The Multiversity #1 Review
By: Rob Neil Gruszecki
In the cosmic bleedspace between universes a vessel with designates of multiple Earths travels from reality to reality to eliminate bizarre and formidable threats. The Monitors are dead and Harbinger has embodied an operating system to gather heroes from infinite worlds. Welcoming the representatives to the Monitor Watch Station, “Valla-Hal”, Harbinger calls out a plea as the Multiverse needs a House of Heroes.
You think this is just a comic book, but it’s bait…
Returning to his wheelhouse of the mad cosmic DC multiverse is Grant Morrison, the architect of Final Crisis, Batman Incorporated, Seven Soldiers of Victory, All-Star Superman and the Filth. One of the most imaginative, complex and multi-faceted writers continues to carve labyrinths of mythology and insanity throughout the infinite world of the DCU and with the first installment of his long awaited saga in the Multiversity finally out it is clear that this passion project from the creator will be him firing at all cylinders. Nix Uotan, Mandrak, Harbinger, the Monitors, Captain Carrot, Stubbs, Earth-23 Superman and countless other apocryphal characters from the depths of the DCU are at the forefront of the Cosmic Neighborhood Watch. In what feels like an indirect sequel to his crossover event Final Crisis, we are taken between the margins of reality to examine all the multiple Earths waving in the Bleedspace as a patrol of summoned superheroes try to fix the broken and poisoned multiverse.
Much of Morrison’s writing in the DC universe is perceived as convoluted or impenetrable and at times his work can be seen as obtuse and confusing however I would argue differently as ultimately his conceits are simple. In Final Crisis, Darkseid has come to Earth with the Anti-Life equation and plans to conquer the planet. Will the Justice League stop him? Probably. In Seven Soldiers of Victory seven champions gather together to defeat a powerful evil. Will they succeed? Probably. It’s the same with The Multiversity. Chaos has erupted between the multiple worlds of the DCU and a misfit band of heroes from backwater Earths must be gathered together to face it. Will the win? Probably. It’s in the way Morrison tells his stories with insane casts, high-concept science fiction elements, crazy tripped out kaleidoscope environments, channel flipping rapidity, esoteric prose and unapologetic weirdness that make him unique, complicated and divisive. It’s these elements that I think make him one of the best writers in comics and have made him a creative force unlike any other. These very facets of his talent are at the forefront of The Multiversity. The warped mind that conceived the mind-bending, fourth wall breaking Animal Man and The Filth is being exercised again here.
Superman Beyond, a two issue mini-series in the middle of Final Crisis (which is canon for the series and integral to the overall narrative) was a universe hopping story where Superman searched the cosmos for a cure for Lois Lane. This was the first taste of the craft that hops between universes used again in the Multiversity and I was so excited to see it used again here. I bring this up simply because many of the elements in Multiversity are devices used before in previous Morrison series so although it isn’t a book that has a reading list of previous material required to understand it it is certainly one that benefits from having read books like the Crisis trilogy (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis) before hand. Again, not so you can understand what happens here, this is an episodic comic which stands on its own, but more so you can get a greater flavour of the overall tone and players.
The first issue in the Multiversity saga is illustrated by the detailed and overwhelmingly talented Ivan Reis. His pencils here are gorgeous, flowing, emotive images and seeing him illustrate Morrison’s crazy imagination is a perfect fit. His artwork and storytelling, especially for the first few pages that delves into some very self-referential and fourth wall breaking panels, are unreal and Reis’ pencils keep the narrative very direct and confident which is imperative in a meta journey such as this one. Reis adept storytelling direction keep this very wacky cosmic adventure calculated and grounded enough so it doesn’t just read like stream of consciousness babble all the while looking like a sci-fi epic like no other. The Multiversity will have many other installments throughout the months with a different artist on each issue including Frank Quitely, Chris Sprouse, Doug Mahnke, Cameron Stewart and more so definitely expect more artistic beauty in future issues.
This is Grant Morrison at his best, playing with meta textual ideas in the cosmic infinite of the DCU. His writing is madcap brilliance in the Multiversity. Ivan Reis’ contribution to the first issue is an exemplary premiere and I am glad to say that all the hype I had put behind this book was well deserved. Definitely satisfying and unlike anything else you will read in mainstream comics today.
Additionally, if you are curious, I had written a review of Final Crisis years ago for my website www.Geekstampede.com and if you’re interested you can check it out here http://geekstampede.com/2013/04/dear-ghost-factory-what-should-i-read/ . If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, order a copy from Chris at Alpha to bring into the store for you. It comes with my highest recommendation.
Rob Neil Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior
Follow him on Twitter @Ghost_Factory
Listen to his music www.Ghostfactory.bandcamp.com, read his comic series with Shae Frank, www.wildrosecounty.com or follow the Weekly Comics Round-Up Podcast www.Geekstampede.com