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.
Teased for years and finally launched this week, 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.
Three pages into the preview for The Multiversity #1, I knew I was going to have a lot to work with.
With no further ado, go get your erasers and your textbooks, close your laptops, sharpen your pencils, and get ready for some course notes. Let's go to school.
While at Comic Con, Grant Morrison dropped several enigmatic hints and subliminal messages to ComicsAlliance about his next mega-event, Multiversity, broke down the divisions between fictional universes, and even proclaimed that he thinks that he's made the world's first real superhero. He says things like that. Some people like him, many love him, and some people straight up hate him. With Multiversity starting up in August, you can be sure that there will soon be legions of detractors proclaiming that Morrison is the most overrated writer in comics, and nothing he's ever done has ever made any sense.
The release of DC's Doom Patrol Omnibus finally equips us to give these people the bludgeoning they deserve. (Metaphorical bludgeoning. ComicsAlliance does not condone actual bludgeoning.)
For years now, DC Comics fans have been hearing about writer Grant Morrison's The Multiversity -- a universe-jumping series of one-shot stories tied together by an introductory and concluding issue that tracks the cosmic monitor Nix Woton as he tries to save multiple universes from an existential threat. Universes that become aware of this threat by reading about it in comic books... comic books that, it turns out, take place in neighboring universes. We first saw artwork from Frank Quitely's installment all the way back in 2012, but the project has been in the works since even before the advent of DC's line-wide 2011 reboot, the New 52 (a name that has proven confusing in the past, but, we promise, never more so than in this interview).
Now it's finally starting next month, featuring auspicious collaborations with artists including Cameron Stewart, Ben Oliver, Chris Sprouse, Ivan Reis, Frank Quitely, and even more besides, introducing readers to a Vampire Batman, a Nazi Superman, a dinosaur cop, "Sister Miracle," an evil comic book called Ultra Comics, and tons of other ideas inspired by the deep history of DC Comics lore.
Okay, so there's good news and bad news. The good news is that ComiXology is having a massive sale on Batman comics, and has knocked a bunch of them down to 99¢ each, which means that you can grab some great stories on the cheap. The bad news? Since this whole thing is in honor of Batman's 75th anniversary, they've put 750 comics on sale, plus a handful of graphic novel collections. All things considered, that's a pretty good problem to have, but still, that can be pretty overwhelming.
Fortunately, we're here to help. As the World's Foremost Batmanologist, I've sifted through the sale to bring you safe bets for what you should be grabbing during the sale. Assuming you've got the obvious ones -- like The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One and the recent runs by Morrison, Snyder, and Capullo -- here's what to grab next!
Q: Why is DC One Million the best crossover ever? -- @SerialWordsmith
A: Whenever I'm asked about my favorite DC crossover, the one that I always go with is Invasion!, and I think there's a pretty good argument you can make. It's done in three oversized issues, so it's quick but still feels like an epic story since they're all 80-page giants, it has a great use of some often-neglected parts of DC's cosmic side, and there are pretty fantastic tie-ins from creators doing career-best work on books like Suicide Squad and Animal Man, and it really did add something interesting to the DC Universe.
Then someone mentions DC One Million and I realize that yeah, I'm wr-- I'm mista-- I'm misremembering things, because it's definitely the best. I mean, it's not just the best DC crossover, but it's probably the single best crossover in all of superhero comics.
Q: Supposedly it takes three pages to hook a reader before they drop off, so what are the best opening three pages in a comic? -- @shutupadiran
A: Huh. I don't think it's going to surprise anyone to find out that I'm a dude who thinks a lot about how comic books are structured and what you can do within that structure, but I've never heard that bit about the first three pages being where you have to hook the reader. It makes sense, though -- when you look at it, those first three pages, along with the cover, form a distinct storytelling unit, and it's the first thing you see when you pick up and pop open a comic.
Thinking back on comics that I love, there's a really distinct pattern there. I like stuff that builds to a big last page just fine, but the ones that I tend to rave about when those first issues hit always open up strong. It's like the first five seconds of a song. Some of them might build to a crescendo as they go along, but when you have something like the famous beat from "Be My Baby" or the opening harmonics from "I Get Around," you know instantly that you've got something.
True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto has claimed that Alan Moore Moore and Grant Morrison were the first writers to excite him about the possibilities of storytelling.
With everyone looking to solve the many remaining mysteries of True Detective, it’s tempting to ask: are comic books the key? Pizzolatto’s spectacular Moore crib aside, I’d go with with a big no. Ain’t nothing going to settle the debate around Carcosa let alone Marty Hart’s hot dating skills, but comics do represent a largely unexplored and appropriately strange route into the show. So without further ado here’s our by no means exhaustive guide to True Detective and weird comic books.
SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for True Detective, Top 10, From Hell and some of The Invisibles.
Grant Morrison is known for mind-bending dialogue and Rian Hughes is a designer often associated with logo design and fonts, but the two creators have teamed up for a completely word-free comic strip (aside from the title and credits) for BBC Magazine, titled The Key.
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