Grant Morrison isn’t Superman, but he holds a similar place in the hearts of fans of contemporary comic books. The Scottish writer whose most recent efforts include rebooting the Man Of Steel as a Woody Guthrie-style champion for the people has helped redefine major brands that also include the X-Men and Batman, as well as developed an impressive body of original work that includes the epic 90’s “mature readers” tome The Invisibles, the perpetually-in-development story of animal soldiers, We3, and countless others.
For his most recent work, The Key, though, the writer all but left words behind in order to tell a more universal story that captures one of the most useful–and understated–attributes of comics as a medium: Namely, the fact that comics stories can be read and understood by people no matter what language they speak.
That strip, commissioned by the BBC and illustrated by Rian Hughes, deals with a totalitarian government and the population under its control–and it’s heavy on the symbolism, which it uses in place of words in the dialogue-balloons that come from its characters mouths. The titular “key” image reveals the secret to striking back against authority, allowing Morrison and Hughes’ universal story to be understood in any language.