wait what did max do to grant? what instigated this?
Well, while honestly I don’t think the book is sincerely intended as a hit piece on Landis in particular, it’s notable that both the main characters in this book about pretentious hedonistic artists who hurt everyone around them are dead ringers for the guy. Landis had a period where he was really clearly trying to win Grant’s approval - his time at Morrisoncon, describing American Alien as “the anti-All-Star Superman”, inserting that one Mxyzptlk story in it that’s as blatant a “love me daddy” as I’ve ever read in the medium - and given he apparently made a pretty public ass of himself at Morrisoncon, and his otherwise well-known status as a douchebag, it’s not that shocking Morrison decided he’d be a good visual inspiration for the Hollywood enfant terrible of his story.
As for Annihilator itself, it’s easily one of Morrison’s best and most criminally overlooked comics, by strength of Frazer Irving blowing the fucking doors down on this one alone before you even get to the story. For those who missed it, here’s the pitch: Ray Spass is one-time Hollywood hitmaker with a heart of pure shit, whose last big production is a ways behind him - he’s working on a “haunted house movie in space” script starring dashing rogue Max Nomax to get back in the game when he learns he has an inoperable brain tumor giving him a week to live. Later the same day, he’s pulled aside by a pair of secret service agents who inform him that at the large hadron collider in Switzerland, they momentarily opened a black hole…and a man named Max Nomax stepped out and asked to speak with Ray Spass before disappearing. When Ray gets back to his apartment and reaches his creation, he learns the truth: Max is all-too-real, fleeing the repressive authorities of his reality who will surely tear ours apart in search of him. He was forced to beam his memories of his life ahead of his physical form into a tumorous data packet in Ray’s skull; only by writing the story can Ray shrink the packet and save himself, and in turn get the information needed to save the universe.
At its core, it’s the flipside to Flex Mentallo in the same way The Filth holds up a cracked mirror to The Invisibles. It’s still about the power of stories to save us all, and Morrison can’t bring himself to be fully cynical in that particular regard, but if Flex was about how art can ennoble and inspire the lives around it, Annihilator is the reminder that it’s at least as often the product of ego or petty rebellion or a simple need to get paid as any real creative impulse or desire to make anything better. Phonogram as compared to The Wicked + The Divine would be a good way of framing the difference between them; one’s about what art does to fans, the other about how fucked-up the actual artists are. All that aside though, it’s clever, it’s spiteful, it’s hilarious, it’s incredibly well-constructed, it follows up on some of the themes of Morrison’s time on Batman in some very interesting ways, and it’s absolutely goddamn gorgeous. It’s honestly probably in my top 5 Morrison comics period, and I really can’t recommend it enough. Baby Bug-Eyes alone was the sensational character find of 2014.
Written by MIKE W. BARR and JAI NITZ • Art by PHILIPPE BRIONES and SCOT EATON • Cover by FRAZER IRVING Two members of Task Force X are back in these all-new adventures! First up: “REVENGE OF KOBRA” by writer Mike W. Barr and artist Philippe Briones. To oppose the terrorist Kobra is to earn his undying hatred, and that’s what the samurai Katana did when she killed his beloved Eve. Now, Kobra stalks Katana beyond the bounds of the Earth itself, to a supernatural world where he will steal from her everything that she has—including her very soul! And in “SUICIDE SQUAD BLACK,” by writer Jai Nitz and artist Scot Eaton, Sebastian Faust, the U.S. government’s top arcane operative, has gone rogue! To track down America’s most dangerous magician, Amanda Waller assembles a special ops team unlike any other: an expendable coven of dark arts experts including El Diablo, Enchantress and Gentleman Ghost. They are Suicide Squad Black, and they will take you to places where even the dead can die! On sale AUGUST 2 • 48 pg, FC, 1 of 6, $4.99 US • RATED T+