Lately, I've been asking my customers a question and the results have been incredibly interesting.
The question is a simple one. The answer not so much so. Here it is:
To who will comic book history be kinder, Alan Moore or Grant Morrison?
See? I told you this one was tough:
Let's look at the stats, shall we?
Nearly 20 years ago, Alan Moore wrote what many consider some of comics' greatest works: Swamp Thing, The Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow , Miracleman & V For Vendetta. All classics that will certainly stand the test of time but what happened after that?
A run on WildC.A.T.S. that while good wasn't quite the "Alan Moore" everyone was looking for. An arc on Todd McFarlane's Violator? Well... they can't all be classics. Rob Liefeld's Supreme? Good stuff but would you put it between your copies of Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns?
Then, seemingly, out of nowhere Moore gives us his comics line, America's Best Comics. ABC produced, among others, the pulp fiction throwback Tom Strong, the ethereally cerebral Promethea, the cop drama of Top 10 and the wonderful League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Winners all and strong on beautiful prose but most people I've spoken to lament the lack of "grab-you-by-the-cerebellum" goodness of Moore's earlier works.
Moore also wrote Captain Britain which, in my opinion, was the closest thing Moore has ever come to writing "pure" superheroics. Captain Britain, while good reading, caused me to reconsider Moore's "superhero" work, leading me to this conclusion: Moore writes superhero comics that fit his sensibilities. Honestly, I don't really think Moore likes superheroes. To paraphrase Warren Ellis, "they wake up with wet spots on their pants." Nothing wrong with that but ask yourself, "Would Alan Moore participate in something like DC's upcoming "52?"
...and that leads me to Grant Morrison.
Morrison has, over a fifteen year period, written some of comics' better comics: Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Doom Patrol, Animal Man & the criminally out-of-print Kill Your Boyfriend.
People will probably remember his run on Animal Man simply for the story of "The Coyote Gospel." In Doom Patrol, he took a team concept many believed dead and made it jump up and dance. Kill Your Boyfriend captures post-Eighties angst as well as anything ever could.
What has he done since? Turned The Justice League into the powerhouse franchise it is today. His version of Batman as DC's Swiss Army Knife of Justice is, perhaps, the most significant version of Batman since Frank Miller's "Dark Knight." We3 proved he still has a place in the universe he helped create.
The Invisibles, 7 Soldiers & The Filth may have failed in some of the things it tried to accomplish but you have to admire the man for trying to push storytelling in new directions.
Morrison re-created a whole new set of fans for himself with his work on New X-Men and Marvel's "first" Ultimate title, Marvel Boy. I'll go on record as saying that I rejoined The X-Men with his run and ended it with his run.
Morrison may not have penned as many classic stories as Mr. Moore. I believe, though, if you consider Morrison's track record, what stands out is the wide scope of the things he's written. The same man who wrote JLA gave us The Brotherhood of Dada. The same man who wrote a new millenium X-Men wrote one of comics' most romantic tales, All-Star Superman #3.
Soon, we will see him redefining anew, The DC Universe versions of Batman and Superman. Soon, he will "team-up" with three of comics' finest writers to bring us one of comics' grandest experiments, 52.
So...there it is your "tale-of-the-tape." Two fine writers, both still making comics great. Because of this, we all win.
What do you think?