The Multiversity involved DC turning writer Grant Morrison loose on its reborn multiverse of alternate Earths.
The Multiversity featured a linked series of specials (with bookend issues tying together the whole thing) that explored the various “parallel” worlds that DC had brought back onto the table after years of leaving that concept in mothballs. The story featured Nix Uotan, the last Monitor (the guardians of the multiverse), who stumbled onto a plot for a cross-dimensional invasion. Before becoming a victim of the villains, Nix pulled together heroes from a variety of alternate Earths, including a black Superman and Captain Carrot. The action shifted to a number of different Earths, where information was transmitted from one dimension to another via comic book stories and a supposedly “cursed” comic book turned up again and again. Variants of Doctor Sivana were prime movers in the plot, which ended with a large force of heroes from across the multiverse uniting to fight the danger to all their worlds.
Along the way, The Multiversity stopped on a variety of worlds.
In Society of Super-Heroes, Doc Fate led a band of pulp-inspired adventurers against an invading force from another world led by Vandal Savage.
The Just took place on “Earth Me,” where peace reigned, leaving the older heroes to re-create old battles while their children were spoiled celebrities.
In Pax Americana, updated versions of the old Charlton heroes were embroiled in a political conspiracy going back decades.
Thunderworld Adventures found Captain Marvel and his allies fighting Sivana, who had discovered the existence of multiple realities and invaded the Rock of Eternity as part of a complex cross-dimensional plot.
The Multiversity Guidebook provided info on various Earths and included vignettes that helped tie together the various standalone specials.
Mastermen took place on an Earth where Superman had landed in Nazi Germany and helped the Third Reich rule the world for decades, until Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters opposed him (with covert help from one of the Sivanas).
Ultra Comics was the “cursed” comic that popped up across these stories, featuring a meta-hero called “Ultra Comics,” created on our own Earth as a trap for the heroes of the Multiverse.
The Multiversity was Grant Morrison reveling in his love of narrative experimentation and penchant for recasting discarded bits of DC mythology in new, often surprising, directions. The overarching meta-story, directly implicating the reader in the action, was a tricky maneuver to pull off. There are lots of ideas at work in the story and at times, Morrison directly incorporates reader engagement into the plot. That kind of self-referential approach can be a problem in less assured hands, but Morrison mostly pulls it off.
Morrison’s ideas for the various worlds are quite intriguing. He has a lot of fun twisting familiar characters and concepts in a variety of ways. He incorporates a lot of the various directions and styles DC has worked over the years, making the concept of each story (and stories in general) central to the overall story. Some fans might not want to engage in the close reading this approach demands. But even for more casual fans, the individual installments are lively, featuring strong characterization and intriguing action.
The Multiversity boasts an A-list line-up of artistic talent. Across the various issues, big names Ivan Reis, Chris Sprouse, Ben Oliver, Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart, Jim Lee and Doug Mahnke (among others) take on various chapters. That’s a wide range of styles and approaches, but each artist is well paired with their part of the story and does beautiful work. With a team of top-flight inkers, colorists and letterers, The Multiversity is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The amount of talent on the page is really quite stunning, resulting in imaginative visual explorations of the multiverse. The artists meet Morrison’s challenge and come up with some clever, sophisticated work, often riffing on classic DC stories and motifs. It’s an amazing collection of the best art that DC has to offer.
The Multiversity won’t be to every reader’s taste, but for those willing to go along with Morrison’s quirky approach, it’s a textured, compelling work that demands to be read multiple times.
Originally published at thunderalleybcpcom.ipage.com on January 21, 2016.