Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Mystery Play

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Jon J. Muth

It only took me about fourteen years to get around to getting this book (I love Boxing Day sales), and I'm glad I finally dove into it. This is a slightly different Morrison than I'm used to today. The ideas are grand, but the writing is sparse, and much is given over to Muth to use the art to convey some of the biggest moments in the story.

Basically, a small English town is putting on the full cycle of the Mystery Plays, when someone murders the actor portraying God. A strange police detective takes on the investigation, while he, in turn, is kept under watch by a local reporter.

There is a lot of discussion of what one should do after God dies, and the theological ramifications of these events are examined fully. This is very much a pre-millennial tale, and it reminded me more than a few times of Gaiman and McKean's Signal to Noise, but I'm not sure why.

The Mystery Play is the type of story that can really only be told in graphic novel form. The scene where the detective interviews the actor who plays the Devil is amazing - on TV or in film, it would never come off as good as it does on the page. Muth creates such a dark atmosphere in places, that the scene with the crossword puzzle really came off as menacing.

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