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the multiversity

The Multiversity Annotations, Part 7: Mastermen – “You Can Ram Your Siegfried Where The Sun Don’t Shine.”

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The seventh issue of Grant Morrison's Multiversity, Mastermen, chronicles the story of Earth-10 (the pre-Crisis Earth-X), a world where the Nazis conquered America and won World War II and the Endless Reich is ruled by Overman, who's built a utopia on Hitler's massacres and doesn't feel very good about that fact.

We first met this version of the character in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, when he was one of the Supermen on the Ultima Thule who traveled with Superman, Ultraman, Earth-5's Captain Marvel and the rest of the gang to try to stop Mandrakk/Dax Novu from destroying the multiverse, and all of the Monitors.

This issue is drawn by DC co-publisher Jim Lee, with inks by Scott Williams (and an assisting crew), and colors by Alex Sinclair (with assistance from Jeromy Cox).

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The Multiversity Annotations, Part 6: The Guidebook – ‘What Great Hand Casts the Lightning and Remakes the World?’

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The sixth issue of the series, Guidebook, while certainly the D&D-style sourcebook of the event and a guide to Morrison's vision of the DC multiverse, is also a necessary section of the overall story, answering many questions and asking others, as well as providing the introduction of the Empty Hand, the series' true villain and master of the monstrous Gentry.

It's structured as stories within stories --- Marcus To draws a segment with Li'l Batman and Atomic Batman on Earth-42, while Paulo Siqueira illustrates the New Gods, Kamandi and the history of the DC Multiverse in an intercut sequence taking place on Earth-51. Both of these stories intersect with pages from the Guidebook itself, designed by Rian Hughes with illustrations by a large number of artists.

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The Multiversity Annotations, Part 5: Thunderworld Adventures – “Just Clever Enough.”

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The fourth issue of Multiversity, Thunderworld Adventures, with art by Cameron Stewart, colors by Nathan Fairbairn and letters by Steve Wands, was initially described by Morrison as taking the All Star Superman approach to Captain Marvel. Set on Earth-5 — previously Earth-S in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Multiverse — it's far more evocative of the original Fawcett Comics incarnations of these characters than any versions that have been in the DC Universe since.

Lighthearted and fun, with gorgeous art by Stewart and Fairbairn and a lettering style from Wands evocative of the neo-C.C. Beck take Jeff Smith took in his recent Monster Society of Evil prestige miniseries, it's the anti-Pax Americana in tone, subject matter and symbolism, while maintaining a consistency of message and intent.

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

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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*ck You Up, Your Mum And Dad’

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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’

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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 Multiversity Annotations, Part 1: This Review Is In The Form of a Live Dissection

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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.

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Bizarro Back Issues: Kamandi Fights For The Mob! (1979)

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This week sees the start of DC Comics' big The Multiversity event series, and if the related books on sale over at ComiXology -- ostensibly to get everyone up to speed -- are anything to go by, then that thing's going to be chock full of weirdos. Seriously, I already knew they were going to be throwing Captain Carrot in there, and for some reason people can't get enough of that one story where Batman becomes a Dracula, but there are some deep cuts in there, like that one Chuck Dixon comic where the Justice League are all cowboys, and this weird thing from the '90s called Kingdom Come, where Superman fights Cable.

And then there's Kamandi.

But should Kamandi start crossing over into the main DC Universe, it won't be the first time. For that, you have to go back to Bob Haney and Jim Aparo's Brave and the Bold #157, for a story where Kamandi was sent back in time, and ended up being brainwashed, made invulnerable, poisoned with snake venom, joining up with the mob and punching Batman in the face. It... It's a weird one.

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