Documentary Review: Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods (2010)

Release Date: October 9th, 2010 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Patrick Meaney

Sequart Organization, Respect! Films, Halo-8 Entertainment, 80 Minutes

Review:

I have really enjoyed the comic book documentaries that Patrick Meaney has made. However, this one was kind of a dud, which is unfortunate, as I have liked some of Grant Morrison’s work over the years.

This was also Meaney’s first documentary, so there’s that.

What I mean, is that this felt amateurish and the editing wasn’t as good as it became in his later films. This was mostly talking head interviews and even then, most of them were just one or two sentence blurbs that came out pretty rapidly. Also, this was definitely a puff piece where everyone interviewed just praised Morrison like he was the second coming.

A lot of this felt insincere. And I don’t mean that to knock Morrison but this wasn’t a good documentary or very interesting. I anticipated really delving into the man and really getting some insight into his best work. Instead, this is just a bunch of people trying to sell you on Morrison, a guy you probably already know if you’re taking the time out to watch this.

I don’t care that he’s an alien abducted wizard and how “cool” this “rockstar” is, I want to know more about his creative process and why he did certain things a certain way. There’s a lot of “Oh, yeah… that was great! And then so and so stole it for this movie!”

This was just a lot of people giving Morrison a community wide handjob, telling us he’s great but not actually telling us what makes him great and why his work is great.

This was a real bore to get through but I’m glad that Meaney’s documentaries got better. Check out the one on Image Comics and the one on Chris Claremont. Those were infinitely more engaging than this was.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Patrick Meaney’s other comic book documentaries but his later ones are much better.

Comic Review: Doom Patrol, Vol. 3: Down Paradise Way

Published: 1990-1991
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Richard Case, Kelley Jones

Vertigo Comics, 185 Pages

Review:

While I’ve really enjoyed getting this far into Grant Morrison’s legendary run on Doom Patrol. This volume didn’t hit the mark quite the same way for me. But that could also be due to the luster and newness of this bizarre series starting to run dry.

I wouldn’t say that I’m bored with it but it’s so far out there that the stories are overly fantastical and it is hard trying to ground this in any way that gives it some sort of emotional weight. I like the characters but the proceedings are too surreal, all the time.

The first volume took me by surprise and was so unique that it was hard not to get drawn into it. The second volume brought the Justice League into the mix and it grounded the craziness somewhat, as the well-known DC Comics characters almost became the eyes and ears of the reader.

Here, it’s just Doom Patrol once again, as they are thrown into another dreamlike sequence that isn’t very easy to follow or grasp. I’ve always loved surrealist art but it exists well as its own thing and I dare anyone to try and make a narrative that can string together all the scenes Salvador Dali painted in some sort of coherent way.

Granted, art and the effectiveness of storytelling are all subjective but, at this point, I’m not sure what I’m reading and if there is even any sort of plan with Morrison’s Doom Patrol or if he’s just throwing really colorful shit on the canvas and hoping the reader somehow connects the dots for him.

I like Morrison’s imagination but this was also really early in his career and not as refined as his work would become with more experience. However, this is still a really unique experience and the fact that this exists within the larger DC universe is kind of interesting and sort of cool.

At the end of the day, no one can say that Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol wasn’t ambitious. I just don’t know if this ambition is going to pay off in any meaningful way. But again, that’s subjective and this may speak to a lot of people.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol.

Comic Review: Doom Patrol, Vol. 2: The Painting That Ate Paris

Published: 1989-1990
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Richard Case, John Nyberg

Vertigo Comics, 228 Pages

Review:

I’m really digging the Grant Morrision run on Doom Patrol.

While the first volume was better overall, the first half of this collection was probably the high point for me, thus far. The second half of this is mostly filler and comes off at a slower pace but there are still some things of importance within it.

The first half is the story arc that gives this volume its name: The Painting That Ate Paris. And while the name may sound metaphorical, it isn’t. This is Grant Morrision’s Doom Patrol and a painting literally eats Paris. And with that, the Doom Patrol has to find a way into the painting in an effort to save the city. All the while, the Justice League shows up and stands idly by, staring at the painting, confused by the whole ordeal.

I feel like the Justice League here represents the more casual comic book reader, who would probably be baffled by the insanity, absurdity and surrealism of Morrison fully and creatively unleashed.

Richard Case’s art is some of my favorite from the era and man, it just lures you in and is a perfect compliment to Morrison’s writing. Case’s art is clean, crisp, colorful and fluid. I love his character design and the life his style gives every person in these stories.

This was just a really exciting comic to read. It loses steam with the second half but it is still entertaining and serves to setup what’s to come after this.

If you’ve never given Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol a shot, you really should. It’s a superhero team book but it is so unique that you really should experience it.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol.

Comic Review: Doom Patrol, Vol. 1: Crawling From the Wreckage

Published: 1989
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Richard Case

Vertigo Comics, 186 Pages

Review:

I knew all about Doom Patrol back when Grant Morrison was writing it in the very late ’80s and into the ’90s. It’s something that the older, cooler kids talked about but I was more into Batman and Spider-Man at the time, as comic books were still kind of new to me and I hadn’t yet expanded too much beyond that.

