(DC Comics, 2014)
Written by Grant Morrison
Pencils by Chris Sprouse
Inks by Walden Wong
Color Artwork by Dave McCaig
The Multiversity: Society of Super Heroes #1: Conquerors from the Counter World
The second installment in Grant Morrison’s wildly imaginative epic journey in the Multiverse of the DCU is as entertaining and exciting as comic books get. The tone is set for larger than life adventure before we even lay eyes on the first page of this issue; from the dime store pulp novel inspired cover, stunningly designed and executed by Chris Sprouse and Dave McCaig, we are promised excitement of the most pulse pounding variety and that is exactly what Morrison and penciller Chris Sprouse deliver but there is so much more as there always is in a Grant Morrison work.
In this issue, Morrison focuses on the Multiversal Earths 20 and 40. These parallel worlds are at war, one headed by the violent leader Vandal Savage, the other by a somewhat familiar looking Doctor Fate is an Earth very much influenced by magic and the ethereal arts. Morrison does a magnificent job of populating these worlds with the heroic and not-so heroic figures from all corners and eras of the DCU, in doing so he offers us a glimpse of what might have been while maintaining the wonder of what could be; for instance, the Green Lantern of the Earth led by Doctor Fate, or “Doc” as he likes to be called, is all but unrecognizable with a decidedly demonic visage. This Abin Sur, who quite obviously has not died in a crash hence he has not passed his ring onto this world’s Hal Jordon, sports a caped uniform of red and green more reminiscent of the Martian Manhunter’s attire than that of a member of the Corps. The brilliance of Morrison is deeply rooted in the depths of his understanding and respect of DC continuity and history, this allows him to meld the elements and characters of the past with the most recent and innovative aspects of the New 52 thus creating a world that is familiar and welcoming yet unexplored, vibrant and brand new.
Perhaps the most intriguing interaction in this issue is the relationship between Immortal Man and Al Pratt aka The Mighty Atom. Morrison immediately creates an uneasy feeling that surrounds the meeting of these two integral characters; Pratt is very much the enthralled fanboy while Immortal Man is the seasoned worlds weary traveler and adventurer; both men are intense, intelligent, key players in this drama providing an early catalyst that helps the plot unfold with surgical procession. This chapter is paced a bit more briskly than the set up issue of the series due in no small part to the amount of heart-racing action at the core of the narrative; each page is packed to overflowing with dynamic panels depicting the exciting imagery of Chris Sprouse’s stunning pencils. Sprouse does an incredible job of rendering Morrison’s narrative bringing the entire operatic epic to vivacious, cinematic life. Morrison has a track record of working with the best and brightest artists in the business and this is no exception. The entire team responsible for the gorgeous visuals on this book from the eye popping pencils of Sprouse, the vibrant, electrified colors of Dave McCaig to the precise, bold inking of Karl Story and Walden Wong are top notch and the collaborative result is perfection, panel after panel, page after page.
The force of the energy created by Sprouse and McCaig propel the narrative from the cover to the final page leaving you wanting more of this brand of kinetic, entertaining storytelling. The artists excel at juxtaposing the two Earths of this issue; one a gleaming magical place, the other raw and dangerous, untouched by civility or technology. These differences are not only reflected in the images but in the colors used by McCaig and the line work of Wong and Story. This book is a collaborative triumph in the truest sense. There is no weak link in this chain, from the genius of Morrison’s story to the jaw-dropping visuals of the art team this book is a knock out- slam dunk-home run-touchdown-add your own sports related metaphor here. This is just great page turning storytelling at its absolute best and it is entertaining as hell.
The beauty of The Multiversity has been in its relative simplicity in dealing with an extremely complex concept. Morrison has taken a pretty straight forward approach thus far, by employing various Silver Age components he has created a richly diverse and multi-faceted landscape upon which to base this ambitious narrative. Grand in both scale and scope The Multiversity is a super hero drama written across time and dimensions full of colorful characters, witty dialog and exhilarating action, everything we love about these sequential art dramas called comic books. The alternate Earth concept is by no means a new idea or ground breakingly inventive but in the hands of Grant Morrison all things become new. If you haven’t already done so months ago, do yourself a major favor and add The Multiversity to your pull list. This is already shaping up to be the ride of a lifetime, don’t miss it. (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.