.p. grant morrison

Batman (2006 – present)

Morrison's ongoing run on Batman is an ambitious and occasionally perplexing epic that touches on nearly every interpretation of the Dark Knight while pushing the character into the future. So far, Morrison has introduced Batman's entitled, cold-hearted son Damian [Batman and Son] and driven Bruce Wayne mad [Batman R.I.P.] before zapping him into the past [Final Crisis], where he would fight his way through history [The Return of Bruce Wayne] while Dick Grayson, the original Robin, teamed up with Damian as the new Batman and Robin. Batman Incorporated, the latest phase of Morrison's mega-arc, has Bruce Wayne deputizing heroes from around the world to create an army of Batmen. 

joe the barbarian grant morrison

Joe the Barbarian (2010 – 2011)

Morrison tried his hand at the fantasy genre with this odd miniseries in which a teenage boy with Type 1 diabetes hallucinates a fantasy world populated by his childhood toys while in a state of hypoglycemia. The art, by Sean Murphy, pulls off an ideal balance of mundane real-world detail and  storybook whimsy.

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