St. Swithin’s Day (Oni, black and white edition) – Grant Morrison

4 out of 5

It’s not until a few pages in to Grant Morrison’s four part ‘St. Swithin’s Day’ – initially serialized in Trident, then collected a couple of times, including this black and white Oni one-shot – that we learn that our 19 year-old lead is planning on killing the Prime Minister, and she’s only named in nickname until the final few pages.  Assuming one can register, at the very least, that the Prime Minister is a position of importance, I think what’s interesting about this is that this countdown-to-assassination tale is still quite gripping, and emotionally affecting, without having any sort of reaction to the PM at the time it was written: Margaret Thatcher.  That said, I have to wonder if the story is more less effective if you’d been in the UK at the time; maybe the story becomes more trite and whiny if you were there?  …I do think, though, that because the focus is more on character, and less of a political screed, it remains potent: our teen has the usual teen symptoms of lashing outward at the ununderstanding world, here represented by Mrs. Thatcher, and Grant steps through his thoughts – a mush of melodrama and self-awareness, cribbed from that embarrassing sector that mimics our own teen thoughts – crafting a persona that seems quite intelligent overall, with dashes of something ‘else’ part by part, whether it’s his smile over the gun he’s found, or what seems to be a shot of him imagining a girl to talk to.

That last bit is where the story gets somewhat murky: I think we’re supposed to assume the character is disturbed to a degree, which somewhat imbalances the effect of the story (although that might’ve been a concession to try to avoid some controversy…?), and if we’re not supposed to assume that, then moments suggesting that could have used with some tuning, perhaps.

Paul Grist’s simplified character work and use of negative space is quite perfect for the tone, which is very friendly and casual whilst discussing this potential murder.

Worth tracking down.