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The story so far:

Knight of the Fox

Son of the Knight of the Fox

Son of the Knight of the Fox - Part 2

I'd already planned to keep reading through Grant Morrison's bibliography, but wasn't planning on talking about any new books until Deltarune Chapters 3 and 4 drop. Then I realized if I do that, I'm going to be in for a shitload of work. I'd have to talk about Final Crisis, The Invisibles, The Filth, and so on alongside four chapters of Deltarune AND how all the previously read books parallel Deltarune Chapters 3 and 4 AND how the new information gleaned from Chapters 3 and 4 changes previous speculations, all while nursing the splitting headache I'm going to have if Chapter 3's secret boss really does turn out to be Christopher Reeve with a big bomb.

Sure, I doubt every Morrison book is going to be comparable to Deltarune, like I'm not sure how much there's going to be to say about Zenith and Klaus besides Klaus being a Santa Claus origin story and another name for Santa Claus being Kris Kringle (and since you're wondering, no, I don't believe Morrion's Klaus has anything to do with the Netflix movie about the postman who's basically Emperor Kuzco). And unless a future chapter of Deltarune features magic drag queens I will not be looking into Morrison's 2022 Luda novel. But I feel like I'm going to have my hands full enough just from The Invisibles. So fuck it, let's keep the Morrison train going.

I'm going to be doing something different this time; instead of reading a bunch of Morrison's books and dropping everything at once, I'll be updating this page as I go along. And if Chapters 3 and 4 release while I'm doing this, I can pivot right in.

But first, a discussion I've been wanting to have for a while.

On the Subject of Apophenia

In the last two parts, I've occasionally brought up the term "apophenia." Appropriately enough, there's a meme of the Question explaining it.

In other words, it's when people form meaning in random nonsense. It's the thing that causes people to see Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich, sync Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon with The Wizard of Oz, or in the case of the Kimba/Lion King controversy claim The Lion King clearly ripped off Kimba the White Lion because of straw-grabbing bullshit like Kimba and Simba both having a love interest, or both frequently showing characters standing on cliffs. Because Kimba the White Lion is the only story to ever have a love interest and characters standing on cliffs prior to The Lion King.

By the way, that is not an animation error, the Question doesn't have a face.

As I analyze Grant Morrison and Toby Fox's works, I'm trying my best to focus on major themes and key story moments and not bog these articles down with inconsequential garbage and things that are clearly Morrison and Fox both pulling from common tropes. For example, in Joe the Barbarian the statue of the Iron Knight is holding a chain.

(Yes, there is a minor mistake in that he's holding the chain in his right hand on the cover there, but in his left hand within the book. I'm not going to beat Sean Murphy over the head with it because he probably just had a brain fart over the cover focusing on the statue's reflection rather than the statue itself, and I can't put penguins on blankets correctly)

And during the neutral Spamton NEO fight, he refers to Kris being a "heart on a chain."

But chains are a common symbol of imprisonment and control. The Iron Knight imprisoned King Death within the Hypogean Labyrinth years ago, and Kris is under the control of both the player and whatever entity makes them slash Toriel's tires in the ending of Chapter 2 (*cough*Toby Fox*cough*). And chains parallel the strings of a puppet, both being long, flexible, relatively thin items used to control the movements of something else. At most you could argue the chain of the Iron Knight parallels Kris being bound by the chain of the Roaring Knight, and Joe is standing directly under the chain on the cover art, but even that's a huge stretch. So unless a future chapter is going to have Spamton giving the kids a history lesson under a bigass statue of the Roaring Knight holding a chain, there's no reason to even suggest Fox got the idea for the "heart on a chain" comment specifically from the statue of the Iron Knight.

A mother-fucking telephone god that randomly talks in snippets from other conversations is a lot more specific.

I didn't even mention how the Telephone Avatar is kept in the depths of the Pentagon while the NEO Machine is kept in the depths of Pandora Palace, or how the first thing the Avatar says when it emerges is "It's for you." And yes, the Avatar is charging up a BIG SHOT there.

For another example, in We3 the armors of the three pets are colored blue, pink, and green, the same colors Deltarune uses to represent Kris, Susie, and Ralsei.

