Sunday, 20 September 2015

A Look At...The Multiversity Part 2

Welcome back. I hope you don’t expect to find out how Superman’s multi-universal Justice League and the Retaliators fare against the corrupted Superjudge Nix Uotan because the main story won’t be the main story again until the Guidebook and even then that particular cliffhanger won’t be resolved until Multiversity #2, the final issue we’ll be looking at, so tough shit – you have to wait like we all did. The concept in-story (I think) is that because of the Gentry (and their boss) every Earth is experiencing a Crisis and six of the seven 1-shots (except Ultra Comics) shows us part of one of these crises, some of which have knock-on effects for the group trying to stop The Gentry. The Crisis for Earth-0 isn't gone into but I guess whatever the next big event after Convergence is will be the Crisis going on during The Multiversity.  

Conquerors of the Counter-World (The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes; Conquerors of the Counter-World)   
Let’s get pulp! Quick Summary: it’s Earth 20 and Immortal Man returns to New York and meets Doc Fate’s recruits for the Society of Super-Heroes: Lady Blackhawk and her Spice Girls team, Al Pratt - The Mighty Atom and current Green Lantern Abin Sur, during which The Atom reads Ultra Comics #1 and is chastised for doing so. The team has been brought together because an alternate Earth (Earth-40) is on a collision course with this one. It has been five years since then, since Vandal Savage led a raiding party team of exact opposites of the S.O.S. from Earth-40 and the final battle is here. Here being the Temple of Niczhuotan, and Atom is injured by Parallax and going into shock, Abin Sur appears to have died, while treating him Doc Fate tells him about the Monitors and the Gentry, who have come from behind the Source Wall to fill the void left by said Monitors. Then Blockbuster busts in and Atom springs back into Action. A delighted Vandal Savage looks forward to killing Immortal Man, but the Blackhawks shoot down their plane, as Lady Shiva fights them Felix faust and his zombies parachute down and break through so he can face Doc Fate, Faust claims to be a prophet for the Gentry, so Doc Fate kicks him in the balls. Atom kills Blockbuster, betraying his principals and they move through Doc Fate’s portal to his lab, outside Lady Shiva and Lady Blackhawk duel and Vandal Savage confronts The Immortal Man. Green Lantern returns to save Atom and Fate from Parallax, the Fear-Thing and they use it to power Fate’s version of the Transmatter Cube so they can contact and maybe even recruit other worlds’ heroes, Abin Sur has been ordered to investigate by the Guardians and goes. Lady Shiva is shot to death by the Blackhawks mid-monologue and Vandal Savage falls to Immortal Man, but it’s all good in Savage’s mind, immortal blood – any immortal bloody – completes his spell and summons Niczhuotan, his temple rises and Immortal Man calls S.O.S.

Honestly the only problem I have with this is the lack of sound effects – again we have characters talking about sounds that aren’t shown and they look like mad people, or that the letterer’s made a mistake, and it adds confusion that could be solved by some simple onomatopoeias. Otherwise I like everything going on here – Immortal Man’s pulp narration is spot-on for the genre, even the typeface is spot on, all the characters are pretty damn likable, I’m not mad on Felix Faust and Atom just wearing headgear and street clothes because I’m a bit sick of ‘street clothes’ style superhero costumes (and would like to point out the new Spider-Woman costume makes her look like she’s out for a jog, and that’s horrible) but it works for the pulpish style they’re going for. Chris Sprouce does the drawing and I fucking love that man’s art, clean, smooth, bold lines and a really nice style for faces, weirdly I first fell in love with his art on those few issues of Adventures of the New Men he did for Rob Liefeld (yeah, I know, right?), New Men might well’ve been the best of Extreme Studios’ output but that’s still pretty embarrassing. 

Yeah that thing about the Spice Girls?
Completely true.
But the best thing is how inclusive this new universe is, we have golden age characters, silver age characters, original characters, all thrown in together – we have Al Pratt using the symbol of Dr Manhattan fighting the post-Underworld Unleashed version of Blockbuster while healing from Parallax, an early 2000s retcon into the world of Green Lantern. We’ll see more of that, perhaps better examples of it really, in The Just but I love how nothing is taboo in Morrison’s new Multiverse, everything is worthy and nothing should be written off just because it came from an unpopular time or an unpopular series.

