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The Multiversity by Grant Morrison

The Multiversity

by Grant Morrison, Jim Lee (Illustrator), Doug Mahnke (Illustrator), Ben Oliver (Illustrator), Joe Prado (Illustrator)4 more, Frank Quitely (Illustrator), Ivan Reis (Illustrator), Chris Sprouse (Illustrator), Cameron Stewart (Illustrator)

Other authors: Christian Alamy (Illustrator), Keith Champagne (Illustrator), Eber Ferreira (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator), Sandra Hope (Illustrator)7 more, Mark Irwin (Illustrator), Jaime Mendoza (Illustrator), Paulo Siqueira (Illustrator), Karl Story (Illustrator), Marcus To (Illustrator), Scott Williams (Illustrator), Walden Wong (Illustrator)

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1017119,589 (3.61)2



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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
As usual with Morrison's best work, this will take more than a few readings to fully absorb, but what's here is a far sight better (in my opinion) than his stint on reorganizing the Batman mythos.

If you've ever loved cross-world stories or alternate realities, this will be a great read for you.

For me, personally, the presence of Captain Carrot as a Superman analogue was frosting atop a very tasty cake. ( )
  SESchend | Sep 6, 2017 |
Access a version of the below that includes illustrations on my blog.

When I started my readthrough of DC Comics Crises, Flashpoint was the last one, but the endpoint of this journey is ever-receding: now Flashpoint has been followed by The Multiversity and Convergence, and I suspect I'll be adding Rebirth to my list too. The Multiversity isn't a "Crisis" per se (so far DC has kept to its promise and Final Crisis is indeed the final Crisis), but it does follow on from their narratives pretty explicitly: this volume explores some of the worlds of the multiverse introduced in 52 and develops themes and concepts Grant Morrison introduced in Final Crisis.

It's a weird book, maybe even by Grant Morrison standards. Like with Final Crisis, I feel like what it needs is a good reread, and since I bought it, maybe I'll actually do that someday-- maybe after reading Morrison's Action Comics run. This book concerns the attack of the mysterious Gentry, the servants of the Empty Hand, on the DC multiverse, and seems to serve two artistic purposes: it's an exploration of the possibilities of the DC multiverse, as well as a statement on some of the creative possibilities and limitations of superhero comics as a genre/medium. So I'll try to untangle some of each of those in turn.

Back before Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC had an infinite multiverse, then it had nothing. 52 brought back the multiverse, yet DC seemed to do little with it. (Partially this is because of Flashpoint, I think, which ruined some aspects of the multiverse. For example, the Wildstorm characters presented an intriguing alternate take on superheroes when they were officially on Earth-50, as we saw in stories like Captain Atom: Armageddon, while they became quickly cancelled also-rans when incorporated into the "main" DC universe on Earth-0. Like, The Authority can't even have a point if they exist in a world where the Justice League also exists.) It might seem like going from infinite Earths to 52 Earths is limiting, but I actually think it's just the right number. In an infinite multiverse, anything goes, but in a realm of 52 alternatives, there's just enough structure to intrigue and delight; I spent a lot of time poring over the map of the multiverse included here, noting correlations and connections as Morrison tries to squeeze everything from Neil Gaiman's The Endless to Jack Kirby's Fourth World into a coherent mythology.

So what we end up getting is a series of linked but largely standalone stories that play with the possibilities of a multiversal setting. The almost universally acclaimed one is "Captain Marvel and the Day That Never Was!", which takes place on an Earth dominated by Captain Marvel. (By which I mean that though Captain Marvel exists on Earth-0, on Earth-5 he's the superhero.) A multiversal army of Doctor Sivanas attacks Earth-5, introducing an extra day of the week where they can exert their malevolent control and influence. It's fun, it's bright, it introduces concepts up the wazoo; there's seriously a delight to be found on almost every page here, like superhero smack talk referencing Thomas Kuhn. And I like what it says about the DC multiverse too: Captain Marvel will never shine on Earth-0 the way he does on his own Earth. So rather than try to cram him into a world that also contains a million other superheroes, here he gets to breathe and it is awesome. I would buy a series like this, so of course DC will never publish one.

None of the other worlds and stories are quite as good as this one, but they also show possibility: we have a pulp-based 1930s Earth, a ruled-by-Nazis Earth (with a surprisingly touching take on a fascist Superman), a Watchmen-esque realpolitik Earth, an Earth dominated by the descendants of the "original" heroes, a chibi Earth, multiple postapocalyptic Earths, a Jack Kirby Earth, and so on.

Morrison also builds on what was (like so much of DC's cosmology) an accident of publishing history. When introducing the new version of the Flash in 1956's Showcase #4, writer Robert Kanigher established that Barry Allen was inspired by reading about the original 1930s Jay Garrick Flash when he was a kid. But then when Gardner Fox wanted the two Flashes to meet in The Flash #123, he had to explain how Jay Garrick could both be from an alternate universe and be a fictional character. Easy! According to Fox, the Flash comics of Earth-1 were inspired by dreams... of what happened on Earth-2! Later writers went nuts with this idea, to the extent of having writers from our Earth (Earth-Prime) be transported to Earth-1.

