This is my first new comic book review since August 31, 2011 when I reviewed Justice League #1, the first comic of the “New 52”. This one shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as Grant Morrison owned a full 10% of my “50 Greatest Comic Runs“.
Grant Morrison and Ivan Reis bring us the first iinstalment in the culmination of Morrison’s involvement in the mainstream DC Universe with The Multiversity. Morrison is bringing all of his chickens home to roost with this one, and with this issue he deftly ties in threads from his runs on JLA, Final Crisis and Action Comics among others.
Morrison is a massive DC Comics fanboy, he’s been a fan his entire life, and loves to pay homage to tradition, while taking things in entirely new and unique directions. One of my favourite Morrison concepts, the “Super Young Team”, a Japanese super hero group, was his take on Jack Kirby’s “Forever People”, which is amazing because the two couldn’t be more different.
His run on Batman is among my very favourites, and he wrote what I consider the definitive “Dick Grayson as Batman” story in Batman and Robin.
With the first issue The Multiversity: House of Heroes, Morrison and Reis introduce us to the concept of the Multiversity by way of the Last Monitor from Final Crisis, Nix Uotan. This issue is all set up, but it introduces us to several Morrison high concepts.
The Cursed Comic – Ultra #1 (which will be one of the comics in the Multiversity series).
The Gentry – a race of crazies that resemble Alan Moore’s Five Inversions from
Heroes from alternate earths, including brand new ones we’ve never seen before.
Massive peril that will require the combined effort of massively powerful heroes
We not only meet the main characters, including Action Comics “President Superman”, who is Calvin Ellis of Earth 23, but also Captain Carrot who has “Cartoon Physics” as a power, and The Thunderer of Earth 7, who is part of the Retaliators, a DC Analog of The Avengers.
Comics Alliance is the place I go about a week after every issue of Multiversity, where they break everything down with their wonderful “Multiversity Annotations“.
Next up was Multiversity: The Society of Superheroes who protect Earth 20.
In this volume titled The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World, Morrison and Chris Sprouse, introduce us to DC Comics by way of pulp fiction. We’re introduced immediately to the decidedly pulp inspired “Anthro” along with the Blackhawks, Atom, a Doc Savage analogue in Doc Fate, and a Green Lantern who resembles a demon. They face off against Vandal Savage, Lady Shiva and Felix Faust, who are trying to summon unnamable evil. The issue ends on a cliffhanger, much like the previous one.
What really makes this work though is Chris Sprouse’s obviously pulp minded sensibilities, and Morrison’s love for the genre. The amount of research he must have done into the tropes of Pulp is staggeringly awesome.
Comics Alliance breaks this down really well in Multiversity Annotations Part 2.
In Multiversity: The Just: #earthme, Grant Morrison and artist Ben Oliver bring us Earth 16, the world of the next generation of heroes, the sons and daughters of Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman and more. This is dedicated to the late 90’s era of comic hero, where the next generation like Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke came to prominence. In this world, the original heroes have basically eliminated all strife, and now the new kids are taking over a world where there is nothing to do except look awesome and party all night.
I feel this is the weakest of the series so far, but it’s still so full of high concepts and interesting things. Morrison merges Amazo and Red Tornado into one creature, and the kids use it as a sort of “Danger Room”. The clone Superboy is succumbing to the effects of the Bizzaro virus which is embedded in the DNA of all Superman clones, and of course, the Gentry arrive.
Comics Alliance has done a good job breaking the issue down in Multiversity Annotations Part 3.
The Multiversity: Pax Americana: In Which We Burn is the issue I have been looking the most forward to. The world of Pax Americana takes place on Earth 4. Grant Morrison is joined by one of his best collaborators, Frank Quitely. The two have teamed in the past to create the amazing Flex Mentallo, the awesome We3, an incredible run on New X-Men, a character defining story for All Star Superman, and my personal favourite collaboration, the Batman and Robin run “Batman Reborn”.
This is Morrison’s take on the Charlton heroes, Peacemaker, Question, Captain Atom, Nightshade, and Blue Beetle.
The story is told backwards, opening with the death of the American President, and revealing a conspiracy along the way.
I have read this comic three different times, and taken away different things each time.
There is a great article on the colouring process over at Comics Alliance – Multiversity Colorist Nathan Fairbairn Explains Pax Americana process. Comics Alliance also has annotations for this issue.
I’m really looking forward to the next few chapters that have been announced.
In December we’ll see: Thunderworld Adventures: Captain Marvel and the Day That Never Was! by Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart looks like it’s channelling the Jeff Smith Shazam! series by way of CC Beck and is set on Earth 5.
January sees the Multiversity Guidebook which will be an 80 page giant featuring “The MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK contains everything you ever wanted to know about DC’s parallel worlds and their super-heroic inhabitants. Meet the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R. The Light Brigade, the Super-Americans and the Love Syndicate! Meet the Accelerated Man, Aquaflash, BiOmac and more!” This will feature characters from Earth 51, Earth 17, and the Chibi characters of Earth 42 (which have been featured in Batman/Superman previously).
February has revealed: Multiversity: Mastermen, featuring Morrison and with DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee on art in Earth 10. Here Morrison takes us to a world where the United States lost World War 2, and Nazi’s rule the world.
March will see the unleashing of Multiversity: Ultra, the supposedly “Haunted Comic Book” that has been plaguing the denizens of the Multiverse during this series. This is set in Earth-33, which is a fictional representation of the real earth (our earth). Morrison says of the book: “The most advanced thing I’ve ever done. I’m so excited about this. It’s just taking something that used to be done in comics and captions that they don’t do anymore and turning it into a technique, a weapon, but beyond that I don’t want to say. It’s a haunted comic book, actually, it’s the most frightening thing anyone will ever read. It’s actually haunted—if you read this thing, you’ll become possessed.
So far this series has completely delivered for me, so much that it’s one of the rare comics I can say I am getting both digitally AND in print (I buy a handful of comics in print these days, most of them for my kids). I usually read the issue with breakfast the day it comes out, and I have to say that it’s an awesome experience, but this is one of those comics that you simply MUST pour over every single panel in print.
The thing I’m most looking forward to is the eventual “Absolute” collection of this stuff, it will look amazing at the awesome size the Absolute collections come in.