3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A highlight of the British graphic novel,
This review is from: The Filth (Paperback)'The Filth' is an extraordinary achievement: an original illustrated narrative that sustains itself over 320 pages without once flagging. Grant Morrison has created a story that spins off a triple pun - 'filth' in the literal sense of detritus, waste, decay, corruption, dirt: 'filth' in the moral sense of impurity or obscenity; and 'The Filth', British street slang for the police. His central character is at one and the same time an agent of filth - as Greg Feely, balding pornography aficionado and suspected paedophile - and an Agent of The Filth in its most extreme aspect: as Ned Slade of The Hand, a secret 'supercleansing' organisation dedicated to the maintenance of Status:Q.
So far, so relatively conventional. But this brief outline barely scratches the surface layer of the metaphysical - and metafictional - fantasy that Morrison spins from his secret-agent and secret-identity scenario. Is The Hand real, or is Feely a sad little man undergoing a psychotic breakdown? Is hard-boiled 'Ned Slade' more or less authentic than cat-loving 'Greg Feely'? How far is our sense of identity merely a satisfying story - and if so, who is writing that story?
'The Filth' is complex, funny and scabrous, and not for the faint-hearted. You should read it, if for no other reason, to make the acquaintance of Dmitri-9: enhanced ape, foul-mouthed dope-smoking former cosmonaut and sometime presidential assassin. He's just one of a whole gallery of memorable, original figures that Morrison throws around with reckless prodigality.
Almost in passing, Morrison and his penciller Chris Weston paint a picture of contemporary Britain - stressed, squalid, angry, judgemental - that owes nothing to American models, and then disrupt it with a surrealist sense of surprise and threat that suggests the excremental vision of the great satirists. The brilliance and violence of the ideas and language match the bleakness of the vision.
This is one of the rare graphic novels that comes close to justifying the phrase. Certainly it repays rereading.