August 22nd, 2014
10:22 PM, I get an email. “New Arrival! BoJack Horseman is now on Netflix”
10:24 PM, I open the comic. The first page on the inside is an advert for BoJack Horseman. It has today’s date on it.
Andrew Hickey? That’s a totally ludicrous name. The symbolism is just too blatant. ‘Andrew’, meaning ‘strong and manly’, an obvious name for a hero. And then ‘Hickey’ — a ridculous joke of a name, but it means ‘healer’ or ‘doctor’ — and this man is supposed to also *write about* a character called ‘Doctor’ all the time? Give me a break… and then you’ve got those initials — A.H., just like Hitler. He’s obviously going to turn out to be the villain all along. Morrison’s lost it.
There’s an obsession here with the past, and with fate. We’re told “THE ORIGIN STORIES BEGIN IN: GOTHAM”, yet scant pages later we’re told “THE PAST CANNOT CHANGE”. “THE FUTURE IS IN MOTION”, but it’s at “FUTURE’S END”. “THE NEW 52″ at future’s end, though, features only 41 titles. They all feature 3D lenticular covers — showing a movement that will always return to its original position, and a desperate attempt to break out into another dimension.
Covers are clearly important to whoever created this artifact. Not only is there this talk of 3D lenticular covers, but we also see four different sets of credits for “variant covers”. But the cover doesn’t vary. No matter how much I stare at it, it stays the same — and the characters on it stare back at me.
We’re told “Watch the DC All Access Webseries that takes you inside DC Entertainment”, but on the very next page we’re told “INTRUDERS: Don’t let them in” and shown a shadowy figure encroaching from… somewhere else. We’ve gone from being the invited guests of “DC Entertainment” to being the villains of the piece, something confirmed on the back cover, where it says “get ready to root for the bad guys”. But notice, it says “get ready”, yet the date here is August 12, ten days before the date at the start. We’ve gone backwards in time.
But we’ve not gone backwards in time ten days at all — because the INTRUDERS page says August 23, the date it will be by the time this gets posted. So we’ve gone back in time eleven days in all — just like the eleven days lost when Britain changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Or the eleven issues missing from the FUTURE’S END.
There’s an obsession here with variants on a theme, with characters in different versions, and the absence of them. Harley Quinn is alternately sexualised and presented as a bride in white — the virgin/whore dichotomy in one character — and everything seems to centre around Batman.
Yes, yes, I get it, he’s examining the comic as physical object in the world. “Dissecting” it, if you will. Treating all the stuff around the story, the metatext, as if it were the text itself. It’s old stuff, nursery-school postmodernism. I expected better from Morrison, frankly, although I don’t know why, given that I read his run on Action
Time has ticked over to August 23 now. The day “the Doctor” returns, although this seems more interested in another BBC series premiere, one from a man who made his name with a cult property in the 90s. As the day ticks from the inside front cover to the inside back cover, another email comes through:
“Yeah great adverts. The reinvention of the bat baddies as small business owners is interesting / pure ideology / something something. Love the Miller steal on the twin towers design, although it’s twisting the knife a bit, poor fucked old fucker”
While the world sleeps, Bobsy is awake.
The comic tells us to “prepare for the self-obsessed heroes of “Earth-Me”", but it tells us to prepare for them. Everything here is talking directly to us, asking us to impart great significance to every detail of our lives, to see ourselves as heroic merely for the media we passively consume, yet the very last thing we should be is “self-obsessed”.
My dad phoned me up yesterday. He was watching TV and Alan Moore came on. “Alan Moore looks just like you will in thirty years!” he said, as soon as I answered the phone, without even saying “hello” first.
Wait, so this Andrew Hickey guy, the one who’s going to become the villain, is another of Morrison’s Alan Moore standins? Christ, he’s getting almost Dave Sim-like in his unsubtlety…
There’s also an obsession here with the writer as ahead of the artist. On the “All Access” page, Grant Morrison’s name is mentioned five times, while the artists are reduced to an aside. Morrison even is credited as an artist for one of the variant covers (again, no matter how I stare, there is only one cover on this comic. The other covers must exist in different possibility-spaces).
It’s a dark, depressing, vision — a world of infinite possibilities compressed, squashed, to uniformity, watched over by the all-seeing eye of the consumer (definitely a consumer, not an audience, as the word “audience” refers to listening, an active engagement, rather than the passivity of consumption). Maybe in future issues we’ll get to see something different, something lighter and better, but here everything’s about darkness, where the only light is the false light of hedonism seen in the BoJack Horseman page, a page filled with phallic imagery. And note that that page takes place in Hollywood, while all the dark pages take place in “Gotham” — or New York, and note that DC Comics is moving to California soon, to join the rest of DC Entertainment.
Now Morrison’s just ripping off Watchmen — the bit where Ozymandias looks at all the adverts on TV and gets a sense of the culture from it. Can’t the man do anything original?
There’s always a danger in reviewing the first issue of anything, of course, that one might have to eat one’s words, but by the way this issue plays with time, with space, with signifiers — to the point that at the end there is the totally meaningless addition of the Facebook logo on the back cover, with no reference to anything else, as if merely saying “Facebook” gives something magical powers — I suspect that The Multiversity will turn out to be very interesting indeed…