Friday, 14 August 2009

Strange Transmissions from Planet X

Weird -- I woke up this morning and found the following mini-essay blinking away on the computer screen, just waiting for me to find it:

In/on Planet X, Grant Morrison began his work on Wildcats, The Authority, 52, All Star Superman, Batman and Final Crisis, but never managed to complete any of these projects for reasons both personal and editorial. The Planet X Morrison completed one issue of Wildcats, two issues of The Authority, eight issues of All Star Superman (four of them set on Bizarro world), thirteen issues of Batman (ten of which starred the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh), and five issues of Final Crisis. The book reports that Morrison used these works to explore his obsession with creating a “state of permanent crisis” in which everything and nothing mattered all the time — a striking if unsubtle comment on the nature of modern living.

The book on Planet X describes how this style was so unpopular that it led to the Morrison being kicked off of 52 after twenty issues, though it also concedes that his contributions to that title were maybe a little too obviously disruptive. Apparently, in every issue of Planet X’s hypothetical 52, Morrison asked the artists to draw Animal Man ogling Starfire and mumbling on about “groovy space tofu” while Adam Strange pondered some sort of cosmic absurdity in the background. Strange’s dialogue was largely interminable, apparently, but book notes that this very quality occasionally hinted at a queer sort of transcendence: "The glazed melons of Yeown5: how ripe they smell… how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe how ripe…” being one of the stranger examples cited.

Planet X’s author remains highly enthusiastic about these indulgences, however clumsy they might seem. The book’s final chapter focuses in on the last page of Final Crisis #4 (which is, of course, the same final page that graced issues #2 and #3 of the title, though most fans agreed that it felt much more poignant on the third time round). With the multiverse in ruins, the golden Superman at the heart of the sun blows his noses, blasting what’s left of “reality” to pieces in the process. Looking at the abyss and feeling its non-existent eyes staring back at him, Superman forces his body to explode, restarting the universe in his own image. The problem being that the “better yesterday” he imagines ends up being much the same as the one he’s just destroyed. Indeed, Planet X explains that issues #2-4 of Final Crisis are almost-indistinguishable — apparently this gave the series an “uncomfortable sort of zen glamour which the fanboys hated and the comix fans loved”.

Looks like we've got a mild Borges infestation round my way. The question is do I call in pest control or let the little buggers be?

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