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The Filth

Title: The Filth
Author: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Weston, Gary Erskine

I shall begin by saying that The Filth is probably the most difficult product I have ever reviewed, not because it is hard for me to weed out whether I like it or not, but because the comic itself defies analysis. Still, I shall of course do my best.

The Filth is about many things on many levels, but mostly it is about… filth. In any system, filth is necessary to evolve and is also a given by-product of health and well-being. From something negative and dirty springs something positive and beautiful. On the most superficial level, The Filth is about Greg Feely, who discovers that he is an undercover agent for a mysterious organisation called The Hand. Its agents function as the garbage collectors of the world; using the analogy of a human body, they get rid of waste products and make sure that everything works properly.

This does not sound too complex, does it? Well, as the narrative continues, further possible interpretations unfold and their implications proliferate. The beauty of this story lies in the fact that all these interpretations are valid throughout the comic. Some of them function on a very small scale, others on a very large one, but still they blend together and create a kaleidoscope of symbol and meaning.

The drawback is that the different parts tend to be bizarre and, although based on cool ideas, not as interesting as the whole. This is not obvious until the very end, meaning that I read the first ninety percent without even feeling some of the greatness; all that came near the end. So, if you plan on reading The Filth, make sure that you read all of it before you give up, do not stop halfway and think that you are in any position of assessing the quality of the entire comic.

Still, the individual episodes do contain interesting material as well, presenting a plethora of relatively undiscovered, yet brilliant ideas that could have formed the foundation to much more than brief episodes. Chris Weston and Gary Erskine have also made a good job with the artwork; without them some episodes would have been boring and the overall impression would probably have much lower.

Conclusively, the individual weakness of some of the episodes is still what I dislike most; otherwise I would have given The Filth an even better grade. As it is, four snails will have to suffice for the excellent presentation of the overall themes. If you like to read carefully thought-out chaos, The Filth is definitely for you.

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