by @ulaulaman a review of #Annihilator, a #cosmic #comics by Grant Morrison and Frazer IrvingRabbits are animals extremely prolific, almost legendary in their rate of reproduction, so that Leonardo Fibonacci, thanks to these cute rodents, discovered (or re-discovered) the series that bears his name: 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 and so on, and where each number is the sum of the previous two.
However, it is astonishing to note how pervasive within nature this series of numbers is: we can find it, for example, in the arrangement of seeds of sunflowers(1), in the structure of shells of turtles, in the spirals of seashells. Or, again, in the spiral galaxies(2).
Journey through the universe
The galactic matter, in fact, revolves around the center of every galaxy often making spiraling structures, arms of solid and gaseous matter that we can describe with the Fibonacci series as they fall toward the center, slowly swallowed up by an object apparently absurd but absolutely real: the supermassive black hole. So, within each spiral galaxy there is a black hole(3, 4), which at the same time is the reason for the existence(5) and the ultimate fate of galaxies like our Milky Way, the center of which lies Sagittarius A*(6).
Almost nothing escapes from the event horizon of this cosmic monster: let you imagine the matter while, piece by piece, falls within it, decomposed into its fundamental constituents, and the only trace of this meal is a simple, small radiation X(7), a slight heat that escapes, evidence of a millennial digestion. It is in this border area that is brought Max Nomax, adventurer and genius, looking for "a cure for death", a way to be reunited with his beloved in life, the protagonist of a classic cosmic science fiction story written by the equally genial Ray Spass, Hollywood screenwriter in creative crisis and tormented by his manager, who presses him to get the script for a new film series, Annihilator.
With this latest work Grant Morrison, mixing the classic kirbyan superhero inspiration with real insights arrived from his Hollywood's patronage, builds a story that is a bit of an existential drama, a bit of a parody of the world of cinema, a bit of a great science fiction story. The comparison between creature and creator, here achieved simply with the description of their respective alternate adventures, brings near the two main characters, both anti-heroes, and from another point of view move them away for motivation and potential, creative or destructive according to their motivation.
Between fiction and reality
The excellent drawings by Frazer Irving are the strenght of Annihilator: following the Morrison's inventions, he shows a style and page composition perfect for any time of the story. For example, for the four pages that show the purchase of Spass of his new home, the illustrator proposes a horizontal composition, between JH Williams III and Gianni De Luca(8). In the next scene, however, the dialogue between Spass and his manager is played before with close-ups of various details, such as cups, ashtrays, hands, proceeding up to a side shot of the characters.
Then, the epiphanic night orgy of Spass is very effective: a composition of disorderly cartoons, snapshots that overlap, in stark contrast to the ordered structure of the next page, leading to the submission of the first draft of the screenplay to the manager. The order, however, is only temporary: Spass faints, and his manager is transfigured by Irving to become a character in Bill Sienkewickz style, while he is clearly inspired by Jim Steranko's illustration for the announcement of the inoperable brain tumor that seems to condemn Spass.
On the whole, then, the representation of Sagittarius A* stands out: it might not be as precise as that of Gargantua in Interstellar, but incredibly creepy and effective, thanks to the comparison with the prison planet that orbits, very small, the limits of event horizon. And from which, of course, Max Nomax escapes out simply by classical "rabbit hole" in a reverse path than the much better known Alice and much more similar to that of a demon that escaped hell: he is preparing to conclude a dramatic pact.
Sagittarius A* by Frazer Irving
Sagittarius A* by Frazer Irving
In some sense, Nomax is a variation of King Mob, the principal character of The Invisibles, a seminal Vertigo series written by Morrison at the end of 1990s. Like Mob, Nomax is in war between superior, divine entities, represented by Irving in the second number and probably inspired by the Warpsmithes by Alan Moore and Garry Leach.
On the other hand, Morrison plays with the reader both for the entire first issue, and for large part of the second: the metaliterary game of the first episode, a fitting parallel between the events of Spass and Nomax, borders, in fact, in the drama when the comparison between the two protagonists become more direct and not mediated by the inventive of the film screenwriter. The creator, in fact, thanks to his brain's incurable disease, will try to convince the creature was not real, but a figment of his mind damaged by cancer. Are obvious questions, exquisitely carrollian, that Morrison arises with this sequence: where reality ends and fantasy begins? May the imagination of an author affect the reality itself, and at the other and, how the reality impact the imagination of the author?
The node is dissolved by the arrival of the federal agents: reality enters the fantasy world of Spass and makes real the fantasy. There are no longer any doubt: Nomax is real, as well as the bullet inserted in the head of the Earth man: it is, in effect, another Morrison's bullet, after those in Final Crisis and The Return of Bruce Wayne, but this time is also a thread of information about the history of Nomax that makes its way through the mind of Spass, thus continuing the ambiguous game between history created by a mind and story created by its protagonists.
In conclusion, Grant Morrison, starting from the simple idea to write a story about the world of Hollywood, builds a science fiction adventure that, along the lines of Joe the Barbarian, and he asks questions to himself (and to the reader) about the "history" and its creative force.
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(2) Mack D.R. (1990). The magical Fibonacci number, IEEE Potentials, 9 (3) 34-35. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/45.101398
(3) Antonucci R. (1993). Unified Models for Active Galactic Nucle and Quasars, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 31 (1) 473-521. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.aa.31.090193.002353
(4) Urry C.M. (1995). Unified Schemes for Radio-Loud Active Galactic Nuclei, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, 107 803. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/133630
(5) Ferrarese L. (2000). A Fundamental Relation between Supermassive Black Holes and Their Host Galaxies, The Astrophysical Journal, 539 (1) L9-L12. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/312838
(6) Hamaus N., Paumard T., Müller T., Gillessen S., Eisenhauer F., Trippe S. & Genzel R. (2009). Prospects for testing the nature of Sgr A*'s near-infrared flares on the basis of current very large telescope - and future very large telescope interferometer - observations, The Astrophysical Journal, 692 (1) 902-916. DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/692/1/902
(8) Gravett P. (2008). De Luca and Hamlet: Thinking Outside the Box, European Comic Art, 1 (1) 21-36. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3828/eca.1.1.3