The fevered imagination of Grant Morrison is the fertile spawning-ground of this over-the-top science fiction tale. The story revolves around an agent of a mysterious organisation called The Hand, which cleans up the messes that normal society would rather were swept straight under the carpet. The agent in question has something of a split personality, preferring the odd and somewhat perverted persona of the cover identity he uses when not on duty, to the odd but tough seen-it-all agent he actually is.
Upon this backdrop Morrison weaves a series of paradoxical and weird stories, as he flips between one world of grey normality and another of garish oddity, overlapping the two wherever he feels fit. The book is filled with futurism-gone-mad concepts, such as intelligent tiny people who work like micro-organisms fighting disease, enormous floating cruise-ship countries, comics characters that escape from their pages, nuclear hand-guns, mutant porn stars and a talking communist monkey-assassin. To call it a barrage on the senses is to undervalue its impact.
The plot appears to be deliberately constructed to be slightly confusing and although this is denied by Morrison, we feel it helps the reader empathise with the confusion of the main character. It isn't so obtuse as to be unfathomable and could be argued as value for money because you're bound to need to read it again before you catch all its nuances. But it comes close to suffering from having too much strangeness going on, as if Morrison's imagination exploded uncontrollably onto the page. This certainly doesn't make it a book for all types of reader and it should be noted that its adult themes can be taken to extremes in places.
In contrast to the plot, the art is crisp and clear, with the entire art team creating a vivid world that, despite Morrison's incredible requests, remain solid and coherent throughout. The art team ought to be awarded special merits for extreme services to writers. Or should that be services to extreme writers?
What we're left with is heaven on earth for fans of Morrison at his most edgy. It's an adult sci-fi conspiracy to out-do them all, at least until the next one comes along. In the mean time, enjoy it for its chaotic anarchy and its top-notch artwork, but don't say we didn't warn you if you have to read it twice.
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