Grant Morrison is moving on to a new challenge. On July 31, his time as a Batman scribe ends with the release of Batman Incorporated, issue 13. It's a big change. Morrison has spent more than half-a-decade writing for the superhero. Not that this was his first foray into the world of the famed DC character. Years before, Morrison penned the acclaimed Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. His most recent run on Batman was no less noteworthy and it took all sorts of unexpected turns.
“He tends to travel in circles,” says Morrison of Batman. “I think what we tried to do with this seven-year cycle was take him from a particular place and then try all kinds of new possibilities with him.”
When we spoke by phone, Morrison was in Scotland. He had only recently finished his finale, but still needed to go back and “tidy up the dialogue” after the art was complete.
“He's this voice that's been in my head for seven years and he's not there anymore,” Morrison says. “Sometimes I don't know what to do without him.”
But Morrison won't be left without any superhero adventures. The Scottish writer, who lives part-time in Los Angeles, has made a career out of comic book drama and it's been a triumphant one at that. Aside from Batman, he's worked on Superman, the Flash and Justice League of America titles. He won countless fans with his work on Animal Man and Doom Patrol, as well as the Morrison-created series, The Invisibles. Now, as his time with Batman comes to an end, Morrison is delving into life the life of Wonder Woman.
Wonder Woman: Earth One doesn't have a release date yet, but it's sure to be one of the more buzzworthy titles on DC's horizon. Morrison says that he has spent “a long time” working on it. “I wanted to do the concept justice,” he adds.
Morrison explains Wonder Woman's real world origin story. She was created by William Moulton Marston, who invented the polygraph. In the early years of Wonder Woman's history on the comic book page, there were allusions to various “kinks,” as Morrison puts it. In particular, bondage played a role in the superhero's early imagery. (Comic Book Resources has a more thorough look at Marston's unconventional life and how that impacted Wonder Woman's development.)
“After Marston died, the strip lost all of that weirdness, that slight oddness that he brought to it,” Morrison says. “It was never really dealt with again because, who wants to go there?”
At least, that's how people might have thought before now.
Morrison's Wonder Woman will have a decidedly more mature take than previous treatments of the character. Tackling the famed Amazon's sexuality as well as her heroism was no easy task. “It was a hard thing to do without being exploitative,” Morrison concedes.
Sexuality aside, Morrison intends on exploring more of the Amazons' culture.
“They developed their own technology and their own philosophy, their own music, their own art. I really wanted to get into that to see what kind of culture would women create,” he says. More importantly, he says that he wants to understand how Wonder Woman would adjust after coming from such a society.
“It ended up as a really big project because you had to think of the different ways that another culture may speak or express themselves,” he says. “There's a lot of research in this one.”
One of the interesting aspects of Morrison's writing is how he incorporates contemporary challenges into the lives of the superheroes for whom he writes. Back in 2011, in an L.A. Weekly interview by Casey Burchby, he discussed the evolving roles of Superman and how, given the economic crisis of the day, it was important to go back to the character who emerged from the Depression. He did that rather well. When I read Superman and the Men of Steel, it was hard not to think of the events that led to the Occupy movement.
When we spoke, Morrison repeated those motives for his handling of Superman. He also explained a bit about how he is working modern feminist issues into Wonder Woman's story. Without saying too much, he mentions a trial. “There is that notion of women on trial and being on trial and a culture that's always pointing fingers and demanding that women explain themselves,” he says.
Essentially, what he's talking about is elevating Wonder Woman to Superman status. “The thing with Superman is that it's a certain representation of how good a man can be and how moral and how wise and how physically perfect,” he says. “I think I want to apply that to Wonder Woman as well.”
Grant Morrison will be appearing at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday at 4:45 p.m., although it's for a completely different project. Morrison will be discussing his new YouTube series, 18 Days, in Room 6A.