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All October long I explored the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!
What better way to cap off the month than with one of the most famous instances of metafiction in comic book history, Animal Man #26, Grant Morrison’s final issue of his remarkable run, as he comes face to face with Animal Man.
Pretty much the entire run of Morrison’s Animal Man (as an ongoing series, at least) was playing with the idea of Buddy Baker, Animal Man, being a character in a comic book. You know, in a sense that he KNOWS that he is a character in a comic book – well, not at first, but over time. It all leads to the final issue of Morrison’s run, as Animal Man meets Morrison himself and the two spend the entire issue talking.
What’s particularly fascinating about the issue is how Morrison eschews the opportunity to portray himself as some sort of infallible, brilliant writer. Instead, he goes out of his way to show the other side of the tale. Heck, he spends much of the issue criticizing himself.
First off, notice how Chas Truog and Mark Farmer draw Morrison’s world (the “real” world)…
Animal Man even mentions on the next page how dull and drab Morrison’s world is. In addition, note Morrison above pointing out how the story he had planned for the whole series has not ended the way he originally hoped.
Next, Morrison mocks his frequent political commentary in the pages of Animal Man, as well as taking to task both the pointless murder of Animal Man’s family as well as Morrison’s inability to think of interesting villains for Animal Man to face (resorting, instead, to depicting two horribly cliched villains)…
In another nice bit, while Buddy is being pummeled by the villains, Morrison ignores him and begins to thank people, concluding with a hilariously ironic nod to PETA…
Morrison even mentions how the death of his cat helped to inspire him to do things in the pages of Animal Man, things he did partially to make his cat’s death “mean” something…
And, of course, Morrison returns Buddy’s family to him at the end of the story (not before Buddy walks past Morrison’s live (well, in the DC Universe, at least) cat.
A delightful end to a great run.
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