This was all pared back with Crisis on Infinite Earths's destruction of all the other Earths, but now that the multiverse is back, Grant Morrison plays with this idea to its utmost: almost every issue in this book has the characters reading some comic book representing the happenings on another Earth. This perhaps reaches its greatest extreme when the chibi Batman of Earth-42 learns about the multiverse by reading a copy of the very comic book he is currently featuring in, a guidebook with a frame story about him reading the guidebook. Comic books thus become methods of sending messages across the multiverse, and Morrison doesn't commit to whether writers on Earth-33 (the new "Earth-Prime") merely record what happens on other Earths, or cause it to happen by the stories they choose to write.

Morrison also uses The Multiversity to present his take on superhero comics themselves. Nowhere does this come through more clearly than in the Ultra Comics one-shot. Ostensibly our Earth is the one without superheroes, but Ultra Comics shows how this isn't true, obviously doing a riff on Scott McCloud's concept of the cartoon from Understanding Comics; one character speaks directly to us: "Sure I'm just a pen and ink representation, but I'm real enough for you to hear my voice right inside your head, right? We can both agree you're interacting with a real, physical object." We can hear the characters and we feel like we are the characters, and thus if we're real, they're real. For McCloud, this is the whole reason for the success of the comics medium, our willingness to insert ourselves into the vacuum of these characters. Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke are just the conduits for the expression of the reality of these characters.

It does get all a bit There's a Monster at the End of This Book except that you're the monster at the end of this book-- not only are you the hero, but your reading of the book is what causes him to suffer. If you didn't read the book, nothing bad would ever happen!

This feeds into the last story, where a massive threat from beyond the multiverse attacks, kind of like Final Crisis over again but bigger. I didn't really get it, to be honest, but I suppose someday I'll give it another go and maybe it'll make more sense. But just as Ultra Comics shows some of the possibilities of the comics medium, so does this, but very negatively. Because on the last page we learn that kind of the whole reason the multiverse was attacked was so that Nix Uotan, last of the Monitors, could earn enough money to pay his rent. Which is obviously a commentary on superhero comics in general and this comic in particular. We're the villains of superhero comics, because our continuous need for more story means that their suffering will never end. This is something the President Superman of Earth-23 actually comes to realize himself-- and so his next target will be us!

DC Comics Crises: « Previous in sequence | Next in sequence »
  Stevil2001 | Jun 30, 2017 |
Poo. ( )
  deeronthecurve | Jan 19, 2017 |
2.5 stars, barely.

Overall, this is a mess. I'm not sure where the storyline was for most of the book, and felt like I was being ripped from one story to another related story without any explanation of what was going on or why.

A few of the stories made sense, and seemed like self-contained issues, but these were few and far between. Also, at no point did any of the "regular" heroes make an appearance. You'd think that if something was threatening the entire multiverse, Clark Kent/Superman and the rest of the "real" Justice League would be involved somehow.

I hinted at this for my review of [b:Convergence|25607370|Convergence|Jeff King|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1432687356s/25607370.jpg|45417110], but I'll make it more clear this time: DC needs to stay away from these Crisis-type events, focus on developing complex storylines for its core characters, and leave it at that. Enough with the massive crossovers! ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 31, 2016 |
Not a light read, or even one much rewarded by casual consumption. It's the kind of grand overview that demands considered attention, which I can't say I gave. I take it that it is an attempt to reweave the various versions to the DC universe into a coherent mythology. It was fun seeing how many of the divergent earths I recognized. But I'm not sure where the story winds up; is the horned figure at the end the same hand that recurs in Green Lantern as holding the original universe? In which case it is someone different than the benevolent prime mover we'd been lead to believe.

Having comics be self-conscious of their status has become something of a running theme in Grant Morrison's work (see, e.g., Flex Mentallo). A little bit of this metaphysics can be provocative, but in heaping doses it risks sucking all the fun out of the medium. ( )
  dono421846 | Apr 2, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grant Morrisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, JimIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Mahnke, DougIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Oliver, BenIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Prado, JoeIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Quitely, FrankIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Reis, IvanIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Sprouse, ChrisIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Stewart, CameronIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alamy, ChristianIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Champagne, KeithIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferreira, EberIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Glapion, JonathanIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hope, SandraIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Irwin, MarkIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mendoza, JaimeIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Siqueira, PauloIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Story, KarlIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
To, MarcusIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, ScottIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wong, WaldenIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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"The biggest adventure in DC's history is here! Join visionary writer Grant Morrison, today's most talented artists, and a cast of unforgettable heroes from 52 alternative Earths of the DC Multiverse! Prepare to meet the Vampire League of Earth-43, the Justice Riders of Earth-18, Superdemon, Doc Fate, the super-sons of Superman and Batman, the rampaging Retaliators of Earth-8, the Atomic Knights of Justice, Dino-Cop, Sister Miracle, Lady Quark, and the latest, greatest Super Hero of Earth-Prime: YOU! THE MULTIVERSITY is more than a multipart comic-book series. It's a cosmos spanning, soul-shaking experience that puts YOU on the frontline in the battle for all creation against the demonic destroyers known as the Gentry! Featuring artwork by Ivan Reis (JUSTICE LEAGUE), Frank Quitely (ALL-STAR SUPERMAN), Cameron Stewart (BATGIRL) and many others, THE MULTIVERSITY tells an epic tale that span 52 Earths. Collects THE MULTIVERSITY #1 and 2, THE MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK #1, and these MULTIVERSITY issues: THE SOCIETY OF SUPER-HEROES #1, THE JUST #1, PAX AMERICANA #1, THUNDERWORLD #1, MASTERMEN #1 and ULTRA COMICS #1"--… (more)

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