When Humble Bundle announced last week that legendary comic book writer Grant Morrison would create original content as part of their currently-ongoing Tales From India bundle, some fans wondered: why?
After all, Morrison has had wild success in the Western market. What's the appeal of returning to the East and to the tropes of a whole new culture, only to blend that with superhero trappings?
Well, as it turns out, Morrison wanted to break with the current thinking in American superhero comics, and focus on something that's less militaristic. The writer feels (as he has said before) that the current generation of superhero comics in the U.S. are in many ways a direct response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and that many of the depictions of the characters reflect that in a way that no longer interests him.
"I think superheroes...from ordinary people who went out at night to make the world a better place, they've become I think agents of the military-entertainment complex," Morrison told ComicBook.com during an interview at Comic-Con International: San Diego last week. "The Avengers work for the government, and it's been like that since Mark [Millar] did The Ultimates. Batman as seen by Christopher Nolan and subsequently is a soldier. He wears military gear with his ordinance and his machines. For me, it became quite reductive. It was an interesting way to look at it for a while, but it's persisted for so long that I'm quite bored with the idea that the best superheroes can represent is some aggressive version of the military."
Of course, the films reach out and inspire the comics, as well; The Avengers started out as government employees in the movies and, in many cases, that bled into the books. Batman's "armored" look hasn't overtaken the traditional tights and cape for the post-Flashpoint DC Universe but we've certainly seen elements of it pop up here and there, and the "battle-ready" Batmobiles we saw in The Dark Knight Returns and then in the movies have become the norm even for Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's run.
...And, of course, we have the current Batman existing literally as an armored agent of the state.
There's a week left in the Tales From India Bundle, in which Grant Morrison's Avatarex is less militaristic and more designed to be inspirational. Citing one of his most acclaimed works, Morrison gave a kind of mission statement for the series:
"For me, it goes back to the All-Star Superman scene where Superman saves the kid on the rooftop. And seeing actual kids who were stopped from committing suicide from that scene, it really meant something to me, you know? It made me realize that Superman doesn't have to be real or realistic in order to effect real change," Morrison said. "So this is an expansion of that. The notion that we could do something and readers could buy into this, but also know that part of the money is going to charity, it's helping people, it's changing lives, t's educating people, it's getting girls out of poverty. That just seemed like the most worthwhile way of using superheroes, is to really make them do something useful, rather than just fight in the next blockbuster."
The rest of our conversation with Grant Morrison will run on ComicBook.com soon.