- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization (June 11, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1940589045
- ISBN-13: 978-1940589046
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Anatomy of Zur-en-Arrh: Understanding Grant Morrison's Batman Paperback – June 11, 2014
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First, I often found myself disagreeing with the author's conclusions, and feeling that many times he missed the mark. Parts of the book seem to be written before the series' conclusion, and so they miss seven important connections. Even more so, several obvious connections are hinted at, but never fully explored. One example of this is when the author discusses the Joker in relation to the Invisibles. He says that the Joker could be a member of the Invisible College in another life, yet, he doesn't seem to draw the conclusion between fluid identities in the Supercontext and the Joker's super-sanity. Lastly, I feel like the author repeatedly hammers home the same points over and over again for the sake of page length. Yes, we know that Morrison's Batman incorporates all eras of the character... And if I read that line one more time, I'll go postal!
That said, I really did enjoy the book. I've started re-reading Batman and Son and already am drawing conclusions that I missed the first few times through. While this book had its problems, it definitely has it's high points and is a book I am proud to own and will definitely revisit.
A scholarly tome of wonder!
But it if you love genuine literary criticism.
Not for the casual fan nor the uneducated.
So here's the problem: this book suffers from this teacherly trait in a way that undermines a lot of its readability. There are far, far too many summaries of every issue and arc Grant Morrison ever touched on Batman, and little discussion of how this really related to other Batman writers and other works by Grant Morrison. While Walker's exegesis is strong, the pages upon pages of summaries are unnecessary for those who would be interested enough to read a defense of Morrison, but give too much away for those unfamiliar with the work. This kind of explication with intensive summary is often a teaching tool in a literature class--where one cannot assume everyone has read the work--but an editor should have cut at least fifty pages of this out. Walker's style is reading and personable, but the summaries slow this way, way down.
Furthermore, comparing the differences in say Morrison's work on "Animal Man"--which has the same deconstructive tendencies with Morrison would later take issue with his bete noir, fellow chaos magician Alan Moore--and his later Batman work would be really illuminating. It would also be interesting to compare Frank Miller's or Jeph Loeb's Batman to Morrison's reconstructive work explicitly. Normally, I think it is unfair to critique an author for writing a different book than what one wants, but in this case, it really would help. Walker's brief discussions the contrast between Moore and Morrison is insightful and so I know Walker could do this.
Lastly, while this is an excellent apologia for later Morrison's deconstruction of capitalism around comics and his attempt to re-introduce archetype, camp, and de-humanizing artifice into comics from a philosophical point of view, Walker isn't critical of where this doesn't work unless the fault isn't with Morrison. Walker's discussion about how the conflicts between marketing, the New 52, and Batman, Inc, really undercut some of Morrison's better writing at the end of his last run on Batman is actually one of the best part of the books, but one often feels like Walker is reading Morrison a bit too "occultly" to justify seeming incoherence and searching for hints to make things fit better than they do. Even good apologias need to be critical of their subject matter sometimes.
Ultimately, this makes for an very uneven read itself (perhaps this is ironic given Morrison's Batman run). Devotees of either Batman or Morrison will skim a lot of this book because the summaries aren't necessary to them, and the neophyte will be utterly lost. This is a shame because, like I have said, Walker is a strong reader with a penetrating mind and a good eye for detail as well as a pleasant and enjoyable writer. I suggest this book only with those caveats strongly in mind.
Even though at moments Cody Walker seems to be over examining elements, looking for clues where there are none, it's a recommended reading not only for the fans of Batman or comic book scholars, but for those of us who really enjoy books (and comic books) that have such craft that are worth reading on multiple occasions. The Anatomy of Zur-en-Arrh can help you as a guide to have a better understanding of reading and writing stories.