. 106 Auschwitz, America’s Best
107 Badly Drawn Boy
THE FILTH AND SEAGUY
Grant Morrison, Chris Weston and Cameron Stewart
(Vertigo) 0000 and 000
Since 1952, a secret organisation known only as ‘the Hand’ has protected our world from human hubris. More garbage collector than police force, it exists in a dystopia of sexualised waste excreted by the human race at its most hedonistic. When a crisis erupts, Agent Ned Slade is called back to duty, leading to an odyssey of mind-bending adventures as he struggles to regain his identity, hold on to his sanity and battle the roguish Spartacus Hughes.
However, the hackneyed premise that the world is not quite as we know it is merely the diving board for a headlong immersion in the twisted reaches of Grant Morrison’s mind, in this, his first free-reign, creator-owned title since cult smash The Invisibles. At root this is a traditional good versus evil tale, only with values and alignment which shift and squirm from page to page, leaving the reader constantly unsure of whom to root for.
Infused with practising magician Morrison’s Cabalistic beliefs, and a surrealist (in the original sense of the word) openness to explore the fissures that run under the psyche, The Filth’s
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‘THE FILTH CEMENTS GRANT MORRISON AS ONE OF THE GREATS OF MODERN COMICS'
use of post-modern touches may be obvious, but you can never be sure if that isn’t the point. Even the story arc mimics the response of the body’s immune system to foreign agents.
But like all inoculations, you must first taste the disease before you can become immune to it, and the subject matter is not for the faint hearted. Ned is no-one’s idea of a hero — fat, balding and addicted to pornography — but his portrayal is a welcome antidote to the faux angst and rippling physiques of the traditional superhero. The tenderly observed relationship with his pet cat Tony is the anchor in Morrison’s maelstrom of Rabelaisian surfeit, although we can never be sure if this is all just a solipsistic hallucination inside Slade’s mind as he disintegrates when faced with the realities of the modern world.
The psychotropic artwork of The Filth is provided by Chris Weston, who cut his sci-fi teeth on The Authority with another Scot, Mark Millar. A heady splash of fluorescent colours in an often dull, realistic palette gives the pages as much stability as a lava-lamp rolling down a hill,
but captures the excesses of Morrison’s treatise on the power of the imagination. With overtones of a salacious take on the 805 sci-fi comedy flick Innerspace, this already opprobrious rampage through the pathological, psychological and scatological has garnered plaudits liking it to Watchman, and cements the Glaswegian as one of the greats of modern comics.
Also from Morrison is the three part adventure, Seaguy. In stark contrast to the excesses of The Filth, there is something nostalgic in this madcap tale of a would-be superhero on a fantastical journey. Like a Golden Age comic for the new millennium, an absence of cynicism gives Seaguy an all-ages appeal, although it’s never simplistic. Taking shots at Disneyfication, rampant consumerism and the dumbing down of culture, an eccentric cast including She-beard, the hirsute love interest, carry these themes with whimsical charisma. The charmingly uncluttered but vivid art is by Cameron Stewart, best known for a previous run on Catwoman and Mignola’s Hellboy, and Seaguy looks sure to be another leftfield hit. (Dave Martin)
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