Showing posts with label Grant Morison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grant Morison. Show all posts

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern

“ I might as well have been recruited into the Green Lantern Corps.”

— Grant Morrison , Supergods

“ As you might imagine, it was hard to sustain this level of controlled breakdown while running a business. My cometary rise was equaled by a fall; a plunge into dissolution. The more perverse and inhuman the enemies of the Invisibles became, the sicker I got. By the time I realized I’d become semifictional, it was too late to defend myself. 

The downward spiral expressed itself in darker magic as the Invisibles faced bacterial gods from a diseased twin universe. After trying out a Voudon ritual in 1993, I found myself facing down an immense scorpion creature that tried to teach me how to psychically assassinate people by destroying their “auras.” 

When the ritual was done, I switched on the TV to decompress and caught the last fifteen minutes of Howard the Duck, in which nightmarish extradimensional scorpion sorcerers attempted to clamber their way into eighties America. 

These spooky coincidences were commonplace, but I had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I wrote King Mob into the hands of his enemies. Tortured and drugged, he was made to believe his face was being disfigured by a necrotizing fasciitis bug. 

Within three months, bacteria of a different kind had nibbled a hole in my cheek. My beautiful big house had degenerated into creepy, lightless squalor, with a duvet hung up in the bedroom window instead of curtains. I came out in boils, traditional signs of demon contact. Fortunately for me, I was physically fitter than I’d ever been, although it only delayed the inevitable for a few more months. 

I’d been granted superpowers. I’d danced with monster gods and shaken souls with angels, but my end-of-act-2 reverse could no longer be denied. The Achilles’ heel revealed! The death trap sprung! 

On the night before I was hustled into the hospital, with what I later found out was probably less than forty-eight hours to live, I hallucinated something I recognized immediately as “Christ.” A column of light phased through the door, clear as day, then a powerful sermon seemed to download into my mind. I understood that this power I was facing was some kind of Gnostic Christ. A Christ of the Apocrypha. An almost pagan figure that I’d found at the bottom, at the last gasp. Here at the end, there was this light. Christ was with us, suffering right there with us and promising salvation. This living radiance was nothing like the morbid fever visions of hearses and twisted window frames I’d been having. This was what turned dead-end junkies into born-again Christians, but of the whole heart-melting experience, I remember only the first resonant words: 

I am not the god of your fathers, I am the hidden stone that breaks all hearts. 
We have to break your heart to let the light out.” 

These words sounded through my head, but they were bigger and more complete than any thoughts I was familiar with; more like a broadcast. 

The loving voice and its powerful words seemed not to be mine and offered me a stark choice there in the living room: I could die now of this disease or stay and “serve the light.” I might as well have been recruited into the Green Lantern Corps, in what was for me a very genuine “cosmic” moment. 

I did as most of us would and elected to live. Like Captain Marvel, I wanted to go back to Earth armed with Eon’s knowledge. I felt I’d lived my own Arkham Asylum dark night of the soul, and without the understanding that I was on a well-trod and signposted “magical” path, I’m not sure if I could have handled my illness or recovery process quite as well. I’d reached that point in the story where I’d survived the crisis and still had a chance to be reborn with a new costume and better powers, but it was touch and go; every passing second was the ticking clock to the ultimate life-and-death cliff-hanger. How the fuck would I get out of this one? 

As it happened, as in the best serials, it was some kind of dumb luck that saved me. The day after Jesus popped by, something odd occurred. My sister was in London, and her boyfriend Gordon was on his way down for a visit. He’d just missed catching up with my mum, who’d been looking in on me, with increasing apprehension. She’d correctly diagnosed my appendicitis when I was twelve and now she was sure that the doctor’s flu remedy was not what my damaged lungs really needed. She made it to her living room, looked out the window, and saw Gordon at the crossroads hailing a cab to take him to the station. She willed him to turn around, as she tells it, and he did. Gordon came upstairs to collect a bundle of clothes for my sis. Mum told him about me, and he promised to mention it to his mate Graham, who had a good local doctor, apparently, a GP whose own bohemian temperament led him to specialize in the treatment of football stars, musicians, and artists. When he got to London, Gordon was as good as his word. Graham immediately called his miracle doc, who agreed to visit me on short notice. To my shame, I’m not sure that I would have acted so promptly (or at all) in the same circumstances. Graham didn’t know me. He was five hundred miles away and had no idea how seriously ill I was. The doctor checked my temperature and listened to my chest with growing alarm before contacting the hospital. I felt safe at last, as if a true guardian angel had arrived to rescue me from the mire of disease where I could no longer function. There were no beds at the Tropical Diseases Ward (my travel history made this the obvious first port of call), but with so many coincidences already flying around, another one was attracted to all the commotion: It just so happened that the receptionist had gone out with the doctor’s friend. Charm and nepotism swung me a room. Within hours, I was in a private ward in Glasgow’s Ruchill Hospital with a drip in my arm, while frantic doctors held me down as if I were devil possessed. They had to get the needle in when the tremors were at their most intense, so I lay shuddering, freezing, barely able to breathe as my arm was secured and blood drawn. I was quickly and efficiently diagnosed with a tempestuous Staphylococcus aureus infection that had settled in my lungs, collapsing one of them. I was septicemic and severely lacking in natural salts and minerals, but the good doctors pulled me back. Two days later, I had a painful tube in my arm, the vein was hard as wood, but I was alive, and I could feel the venom of the scorpion loa succumbing to the mighty medicine of antibiotics. Staph aureus, or golden staph, derives its distinctive color from carotene, and when the bugs had been flushed from my system, I succumbed to an epic lust for raw carrots that could be satisfied only by a daily three-pound bag from the greengrocer. Depleted, I had to consume my weight in the power elixir, the golden superfood. Not even the junkies outside the window prowling the hospital grounds for used or discarded needles could intrude on my sense of having been rescued from the brink. I settled back to recuperate, imagining ocean sets, distant beaches, and health. I counted the days between episodes of Father Ted and Fist of Fun, enduring a battery of painful tests to discover if the staph infection had spread to my heart, and reading comic books my friend Jim brought me from the Forbidden Planet store he owns on Buchanan Street. It was one of a growing chain of pop culture emporia that rewrote the comic shop idea for the High Street consumer. For a few days, there was even an AIDS scare, followed by a test and then the obvious relief. My dad visited every night and told me stories from the war, his presence a calm rock. He insisted that he was trying to bore me to sleep, but it never worked that way. I could have listened to him all night. While the doctors got on with their work, I also decided to take matters into my own hands and elected to treat the living bacteria inside me as totem animals. If, I speculated, they had a physical existence and purpose, surely they could be endowed with a mythic or magical intent by a human intelligence. In the wee small hours, with the alcoholic night nurse on duty, I spoke to the germs and promised them a starring role as the baddies in my current magnum opus, The Invisibles, if they left me alone. This, I explained to them, would give them a far longer life and greater symbolic significance than any mere physical overthrow of my body could offer. I gave Staph aureus the chance to become fiction. It was a good deal, and they seemed to go for it. 

As I waited nervously for test results, I wrote King Mob’s recovery into The Invisibles, spelling myself out of my own predicament by restoring the fiction suit to full health. If he could survive this and be stronger, so, naturally, would I. I’d made a magical model of the world, and by tweaking the model, I could seem to be able to effect actual changes in the real world.”