“Nameless” #5 is a detour for this six-issue miniseries as it explores how the man known as Nameless came to be. It is a fascinating, thought-provoking, and stunning piece of brilliance by writer Grant Morrison, artist Chris Burnham, and colorist Nathan Fairbairn. Horrific in its ideas and execution, prepare for an epic mind-expansion similar to the previous issues.
Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Chris Burnham
The soul-destroying origin story of the man known only as “Nameless” is uncovered in all its horror. What caused “Nameless” to surrender his identity? What are the sickening secrets of the Razor House Project? And what went wrong in there? On the eve of extinction, all is finally revealed.
Grant Morrison’s tale of cosmic evil, ancient yet familiar entities, and horrors beyond any imagining continues in “Nameless” #5. He brings together various threads from the previous issues that adds layers of understanding yet also begs additional questions. In this miniseries, Morrison has had an exceptional ability to leave us simultaneously confused by and yet comprehending of his surreal script. With the fate of the entirety of existence hanging in the balance, Morrison inspires pure genius from both Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn.
Morrison has an ability to mix genres and he does it in “Nameless” #5 with ease. Esoteric mysticism, horror, spirituality, and science fiction swirl together to create a frightening issue that relies on suspense and the various jaw-dropping images that Burnham is inspired to create. The pace of the story is jarring, going from the present to the past. It takes a close reading at times to understand whether what we are experiencing is taking place in reality or on another plane. Morrison is such a gifted writer that he easily compels us to understand, even if subliminally, what is happening to Nameless and the world(s) around him.
As great as Morrison’s tale is in “Nameless” #5, this issue is also a revelation when it comes to Chris Burnham’s art. This is his best work since his flawless contributions to “Batman Incorporated”. The detail in this issue is visceral, from the intense emotions on the characters’ faces to the various feelings he inspires through the book’s various settings and realms. An effectively horrific splash page has a character appearing as part of a gnarled and thorny tree, with the detail dripping with a mixture of horror and funhouse imagery. One can stare for hours on end at particular scenes, whether they take place in a “simple” doctor’s office or a murder house of horrors.
Burnham brings us on a rollercoaster ride of intense experiences containing elements, like Morrison’s script, that range from horror, science fiction, the mystical, and the religious. Because of this, he has a natural versatility akin to Morrison. The opening of the issue has Nameless looking up at a large mansion on a dark and foggy night. This simple scene alone is full of foreboding premonition. But then Burnham can make a complete tonal change and express the explicit in a way that is not simply meant for titillation. On one particularly intense page, Burnham has Nameless’ face appear cosmic in nature as panels of various sizes filled with different forms of violence float all around him. We don’t know yet whether these are occurring or about to occur. With the mixture of reality and the unearthly, Burnham gives life to a story that calls for exactly what he is doing.
Versatility, as well as vividness, is another word that must be associated with Fairbairn’s colors in “Nameless” #5. His color choices can be surprisingly bright for some scenes being depicted by Burnham, yet are appropriate. The deep red and aquamarine blue that show up in the back half of the issue are creepy and unnerving in their beauty. You catch yourself looking at scenes of depraved horror and begin to appreciate their beauty despite wanting to do the contrary and turn your eyes away. Fairbairn colors his scenes with dark, realistic hues in the beginning of the book and thus create tension. Then, on various other pages, his palette consists of neon colors that burst with beauty and terror. One particular panel is colored with a Jack Kirby style that is only one example of the versatility and multiple readings worth of wonder that Burnham and Fairbairn bring to this issue and the series.Continued below
With the fifth and penultimate issue of “Nameless”, we are getting closer to some kind of explanation for the profundity and horror that has been on display. Morrison, Burnham, Fairbairn, and letterer extraordinaire Simon Bowland make a up a team that was meant to be together. With each issue, the imagery and the story of “Nameless” have stuck in my mind days after reading multiple times. This “origin” issue is no exception.
Final Verdict: 9.5 – “Nameless” is sure to be one of the best miniseries of the year, if not the best.