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So I’ve been following the news almost nonstop for a week—not good for one’s health. I can almost feel my blood pressure building every time I see Barbara Bush’s Marie Antoinette act, which I think is a good sign it’s time for a break. After all, there’s not much I can do that I haven’t already done; sadly, I don’t have a guillotine handy. Momentary distractions are good, and I might as well distract myself with a return to my old hobby of blogging about unimportant stuff.

Banana Sunday #2, Root Nibot and Colleen Coover: Oh dear, oh dear. Now, monkey can get ambiguous, because there are a few monkey species with “ape” in their common name, although such monkeys are not considered true apes. However, gorillas and orangutans are simply not monkeys. You know, now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever before seen gorillas or orangutans mistakenly called monkeys. Chimpanzees and gibbons, sure, they look sort of like monkeys. But gorillas? But the primates are so terribly cute and fun, especially Go-Go, that I can’t resist.

Also, Martin is a creep. I keep hoping Kirby will wise up and punch him right on the nose. But oh, those primates! I guess I’ll put up with anything for a little gorilla who loves butterflies.

Shining Knight #4, Grant Morrison, Simone Bianchi et al.: Jog is still worried about Seven Soldiers—actually, he’s more worried. Alas for him! Well, Shining Knight sure isn’t self-contained. After reading Jog’s post, I wondered, “What was Morrison thinking with his ‘modular storytelling’ hype, anyway?” And, actually, I bet I know what he was thinking: it was probably a joke at the expense of company-wide crossover “events.” Seven Soldiers, at least so far, has the virtue of being mostly self-contained—you don’t need to catch the allusions to other stories to follow the current story, although an understanding of the allusions can add entertaining nuances to your reading. Because he likes to take the piss, Morrison describes the self-containment hyperbolically: not only does a single issue in the Seven Soldiers series (I won’t call it an “event”) not cross over with other series, it doesn’t even cross over with Seven Soldiers! I doubt Morrison ever planned to make Seven Soldiers “modular.” (Or maybe he did—I haven’t spoken with him on the matter! But it doesn’t really matter if the story is satisfying, and I’ve been satisfied thus far.) I haven’t reread all four issues yet, but I think Shining Knight does work as a self-contained chapter in a larger story.

One promise Morrison has kept is that the chapters never quite intersect. Zatanna occasionally moves through Shining Knight’s wake, but no more than that (so far, so far). Which leads me to another of Jog’s complaints: Zatanna and Shining Knight don’t really match up; there are glaring continuity glitches. I admit that didn’t bother me—maybe I cut Morrison and his collaborators too much slack, but I expect Morrison’s narratives to be malleable, more metaphorical abstraction than concrete world-building. But even if the continuity glitches are simply mistakes, I find them more entertaining than bothersome. But I’m obsessed with cut-up aesthetic in all art forms, and there’s almost nothing I like more in a story than when it starts to fall apart, whether or not the author wanted it to. But this is Morrison, so I hesitate to say the inconsistencies are a result of carelessness. I guess we’ll see, though.

And, well, I think we’re meandering toward Jog’s final question: is Morrison getting in over his head? Actually, I hope so! I don’t trust an artist who doesn’t make an occasional graceful bellyflop into the deep end of the pool, and Morrison is one of my favorite writers because his entire artistic career has been one bellyflop after another—some more graceful than others, but all entertaining.

But what about the story? Well. So, Sir Justin is a girl. Unexpected but unsurprising. Like most of his stories, the building blocks of Shining Knight are slightly off-kilter clichés. Let’s see—in Seven Soldiers #0, Shelly Gaynor dresses up in a stupid fetish costume and stupidly goes to bed with an asshole. Zatanna causes no end of trouble by wishing for the man of her dreams. The Manhattan Guardian presents a variation on that immortal action-movie cliché, the obsessed man who neglects his wife and family because, damn it, he’s got a job to do. Gender, especially the feminine, is something to watch out for in Seven Soldiers; I’ll have to keep this in mind as I reread.


  1. Jog says:

    Oh I am worried… when reading that issue of Shining Knight my monocle popped right out and I dribbled a bit of brandy onto my armchair… terrible concerns!

    A joke, eh? That’s tempting (and considering that I’m the one who wrote the ‘Is it satire?’ review of All Star Batman and Robin, I may have no right to comment on well-clouded humor), but I think that the project has been a bit too careful in setting up its miniature worlds as their own individual units for that sort of covert practical joke to fly. Although I will say that my whole interest in how well this project lives up to Morrison stated ambitions stems in part from my knowing not to trust what Morrison says in interviews; I want to see how the work lives up to his descriptions in real time.

    And as I said in my review, I do still enjoy how things are (more-or-less) fitting together… it’s interesting how our reactions to that initial question (was Morrison ever serious about modular storytelling?) seem to color our later reactions. Perhaps because I’m accepting it as a genuine ambition on Morrison’s part, I see the gradual stripping away of levels of complexity (not to mention the occasional continuity gaffe, though none of the ones I mention are in danger of breaching the hull so to speak) as ill omens. (I also should mention that pretty much all of the errors I highlight can be pretty easily attributed to miscommunication between artists, whether through time constraints or lack of editorial guidance or simple carelessness, but not necessarily Morrison’s carelessness… of course, it takes a lot more than Morrison to build these things!)

    But Morrison’s a crafty devil, and he’s been known to pull tricks, or at least wring something satisfying out of impossible situations… just like in Seaguy (and speaking of which, I was most amused to read that Seaguy is still causing trouble with readers as evidenced by this interview:

    Surely that book will live a long life as a symbol of alleged incomprehensibility… I liked Morrison’s explanation of the book’s themes, and how it both does and doesn’t cover the elements of industry satire that I saw in the work).

    — 6 September 2005 at 9:20 pm (Permalink)

  2. Steven says:

    OK, I suppose I’ve procrastinated enough on replying….

    W/r/t the possibility that Morrison’s “modular storytelling” hype is a joke—well, I don’t think it’s a good joke. You’re right, certainly, that our response to Morrison’s claims about the text color our response to the text itself.

    I’m waiting to see how the inconsistencies between books turn out, but I’m thinking still that an impressionist approach to storytelling is as likely an explanation as miscommunication or carelessness. I mean, maybe weird spider things from Summer’s End manifest on Earth in such a way that they look like robots to Don Vincenzo and like organic creatures to Misty. You never know with weird spider things.

    What Morrison book isn’t a symbol of alleged incomprehensibility, really? I like Morrison’s explanation of Seaguy, but the other thing readers don’t seem to accept is that stories aren’t necessarily perfectly explicable. Whereas I would be disappointed if I discovered that Seaguy is a sensible allegory or something, where a chocolate-coated arctic tundra is a coherent metaphor as opposed to a hilariously nonsensical idea.

    — 7 September 2005 at 9:43 pm (Permalink)