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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Filth
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
So, one day, Grant Morrison decided to pen a creator-owned limited series that incorporated themes, raw ideas, and scenes from all of his previous best work. No, not JLA or New X-Men, but stuff from Animal Man, Doom Patrol, and The Invisibles. Cribbing liberally from himself, he spun out a typically disturbing psychedelic tale of paranoia, conspiracy and pornography.

And does it work? Heck yeah, it does.

The Filth strikes me as a re-imagining of the seminal series The Inivsibles. Bald bad-ass pervert protagonist? Check. Secret society controlling the fate of the world? Check. Bizarro organic cyber-punk psychedelica? Check. Kinky sex out the wazoo? Again, check.

This time, Grant also throws some bones to his old Animal Man fans with some nice post-mod super-hero subplots. It's almost like he's winking at himself -- an early scene with characters stepping out of comic book panels so closely mirrors the stunning post-mod twists of his early DC work that you'll either find yourself laughing (at the blatent rip-off) or groaning (at the blatent rip-off.)

So what makes this worth reading if it's so deriviative? Well, it's Grant, so the writing and plotting is superb, and the art by Chris Weston and Gary Erskine really grabbed my by the proverbial curlies. More importanly to me, however, was the running subplot concerning Slade/Feely's relationship with his cat, Tony. As usual, I'll save you the spoilers, the rest assured that this part of the story grounds the fantasmagoric aspects, and serves as an odd little paen to the power of love in our completely messed-up world. It's the emotional center of the story, and adds some sentimental feeling to Grant's paranoid and scary work.

Plus, I just love kitties myself.

