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The Multiversity Annotations, Part 4: Pax Americana – ‘Not The Peace of the Grave or the Security of the Slave’


The fourth issue of the series, Pax Americana with art by Frank Quitely, colors by Nathan Fairbairn and letters by Rob Leigh, is probably the most widely anticipated of the series, and certainly the most-hyped. It's Morrison's attempt to update and revise the structure of Watchmen, but applied to the original Charlton characters, as that Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons work was originally intended to in its first pitch. While Watchmen followed a strict nine-panel grid structure (some panels would be bisected or extended, but that was the general latticework on which everything hung), Pax Americana goes for eight, resembling not only harmonic octaves of music and colors of the rainbow that make up much of the multiversal structure Morrison is working with but also the "Algorithm 8" that allows President Harley to perceive the underpinning structure of the universe and use it to his advantage. That algorithm is, of course, the eight-panel grid (and the 8-shape made by one's eyes while reading the page) that forms the comic book universe he lives in.

The book moves backwards in eight color-coded sections, which I'll denote, that correspond to the evolutionary stages of humanity/a single person espoused by Don Beck and Chris Cowan's spiral dynamics, or, more specifically, Ken Wilber's later integral theory, which incorporated it. I'd never heard of it before this book, and from all research I've done there's a reason for that; it seems to be widely accepted as bunk pseudoscience by any academic institution, which makes it a perfect evolution of the original Question and Rorschach's stark black-and-white Randian Objectivism, while also tying into not only Pax's obsession with the number eight but its role in the Multiversity series as a whole, both due to the nature of music in octaves which makes up the structure of the DC multiverse as well as the colors of the rainbow that form the Source Wall.

This is a long one, so with no further ado...

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The Multiversity Annotations, Part 3: The Just – ‘They F— You Up, Your Mum And Dad’


Teased for years and finally launched in 2014, The Multiversity is a universe-jumping series of DC Comics one-shots tracking the cosmic monitor Nix Uotan and an assemblage of star-crossed heroes as they attempt to save 52 universes and beyond from a trippy cosmic existential threat that, like much of Morrison’s best work, represents something far more mundane and relatable. Tying back into the very first Multiverse story in DC’s history, the heroes of these universes become aware of this threat by reading about it in comic books… comic books that, it turns out, take place in neighboring universes. Indeed, writer Grant Morrison continues his streak of highly metatextual DC cosmic epics with this eight-issue mega-series (plus one Tolkienesque guidebook).

Described by Morrison as “the ultimate statement of what DC is”, The Multiversity naturally offers the reader much beyond the surface level adventure, and that means annotations. Rather than merely filling out checklists of references, my hope with this feature is to slowly unearth and extrapolate a narrative model for Morrison and his collaborators’ work on The Multiversity; an interconnecting web of themes and cause and effect that works both on literal and symbolic levels.

We’ll be focusing here on the third issue of the maxiseries, The Just, written by Morrison with artwork by Ben Oliver and color assistance from Dan Brown (the excellent colorist, not the literary hack).

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The Multiversity Annotations, Part 2: The Society of Super-Heroes – ‘The First Thing I Made Was A Weapon’


We'll be focusing here on the second issue of the maxiseries, the unwieldily titled The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World, written by Grant Morrison with pencils by Tom Strong's Chris Sprouse, inks by Karl Story and Walden Wong, and gorgeous colors by Dave McCaig.

I'll admit here from the beginning that while I can talk about this series' relationship to the DC Universe and Morrison's oeuvre, I'm close to clueless about the vagaries of early 20th century pulp fiction and would be incredibly interested in hearing from more learned readers whatever I've missed from that angle. That said, there's still a great deal of meat to dig into in this issue, which serves as a sort of conceptual counterpoint to Final Crisis's opening scene, showing us the end of Anthro and Vandal Savage's 40,000-year feud.

So, with no further ado...

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The Annotated ‘My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic’ Volume One


It's not really surprising that Katie Cook and Andy Price's My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic comic from IDW is a pretty great read. Not only does it have two great creators behind it, but it's managed to perfectly capture the feel of the show and the sense of humor that made it such a crossover hit...

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Annotations: ‘Batman Incorporated’ #1


Well, we're back. (I realize I never got to the Leviathan Strikes oneshot, and I swear on the graves of Thomas and Martha Wayne I'll get to it soon enough.)

But it's a new #1 issue, in a New 52, and there are new readers, so let's sit back and absorb the 22 (...

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Batman Incorporated #7-8: The Wild West and Digital Frontier [Annotations]


After a long hiatus, we're back with more detailed annotations of Grant Morrison's epic Batman Incorporated! In this installment, we'll take a look at #7 and #8, the former a Western adventure featuring Chief Man-of-Bats and Raven Red, and the later a high-tech videogame-inspired digital romp featuring Oracle...

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FF #3 and FF #4: The War Begins [Annotations]


Welcome back to our (admittedly delayed) annotations of Jonathan Hickman's hugely successful run on FF, formerly Fantastic Four! Chris Eckert of Funnybook Babylon and Savage Critics and I have been taking a look at every issue to provide annotations for readers that explore the book's connections with the rest of Hickman's work and the run's influences from all over the Marvel Universe...

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‘Batman Incorporated’ #4: Ring Around the World [Annotations]


Our Batman Incorporated annotations are back, this time taking a look at the incredibly dense and referential fourth issue. Not only does this issue feature writer Grant Morrison's new origin of the original Golden Age Batwoman, an appearance by the new Batwoman, and stunning art from Chris Burnham with coloring from Nathan Fairbairn, but it also inspired a new crazy theory on my part...

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Batman, Inc. #2 Annotations: RESURRECTOR!


Welcome back for the second installment of ComicsAlliance's annotations of Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's criminally fun Batman, Inc. This issue we'll see hints at the origin of Lord Death Man, the fate of Mr...

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A Christmas Gift To You: The Full ‘Santa Claus vs. the Martians’ #1 Comic


Benito Cereno, James Harren and Ed Brisson's Santa Claus vs. The Martians is a book I've been looking forward to ever since it was first announced. In fact, I even interviewed Santa Claus himself (along with Cereno) about it back in September...

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