(DC Comics, 2014)
Written by Grant Morrison
Pencils by Ivan Reis
Inks by Joe Prado
Color Artwork by Nei Ruffino
I awoke this Wednesday and like all Wednesdays prior to this one I was excited at the prospect of all the new comic books that my subscription box at Universal Comics would be filled with, however there was something more to this day, yes this day was different, special in a way that not even Christmas, birthdays or the final day of an extensive prison sentence can equal. Sure those days all offer the potential of great excitement but they do not have what this day has, Grant Morrison. That’s right my friends Grant Morrison has returned with his incomparable, epic, universe spanning storytelling to bend the mind and expand consciousness of long time readers and newcomers alike. This day now held the exciting potential of infinite possibilities. Welcome to the Cosmic Neighborhood Watch.
Although the wait has been excruciating, offset only by the anticipation, it is at last finally over and The Multiversity has been opened to us. Those of us who count ourselves among the Morrison faithful have been acquainted with the brilliant writer’s metaphysical take on the nature of the DC Multiverse for quite some time now; in fact many of these concepts are evident as far back as his work during the Vertigo era at DC in the 80’s, particularly Animal Man, however these ideas have grown and evolved over the years through his work on such characters as Superman, Flash and especially Batman. Now the full picture can be brought into clear focus as only Morrison can bring it; for the indoctrinated Morrisonite that is a journey he has well equipped us to take with years of exposition of the esoteric and occult elements found within the DC Multiverse. Grant Morrison is a master of continuity, he has an understanding and a grasp of events in the DCU from its inception up to and including the New 52, it is catalogued in his brain like a computer data base of comic book history but he is a student of that same history as well. With all of this limitless knowledge the thing that makes Grant Morrison the greatest comic book writer of all time is his love and respect for the medium, within the body that sustains the mind containing the ultimate fount of comic book knowledge beats the heart of a true fan.
The first issue begins with Nix Uotan, the sole surviving Monitor from Morrison’s superbly intricate Final Crisis, which is perhaps where he began to explore the Multiverse in earnest. Uotan is but one of many characters who will accompany us on our journey into the various worlds of the Multiversity, the narrative is constructed in such a way that we, the readers are very much a part of the action as it unfolds. Morrison speaks to us, sometimes quite literally through the pages and panels as the plot unfolds in that slow meticulous fashion that the Scottish scribe is so known for. The story begins as a rather straight forward super-hero adventure albeit on an epic scale but undergoes several transitions along the way. This may be perplexing, even confusing as you are reading but by the end of the first issue you will not only find that you are completely clear as to what is taking place but that you are entertained beyond your wildest expectations or for long time Morrison readers it is exactly what we expected. As with any of Morrison’s work there is a degree of effort or due diligence expected of the reader but if you go that extra mile you will find the rewards vastly outweigh the labors.
The majority of this first issue features President Superman of Earth-23; he is accompanied by Captain Carrot who provides the books light hearted comedic moments. Captain Carrot is, as talking animal sidekicks go, endearing on the level of Rocket Raccoon but far less homicidal. The issue winds up on the very Marvel feeling Earth-8, there’s the Doctor Doom inspired Lord Havok, the Hulk doppelganger in blue called the Behemoth and a group of heroes with an uncanny likeness to the Avengers known as the Retaliators. This may sound like simple parody but Morrison crafts these scenes with an intelligent sense of satire and a razor sharp wit that propels the plot while offering some deeply considered insight into the nature of both the DCU and Marvel Universes. The fact that Superman of Earth-23’s other identity is a secret but his “real” life is a published monthly comic book speaks volumes to intricacies Morrison has woven into this complex and unprecedented undertaking. There are many other examples of this kind of painstaking detail throughout the issue that really drive home the fact that this is not taking place in the New 52 and that’s okay because wherever this is we are having a blast. There are new faces and new twists on old characters both good and evil that add to the imaginative and refreshing experience of discovering so many new avenues and creations. This is an adventure of the imagination and our tour guide is the Wonka of comic book writers so don’t be afraid to take it all in and enjoy the trip.
Ivan Reis is first of a roster of fantastic artists that will be lending their substantial talents to this ground-breaking endeavor. His work is amazing and I am a huge fan of his, I have been since his mind-blowing run on Green Lantern with Geoff Johns, not to mention his phenomenal work on Batman. Ivan has brought his indelible touch to the DCU and treated us to some of the most eye-popping images to come along in recent times. His contribution to The Multiversity is epic in scope and execution. Reis’ renderings of Morrison’s literally out of this world imagery is spot on, the alien biology and exaggerated anatomy required to bring these images to life are done to perfection. The penciler’s delicate line work is enhanced by the strong, clean inking of Joe Prado and brought vividly to life with the electric colors of Nei Ruffino’s intense palette. This is truly a creative super group, there is not one area lacking in the slightest.
Grant Morrison delivers everything you could hope for and more in The Multiversity #1. He melds super hero tropes with esoteric and metaphysical elements on a scale previously unheard of. The heart-racing action is layered into a complex tapestry of high science fiction, theoretical science and intelligent humor. It is a rich, lush story full of endless treasures sure to keep you reading and re-reading your copy until it’s a dog-eared vg- at best. Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Nei Ruffino do a stunning job collaboratively bringing Morrison’s words to vivacious life. There is an infectious electricity to the entire work that will leave you clamoring for more; in fact my only complaint with this book is that it isn’t a double sized issue. (5+/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.