But red, blue, and green are the primary colors of light-based or additive colors (compared to red, blue, and yellow, which are the primary colors of pigment-based or subtractive colors). And because the colors of the armor sets are pastel, red becomes pink.

Some things are muddier, like how in the climax of Akrham Asylum Batman starts attacking the place with an axe which he then sets at the feet of the Joker, a clown based on the Joker card.

Susie uses axes for weapons and Jevil, a clown based on the Joker card, turns into a weapon for Susie - albeit a scythe - if you beat him violently. I can see how Fox could have pulled inspiration for Jevil from this moment, but I can also see how it's just me making connections where there are none. When I make observations like this, I put it into the "strange" category as opposed to "creepy."

A cartoonishly-dressed hypnotist name Jervis rambling about how everything is "just words on a page" is very much in the "creepy" category.

Likewise... okay, for people who aren't familiar with Doom Patrol, Cliff was a NASCAR driver who was involved in a hideous accident during one of his races, destroying his entire body except for his brain (again, in the comic. In the show he evaded the NASCAR accident only to be decapitated in another car accident). Caulder acquired the brain and put it into a robot body, so Cliff is a human brain in a robot body. But when Dorothy releases the Candlemaker it tears his brain out of his body and smashes it, causing his consciousness to be downloaded to a backup disc within his robot body. To override Caulder's catastrophe program, Magnus pulls the disc and pops it into the Think Tank.

You've already figured out where I'm going with "somebody being transferred to a removable disc in a robot body"

Though, yeah, Cliff's disc is in his chest while the NEO Machine's disc is in the head, but Cliff's head used to contain his brain.

Then there's the things I fully admit are amusing coincidences. I'd be very surprised if Fox got his old Internet handle from that one page of Animal Man, it's far more likely Mike was named after Mike Teavee from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory than the guy Peter Milligan made Buddy's wife have an affair with, and as bizarre as the whole Ruby Fox thing is, "ruby" just means "red" and red is the color most commonly associated with foxes (unless Toby Fox read Zenith and took Ruby Fox as another sign he was destined to become the Grant Morrison of video games, despite Ruby Fox being a woman).

When you cross-examine the parrot in the first Phoenix Wright game, there's a point where the Judge says "Once is a coincidence, twice is a pattern." That's the rule I'm trying to go by here; the more similarities something has and the more specific they are, the more attention I'm going to give it. Lennox getting into a robot to fight Buddy isn't anything noteworthy, happens all the time. Not even the fact Bugman is blue, they probably chose that color because blue is the closest color to steel out of the six primary and secondary colors, and to contrast his big red eyes. It's the fact Bugman is a big blue robot that shoots battery acid that makes him uncomfortably close to Giga Queen.

Once you set a foothold in the big things, like Buddy referring to the higher reality as "Heaven" and alluding to "Heaven" watching them, people "shambling aimlessly towards oblivion" and "lost eternally in an endless night" following the death of their dreams, the insane members of a facility with an alliterative name being the ones who are truly free, and, well, the entire plot synopsis of Joe the Barbarian, it becomes easy to wander off into the weeds of irrelevant, conspiracy theory bullshit that doesn't mean anything, like Agent "!" having a bird cage for a torso, which is where his heart would be if he had one instead of an airplane with legs, and Kris tearing the heart-shaped SOUL out of their torso and throwing it into a bird cage at the end of Chapter 1, or how you can rearrange "Lennox" into "Elnxno," and X is a wild-card letter, and Lanino - who looks a hell of a lot like Lennox - is named after the "Elnino" weather effect. Just... I'm trying to stay on the path here. I'll let you judge how successful I am.

Final Crisis (2008)

And with our discussion of apophenia fresh in your mind, yes, "Final Crisis" does sound a little like "Final Chaos."

Final Crisis has got to be the most batshit of Morrison's books I've read so far, and when that includes Doom "One of The Main Characters is a Sentient Crossdressing Street" Patrol, that is saying something. In Supergods, Morrison talks about their thought process behind Final Crisis: comics are stories, and what better way is there for a story's reality to unravel than for the story itself to turn to complete nonsense?

