Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Grant Morrison on Final Crisis and Supergirl


There is a fabulous interview with Grant Morrison on ign.com in which he talks about Final Crisis, his story writing style, and Batman. As a Morrison geek, I highly highly recommend reading the whole thing so you can get an idea of how Morrison approaches writing and certain characters.

Here is the link: http://comics.ign.com/articles/902/902992p1.html . It is a long interview, a whopping 6 pages long, and makes me jealous of the interviewer who must have had 20-30 minutes to just talk to Morrison about comics. I would love to just have a pint with Morrison and just talk comics with him. My buddy paid $200 at last year's New York Comicon to have a 10 minute conversation and get 3 books signed. I wish I had my buddy's disposable income!

Anyways, I am rambling in a fanboy way.

After discussing Final Crisis and his proposed reboot/rethinking of Aquaman, Morrison gets asked specifically about Supergirl. Here it is:

IGN Comics: And what about Supergirl? She's had a lot of trouble connecting with readers since her return a couple years back. How do you plan on making her work in the story?

Morrison: Well as far as I'm concerned, I have her in Final Crisis to fight Mary Marvel. That's the main thing she's in there for. [laughs] But I know that Geoff and James Robinson have a big role for her in the Superman books. So I don't want to get into anything they might be up to with the character, because I don't actually know.

My take was inspired by a really nice story in the DC Bizarro anthology - you know, the one where they brought in a lot of alternative comics people in to tell DC superhero stories. And there's some really brilliant stuff in there. There was a great story with Supergirl, written by Dylan Horrock with art by Jessica Abel, I believe. And just the way they presented it, it was really sort of childlike and charming, like a story for a ten year-old girl. I thought it was a great way of doing the character. There's one panel where she's standing there painting a landscape, and she's got all this cool stuff in her room. And I suddenly thought there's something that maybe we can play up here with Supergirl, the idea of her being really creative and into all kinds of stuff. So we see her room, and she's playing the guitar, and she's got a sewing machine, and a laptop and she's got all these designs for new costumes, and she paints and draws and likes to make things and learn things.


It was my way of visually filling in backstory in a way that made her slightly more appealing, because they haven't really gotten a handle on her over the years. They've tried to do her as this bratty teenage girl, and then they tried to do her like a nice teenage girl. And I just thought, let's think what a real super-powered teenager might be like with that Kryptonian brain. I just figured she'd get bored easily and be into a lot of different stuff, and would be really well read and witty, and cool and self-assured as a result. And that's already a more appealing take on Supergirl. So the idea in Final Crisis was to present her as that cool, kind of switched-on, connected young girl up against Mary Marvel, the insane, threatening, f**ked-up, shaved-Britney girl. And let them fight it out.

Well what can I say? That was just about as great a response as you can get. Of course on this blog we have already talked about how great that panel of her apartment was, how it spoke more about Kara's personality that most of her current title. That panel alone remonded me of why I have loved this character for so long. Nothing in Morrison's comics is there by accident. He thought about her needing to stay busy because of her Kryptonian mind and so has her dabbling in the arts and probably told JG Jones to draw in the guitar, the easel, the sewing machine, etc.

And he thinks Supergirl should be well-read and witty, cool and self-assured. Isn't that better than the angst-ridden, short-fused, arrogant, self-centered girl we saw in Loeb and Kelly's run. That's even better than the heroic, learning, determined Puckett Kara, a version I liked.

Lastly, he now sets her up as what a super girl should be, setting her against everything they should not be encapsulated in the Female Fury Mary Marvel. (sigh) Final Crisis #6 can't get here fast enough.




Now I know that not everyone is a Grant Morrison fan, but I have been since way back in his Doom Patrol and Animal Man stuff. He can be maddening sometimes with his nonlinear style of writing. Sometimes his stuff can be inscrutable. I freely admit that I did not understand Seaguy, The Filth, or much of The Invisibles. While I could follow the individual mini-series in Seven Soldiers, I get the sense I missed many of the connecting threads and came away from the actual Seven Soldiers issues feeling a bit confused.