Over time, I collected a few issues of Morrison’s run but I never completed it and never actually read a full story arc. I’m trying to rectify that now, as I want to better understand these characters with the Doom Patrol television show starting in a few weeks on DC Universe.

I can’t quite say that this is a legendary comic book run, as I need to read Morrison’s entire Doom Patrol catalog but this is certainly off to a very solid start.

Morrison does a fine job of throwing characters at you and finding something within them that allows him to connect with the audience. I cared about every character in this story and I really hope that maintains as I get deeper into this series.

This serves to set up Morrison’s take on Doom Patrol. Even though I don’t know what happened before his first issue, it is very clear that this is a new group, forming out of the ashes of whatever happened to the previous one and even if you don’t know what their motivation is, you care enough to stick with this and find out.

I only hope that this run has a definitive start middle and end and doesn’t just sort of limp forward without any real follow through, which is a trap that so many new creators fall into.

Solid storytelling, really nice, robust art from Richard Case and all around, this was a really engaging and entertaining introduction to what is considered one of the high points of late’80s/early ’90s comics.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol.

Documentary Review: Future Shock: The Story of 2000 A.D. (2014)

Release Date: September 21st, 2014 (Fantastic Fest)
Directed by: Paul Goodwin
Cast: Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Dan Abnett, Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra, Alex Garland, Dave Gibbons, Scott Ian, Karl Urban, Nacho Vigalondo, various

Deviant Films, 110 Minutes

Review:

I don’t know if I’m just burnt out on these type of documentaries but this one didn’t keep my attention.

Reason being, it didn’t tell a story, really. It did go through the history of 2000 A.D. but everything was done in a heavily edited interview format. There was no narration and this felt kind of disorganized.

Being an American and not as familiar with this comic as someone from the UK, I was hoping for a good, comprehensive history on this. It probably works well for UK fans but Stateside I felt like it missed the mark.

Granted, it was cool seeing a bunch of creators, whose work I love, talking about 2000 A.D. with a lot of passion. I liked seeing the bits on Judge Dread and the stufff involving Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison. Their two cents are always worth the price of admission when it comes to talking about comics of the past.

Still, even though this was full of people I wanted to hear from, it was quite long for what this needed to be and for how it was presented.

Maybe get some narration, organize the sections a bit better and tell a more cohesive story.

Rating: 5.75/10
Pairs well with: other comic book documentaries of the last few years.

Documentary Review: Comic-Con – Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope (2011)

Release Date: September 10th, 2011 (Toronto International Film Festival)
Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Written by: Jeremy Chilnick, Morgan Spurlock, Joss Whedon
Music by: Jeff Peters
Cast: Joss Whedon, Guillermo del Toro, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, Kenneth Branagh, Eli Roth, Seth Rogen, Thomas Jane, Seth Green, Edgar Wright, Corey Feldman, Paul Scheer, Todd McFarlane, Matt Groening, Frank Miller, Gerard Way, Grant Morrison, Paul Dini, Joe Quesada, various

Mutant Enemy, Thomas Tull Productions, Warrior Poets, 88 Minutes

Review:

“I think the fans are the most important thing in the comic book business. And I might add, in any form of entertainment. I feel… you gotta be nice to the fans because without them… you’re nothing.” – Stan Lee

Here we go, these nerdy fan documentaries are a dime a dozen but I guess this one got some recognition for being well produced and for featuring a slew of famous nerd-centric personalities.

I didn’t know that this was a Morgan Spurlock film until I was already watching it. Had I known that, I probably wouldn’t have watched it. Reason being, I think the guy’s a f’n hack and disingenuous. His most popular film Super Size Me was unwatchable to anyone that can see through a ruse, which it was. It wasn’t science, it wasn’t a real test to see how fast food effects you, it was one man’s entertaining mockumentary, sold as a legit documentary and damnation of the fast food industry. His documentary series on FX was also mostly a big bullshit endeavor where he went into everything with a bias then cherry picked info and edited everything down to the narrative he wanted. He’s the reason behind the modern alteration to an old phrase, “No shit, Spurlock!”

Anyway, this is exactly what you’d think it is. A bunch of famous nerdy types talk about their nerdy shit and their love for the San Diego Comic Con, which is barely about comic books at this point and isn’t anywhere near as cool as it once was. You missed the boat by a decade or so, Spurlock.

The only thing I really liked about this was seeing the behind the scenes stuff on cosplay. I don’t normally give a shit about cosplay but it was interesting to see, nonetheless.

As far as the interviewees, the only one that stuck with me was Stan Lee. Everything else was edited so choppy that the vast majority of comments could have been things out of context and then just thrown together for Spurlock to manufacture whatever narrative he was going for. Stan Lee’s bit was heartwarming though but that’s because he’s Stan Lee and he always has eloquent shit to say.

You’d probably be alright if you never watched this. It doesn’t do anything to inspire you to go to San Diego Comic Con. If anything, it told me to stay away because I like comics and don’t give a crap about massive celebrity panels or Joss Whedon publicly ranting about lefty hysteria.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: any of the dozens of other documentaries about nerd conventions or nerdy hobbies, there are so many.