Friday, 12 September 2014

Annihilator #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Frazer Irving)

Grant Morrison’s second big comic of 2014 (the other being Multiversity whose first issue came out recently) is Annihilator, the story of drug and alcohol abusing screenwriter Ray Spass (pronounced “space” because he’s a Hollywood douchebag) who is under pressure to produce a hit movie script - something he hasn’t done in years. In desperation, he moves to a supposedly haunted house that was once used for satanic practices and has a hole in the garden that may or may not lead directly to the underworld! Ray’s dystopian sci-fi screenplay revolves around Max Nomax, a man living on the edge of a black hole who’s trying to bring his dead girlfriend back to life. 

Having read a ton of Grant Morrison’s comics over the years, Annihilator #1 is, for me, the comic where he’s finally become a parody of himself. Annihilator is the kind of Grant Morrison comic he knows he would write, and that’s what he’s done. Let’s go over the checklist:

Drugs and alcohol. 
A male/female orgy with leather. 
A preoccupation with movies and the movie business. 
Devil-may-care main character(s) who are actually super-lame.
The fine line between what’s real and what isn’t. 
Alternate worlds. 
Fiction becoming reality and vice versa. 

If you read enough of any author, you start to notice their tricks and what seems original in the first few books you read become stale and hackneyed if that author refuses to change their style over time. That’s the case with Morrison and Annihilator felt like a b-side to The Invisibles. 

I wasn’t impressed with Ray’s story. Boo hoo, his girlfriend left him and he’s under pressure to write a weird and whacky space tale - better start doing coke, drinking whiskey and having sex with male and female hookers! I didn’t care about Max’s story (and by the way, Max Nomax is a stupid fucking name), where he’s mourning his dead girlfriend and he’s going to subvert the laws of nature. 

Yeah, I got that their stories are intertwined but that’s part of the problem: it’s gimmicky. And then Morrison goes out of his way to point out that Ray’s addictions and the fact that he now has a brain tumor, all mean that the appearance of Max in Ray’s world might or might not be real. Ugh, don’t do this to me, Morrison. This is such amateurish storytelling. 

Frazer Irving’s broody, horror-esque art is well suited to the dark space opera unfolding at the edge of the black hole and the comic as a whole looks great and dramatic. But it’s not enough to make the comic any good, especially as Morrison’s disappeared up his own arse and emerged at the other end spouting exactly the same nonsense as he’s done elsewhere. 

I will say that I liked the absence of ads in the issue - this is from Legendary Comics, the publishing branch of the studio that brought us The Dark Knight and Man of Steel - so it’s a seamless, uninterrupted read. More comics publishers should follow this method - Marvel especially! 

I’m actually a big Morrison fan but his script for Annihilator #1 is weak, tired, and so dull. Far from being the exciting new, original project that I hoped it would be, it’s Morrison going back to the well for the same old same old and I couldn’t care less. Very disappointing.

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