Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Frank Quitely and Nathan Fairbairn
Full disclosure before starting this review; if you are not a fan of Morrison you will HATE this comic. This is probably the most “Morrison” thing he’s written in quite a while, even for The Multiversity series as a whole which has had many instances of his traditional quirks such as his refusal to believe in the fourth wall. On the flip side, for Morrison fans this is probably the strongest he has been in years and will give them plenty to chew on and discuss for a long time to come.
On the surface, the premise of Pax Americana seems rather simple, it’s Morrison’s take on Watchmen using the original Charlton characters in their place. It’s a very interesting premise which could make for a very interesting read on it’s on, however, seeing as it’s Morrison, the story is told completely non-linearly and includes many references to some of his previous themes, such as his theory on time travel within comics straight from Supergods. There’s a lot going on which I don’t want to spoil in this review but it’s definitely one that will be appreciated by long-time Morrison fans and will definitely reward careful rereading. It also manages to stand well enough on it’s on from the rest of The Multiversity series allowing itself to stand as a perfect piece of writing from Morrison. I almost wish this could be a mini-series or graphic novel in and of itself as there seems to be plenty of content in the issue to fill one out.
Re-teaming with long-time collaborator Frank Quitley is a match made in heaven for this issue as the two are perfectly in sync with Quitley seeming to be completely in the know to the mind of Morrison, portraying many of his wild out there ideas excellently in the story. Quitely also structures the story using some very interesting artistic techniques including lots of symmetrical imagery and panel structure which seems to have many layers of hidden meaning and symbolism. At times even the very structure of the panels becomes an image itself, several times referencing back to the Dave Gibbons Watchmen style. It’s just amazing to see the art be as clever and just as loaded with meaning as the script, making for a very heavy and challenging yet rewarding comic. It’d be a disservice not to mention the beautiful colours by Nathan Fairbairn; he manages to capture so many different styles and mesh them together perfectly, from the bright, optimistic colour of the American golden age to the seedy underbelly of the crime ridden streets. It looks absolutely fantastic and lends a great sense of style to the book.
Overall, this is a very hard comic to explain or review but one that is loaded with pure Morrison goodness. It’s easily the strongest offering from the series so far but also from Morrison himself in a while. Many people are just not fans of his style and are quick to call it “confusing” or “nonsensical”; I can understand why many people would feel that way, though those of us who enjoy this style of comic will absolutely love Pax Americana and will surely be discussing it for a long time to come. If you’re a fan of the creators behind this comic then I cannot recommend it enough.