Thursday, February 11, 2016

Catching up on Comics with CGraig: Annihilator #1-6

(2015, Legendary)

My esteemed colleague Adam X over at Thor's Comic Column on Bleeding Cool has a bit of a distaste for one Mr. Morrison.  We've had many a heated behind-the-column discussions about said Mister, discussions which see the whole crew chiming in on the pro-GrantMo side of things, with poor Adam sitting squarely (and vehemently so) on his side of the camp. 

A cover like this inspires fantasies... but it doesn't pay off   
Not to put words in his mouth (which is something someone says when they're gonna do just that) but the gist of Adam's POV was a general dislike of Morrison's recurring tendencies, such as recycling the deeper wells of comic lore and passing it off as something groundshakingly new or Morrison's penchant/overuse of metatext. 

I shudder to think of Adam's reaction to reading Annihilator, then, as I'm quite sure it would be some fairly horrifying crime against the physical book itself.  Annihilator feeds Morrison's meta demons a gluttonous buffet, all with a tart foundation of that hoariest of meta-cliches where an author meets the character he's writing in the flesh.  It gets worse... it's not just an author, but a celebrated Hollywood bad-boy screenwriter.  If this were a movie, it would be insufferable by minute five.  As it stands as a comic it's barely palatable the whole way through.

I have to say that I was looking forward to Morrison's editor stint over on Heavy Metal this year, but if this is what he's looking at for sci-fi (b-grade 90's Tarantino knock-off edginess blended with Barbarella-level space opera) I'm gonna take a hard pass.  I haven't been this disappointed with Morrison since The fact if I'm more disappointed it's because it feels like a waste of effort for one of my all time favourite artists, Frazer Irving.  Oh, don't get me wrong, Irving's work is dazzling as always, but it's a rare instance where Morrison doesn't play enough into his artist's strengths. 

Irving has to do stuff like this to keep it interesting
Think of the world building Irving did in (the lamentably still incomplete) Gutsville that is utterly missing here.  He gets to create a whole other dimension but spends precious little time in it.  The majority of these six extra sized issues are talking heads.  Irving does a good jib with all of the drama, melodrama and comedy but it doesn't let him shine.

This is what most of the book feels like
Tonally Annihilator is a bit of a shit show, not balancing it's weirdness with anything resembling likeable characters.  The weirdness of the alternate dimension never fully solidifies into anything tangibly exciting while the earth-based situation is such a microcosm that it's like the four or five characters live in a solitary LA almost solely inhabited by, and centered around them.

I was going to say that Mr. Robot's Rami Malek would be perfect for the role of Ray Spass but then I have no desire to see this translated onto the screen of any size.  It's not a terrible book, but by Morrison's standards it's about as low as they come.  I'm certain I'm missing a lot of dept and subtext and innuendo and literary/pop-cult references and all sorts of other jazz that Mr. M likes to seed into his work, but with Annihilator it's just not worth the effort of digging in that deeply.

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