Pick this up, and read it twice... three times if you must. It's really that darned good.
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74 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
In an interview with Disinformation guru Richard Metzger, Grant Morrison claimed he had moved to Los Angeles to [sic] ''change bull{. . .} into money, turn pure thought into pure cash.'' With Hollywood's recent trend of adapting the counterculture concepts Morrison excels at (recent examples including the plethora of debased Dick, the Matrix, etc.), the transitional move - physically and artistically - of this Glasgow native to the City of Angels probably seemed fortuitous at the time. And *The Filth* is, by all appearances, the hard(core) result of L.A.'s influence on this highly-assimilative pen-prophet: a po-mo epic of human frailty, sci-fi surrealism, over-ambition and gutter abandon, a metaphor-medicine for our junk-glutted species. Or so it attempts, at any rate.
It takes roughly ten pages for the story to erupt into utter weirdness. Before that mark we follow the life-pattern of one Greg Feely, a cubicle serf with a peculiar taste in pornography and a co-dependant affection for his cat Tony. One night he finds a naked black woman in his shower; he half-wittingly engages in a day-glo romp session with the vixen and Feely's ''para-personality'' is stripped away to reveal his ''true'' self, Ned Slade, a policeman - or, more technically, a garbageman - for the Hand, an underground organization which cleans up and disposes all aberrations, perversions, and social threats to the Status:Q. Unfortunately Slade is an amnesiac: due to a severe trauma during a previous assignment, he has regressed so severely into his Feely persona that he's now forgotten the details of his existence. . . or so he is told over and over by the mysterious minions of the Hand.
Like the Invisibles and other media of this nature, *The Filth* benefits immensely from a re-read or three (or, as I did, read the first four issues and start over) - information is given erratically, with purposeful intent, and certain visuals/dialogue will only make sense after one has progressed with the main text. Overall *The Filth* reminded me strongly of a Philip K. Dick novel, or more precisely a conglomeration of the Horselover's stranger entries like *A Scanner Darkly*, *Ubik* and especially *The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich*; the time-distortion/control-resistance/drugs/schizo themes updated with mainstays of 21st century pulp, particularly nanotechnology and the smirking post-modern deconstruction of genre boundaries (a literal deconstruction, in this case). Morrison is no copycat, though, and the Filth abounds with willful debauchery and overt bizarreness: a dope-smoking chimpanzee KGB assassin with a vocal distaste for human beings; nanotech I-Life existing upon a ''bonsai planet;'' brainwashed children compared to ants; and, among the more vulgar moments, a porn-star who possesses black semen of high fertility rate - a seed captured and transformed into a viral weapon by Tex Porneau, a film ''auteur'' obviously based on Max Hardcore (the most overt L.A. reference in the book, IMO). Morrison tackles alternative dimensions, conspiracy theory, bacterial influence, identity crisis, comic-book critique (possibly a reaction to his stint on mainstream titles like X-men and JLA??), and much, much more in this kitchen-sink 13-issue series. But the question remains: does it _work_?
Unfortunatly, no. . . not quite. From a recent interview, Morrison states: ''The Filth can be seen [sic] a healing inoculation of grime. I'm deliberately injecting the worst aspects of life into my reader's heads in small, humorous doses of metaphor and symbol, in an effort to help them survive the torrents of nastiness, horror and dirt we're all exposed to every day - especially in Western cultures, whose entertainment industries peddles a mind-numbing perverted concoction of fantasy violence and degrading sexuality while living large at the expense of the poor of other countries.'' Yeah, I agree, Grant. However, while *The Filth* does bring up some nice points and climatic thought-caps to the wretched build-up of humanity at its nadir, Morrison neither captures the truly _worst_ aspects (censors wouldn't allow it, though any and all are easily accessible these days via the Pandora's Box that is the Net), and, more importantly, his revelations are too few, too far between, and too sparse in content to really make an effective impact. I blame the kitchen-sink approach. There is so much here to digest - not a bad thing in itself - but the side-tangent stuff tends to bloat and lessen the overall intent. The comic-book deconstruction elements are a good example, as they seem to me almost unnecessary. I understand what Grant was getting at here, in the metaphorical sense of perfect ideal/stasis superman vs. the corrosion of realty alongside the ''need for suffering'' drive; I just don't feel he achieved it as well as he might have in so limited a space, so crammed a vessel. The art is nothing spectacular, either, very workmanlike and lacking most of the innovative framing and visual/symbolic depth of the *Invisibles,* although according to the author this was intentional.
It's difficult not to compare *The Filth* with Morrison's past conspiracy-theory magnum opus: when done so, I'm afraid this graphic novel really does far short of the mark *The Invisibles* set. But, as an artist myself, I fully understand and support the need to grow, to take a directional change. . . at least as long as it delivers in a new and interesting way. . . and this comic certainly does that in spades.
Four stars.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Grant Morrison's 13 issue maxi-series, the Filth, is possibly the best piece of material to ever come from the strangely gifted, critically acclaimed writer. The story centers around Greg Feely, a man who wants to do nothing more than look at pornography and care for his ailing cat Tony. However, Greg soon learns that he is actually Ned Slade, a special negotiator for an organization called the Hand which cleans up the unhealthy variations and messes made in the world. Feely's search for his identity brings him across a talking communist chimpanzee named Dmitri who boasts that he killed JFK, an adult film star named Anders Klimakks whose black semen is made into a biological weapon by depraved director Tex Porneau, and brainwashed children which are nothing more than ants. The art by Chris Weston and Gary Erksine brilliantly capture the sheer weirdness of it all; perfectly capturing Morrison's characterizations. Beneath the intense graphic violence and sex, Morrison weaves a tale like a tree, branching out with ideas reminiscent of that of a Philip K. Dick story while challenging the confines of what is a comic book. The Filth is brilliant, shocking, and the best thing to come from DC's Vertigo imprint since Preacher and Morrison's own Animal Man, and is much like Alan Moore's Watchmen was almost twenty years ago: sheer comic brilliance that will be cherished for years to come.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Consider yourself warned--this is probably the most vile comic you will ever read. But that's the point. The whole thing acts as a vaccine, inoculating the reader against all the horror in the world.

The Filth tells the story of Greg Feely, a sad middle-aged man whose only friend is his dying cat Tony. One day, Feely is told that he s actually Ned Slade, an elite agent of The Hand, a secret organization that sanitizes the world, ridding it of all the filth humanity remains unaware of. With The Hand, Feely/Slade encounters an intelligent virus named Spartacus Hughes, a synthetic porno actor with super-potent, jet black semen, and a homemade superhero.

