Avatarex (#1 – 4) – Grant Morrison

3 out of 5

While Grant’s Graphic India output seemingly dwindled after 2017, you can see, between Avatarex and 18 Days, the way he was sort of JLAing Indian lore, with 18 Days establishing the various ages in which heroes / gods / humans are born and die – a cycle very much appealing to Grant’s “everything is connected” comprehensive storytelling style – and Avatarex kicking off the modern era of heroes with the titular muscleman, something of a Shazam / Supeman proxy.  ‘Rex must save the world, but in order to do so, he must be grounded by a human.  Alas, the supercool human of choice – Rishi – is injured in the bad guys’ first attack on the planet, leaving Rishi’s lout of a brother, Varun, to fill the role.

The over-explainy, exclamation point! dialogue is very reminiscent of Grant’s early, punchy, JLA style, but it feels extra simplified here, which might be Grant tailoring to what he feels is a possibly less American-comics-inclined audience, but also is redolent of the way his Graphic India stuff never felt fully committed, as though the opportunity came his way and he couldn’t turn it down, but didn’t have his full attentions applied.  And so Avatarex, while enjoyable in establishing ‘Rex and Varun’s relationship during their first hero/human outing – which is a moderately unique twist on things, in that ‘Rex himself doesn’t believe in Varun – is also 100% going through the motions, in dialogue and set up; jokes and action.  The setting is different, but it’s stuff we’ve seen before.  That Grant can write an effective comic in this offhand mode is impressive – and by effective I mean that this is on par with any given headlining Marvel or DC book – but I don’t think that’s quite a selling point.

The book looks better than 18 Days, with Jeevan J. Kang’s very bright and bold style giving way to Edison George’s heavier stuff – moderately reminiscent of Liam Sharp – with both artists adept at adding in the casually humorous tone to Grant’s script.  And all of my shruggy-shrug criticisms aside, Avatarex is distracting enough to have kept me picking up issues to see if it would’ve developed, but it took over a year to get us from issue one to four (…this was not a quarterly book) before it dropped off, so, so much for that.

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