Monday, July 25, 2011

Grant Morrison Could Sue Warren Ellis, If He Wanted to Admit Being A Little Bitch

Nerds, I just started a serious flame war, there. Regular folks, some explaining is in order.

Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis are two fairly well-known comic book writers. Morrison's biggest titles include All-Star Superman–which recently got its own abridged animated feature–the recent Batman arc Batman R.I.P., and major DC crossover Final Crisis. Also his original creation, The Invisibles. Ellis, meanwhile, also worked for DC Comics and its Vertigo imprint on series Hellblazer, Bruce Willis/Morgan Freeman/John Malkovich/Helen Mirren basis Red, and major Iron Man relaunch Extremis. He is known for several bat-shit crazy pet projects, most notable among them being Transmetropolitan.

Here's the nerd-rage:

While some (read: Grant Morrison himself [via iO9. This is what actually got me to read the series]) have laid claim to the idea that The Invisibles is a direct basis for the Wachowski Brothers' Matrix film franchise, somehow Warren Ellis doesn't appear to have been sued violently for making an even more similar work in the same media form, closer in time.

Transmetropolitan is a whole series about what The Invisibles was afraid of.

Two bald men with various tattoos, formerly … outspoken hairstyles, near-constant use of sunglasses and identifying as info-terrorists with a mission statement for anarchic truth in the face of totalitarianism and consumerism. Both are brilliant, possibly mad tacticians, dislike undershirts, carry ray guns, enjoy a bit of lethal computer wizardry, and know things that will make you mess your tin foil hat.

Both employ brutality as a matter of course, are at their core righteous bastards (despite outward personae), and are to-the-nines archetypical antiheroes for transhumanist, post-modern, culturally dissective series. From 1994-2000 (with hiatuses), Morrison wrote King Mob's teammate Lord Fanny, a Brazilian transvestite/former-prostitute shaman, who is purportedly well over six feet tall and a blond knock-out, who actually knock you out. From 1997-2002, Jerusalem frequently had blonde amazon/former-stripper assistant/bodyguard Charon Yarrow:

Both teams were financially backed by older gentlemen with a propensity for black suits and thinking only to meet their own ends: Spider's editor Mitchel Royce and Invisible billionaire Mason Lang:
They even sport the same haircut,
and both of their offiices sometimes explode.
Beyond that, and the fact that both series were printed by DC imprint Vertigo, thematic elements are more similar than direct mirrors. The Invisibles is more sorcery and altered consciousness and Transmet is approaching the technological singularity, ironically what the Big Bad from Morrison's book is described as, except as hell also.

Spider is the insane journalist, revealing the truth when Orcer and Control seek to hide it to maintain power. The rest of his time, he's content to fuck off and gripe about how water-ed down and advertisement-filled violent children's cartoons have become. Mob is just a former Spy Romance novelist who became a tantric sex guru and thought-warrior on a higher plane of existence so he could better assassinate evil bug creatures and their minions in all major governments.

The glaring similarity is probably the notion that, on average, 7% of the text on a page is complete tencho-magic jibber jabber, and at times this climes to 100% just to screw with you. It's all real, though. If you were to look up everything that gets said, even the insane babbling, is historically and scientifically something. Holigraphic universes, tulpas, commercial matter reorganizers, they're all explainable, even the things that purposefully aren't real. (Ellis' now-on-hiatus series Doktor Sleepless, a series about not getting the post-singularity jet packs and flying cars future we were promised, even includes tulpas by name.)

Honestly, the only grand difference besides tech v. magic and a hero complex is that Morrison set up a story about saving the world, about averting a terrible apocalypse and hopefully replacing our world with a better one. Ellis' series is entirely about living where you are because The City is a living breathing thing, exactly as Morrison believes, far greater than any of its inhabitants, again exactly like Morrison, but this is the world we live in and there's no grand design, no imminent death, only constant change and rebirth and wonderful spectacles like Nazi sex midgets and gay werewolves and complete information integration. Morrison feared the spiritual singularity as a step beyond our own society. Ellis sees it as our birthright, something to one day become just as mundane as verything else as we grow past it.


Honestly, read through The Invisibles, it's only 59 issues between it's 3 volumes, at least until a part where you get an idea of what Morrison thought America would look like by 2012. Then crack open Transmet #1 and see if Ellis didn't just say, "Yeah, I get you, but you were thinking too small, man."

1 comment :

  1. I would add that the cat in Transmetropolitan could be a subtle reference to the cat in The Filth (the other work by Morrison that together with The Invisibles is part of a hypersigil, blah, blah)

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