Feely/Slade soon learns that all is not as it seems and The Hand may be more sinister than he was first led to believe. What follows is a very touching human story of compassion and redemption that only Grant Morrison could tell. The Filth is not for everybody, but if you can stomach it, you just may find something special hidden among the gratuitous sex, death, and violence.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
I purchased "the Filth" because I had heard that Grant Morrison was a good writer, so I wanted to get something fairly cheap and not part of a series. I bought this and was blown away. If "Total Recall", "Transmetropolitan", and a soft-core porn all procreated; this would be the offspring. It has the graphic violence and weird creatures of "Total Recall", the whole future shock aspect of "Transmetropolitan", and the -- well, I'm pretty sure you can infer what aspects are taken from the soft-core porn. On top of all that, it has very good writing and characterization. The artwork is amazing with some of the most beautiful 2-page splash pages I have ever seen. This book is also often laugh-out-loud hilarious. I whole-heartedly reccomend "the Filth" if you enjoy any of the things I mentioned above.

P.S. Do not let your children read this, it is quite possibly the most all-around offensive comic I have ever read. There is lots of sex, violence, swearing, and even drug use.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
First off, I must admit that I am probably one of the biggest Morrison fans alive.

That being said, I have no idea if I liked The Filth or not.

The series has incredible art from Chris Weston and some of the most insane visuals that I have ever seen. The story bring forward concepts that no one except Grant Morrison could even have thought of. Every square inch of the comic is seething with mind altering comic content.

But taken as a whole I have my doubts as to how I felt about it. I'm not sure if it was a deep story or throwing insane things around for the sake of throwing insane things around. It could have been gratuitous but it may not have. It could have been purposely esoteric but I am not sure. It could have been a mind altering drug delivered in comic book form or it may have been pretentious storytelling.

I normally have strong opinions about things but I really have absolutely no idea how I felt about this book.

I gave it four stars because there were so many things that I liked about it and because I think Morrison is the best. I recommend buying it to decide what you think of it on your own.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
Even for a Vertigo/Grant Morrison title, this is strange.
First off I can tell you that if you are a fan of Vertigo or Morrison or Heavy Metal magazine, you will probably enjoy this. If you loved Alan Moore's Watchmen, or Frank Miller's Give Me Liberty you will almost definitely love it. And if you liked
The Matrix films there's a good chance you'll like The Filth.
As explained in the description, you have a regular, older-than-middle-aged guy who used to be a top agent in a top-secret organization known as the Hand. (Not Elektra's old employers; different comics company anyway) Now he's had his memory wiped and he lives quietly in England. Picture James Bond being brainwashed to believe he's a UPS driver in Des Moines, Iowa and you'll have a pretty good idea of what this setup is like. The basic premise of this episodic 13-issue collection is that the Hand takes care of all sorts of gnarly dangers to the world.
Ned Slade is an agent but he prefers the quiet life that they have made up for him, but now they need him back.
Among the other agents of the hand are a communist, human hating Chimp who can boast that he shot JFK.
Now that's the basics, but of course, nothing's ever basic in the world of Vertigo. Morrison tacks on some truly out-there stuff that is a bit difficult to understand, including a metaphysical breakdown of the fourth wall involving a spandex clad superhero who's tragically lost his way. Fans of the Doom Patrol will probably get this part -- I honestly didn't. A few re-reads may change that.
There are massive amounts of sex and violence. If the Filth were made into a movie, I don't know if it could get an R-rating. But the biggest stumbling block that readers may have is that by the 11th issue it just gets too murky, and the ending may leave some unsatisfied. But I will give it points simply for continuing to deliver the atypical, earth-scorching, rebellious attitude that makes Vertigo as valuable as it is.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best stories Grant has ever written. Please resort to your non-linear, artistic, symbolic lobe when reading. If you do you will "get it". If you can understand THE INVISIBLES you will "get it". If you can appreciate DOOM PATROL you will "get it". If not, then buy it anyway.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are some books that require more than one reading. Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" is such a book and The Filth is another. Read "The Filth" through once and then go back and read it again. Repeat twice more. Like "Gravity's Rainbow", when you "get it", it will knock your socks off. This book really raises the bar for the graphic novel genre.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2007
Format: Paperback
Morrison getting freaky again. There is some whackiness here reminiscent of Robert Anton Wilson. Secret agencies trying to keep consensual reality intact, porn star superhumans with semen weapons, crazy guys, split personalities, and old bachelor guys that live with cats.

I don't think it is supposed to make sense, some of the time, either.
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