Comics Creators

Grant Morrison's Batman and Silver Age


First of all, Grant Morrison Batty I’ll refer here starts from Batman and Son and onwards. Second, I hate his “newer” Batman.
Now, I had heated discussion with my peer who said that psychodelic feel in GM Batman is directly taken from Silver Age. I argued that it cannot be true and it’d futile to compare Morrison’s stories with the one from Silver Age. It’s not like that you’d notice breaking the fourth wall or any other headtrips that Morrison uses. Well, in the few tales I read, such us Black Casebook. My question is directed toward more experienced readers. How much of Silver Age exists in GM run? I know he took BC as starting point for RIP, but what do you think? Psychodelic adventures in late 50s and early 60s? I dont think so.


Part of Morrison’s approach to his Batman run was to pick up elements of the more outlandish Batman stories of past eras and present them in a new context, as an exercise in trying to reconcile all of Batman’s entire canon into a single continuity. All sorts of elements of his Batman run have precedent in older Batman stories (I’m sure there are some detailed annotations somewhere online).

What might have simply been a straightforward fantasy story of past decades might perhaps be seen as more “psychedelic” from a modern perspective, especially given that the modern-day Batman tends to lean less towards outlandish fantasy stories than some previous versions of the character did. But even in their day, some of those stories take a surprisingly layered approach to their subject matter (like the famous “Robin Dies At Dawn” story that Morrison referred to several times in his run, which is quite dark in places and uses quite a complicated conceit to tell its story).

Contrasting the wildly diverse elements of past Batman stories was part of the fun of Morrison’s run, I think, and showed just how resilient the core idea of Batman is: you can pick him up and drop him into all sorts of different stories, with all sorts of different tones, and somehow he still ‘works’.


Yes I agree with Dave.

The ideas are taken from the silver age (and golden age and other periods of Batman’s history) but presented in a modern manner.

It’s was his thing (at least for a while), it can also be seen in his Action Comics run where he took the concepts of the early Superman stories, that he couldn’t actually fly, was fighting injustices, looked quite frightening on the cover*, and placed them in a new context.

*as you can see here it’s quite easy to imagine his as the bad guy from just the cover image, he seems to be creating chaos with people fleeing all around.


Yeah, Morrison’s Supergods book devotes pages and pages to analysing that cover. I think it was written at roughly the same time as he was working on the new-52 relaunch of Action Comics.


Well said, Dave. My point was that psychodelia never has been part of Batman mythos. Fantasy, yes. And from today’s perspective it sounds rather anachronistic (if thar is the right way). Moreover, I doubt that Morrison’s tales would be appreciated then.


Can you give an example of what you mean to be psychedelic in GM’s Batman run please?

I’m pretty sure there’s parallels to be drawn somewhere given that his run was intended to condense all versions of batman preceding it, including the tv show and I’m sure that there is an equal between that and some of the more off the wall batman comics of the 60s to what Morrison incorporated in his run.


Yeah I kind of get that Batman was never ‘psychedelic’ in the way say Dr Strange is. I think it may more be a reference to the 60s ‘groovy’ off the wall style the comic adopted too before O’Neil and Adams made it all serious again.


Yes, I think it depends on what we mean by psychedelia. If we’re talking about art that has been produced under the influence of psychedelic substances, then it’s very difficult to say (although Morrison has spoken openly about using such substances at points in his career, I think we might struggle to find evidence to point to earlier creators doing the same).

But under a broader definition that uses psychedelia to describe a style of art (say, with bright vibrant colours, or outlandish and surreal elements, or optical-illusion type stuff) I think you could probably point to examples from earlier eras of Batman comics (not to mention the TV series!). Although as Gar says, I don’t know that Batman ever got quite as weird as the likes of Doctor Strange.


To be honest I have never read any of the Batman comics around that time but when I said ‘too’ it was with reference to the TV show. I have read in histories that they followed the TV template closely to cash in on it.


I’ve dipped into a few of the stories of that era, but never read a huge number of them. I think the lightness is definitely in keeping with the tone of the TV series, although obviously the comics are able to push into far more outlandish territory.

These are a few of the specific “Black Casebook” stories referred to by Morrison in his run.

Whether or not these kinds of stories qualify as “psychedelic” is probably in the eye of the beholder.


Well, Morrison’s The Invisibles, The Filth are very much in his “psychodelic” style. If that isn’t, then I don;t know wthat it is. He also applied this style into his Batman stories, I believe the RIP being purest example. He openly stated he used some psychoactive substances, which one? I don’t think I’d like to know.
I felt William S. Burroughs (correct me if I said it wrong) somehow, slipped through Morrison’s hands. Disjointed narrative, breaking the fourth wall, alternative subconsciousness (I mean WTF?), those rather bizzarre and outlandish ideas… I don’t think he wrote RIP sober.


I don’t think it was one, he tried the full menu.


[quote=“milstar, post:11, topic:8445, full:true”]
He openly stated he used some psychoactive substances, which one? I don’t think I’d like to know.[/quote]
I think he’s talked about having used many different drugs in his thirties (when he went on quite a long globe-trotting journey following the success of the Arkham Asylum graphic novel). I don’t recall which ones off the top of my head.

It may be more a case of which ones he hasn’t tried.


I quite approve of psychoactive substances, they greatly enriched my life, especially psilocybin mushrooms which I would point out are not illegal (at least in the UK from where GM hails).


I think without them we’d have been denied some pretty great art.


Perhaps. But I am not really fond of it.
I follow Rod Serling’s words:“If you need drugs to be a good writer, you’re not a good writer.”

In writing or art overall, if drugs could me help reach something I want quicker or more thoughtful, but then again, it’d surely leave bitter taste in my mouth.


Yes but he took them either way. Nobody’s saying you have to but Morrison’s work is influenced by that.You can’t imagine it away because it doesn’t suit your point of view.


Also (significantly) he was already a good writer before those experiences, not because of them.


I thought it was a combination of alien abduction and drugs?