Writer and Scottish bon vivant Grant Morrison sure is intrigued by comic book archetypes and universal/multiversal harmonics—the vibrations that separate parallel universes–and heaps and heaps of meta-commentary. In some ways, Multiversity, the new DC limited series that journeys through the 52 parallel universes of the New 52 line, has its roots in Morrison’s break-through American series, Animal Man, wherein the author himself appeared to explain the meaning of the titular hero’s journey to, well, the titular hero—for the entertainment and edification of the readers. Beyond that, Morrison explored the archetypal nature of superheroes in his brilliant run on JLA and the universes-shattering mini-series Final Crisis, which introduced a number of the characters and concepts to be utilized in Multiversity.
The first issue encourages the reader to put down the book, to avoid reading; but then, like Crisis on Infinite Earths some 29 years before it, Multiversity no. 1 deals with the death of an Earth—Earth-7, in this case—and the appearance a Monitor—not the Monitor, but, still, a Monitor who is the ultimate Superjudge and protector of the Multiverse. From there, we are introduced to alternate versions of Superman (including a pretty awesome take on Captain Carrot) and other superheroes who are assembled in the Olympus-esque House of Heroes to defend the parallel earths from the Gentry and utter destruction. They must get to Earth-7 to stop the catastrophe, but they get sidelined on Earth-8, where they must contend with the Genesis Egg and the Power Eternal, which has the ability to corrupt absolutely—in an obvious nod to years of Marvel Comics’ cosmic continuity.
Because the reader keeps going—as readers are wont to do, the story unfolds at a relentless pace, and that engagement pushes events to the breaking point. Like all good storytellers, Morrison is aware of the effect of an enthralling narrative on its readers. We want more, demand more, as the writer ups the ante with each page. Here, of course, we’re left to wait until the next issue in the Multiversity saga, which occurs in a one-shot entitled Society of Super-Heroes, featuring a team of adventurers led by—get this—Doc Fate.
I can hardly wait. Of course, Morrison knows this, right?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the work of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, the artists behind a number of DC’s successes over the last few years, e.g., The Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night, Aquaman, and Justice League. Their lush pages crackle with an energy that leads the eyes from panel to panel, demanding nothing less than the full attention of the beholder, and glorious details abound without the pages feeling the least bit crowded. Their heroes are grand; their villains, sinister—indeed, the gods and tricksters Morrison intends them to be. This may, indeed, be Reis and Prado’s best work to date.
BACKLOG RATING: 10/10, because it’s Grant Morrison at his best—building, breaking, and rebuilding mythologies. It picks up threads he left dangling in the pre-New 52 continuity, making one wonder just how much he cares for all this reboot business. (After all, his Batman, Incorporated picked up as though Flashpoint and everything that followed never happened or didn’t matter.)