Grant Morrison’s long-awaited DC multiversal epic is finally out, and it’s as trippy and mind-boggling as we expected it to be.
STOP READING THIS COMIC!” the comic screamed at me. Waaait, the comic doesn’t want me to read it? What sorcery is this? And why can’t I stop reading it anyway? Oh wait, it’s by Grant Morrison. Ah, that explains it then.
After all, this is the guy who once wrote HIMSELF into the finale of his Animal Man series back in 1990, in one of the most mind-boggling scenes in comic history.
The fact that The Multiversity is the brainchild of Morrison should have prepared you for what lies ahead.
This is a project five years in the making, and to understand its significance and importance to the DC Universe, we need to go all the way back to DC Comics’ pivotal Crisis On Infinite Earths event in 1985. At the conclusion of that event, DC consolidated their (then) mess of a continuity with a five-Earth universe into one single continuity.
Now, pay attention, because this is where it gets complicated. After the Infinite Crisis event in 2005-2006, DC Comics began a massive weekly crossover event simply named 52, which was co-written by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid and, of course, Morrison. At the end of the 52 series, it was revealed that the DC Multiverse we thought was gone in 1985 is very much alive, and that there are 52 different “Earths” in total.
This leads us to Morrison’s seven-issue Final Crisis in 2009 (yes, the one where Batman supposedly “dies”), which reintroduced the different Earths of the DC Multiverse in a major way. In that series, Morrison introduced “President Superman”, a new, black Superman from Earth-23 who is also the President of the United States.
Following the conclusion of Final Crisis, Morrison began laying out plans for a project that would involve eight standalone stories set on different DC Earths. That project is The Multiversity, the first issue of which came out last week.
According to the official synopsis on DC Comics’ website, The Multiversity project comprises “six complete adventures – each set in a different parallel universe – plus a two-part framing story and a comprehensive guidebook to the many worlds of the Multiverse”. It also takes place outside of the DC New 52 universe, by the way, though considering that Earth-2 and Earth-3 have already made appearences in that universe, I wouldn’t count that particular Earth out just yet.
Anwyay, The Multiversity #1 kicks off the entire project in spectacular fashion. True to Morrison’s meta mind-melding methods, the comic repeatedly breaks the fourth wall, talking directly to the reader constantly, and that somehow makes this book a lot more engaging than I expected it to be.
Illustrated brilliantly by the team of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, it starts off by re-introducing us to an old friend – Nix Uotan, the last of the Multiversal Monitors, who also goes by Superjudge, protector of the Multiverse – as he is dissecting a comic book that is purported to be haunted.
Investigating further, Superjudge arrives on Earth-7, which has been decimated by ... well, an “eye-thing”, as Nix calls it.
To avoid spoiling the story further, let’s jump to another Earth, No. 23, to be exact, where President Superman is done fighting some robot thingy, and is suddenly sucked out of Earth-23 and onto a vessel called the House of Heroes, where countless heroes from all 52 Earths have been dragged against their will to fight against a still-unknown enemy that threatens the Multiverse.
This is where the story REALLY gets interesting (and a little confusing), as we meet all the different heroes from the different Earths, including Captain Carrot (a, er, super rabbit from Earth-26), and Thunderer, an aboriginal version of Marvel’s Thor (yes, Marvel’s characters are parodied here as well!). Another hero, Red Racer from Earth-36, then tells President Superman that comic books actually show what’s happening on other different Earths, showing him a copy of Action Comics #9 (which was actually published in the actual DC New 52!) in which President Superman appeared. Does your brain hurt yet?
Anyway, the gang eventually ends up on Earth-8, where the heroes are “Major Comics” characters such as Machinehead, American CrUSAder, Future Family ... you get the idea. Long story short, punches are traded, more characters are introduced, and in the end, the narrator literally screams, “PUT THIS BOOK DOWN NOW!” at you.
But that, of course, is easier said than done. After the first read, I actually found myself in a strange situation – despite the book’s best efforts to get me to put it down, I found that I didn’t want to. I wanted to read the entire thing AGAIN, just to grasp what was actually happening; and the more I read it, the more intriguing the entire premise seemed, and the more questions it raised.
In the end, I wanted more of all this mind-bending madness, which was so much more interesting and engaging than the usual pap the New 52 was coming up with. I wanted to absorb the great artwork and look for Easter eggs in each page. I wanted to figure out who all those different characters were and what Earth they were from. And most of all, I wanted to figure out just who is that guy yelling at me to put the comic down. It better not be you again, Grant.