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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Austin Loomis
    March 24, 2022 @ 10:47 pm

    the Orphic Egg, which is also an egg from which a hermaphrodite hatches

    Now I find myself trying to remember if Cornelius Brunner hatched out of an egg at the end of The Final Programme, or if the people entering the birthing chamber, after the chymical wedding of Jerry Cornelius and Miss Brunner, just found the composite entity waiting for them. I have a very clear memory of the egg into which Jerry and, if memory serves me right, Cathy have entered at the end of The Alchemist’s Question having the last word, echoing Corn’s observation “It’s a tasty world.”


  2. Doug M.
    April 12, 2022 @ 2:48 am

    ” nor does it stop feeling like a betrayal of Morrison’s aesthetic principles—a decision to make the end of a book that had gone in so many directions utterly independent of Moore to, at the last gasp, step meekly back into his shadow.”

    Firm disagreement. Hear me out, please.

    Yes, this is Morrison doing something that Moore had done — arguably, something that Moore invented. However,

    1) As you note, Morrison had been preparing this for a while. In fact, it really looks like he had it planned from day one. From the first issue of his run, he had been recharacterizing the Chief as progressively colder, more arrogant, and less sympathetic. So, this wasn’t something fast or casual. It was a slow burn, three years in the making. And this wouldn’t be the last time Morrison would do this — see Xorn in his New X-Men, or various different plotlines in The Invisibles and his Batman run.

    Moore does many different things well, but he doesn’t really do this kind of thing — specifically, a slow-burn buildup over many issues, with foreshadowings and bread crumbs and clues, culminating with a big reveal or plot twist that sends the reader running off to flip through several years of back issues. The closest he gets is in Watchmen, and the big reveal comes just nine issues in, and honestly it isn’t really foreshadowed all that well.

    So you could argue that what was done here was derivative of Moore, but the /way/ in which it was done was pure Morrison.

    2) In the general sense, retconning the “charming innocence” of older comics into “a new and more sinister reality… in which everything that had once seemed silly turns out to be cruel and calculated” is a correct description that covers both this and Moore’s Swamp Thing, Captain Britain, and Marvel / Miracleman.

    But when you drill down a bit, this is /different/. It’s taking a minor but heroic figure from the Silver Age and twisting him into a cruel villain. It’s arguably more wrenching than anything Moore had done. I’m old enough to remember reading all these when they came out, and the emotional impact of the reveals was very different. For Swamp Thing and Miracleman it was something like “Oh my gosh, that’s so clever”. For Doom Patrol, it was more like a sickening punch in the gut.

    Moore changed the core concepts of various characters — Swamp Thing, the Joker, what have you. But at the end of the day, Captain Britain was still a heroic figure and the Joker was still a bad guy. Swamp Thing and Miracleman became much more complex and morally grey, but they were still sympathetic protagonists. There’s no actual heel turn. This is different. It’s actually darker and crueler than anything Moore ever did along these lines.

    So this would open Morrison up to charge of grimdark nastiness for its own sake… except that:

    3) If you’re writing a comic book about “freaks” — about people who are alienated because they’re queer, bizarre in appearance, disabled, or whatever — then one concept you really need to address is betrayal.

    Because unfortunately that’s a really central part of the alienated experience. The parent who won’t accept the queer child. The partner who can’t accept the reality of neurodivergence. The therapist who insists there’s something wrong with you that you need to change. The doctor who recommends the therapy that is actually destructive to your physical and mental health. Every false friend who nods and smiles and then backs away as soon as your disability or difference becomes an actual awkwardness or inconvenience to them.

    The experience of betrayal is a brutally central part of the experience of difference. And this issue is Morrison putting that betrayal front and center as the Chief, the paternal authority figure at the heart of the Doom Patrol, turns out to be a selfish, treacherous monster.

    This isn’t Morrison stepping meekly back into Moore’s shadow. This is Morrison taking Moore’s tools and using it to build something unique, horrible, and perfectly adapted to Morrison’s vision of the Doom Patrol as a group of alienated freaks. The male authority figure betrays the freaks who trusted him! Notice how perfectly this fits with the the story arcs before it (the male authority figures will kill the freaks) and after it (the male authority figure will try to “cure” the freak). Hell, even the Stan & Jack parody issue fits in here! It’s not just a silly finger exercise, it’s a freak dreaming of a world where freaks are beloved heroes, full stop. Of course it comes right before everything goes to hell.

    I would argue that, far from being a meek retreat, the plot twist with the Chief is an ugly triumph. And it’s probably a big part of the reason that so many queer, disabled, and alienated readers responded to this comic so hard.

    Doug M.


    • Matheus de Arruda
      August 18, 2022 @ 5:03 pm

      I largely agree with this. I’m loving the Last War on Albion but I do think there’s a broad tendency to brush Morrison aside whenever they deal with anything loosely related to Moore’s work. Moore didn’t wholesale invent these concepts and I don’t think he’s their sole, cosmological owner to the point that Morrison simply using a similar narrative device (in a different context, as you noted) dents the entire work or makes it irrevocably lesser than Moore’s. Moore is a fantastic writer and a gifted magician but at times it can border on “Alan Moore did (x) thing once, ergo no one can ever do it again”.


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