mercredi, décembre 11, 2013


For the final chapter of my Hell and Back broadcast pieces on Radio GrandPapier (this 18th of December), I thought it might be fun to wonder about a new “Age of Comic Books”. What if the “Modern/Dark Age of Comic Books” was in fact far behind us? Did we enter a new era without noticing it? If we did, I would say the dynamic duo composed by Scottish comic book writer Grant Morrison and comic book artist Frank Quitely might be held accountable for the shift (like the O’Neil/Adams duo back in the early 70’s). After their first collaboration on Flex Mentallo in 1996, they revamped the X-Men imprint in 2001 under the impetus of the newly appointed Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada who wanted this flagship title to “regain its former glory”. And they brought it back to success and critical acclaim by making it “cool” and “pop” again but also, as Morrison declared in his X-Men Manifesto, by using “the rich history of the X-Men more as background window dressing and as a treasure trove of material we can recut for a new eager audience (in the same way Claremont and Byrne sifted out the best stuff from the original series and combined it with new material).” And from “sifting out” and “combining” to “alchemy”, there’s only a “separatory funnel” in between… Leaving behind them the “grim” atmosphere of the Modern/Dark Age, they worked on the transmutation of comic books and brought it to its highest level (yet) with their All-Star Superman limited series in 2005. This series, which would “strip down the Man of Steel to his timeless, essential elements”, takes its roots in a plan (co-written by Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Mark Waid and Tom Peyer in 1998) intending to “revitalize the Superman franchise for the new millennium”. They stated that their “New Superman approach is an honest attempt to synthesize the best of all previous eras”. They also suggested a new approach in which the “cosmic reset” notion was replaced by a policy of “include and transcend” with regard to past continuity. This “include and transcend” notion is also present in Grant Morrison’s 7 year-long run on Batman which started in 2006. Again, the Scottish writer worked on combining all the previous “ages” of Batman into one man's life and declared: “Batman's been a lot of things, and if you can encompass all those things, I think it's much more true.” By “sifting out”, “combining”, “including” and “transcending”, Morrison and Quitely discovered their own philosophers stone which could not only transmute bronze and modern comic books into the “noble metals” of their Silver and Golden Ages but could also, as an elixir of life, “be useful for rejuvenation and achieving immortality” (see their Superman stripped down to “his timeless, essential elements”). So “ALCHEMIC AGE of COMIC BOOKS” sounded (fun and) right if I had to give a name to that hypothetical new era… Yet I could not made up my mind about its beginning… Somewhere between 1998 and 2001? There’s the Superman 2000 plan co-written by Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Mark Waid and Tom Peyer in 1998. The first issue of The Authority by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch (followed by the Millar/Quitely and Morrison/Ha teams) and the America’s Best Comics imprint set up by writer Alan Moore were launched in 1999 both for WildStorm and with the goal of building brand new universes (based on homages/pastiches to previous eras) after the “Deconstruction of the Hero” during the Modern/Dark Age. In 2000 with Joe Quesada becoming editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics? The logic would suggest in 2001 with the revamp of the X-Men by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (and the X-Men Manifesto)… Or even in 2005? With the cornerstone first issue of All-Star Superman by Morrison and Quitely and the first issue of House of M event which settled American writer Brian Michael Bendis as one of the prominent architects of the Marvel Universe? Not sure yet… But I’m sure all these writers and artists made comic books bright as gold again… 
PS: sorry for my English.

Nicolas Verstappen