All that said, even when I haven't followed everything perfectly, the issues themselves were interesting and thought provoking.



The thing is, he can do more mainstream straight-forward super-hero fare. His JLA run was absolutely spectacular and included mega-stories like Rock of Ages and World War III, both of which had many characters even outside of the JLA roster and seemed like cross-over events when read. He even got me to buy a couple of years of XMen, a group of characters which have never caught on with me.

The problem that some people seem to have with Final Crisis is that it is hard to follow, that so much is unsaid, or happens off-screen, or is hinted at but not explained. The other knock is that without an encyclopedic knowledge of the DCU, and coupled with his writing style, no newer reader could ever follow this.




I think much of the first complaint is done purposefully. Part of the scariness of Final Crisis is that there is a sense of doom, a sense of an impending apocalypse. The heroes can sense it. But they don't know who the threat is, where it is coming from, when it is happening. So for me, when we simply get quick glimpses of things that are happening around the universe, I get a sense of what the heroes are thinking. I can see a lot of puzzle pieces but I don't even know what the picture is. Things are slowly coming into focus over the first 3 issues, but by the time I even have a grasp of the big picture plot by Darkseid it's too late; evil has already won. I have really liked Final Crisis, but given the rancor on the web I get the sense I am in the minority.

I often got that sense of impending disaster, of larger threats, in Doom Patrol.



It might not be an easy read ... but since when is that mandatory? As intelligent readers, we should be able to piece this together. And this isn't random comic poetry like how The Invisibles or The Filth read.

As for the new reader knock, I think the same argument could be made about any cross-over. Would a brand new reader be able to pick up and fully comprehend Crisis on Infinite Earths? Infinite Crisis? House of M? Secret Invasion?

Enough from this Morrison apologist. The bottom line is I love everything he had to say about Supergirl. He wanted to make her more appealing, and it looks like he will!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've always thought, that "properly written" SG should have all sorts of idle artistic interests...maybe that would be something she couldn't necessarily extract from her kryptonian upbringing. I agree that panel spoke volumes about how Kara ought to be depicted...i.e. like a very saavy kid who makes good decisions but in the manner of a teenager.

Well anyway, said interview all but assures me that Mary Berserko Marvel will get beaten like a red-headed stepchild...hate to see such a good heroine humiliated, but it does put SG in the upper rankings, so for the short term it's a good thing.

John Feer

TalOs said...

Much thanks for the heads up on this recent Morrison IGN interview regarding Supergirl's bit in Final Crisis here, anj! :D

Actually, like you I too happen to be a fan of Morrison, particularly of his JLA run including the whole "DC One Million" special mega event, as well as his All Star Superman title's recent run itself! ;) Not to sure how I feel about his work on both main Batman title or for that matter Final Crisis itself yet though. :/

Anj said...

Actually, like you I too happen to be a fan of Morrison, particularly of his JLA run including the whole "DC One Million" special mega event, as well as his All Star Superman title's recent run itself! ;) Not to sure how I feel about his work on both main Batman title or for that matter Final Crisis itself yet though. :/

For me his Batman has fallen a bit flat too. It is one of the few titles of his that I am not getting.

Mike said...

I came away from that interview wanting Morrison to take over Supergirl. That's exactly the kind of character I want to see.

TalOs said...

Heh. Actually, now that you mention it, same here! :D Hmmmm, All Star Supergirl anyone? I wonder, could THAT be the reason his run on the All Star Superman title will apparently wrap after issue 12, so in order for him to announce that his next project will be All Star Supergirl title spin-off instead? *Crosses fingers tightly all the while praying for this to indeed be the case* We've seen the guy delve in to Superman through out his career but I truly wonder, exactly HOW he would portray an ongoing 2nd Supergirl title project if given the chance by DC, eh? :)

Anonymous said...

