10th Mar2021

eBuying Comics: Week 53

by Ian Wells

This one is long overdue as I bring my Creator in Focus segment back to the pages of eBuying Comics – last seen in Week 38 where I looked at the key issues of Todd McFarlane’s career. I have decided to make a tweak to the segment, previously I looked at current values of those key issues. Where as now the main focus will be on finding good bargains on eBay for the key issues of your favourite creators. Also I think it would be fun and more beneficial to talk about the collected versions available of creators works, which makes it easier for readers to seek out. Especially with the early career stuff. Its useful to know what volumes certain issues are in, whether its paperback or hardback is good knowledge to share with the comics community, new or old readers alike.

Grant Morrison is a writer who has a huge fanbase created from a solid output of both creator owned and mainstream work. As well as being popular they also at times seem to divide the opinion with their work so strongly. They adaptable to be able to rock the status quo of some of Marvel and DC’s biggest characters, or make lesser characters into household names and create thought provoking and entertaining independent comics. Originally I wasn’t going to look to deeply into their early career as it can be a minefield to find online. Also to be honest I am more familiar with the more commercial stuff. But as it ended up I was browsing through randomly at the early entries to the bibliography and the series Zenith caught my eye. Zenith was Morrison’s early attempt at superhero comics intertwined with political and social themes. Teaming with artists Steve Yeowell and Brendan McCarthy like a lot of early British comics it ran in the pages of 2000AD between 1987 and 1992. Titan Books first collected Zenith as a series of trades and these can be tracked down on eBay without much hassle. In 2013 they were collected again, this time in hardback format. Again these are readily available on eBay for around £12-£15 and easily identifiable by their title Zenith: Phase One, Phase Two and you get the idea. The icing on the cake of my little Zenith detour was a listing for 2000AD #535 and #536 the first two appearances of Zenith for a good price of £3.99 (P+P £2.20).

Morrison would get their big break as part of the British Invasion in the late 80’s. Morrison joined the likes of Alan Moore and Peter Milligan at DC pitching an idea for the lesser seen Animal Man. Launching in September 1988 with artist Chas Troug and Brian Bolland on cover duty the creative team would stay on the series for 26 issues. It was a bit of a surprise to not see more of these first issues listed on eBay. I found two listings coming in at £25 and £30 and one listing for the entire Morrison run for £80. Morrison used the superhero frame work to tap into stories touching on such real world problems as cruelty to animals and the human effect on the planet. Buddy Baker was breaking the fourth wall while Deadpool was still in diapers. The best of example of this is in Morrison’s final issue where Animal Man meets his creator (God) Grant Morrison himself! This is an inexpensive issue despite this rather cool pulling point. But again not many of them on eBay unless they are listed as part of a set! Just to touch on the fourth wall breaking element again with something funny I spotted on one listing. I highlighted Animal Man #5 as part of my best single issues. The cover breaks the fourth wall as you can see the artists hand drawing the cover. I spotted a listing with the following title “Animal Man #5 (1988) Very Fine Condition/ First Appearance of Brian Bolland’s Hand.” No joke and they are asking £6.95 for it! The 26 issues are easy to track down as a series of three trade paperbacks or you can treat yourself to more expensive hardcover omnibus.

In their work for both Marvel and DC Morrison has breathed new life into two team books that had perhaps grown stale. At DC they first gave Doom Patrol along with artists Richard Case and Doug Braithwaite a modern twist, coming at it from an all new angle unseen in the series before. A lot of the elements Morrison introduced to the series including new team members like Crazy Jane and Danny the Street would make their way into the very successful Doom Patrol TV series. I would also recommend tracking down the Flex Mentallo spin off mini series from 1996. It its far better to pick up the single issues rather than the collected trade which has been recoloured and looks awful. The single issues are often listed as sets for around the £20 the same as some sellers are asking for #1. At Marvel Morrison took the reigns of the X-Men with Frank Quitely on art. Changing the title to New X-Men was just the first moving in changing the world of Marvels merry mutants. They created the X-Men’s first new major adversary in years with Xaviers evil twin Cassandra Nove. They expanded on the Magento/Xavier dynamic, ramping up the formers villain status and they put a fresh spin on the Weapon X project. The run with artists Quitely, Jimenez, Kordey and Bachalo lasted41 issues. Which is a lot longer than I remember it, but it had its desired effect. Putting the X-Men back to a sales and critical success akin to the days of Claremont, Byrne and Cockrum. These 41 issues are available as 8 paperback/hardback collections. The first arc ‘E is for Extinction’ and the third ar ‘Imperial’ are part of the Official Marvel Graphic Novel collection from Hachette Partworks in the UK. You can easily find these hardback editions at your LCS or online for £10. They would be a good entry point to the Morrison run rather than splashing out on one of the 3 hardcover omnibus editions which for for £100-£200 online. I love comics, especially good comics but this is not a price tag I can every justify.

Morrison has ticked a lot of boxes in their career especially at DC where they have produced popular and critically acclaimed work on both Batman and Superman. First in 1989 with Dave McKean they delivered the Batman original graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. On face value it has all the hallmarks of a classic Batman caper. With the Caped Crusader brought into the put a stop to a riot in Arkham. But with Morrison it is so much more. A deconstructed superhero story, touching on elements such as homosexuality, psychological horror and symbolism. It is a classic I have to confess not having read. But it is a classic that has reached outside the comics to influence Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight and the Arkham series of games from Rocksteady. Original printings of either the paperback or hardback version aren’t cheap to come by. A recent 15 year anniversary edition is more affordable with the right seller. As part of the DC Graphic Novel Collection the story has been doubled up with The Man Who Laughs. I am always ready to recommend these hardback collections as they are super affordable. Coming in at £10 and under. Even as cheap as £5 with the right seller. Another Morrison classic I haven’t read is All Star Superman, again they teamed with Frank Quitely to produce a modern day classic. Surprisingly this isn’t part of the DC Graphic Novel Collection. It is easy to track down as a trade paperback. I will point you in the direction of a listing for an Absolute Edition with a starting price of 99pence! Obviously in the six days remaining you would expect that to shoot up, but you could land yourself a real bargain! Hunting down the single issue floppies would be more of a challenge but won’t break the bank. There are a few listings for the first half of the twelve issue series for around £10. Superman is a character I have a hard time connecting with, I am much more likely to check out the animated movie adaptation. With the recent news of a new Superman movie in the works this might be a series worth keeping an eye on.

So there it is. A stellar career working on some of comics biggest characters with some of the industries most talented artists. I have only touched on a mere portion of their work. I didn’t even scratch the service when it comes to Batman. Morrison created Damian Wayne and spun the Batman comics into Batman Inc, a love letter to the campy golden age of Batman comics. Then there is the huge impact they have made in creator owned comics. Works like We3, The Filth, Happy and The Invisibles. Then there is St. Swithans Day which is slightly autobiographical and has Morrison it his satirical best. On its release it drew the scorn of the Conservatives! Here is to many more years of Grant Morrison putting out thought provoking and entertaining work in the Indies and at the Big Two. Yes he will continue to divide opinion but there is one thing their comics never are and thats boring. Pick on from this list or search out your own, you won’t be disappointed.


Comments are closed.