Thee Comic Column #118: Grant Morrison’s Nameless

Over the last few months we’ve been living in something of a Grant Morrison renaissance; after what felt like an extended absence following his seven-year run on Batman, which was admittedly peppered here and there with some limited series and a run on Action Comics that, in part, required the eventual release of Multiversity to have the proper context for fully understanding, Morrison’s presence seemed to shift to that of one of the Great Old Ones – you could feel his influence everywhere in comics – especially in DC books as his architecture begun in his run on JLA as a “Maybe one day I’ll be able to pitch my grand design” and over the course of twenty years became the scaffolding upon which DC slowly began to realize they could hang the elaborate fidora of their entire Universe on – but there was no iconic series hitting the stands month after month. We knew this resurgence was inevitable; press for the Legendary-published Annihilator, complete with mouthwatering “What the f@#k images” by series artist Frazer Irving began at least a year before the book had a release date. Morrison’s three appearance’s on Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast teased Multiversity and the still to be released Wonder Woman series. But the big question through all of this, perhaps the reason I’ve felt an absence from my favorite comics scribe when in fact, after listing all of this it seems my initial concept of a Morrison-drought seems misconstrued:

Where oh where was the creator-owned, Magick-infused Morrison I fell head over heels in love with while reading Doom Patrol, The Invisibles, The Filth?

Well, file this in the “ask and ye shall receive” column because ladies and gentlemen, Nameless is here!

Nameless, the new 6-issue limited series by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairhairn and published through Image Comics landed this week and I’ve already read the book twice. This is pure Morrison joy here if you’re like me, one of those who fell down the black hole of the occult after reading The Invisibles, wondering what the hell had just happened upon the series conclusion only to be answered on the final page of the final issue where Morrison’s closing missive included the provocative comment, “The Invisibles isn’t a story, it’s a spell.”

Nameless-341x158

In Morrison’s own words, Nameless is a horror comic; a chance for him to offer an antithesis to the generally positively charged ideas of his big-name superhero books:

“In my superhero comics, I’ve tended to be a cheerleader for the human spirit, but Nameless gives me a rare opportunity to articulate a long-withheld sneering contempt for our miserable species, with its self-serving, sentimental, suicidal self-delusions and its greedy, willful ignorance.

“Inspired by the dark side occultism of the Tunnels of Set, by pessimist philosophers like Thomas Ligotti and Ray Brassier, and by our culture’s unstoppable, almost erotic, obsession with its own destruction, Nameless is a light-hearted romp through the sunlit meadows of a baby unicorn’s daydreams!

Not.”

Excited yet?

The art here is TOP NOTCH – I absolutely loved Chris Burnham’s visual storytelling in his previous collaboration with Morrison, Batman, Inc. and Nameless already shows that Burnham has advanced exponentially since then, especially with the add of colorist Nathan Fairbairn, whose tone fits Burnham’s unique and terrifying take on the dream-like ideas that run rampant in this first issue. Following from this the frames, images and overall aesthetic of the visual side of the book is so perfectly in tune with not only the script, but also the themes and underlying “programming” Morrison has built in here. Much like Morrison’s other two big Magick-influenced titles The Invisibles and The Filth, in Nameless there is a layer beneath the story; a code that you can literally feel disseminating occult information into your subconscious as you read and re-read this first issue. This of course means that when all is said and done Nameless will join the other two aforementioned titles as an ‘Experience’ or as Morrison put it about The Invisibles, a ‘Spell’. The experience of reading it will no doubt affect the reader in ways that will make some uncomfortable, and will catalyze inspiration and change in those open to its transcendental influences. I’ve had some strange thing happen while reading both other titles and I’m expecting more of the same here. Because of this I am really itching to discuss some of the ideas at work here. However, I do not necessarily think this is the place to do it, so… if you would like to see me breakdown some of what’s going on “beneath the panels” in Nameless #1 go HERE. And don’t worry; because of the nature of this book the idea of “spoiling” anything is absurd. I won’t be delving so much into the story mechanics as the ideas informing them.

Suffice it to say, Nameless #1 gets the series off to a great start, acting as a particularly welcome counter-point to Morrison’s superhero books.

……………………..

Can’t find a comic shop? You can always use old reliable Comic Shop Locator at 1-800-COMIC-BOOK. Or you can take some of my recommendations. If you live in the greater Chicagoland area I recommend any of the wonderful four locations of Amazing Fantasy Books. In Los Angeles it’s The Comic Bug. Las Vegas it’s Alternate Reality Comics. San Francisco? Try the Isotope Comic Lounge and if you happen to venture a little further North I’d say you have to visit The Escapist Comic Book Store in Berkley (with the wonderful Dark Carnival Books next door and owned by the same folks). Read on!!!

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

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