By Scott Thill

From mind-warping revisions of comic book heroes in All-Star Superman, Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, to pop-cultural and philosophical exegeses like The Invisibles, The Filth and We3, brainiac graphic novelist Grant Morrison is a master of the Gordian-knot narrative.

Armed with an intellect and curiosity rivaled in comics only by Watchmen author Alan Moore, Morrison tackles M-Theory and brane cosmology, psychedelia and fascism, continuity and catastrophe while churning out comics that push the envelope well past the point of breaking. In his books, reality and narrative collide and sometimes disappear into each other without a trace.

"I’ve been trying to make superhero comics which draw attention to that aspect of participation and collusion between character, creator and reader," the 49-year-old virtuoso explained in an e-mail interview from his home in Scotland. "I’d love to see more comic book work which was aware of its real-world context."

Mission accomplished. All-Star Superman Vol. 2, released last month in hardcover, concludes a spectacular series that takes the Man of Steel through the looking glass, humanizing and deifying him in equal measure. Final Crisis, due in hardcover in June, does the same for most of DC Comics' timeless heroes, culminating in one of the most brutally catastrophic narratives ever written. By the time it was over, Morrison says he needed to lighten up.

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image: Superman mourns Batman's death in this exclusive first look at the hardcover jacket for Final Crisis, due in June. Image courtesy DC Comics