Friday, 6 December 2013

Seaguy by Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart Review

Seaguy, an ordinary bloke in diving gear, lives in a world which used to have superheroes but doesn’t need them anymore – they simply go to the amusement park and ride the rides forever (literally!). Meanwhile, Seaguy himself is dissatisfied with his own life and wants some adventure. He can’t stand watching TV shows every night, eating processed dinner meals every evening, living a homogenised, safe life without trouble – he wants to be a hero and do heroic things! And then a bizarre new food called XOO comes to life and bricks with hieroglyphs begin raining down on Seaguy’s idyllic seaside town. Is this Seaguy’s chance to save the world?

Seaguy is Grant Morrison’s tribute to the classic 60s TV show, The Prisoner. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s a trippy, paranoid series about a man who is abducted and wakes up on a strange island, unable to leave. Seaguy is similar in that he’s living in a brainwashed, tightly controlled environment that’s designed to divert rather than force anyone to think for themselves – just consume, consume, consume! And when Seaguy tries to leave in his boat, he encounters the dark chocolate sea, stopping him from going any further. 

The surreal and absurdist tone to the story means Morrison can do the kind of zany, imaginative things critics of the writer don’t like – things like going to the moon in a basket and playing chess with a gondolier skeleton and too many more to list, all in the space of three issues. The superheroes he creates for this book are also similarly brilliant inventions - Seaguy is just a dude in a wetsuit and it's amazing! - and Seaguy’s sidekick, Chubby da Choona, who's a giant floating, talking tuna fish with a face is awesome! 

The whacky flavour of the story also gives artist Cameron Stewart the chance to draw some of the weirdest scenes I’ve ever seen him draw, and some of the coolest character designs ever, with the colours in the book accentuating the feeling of a manufactured world by being overly bright and too intensely cartoonish to be real. And yet despite the colourful, imaginative landscape, there is a feeling that the world Seaguy lives in is far more dangerous than he knows – even the ending has an Orwellian tone to it. 

While I think that more than anything Seaguy is definitely Morrison’s version of The Prisoner, you could argue that it’s subtext includes a critique on 21st century consumer culture and Western governments’ increasingly militaristic approach to its own citizens. It could also be enjoyed as a celebration of Golden/Silver Age superheroes where creators were allowed to make any kind of crazy superhero and give them their own (often short lived - like Seaguy!) series. It’s definitely not his best comic or the most engaging book but it’s enjoyable enough and shows once again that more than anything Grant Morrison is a true original comics visionary.


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