I have to admit that coming into The Multiversity #1, I had no expectations nor even an iota of what the story was going to be about. I later did my research and found out that this storyline has been in development by Grant Morrison since 2009. The rich history of the DC universe is often confusing to people, something with which I can empathize. Earlier this year, I started diving head-first into DC after almost 20 years of not collecting comics. In college, my comic book shop attendance waned, and I generally kept up with DC in the movies. If something piqued my interest, I would do some background research on it and play a little catch up. Nothing prepared me for The Multiversity #1. The story isn’t confusing and is actually quite fun. But it’s the explanation of why the Multiverse exists that certainly took me for a ride.
A Little History
After the events of 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Multiverse consisted of five universes integrated into one. In The Kingdom (1998 – 1999), Grant Morrison and Mark Waid introduced the idea of Hypertime — a concept that allowed histories that existed before Crisis on Infinite Earths and current DC histories to exist somewhere. This was their “band-aid” for any discrepancies and continuity inconsistencies.
Are you confused yet? Here are some more balls to juggle. Right before a new event, Infinite Crisis (2005 – 2006), started, executive editor Dan DiDio made another change, deciding that Hypertime didn’t exist anymore. As Infinite Crisis began, survivors from the Crisis on Infinite Earths event (Earth-Three’s Alexander Luthor Jr., Earth-Prime’s Superboy-Prime, and Earth-Two’s Kal-L) attempted to create a perfect world by restoring, destroying, and combining universes that had existed before the Multiverse. They failed due to the intervention of the universe’s heroes, but DC’s universe continuity was again altered.
From 2006 to 2007, a new series was introduced: 52. This series revealed that the Multiverse still existed, and was in the form of 52 alternate universes. From 2007 – 2008, the follow-up series to 52 began: Countdown to Final Crisis. If you think that this is over, guess again. Countdown to Final Crisis led into Final Crisis (2008 – 2009), where a new Superman from Earth-23 named Calvin Ellis, who is also President of the United States, had to defeat a rogue Monitor (a being who is part of a race of Multiverse watchers), Mandrakk. DiDio described Final Crisis as the third part of a trilogy about the Multiverse crisis: “The death of the Multiverse, the rebirth of the Multiverse, and now the ultimate story of the Multiverse.” At this time, Morrison was already underway working on The Multiversity project, and intended to publish it in 2010.
Fast forward to 2011, when Morisson still hadn’t published The Multiversity, and DC Comics announced that they were canceling their entire line of publications after Flashpoint. In August of 2011, The New 52 was introduced with (mostly) all new histories and origin stories for DC’s characters. At the conclusion of Flashpoint #5 in September of 2011, Wildstorm, Vertigo, and DC universes were merged into one Prime Earth. DiDio went on to clarify that the Multiverse still existed and any changes would be addressed in Morrison’s upcoming The Multiversity.
Even though Morrison gave a new publication timeframe of 2012 for The Multiversity, the series would miss that date and go on to miss another planned date of late 2013. It’s not a surprise as to why this series has had so many delays. It is said to be one of the most ambitious world-building endeavors DC has ever undertaken. From DC Comics’ site, The Multiversity series will contain the following:
Comprising six complete adventures – each set in a different parallel universe – plus a two-part framing story and a comprehensive guidebook to the many worlds of the Multiverse, THE MULTIVERSITY is more than just a multipart comic-book series. It’s a cosmos spanning, soul-shaking experience that puts YOU on the frontline in the Battle for All Creation against the demonic destroyers known as the Gentry!
Prior to this week’s release, the DC Fan Blog has already released an interactive Multiverse map and a YouTube video explaining the various worlds (visit the DC Fan Blog for the interactive map).
It’s completely understandable why the map looks like a a tie-dye T-shirt on an acid trip. The various Earths and spheres are enough to make your brain leak out of your ears. This type of world-building is what DC should be taking advantage of in their quest of creating a cinematic and television universe. But enough of that. Now, onto a …
Spoiler-Free Review of The Multiversity #1 House of Heroes
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Todd Klein
This issue is fun, fun, fun! Grant Morrison basically makes you the god of this whole new “crisis” — can we call it that? With great art and an introduction that throws you right into the action, we see that Earth-23’s Superman is transported onto a Multiverse base filled with superheroes from various universes. He’s quickly befriended by a wise-cracking super-rabbit who gives him, and us, a quick exposition of what’s going on. The characters we do meet, due to their iconic outfits, can be quickly mapped to the heroes we’re familiar with on Earth-0. It’s sometimes humorous and entertaining to see how the writers put a twist on these parallel beings.
Reading further, I couldn’t help but notice how self-aware this comic is. Their version of the Flash, Red Racer, is another conduit for the reader to experience through. Declaring himself a fanboy, Red Racer makes light of the non-fans that us avid readers have to contend with in the real world — the basic explaining of the differences between DC and Marvel. Even when facing off with a villain on Earth-8 (I’ll let you experience this for yourself), you can quickly see what they’re parodying, or maybe paying an homage to. I’m not sure, but the genius is in Morrison letting the reader decide.
Ivan Reis’s art is certainly action-filled, but clean. There was not one page where he just suddenly goes weak — meaning the art just trails, letting the reader guess as to what’s actually going on. Every detail is seen, but without overwhelming the reader. Some may not consider this to be part of the art, but after reading quite a few comics for the past few months, I can certainly appreciate a good letterer. The dialogue is presented cleanly and there is no guessing as to who is speaking or where sounds are coming from. Todd Klein’s talents really shine here. No frills, just meat-and-potatoes strong lettering.
After reading this fast-paced exciting issue, I’m very much ready for September’s one-shot follow-up — Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1. This unexpected delight for August has motivated me to pick up a new series. I’m also certainly keeping my eyes peeled for Morrison’s guidebook that details out the Multiverse. This is a definite read and a definite mind-bender for new and seasoned readers!