Annihilating The Fourth Wall With Annihilator And Multiversity

Annihilator #1 by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving is published by Legendary Comics today. And you might consider it a companion piece to Multiversity #1 as well.

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That comic made a big deal of breaking down the fourth wall, literally having the narrator address the reader, asking them to stop reading the comic, because of what doing so may release into our world.

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And so it is with Annihilator, ostensibly about a writer trying to find inspiration for his “haunted house in space” screenplay, upon which his relationship with the studio and the remnant of his career depends.

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So naturally moving into a haunted house and filling it with prostitutes is the only way to get it done. Grant Morrison knows it well.

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But as we see the writer Ray Spass (pronounced “Ray Space” – Space Ray) create his story, it plays out in comic book form, as the central character tries to find his way from one reality to another.

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Just as the leads of Multiversity are doing more literally, with exactly the same effect.

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Anyone familiar with Morrison’s work on, say, Animal Man, might be able to predict what is coming next.

But for all that, the notes I found most recognisable in these comics weren’t from any of Morrison’s previous work, but from Alan Moore’s Big Numbers. I may have been led that way by Frazer Irving’s occasional Bill Sienkiewicz similarity, as he jumps from one insanely well executed and totally appropriate art style to the next. You’ll see only a few of them on this page.

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It;s more than the style of art though, there’s the way commerce is forced upon creativity and corrupts it, as well as the levels of reality and how everyone slots into place, the macro reflecting the micro.

The first issue, with it’s hellish “Deal with the devil” cover line gives us a series of levels. Of fiction, reality, and fiction pretending to be reality. There is hell below, a limbo here where nothing gets done, and an absence of heaven – unless that is actual reality. There is the past of Satan worship, and the present of the worship of attainment.

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There are circle and holes, seen from above, from black holes, to holes in the ground, to swirling coffee cups, even the caffeine takes you to another level. But are the holes aware? Are they portals between realities, or eyes watching from one place to another, as an audience watched the screenplay being shown to us in comic book form?

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So holes are places to fall into. And holes are places to escape through. And conversations in one reality are repeated in another, the conduit being the writer, taking something from fact and replaying it in fiction. But what if the fiction talks back and sends something – or someone back through the hole? A full stop on the screen? A black hole in the middle of a galaxy? A sink hole in the garden? A tumour on an X-ray? Doors, eyes, holes, something is coming for you. It may just be an idea.

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Grant Morrison has, at various stages, talked about the idea of trying to use the complexity of the DC Universe to literally make it self aware, sentient, a living entity that can be communicated with. He always seemed deadly serious.

One thing is clear. If you are buying Multiversity, you probably should be buying Annihilator as well. If anything it might act as guide…. or maybe it’s intended to be a shock to the system. From the Annihilator, may come the spark of life…

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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