And if it wasn't for that little nugget of information from another book, I'd have no fucking idea what was supposed to be going on at all.

My discussion of Final Crisis is going to differ from previous books because the story itself only had a single direct parallel to Deltarune that I caught. So far, anyway. Maybe more will pop up when we get to the Roaring, Final Crisis being about averting a world-ending catastrophe and all. But I don't have a crystal ball nor the means to drag Fox out into the street and demand answers at gunpoint, so I can't tell you if the Roaring is undone by Ralsei singing into a literal Deus Ex Machina.

It does, however, feed into Deltarune being a collection of infinite possibilities that exist together and what I said at the end of the original Animal Men/Deltarune essay, that a fanfic where baby Spamton buddies up with the kids after the NEO fight is no less real than Fox's official telling of the events.

So, what is Final Crisis about, anyway? There's this big baddy in the DC Universe, Darkseid (pronounced just like "dark side"), who rules over a planet of dark gods called Apokolips. Since I'm sure more people are familiar with Marvel lore than DC lore through the MCU, Darkseid is the Thanos of the DC universe although it's more accurate to call Thanos the Darkseid of the Marvel universe but let's not get bogged down with semantics here. If you recall those Animal Man cartoons I linked to where he's voiced by Weird Al Yankovic, the second one ends with Buddy flying by this big purple guy and muttering "Can you believe that guy?" That's Darkseid.

He's just won a war over the good gods of New Genesis and has his sights set on universal domination, but in the process is tearing reality itself apart. One of his tools is the "Anti-Life Equation" which is described as a mathematical proof that Darkseid is the true master of the universe, but let's just say it's a signal that brainwashes anyone who hears it.

And there's your sole direct link to Deltarune.

Final Crisis has two big big "what the fuck am I reading?" tie-in metastories, one for Superman and one for Batman. Morrison was able to explore metafiction with Animal Man because, to put it bluntly, nobody gave a shit about Animal Man. Superman and Batman have more lore, alternate continuities, and reboots to play with, but people tend to be a lot more, let's say, protective of them.

In an attempt to impress Lex Luthor and get him to pledge himself to Darkseid, Darkseid's prophet, Libra, organizes an attack on the Daily Planet that leaves Lois Lane fatally injured. A mysterious woman promises Superman an elixir that can grant any wish if he aids her, and intending to use it to save Lois' life, Superman agrees.

This elixir is called "Bleed" and the worlds of the Multiverse are said to form within it. The Multiversity calls the space between universes the Bleedspace, and because Bleed can alter reality and grant any wish, I choose to believe it's the water of the Dreamtime.

While recruiting Supermen from across the 52 universes, he ends up leaving the Multiverse entirely and crashing into Comic Book Limbo from alllll the way back in Animal Man.

Okay, stupid irrelevant question time: doesn't writing Limbo into a story remind everyone of these characters and bring them out of Limbo? Also, is fanfic enough to get somebody out of Limbo or do they only get out when an officially sanctioned monkey writes them out? Like if you wrote crossover fanfic of the Green Team and Scrooge McDuck teaming up against Montana Max and Rupert Murdoch - I dunno, maybe you lost a bet and have to, or you're completely smashed on cheap vodka and in your stupor decide that's something that needs to exist - does that get the Green Team out of Limbo?

Anyway, hoping to find the information they need to get out of Limbo, they get Merryman to lead them to Limbo's library, which only contains a single book. Except that book contains every other book in existence. Even Deltarune's design documents, I guess. So there you have it, folks, Deltarune is part of DC canon.

This side story ends with Superman being being combined with Ultraman into a giant, living story and having a kaiju battle with a giant vampire or something, seriously, Morrison gets so fixated on using Final Crisis to explore metanarrative and fiction as alternate realities that it gets in the way of the actual story.

By the way, one of those alternate universe Supermen Supes recruits? Nazi Overman. So, uh, Morrison brought him back prior to The Multiversity.

Batman, meanwhile, gets captured and strapped into a machine that allows some glob monster to sift through his memories disguised as Alfred to, I think, create an army of infinite Batman clones?