#earthme (Muliversity: The Just)
Very-Fucking-Unquick Summary: it’s Earth-16 and Sister Miracle is chatting via telepathy to her friend Megamorpho, she’s having a big party later but now the Atom’s in her blood stream fighting a Techo-Virus from space for her and she needs to think of something really sad to flood her Amygdala with hormones and kill ‘em off, then Megamorpho jumps of a roof – the Techno Virus dies. In Gotham Alexis Luthor is bored, discussing the reportedly haunted/cursed comic Ultra Comics #1 while Batman watches Superman’s robots stop an invasion form another reality – it was boring. They go to get down but Superman arrives and Alexis finds herself bundled into a closet. Superman wants he and Bats to investigate Megamorpho’s suicide as no one knows why she killed herself, Bats wants to distract Superman form noticing he was about to bone the daughter of his dad’s greatest enemy – he fails, Superman is annoyed. Alexis however is beyond annoyed, she is royally pissed – Batman is ditching her for Superman again and she’s banned from Sister Miracle’s party.
Batman calls Sister Miracle and she says she saw an image of a big scary lady in Megamorpho’s mind; Green Lantern meanwhile is talking to Offspring and looking at Ultra Comics #1, Offspring was Megamorpho’s boyfriend but is more interested in recommending the Essential Genocide Crossover where the Essential versions of Major Comics’ characters all just got wiped out. At Kon-El’s exhibition Alexis and Harlequin gossip, Kon-El’s turning Bizarro? He’s also painted images of ‘the Gray Lady’ (Dame Merciless) who came to him in a dream, she’s coming to a lot of people in their dreams.  In Nevada the Justice League’s re-enactment today is the Red Amazo Crisis but the robot has been tampered with and nearly kills Alpha Centurion and Wonder Woman, then Green Lantern freaks out about his girlfriend who was once stuffed into a fridge - weird. Batman threatens Offspring who finally breaks down and reveals that he and Megamorpho were reading comics right before she killed herself, Batman finds something odd about their copy of Ultra Comics #1. Meanwhile Superman is with Menta, who was asked to look into the last thoughts of the deceased, only to see the Gray Lady and get freaked out.
While Bloodwynd and Dr Mid-Nite do an autopsy and Arrowette begs her dad for some trick arrows and acts like a spoilt brat, Superman and Batman discuss the comics, only one of the publishers has an address in this world, Batman theorises they’ve bled through form other universes and people who read them become infected – like Megamorpho, and Alexis Luthor. Investigating the two figure it out just as Alexis strikes, she used Jakeem Thunder (Sister Miracle’s ex and also blacklisted for her party) to take control of the Superman robots. As the party rages and Batman fights for his and Superman’s life, Sister Miracle tweets about how great parallel worlds would be – she could meet another version of her.

Day in the life stories take a lot of text to recap, mystery stories take a lot of text to recap, this is both so I’m sorry for how long that was.
I like this story, few things make me happier than taking shots at arseholes - the idly rich, the terminally hip, the self-absorbed, the fashion-obsessed and people who pull duck face in selfies. Of course this book will be horrendously dated in 5 or so years, it’s one of the major problems with comic books (or any story) that pushes the ‘up to date with it’ side of the story (it’s one of the only flaws with Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel book), yes Twitter and Instagram are very popular now but one day they will go the way of MySpace and your work will look the exact opposite of what it was supposed it, it’ll look old fashioned and out of touch – and I will laugh, you fucking fad-following gits. So the Miley Cyrus references, the hash-tagging, will age poorly but as a middle finger to the sort of pricks most of the super-sons and daughters of Earth-Me have become should have a little longer a lasting appeal – the fine details might change but cunts like these will always be around to annoy us and so stories like this will always be needed.

Yeah this is a new version of the Super-Sons reality, which dates back a looong way, originally they were just Clark Kent Jr and Bruce Wayne Jr because at times the Superman and Batman books were horribly uncreative but now they’re Chris Kent and Damian Wayne, two rather new character and neither of whom I liked pre-New 52 (Chris doesn’t exist anymore, Damian does unfortunately) which segues nicely back into the comment about inclusiveness – we have a silver age idea updated with characters from the 1990s but then there’s Gypsy (an early 80’s character), Miss Martian, Batman and Superman (2000s) and right up to date characters like Sister Miracle and Alexis Luthor. Speaking of Alexis Luthor, Ben Oliver draws gorgeous women but none of them appeal to me as much Alexis Luthor does, I love bald girls, but bald girls who are fucked up and the odd one out? That’s me completely smitten. Plus she’s the person to actually do something about all these bored, disaffected spoilt superbrats and might actually make superheroes out ‘em, sure it's for petty reasons but I'm grabbing at straws to justify my lust, hush (I also quite like Menta, she always comically misses the point but she was kind of adorable). 

There is one issue; the Tramatter Cube just turns up from one panel to the next when Supes and Bats are investigating Alexis’ house, it could have just appeared out of nowhere (I’m convinced these Transmatter cubes are somehow linked to the Fourth World’s Mother Box technology, and I’m pretty sure Mother Boxes can just appear) but WITHOUT ANY SOUND AFFECTS I can’t tell, so I’m just going to assume Ben Oliver forgot to draw it in panel 3:
You may notice a very important, plot relevant,
Transmatter Cube missing from the top panel
So yeah, in conclusion two very strong issues to make up for that confusing, hard to read wall of Ivan Reis that was Multiversity 1 and Morrison did a good job of giving each issue a point in the overall story – Society gave us the origin of the Gentlemen and Just a better look into the Comics as warnings side of things.

Next time: fuck all happens on Charlton-Watchmen Earth, further proof that Shazam is fantastic and chibi Batman and Kamandi read the comic they’re in – meta!

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