In a sweeping interview with Comic Book Resources, Morrison said he’s wrapping up his regular superhero work on DC’s Action Comics and Batman Inc. in the coming months and shifting gears toward creator-owned stories.
In his inimitable style, Morrison covers a lot of ground and says a lot of things comics fans will find of interest in the CBR interview, so please read the entire piece if you want a taste of HAPPY!, his latest creator-owned title, or if you’re interested in his take on the nature of interpersonal communication.
For the purposes of this story, however, let’s parse some of the news he made that’s directly relevant to superhero comics, starting with his announcement that his final issue on Action Comics will be #16 and his final issue of Batman Inc. will be #12. It will be interesting to see whom DC taps to fill Morrison’s shoes on those titles.
Next, let’s take a look at a quote from the interview in which Morrison explains that he has said all he wants to say about superheroes for the moment:
“I think I’ve kind of worked through everything I’ve ever felt about these characters. It was a bit like going to the psychiatrist and lying on the couch for just long enough to realize, “What was I thinking?” [Laughs] I don’t know. I know there are plenty of different ways to use them, but right now I feel like I’m coming to the end of a long intensive period where I was talking about certain ideas using the language of superheroes, if that makes any sense.”
This is pretty believable. Ideas positively drip off the page when reading a superhero story penned by Morrison. His body of work gives the reader a sense that he is writing his take on every idea he considers essential for whatever character he’s working on. He has written superheroes as people, with all their flaws and frailties, and he has written them as gods, beyond the understanding of mortal men. And all the ground in-between? He has pretty much covered that, too. If he says he has spent all the ideas in his arsenal, I believe him. If he wants to recharge the batteries while he works in other genres, he has earned the break.
Here’s another revealing quote, this time about the state of superhero comics and the comic book industry generally:
“But there’s definitely some kind of centrifugal movement away from the mainstream toward new and more personal, expressive, creator-owned stuff, and I think it’s partly because cinema has appropriated so much of the stuff we’ve been doing in comics for the last thirty years. Movie superheroes finally look better than their comic book counterparts. And creative people are more informed and want to own their ideas, and to be able to protect them or profit from them. The audience has developed a fresh appetite for new characters and stories which is driving a shift toward those kinds of stories again. Writers and artists are experimenting again.”
In classic Morrison fashion, he offers up a flurry of ideas concerning some absolutely scorching hot-button issues in comic books right now, including the debate over creator-owned work, the impact of Hollywood on the medium and the mood of the current comic book audience. I’m not prepared to offer any commentary here. I just thought that particular passage was fascinating.
“I’m not saying that I’ll never write superheroes again. It’s just that my relationship to them has changed especially after finishing the book [Supergods] and I’m not sure if I want to maintain the same kind of relentless level of production.”
He makes it pretty clear with that passage that he doesn’t intend for this to be a permanent break from the spandex and capes. Just like all the best comic book characters, the best writers always come back.