Dunno if DC would ever risk a second SG ongoing book...but any sort of an All Star Supergirl book written by Mr. Morrison would be welcome by me at least.
It's important to dream and dream big...
:D

Kudos btw to both artist and writer for depicting in one brief panel every teenage girl's dream appartment...in lieu of a secret ID this works for me.

John Feer

Anj said...

Thanks all for posting!

I came away from that interview wanting Morrison to take over Supergirl. That's exactly the kind of character I want to see.

What a great idea! At the very least, how about a 3-issue guest storyline!

DC probably wants Gates/Igle to get entrenched first.

Heh. Actually, now that you mention it, same here! :D Hmmmm, All Star Supergirl anyone? I wonder, could THAT be the reason his run on the All Star Superman title will apparently wrap after issue 12, so in order for him to announce that his next project will be All Star Supergirl title spin-off instead?

Well, they were planning an All Star Batgirl at one point, so why not an All Star Supergirl!

And this would not interrupt the Gates/Igle run.

Dunno if DC would ever risk a second SG ongoing book...but any sort of an All Star Supergirl book written by Mr. Morrison would be welcome by me at least.
It's important to dream and dream big...


They risked it when she headlined the Legion as well as her own book. Of course, the Legion has their own built in market.

And with sales low, I doubt DC would do it. Of course, when Adam Hughes All Star Wonder Woman outsells the main Diana title, maybe they will reconsider!

All great points and ideas! Thank you all so much!

Michelle said...

I just figured she'd get bored easily and be into a lot of different stuff, and would be really well read and witty, and cool and self-assured as a result.

I like this portrayal a lot. Puts me in mind of Bronze Age Kara, which is the period I love the best of the original Kara comics. I've never been comfortable with the scared, unsure (and subsequently very defensive) portrayal of this Kara. Kelley Puckett's run has been enjoyable, but I like the idea of her being cool and self-assured a lot more.

she's got all these designs for new costumes

Yes! I love the idea of giving Kara some agency in that area. She never had any say in her uniform, and it's only natural that she'd have her own opinions in that area.

said interview all but assures me that Mary Berserko Marvel will get beaten like a red-headed stepchild...hate to see such a good heroine humiliated

Same here. The "insane, threatening, f**ked-up, shaved-Britney girl" is just an awful (and gendered) thing to do to Mary Marvel. Shaving one's head can be such a powerful move - rejecting stereotypical beauty standards - that I hate it being used here to indicate her "craziness". There are plenty of real villains I'd love to see Supergirl beat up instead of poor Mary.

Still waiting for that All Star Batgirl!

Anj said...

The "insane, threatening, f**ked-up, shaved-Britney girl" is just an awful (and gendered) thing to do to Mary Marvel. Shaving one's head can be such a powerful move - rejecting stereotypical beauty standards - that I hate it being used here to indicate her "craziness". There are plenty of real villains I'd love to see Supergirl beat up instead of poor Mary.

Thanks for the post.

It has been such a quick deconstruction of everything Mary Marvel stood for, that I also feel sorry for her.

As I have said before, she was the foil to Linda Danvers in the PAD Supergirl storyline when they were searching for the Earth Angel aspecy. Linda was in awe of how Mary was steadfastly good.

So, her descent into madness and Female Fury-hood is sad. I hope Mary can be rehabilitated after her Kara beatdown.

The Fortress Keeper said...

It's tough to make a comeback after you're portayed as a callous murderer.

Beating up Donna Troy with a Kyle Rayner-stick is one thing, instantaneous dismemberment of Atomic Knights - who are apparently the DC equivalent to Star Trek security officers - is another.

Still, I suppose Mary's fate is better than what happened to poor Wendy and Marvin.

Anj said...

It's tough to make a comeback after you're portayed as a callous murderer.

Maybe possessed by Mad Harriet? Tainted by Eclipso?

Ok ... I admit it ... she's evil now. So maybe no rehab is possible.

Still, I suppose Mary's fate is better than what happened to poor Wendy and Marvin.

Agreed. I dropped Titans a bit ago but heard about this.