As they dig through his head, we're shown a montage of Batman in different costumes driving different kinds of Batmobiles while fighting different versions of his rogues' gallery. I admit, I don't understand what these two henchmen's literal plan is, but I get that it's a metaphor for the many variations of Batman that have cropped up through the years. His captors mention something about implanting false memories while they extract the real ones, including ones where Batman's parents were never killed and he became a doctor instead of a masked vigilante. But that's the point of this montage, isn't it. All these memories are real, just in different timelines. All versions of Batman are equally valid.

And just as the Superman tie-in story makes a callback to Animal Man with Comic Book Limbo, the Batman tie-in story makes a callback to Arkham Asylum. There, Ruth Adams made an observation on the Joker constantly recreating himself.

19 years is quite the long game, isn't it.

When I first read that I had a total brain fart and thought Batman was talking about himself. It still works, though; just as the Joker regularly reimagines himself, Batman too is being regularly reshaped by the ever-shifting waters of the Dreamtime. Is Batman a goofball, campily riding a bicycle with Superman or running around with a cartoon bomb? Is he relatively serious but not completely miserable? Does Superman regularly haul him to Japan so they can both gush over Japanese cuisine? (Oh, what's that? You think I making that up?) Or is he whatever the fuck Frank Miller was doing in All-Star Batman and Robin? Does he look like Adam West, or Michael Keaton? Or George Clooney, Christian Bale, or Ben Affleck?

Yes.

Deltarune's light world is populated by alternate versions of the Undertale cast as different from their Undertale counterparts as the Superman of the Fleischer cartoons is from the Superman of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Only Fox could tell you if he got the idea specifically from Final Crisis, but it's still the same principle.

And how about the wildly different versions of its own cast? I'm counting six canon Spamtons, the ones who...

... got beaten up in the alleyway.
... made the deal with Kris, then were forgotten about in their shops.
... got put on the NEO Machine's disc, then left in Kris' pocket.
... were turned into Spamton NEO, THEN beaten up.
... were turned into Spamton NEO and aided by the kids (well, an attempt was made, at least).
... helped turn the Cyber World into a frozen wasteland and had his own scheme to take over the ruins blow up in his face.

Then the fanon Dreamtime got its hands on him and out came baby salesman.

Final Crisis, along with a divisive X-Men run where Morrison turned Magneto back into a straight-up bad guy after years of Magneto being slowly worked into a sympathetic anti-villain or even an anti-hero, got Morrison chased off the Internet by death threats and general bile, with one reader declaring Morrison will one day see "justice" for what they did to Superman and Batman. How anything Morrison did here is worse than All-Star Batman and Robin is beyond me. Even today Grant Morrison maintains only the barest of online presences.

More Odds and Ends

The September 2022 update includes a .gif of a band made up of Tasque Manager, K_K, Sweet, and a Mr. Nobody-esque silhouette man playing a saxophone.

At first I thought that character wasn't literally supposed to be a silhouette and that he'd just been censored out. A little digging revealed, no, he actually is a silhouette. And, uh, you pacify those enemies by literally knocking their socks off (click the image in that link, it's actually a video). And Mr. Nobody wears gloves...

Hands play a major role in the Flex Mentallo/Telephone Avatar arc of Doom Patrol. When Flex is digging through garbage there's a poster of a severed hand on the wall, the sugar tongs are shaped like hands, there's a subplot involving a squad of fighter jets that vanished under a ray of light in the shape of a giant hand, and multiple references are made to "the dead hand of the Telephone Avatar."

A theory I've seen is the secret bosses are based on things that are typically discarded; the Joker card is usually taken out of the deck before play, and everybody throws out spam mail. Going with that, Chapter 3's secret boss could be a shitty, widely dunked on superhero movie, essentially Deltarune's version of Batman and Robin or Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.

When you beat Jevil violently he says "Hell's Roar bubbles from the depths." Doom Patrol repeatedly shows the Think Tank bubbling.

When I was pointing out the significance of doors in Deltarune, I somehow totally forgot about the bunker.

Deltarune, or at least the game's ending, is allegedly based on a "fever dream" Fox had in 2010. I swear to God this "fever dream" better not be "I was abducted by aliens from the fifth dimension who took me to the lab where they grow worlds in tubes."