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I read and enjoyed this when it came out as a four-issue Vertigo series in 1996, but didn’t remember a lot about it, so I’ve reread the classy new hardcover edition, which is everything a fan might want except for a sewn binding.
Grant Morrison takes us on quite a trip in this story. A good part of it is nostalgia for the comics of our collective youth, and there are plenty of fanboy moments and comics insider jokes. It’s also a rather dark story of a comics creator who is suicidal and self-destructive, and by the way, perhaps the creator of Flex and other characters in the book. There are many moments of stark contrast between these two themes as the narrative jumps from one to the other, or mixes the two in other ways. Grant is endlessly creative, going from zany romps to horrific real-world disasters to trippy mind-bending explorations of the human psyche. All that is greatly abetted and enhanced by the terrific art of Frank Quitely.
Quitely has an illustrative approach that does not seem to draw much from comics, at least not super-hero comics. He likes detail, and none of his characters are beautiful in the classic comics style, but they’re all fascinating to look at. While the technique is realistic, Quitely has no trouble capturing every weird visual idea Morrison throws at him, and probably adding embellishments of his own. These are two creators who seem to bring out the best in each other, as we’ve seen since on such titles as ALL-STAR SUPERMAN and WE3. Not sure if this was the first time they worked together, but it’s certainly one of the very best.