Comics and Cosplay
Review: DC Superheroes Tread Water in The Multiversity #1

Marshall Lemon | 22 Aug 2014 20:15
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That's where the real joy of Multiversity's first issue comes from: Flipping from page to page and seeing impossible characters alongside each other. President Superman and Captain Carrot end up taking center stage here, just by simple virtue of being the most interesting-yet-bizarre combination of the bunch. But there's many more references careful readers will pick up on. Earth 7 and 8 look suspiciously like the Marvel Universe. Thunderer is an Australian Aboriginal reimagining of Thor. Classic characters like Lolt Volt and Lady Quark can both be seen on the Monitor Watchstation, and there's even miniature versions of Wonder Woman and Steel that I really want to know more about.

Trouble is, even though there's so many characters packed together, they don't actually do anything. Multiversity #1 is the first of a two-part bookend storyline giving a big picture view of the pan-dimensional threat, with other issues focusing on specific parallel Earths. So instead of having a clear beginning, middle, and end, Multiversity #1 introduces all the major series concepts but leaves the climactic payoff for Multiversity #2. That gives us a massive team of heroes and a wide range of impressive powers who just stand around talking backstory. Actual conflicts are constantly threatening to break out, but only two punches are thrown in the entire issue, and not between actual heroes and villains. The closest we get to a climax is a standoff between the heroes and a Doctor Doom-esque enemy, but that resolves itself with no help from the Multiversity. If DC had permission to use actual Marvel and Image characters, the extra novelty might have been worthwhile. Instead we have a bunch of flashy costumes posing and talking about how this mission is oh-so-terribly dangerous.

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To Multversity's credit, some of the concepts it introduces should prove interesting later on. The biggest example is that in each universe, comic books are actually true stories of what's happening to other heroes in a parallel dimension. It's a great extension of the meta-concepts Morrison has toyed with in previous series, and it also works narratively; the Multiversity is already aware of the histories of individual members and doesn't need much in the way of introductions. It also gives meaning to the fact that Earth-Prime, which Morrison has stated is our own world, will become a key focal point for the conflict in future issues.

But as a single issue, Multiversity #1 is the first act of a story and nothing more. I have high hopes that the standalone specials will be more cohesive, and it's entertaining to spot some familiar faces. Until Multiversity #2, this is just a preamble instead of the standalone story that was advertised.

Bottom Line: As a series, Multiversity could be an engaging and higly imaginative mega-crisis event. But as a standalone chapter, the first issue throws a dozen new concepts at the reader while offering a payoffs. It's great fun to see how many outlandish characters Grant Morrison fits in a single book, but we need another few issues to see how everything will fit together.

Recommendation: If you enjoy hunting through each panel for obscure references, get Multiversity #1 today. But if you're looking for cohesive stories in the DC multiverse, you should read the upcoming specials first, then return here to catch up.

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