If you’ve read any of Grant Morrison’s previous work, you should know what to expect here. Legendary’s Annihilator is a genre-bending, metafictional work that is going to ask some existential questions and attempt to give us an answer. The book is dark and blends elements of science fiction and horror to great success, largely due to Frazer Irving’s beautiful artwork.
Annihilator follows two parallel stories that come together at the very end of the issue. The first is the story of Max Nomax, a roguish antihero who is searching for a cure for death itself. The second storyline follows Ray Spass, a washed-up screenwriter who has one last chance to make a splash in Hollywood. Ray moves into a supposedly haunted house for inspiration, reveling in the occult to fuel his writing. He turns out the beginning of a script called ‘Annihilator’, starring none other than Max Nomax. When he wakes up in a hospital three days later, it is revealed that he has an inoperable tumor and a very short time to live. But then, Max Nomax shows up. Is Ray hallucinating? Or is his story coming to life?
One of Morrison’s goals in the book is crafting the world’s most awesome scoundrel. He’s well on his way to succeeding on that front, but it’s his commentary on the human condition that really enhances the story. Ray and Max could not be more different, yet they are both terrified of what’s beyond death. They seek the basic comfort of companionship, but both have lost somebody and their worlds have fallen apart because of that. Neither character can escape the finality of death. It’s not new territory for Morrison, but the fun presentation of the material makes for an enticing read.
Frazer Irving is producing some truly astounding art for the book. The panels are superbly painted and almost every one of them could be individually hung in an art gallery. The use of colors and shading make for great contrasts between what is real and what could be hallucination. The panel layouts are erratic, but it works incredibly well for this book. Not enough can be said about the quality of Irving’s artwork.
I’ll admit that I did have to go back and reread Annihilator, as I’ve had to do with most of Morrison’s work. There are rapid transitions between storylines which can be pretty jarring on the first read. Taken as a whole, the story is well-written and intriguing. At first glance, however, the story seems a little disjointed.
All in all, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The story has a lot of promise and I can’t get enough of the art. Morrison and Irving are truly a perfect match. If you are not a fan of Morrison’s work, Annihilator probably won’t change that. If you are, however, don’t miss this book.