“Do you require emotional contact?”

We hurtle along in space towards oblivion, caught between two primordial drives of sex and death, creation and destruction, at remarkable speeds. Humanity, all of existence really, moving in cyclical rhythm to the two extremes. It seems simple, almost perfunctory, when you think about it, but there are always complications along the way. A bit of mess because humans aren’t perfect machines, and in some belief systems there might be a flawed creator. As is the case in Annihilator by Grant Morrison, Frazer Irving, and Jared K. Fletcher.

We’ve leapfrogged almost two-decades worth of real time in Grant Morrison’s career to get here, but some of their recurring themes and motifs are back again, combining in new and wondrous ways. Here reality is being created by a screenwriter, Ray Spass, whose reality in return was created by his creation, Max Nomax, a kind of jerk anti-hero in the vein of Fantômas (which Morrison had played with before in New X-Men). Nomax himself rebelling against another creator in VADA, a godlike machine that tried to keep his universe perfect. In a way, it’s kind of like an interesting tour through some Gnostic ideas, with a highly flawed demiurge.

The tone and atmosphere of Annihilator alternates between thick sci-fi horror—ruminating on things that should not be—and madcap action thriller. It’s beautifully danced between with the art from Frazer Irving. His art is dark and moody, his characters all with a certain gothic definition (he reminds me a bit of John Bolton in this way), all cast in deeper shades of blue, purple, grey, and black. It provides fear as we’re shown the horrors of a space prison circling a black hole and concern as we’re propelled through Ray Spass’ deteriorating physical appearance as he attempts to finish his screenplay, and save the world, against the impending doom of an inoperable brain tumour.

This existential doom also appearing as that black hole. There are several parallels between the story’s delineation of fact and fiction, most notably in the central core to both Ray and Max’s lives, their tragic romances with Luna and Olympia. Both appearing as deviations to Ray and Max’s plans, and both figuring into either their redemption or downfall. I find it interesting that love is presented as that complication, rather than being paired with sex or creation. They also allow for Irving to showcase some light and beauty in his art, juxtaposed against the darkness.

Jared K. Fletcher’s letters tie it all together, like the hug from a companion Bug-Eyes Bear. While we get some unique sci-fi word balloons in the quasi-fictional world of Max Nomax and the standard all caps approach in the quasi-real world, the representation of Ray Spass’ screenplay bridge the two worlds to great effect.

Annihilator from Morrison, Irving, and Fletcher suggests that maybe while we’re reaching out for oblivion, reaching out to another can keep a certain amount of cohesion for the universe. That even weak laws of attraction, the appearance of love, might be enough. That a lie, if believed, can bring truth. To give a will to live, and perpetuate the mess of the in-between state of sex and death just a little while longer. Sometimes you just need a hug.


Classic Comic Compendium: Annihilator

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frazer Irving
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: Legendary Comics
Legendary Comics proudly presents Annihilator, an original graphic novel odyssey from the subversive mind of Grant Morrison. Washed-up Hollywood screenwriter Ray Spass is caught in a downward spiral of broken relationships, wild parties and self-destruction. Out of luck and out of chances, he’s one failed script away from fading into obscurity. Little does he know he’s about to write the story of his life. As his imagination runs rampant, Ray must join forces with his own fictional character Max Nomax on a reality-bending race to stop the entire universe from imploding – without blowing his own mind in the process.
Release Date: August 18, 2015 (Hardcover) | November 17, 2020 (Paperback)

Read last week’s addition to the Classic Comic Compendium!