At a Warner Bros Burbank event to celebrate Grant Morrison’s work at DC (including Action Comics biscuits, right), he talked about the upcoming Multiversity series. And how it is intended to turn the reader into a superhero.
Oh balls, I’m just going to cut and paste and bold out some rather intriguing bits from MTV’s report…
Discussing the structure of “Multiversity” and its forty-page nine issue run, Morrison says the first and last issue, ostensibly bookends, act as an “80-page giant DC super-spectacular story, in between which we have seven comics, each of which come from a different parallel universe, so they all have a slightly different trade dress…a different storytelling approach…each one is drawn by a different artist.” Briefly discussing the history of the DC multiverse, wherein each alternate reality vibrates at a frequency slightly out of phase with the other earths, Morrison gushes over the idea of “comic book universes as music”, a concept he played with in Final Crisis. “When you hear them all together they make the most beautiful music you’ve ever heard, and you can choose whatever [music] you want that to be.”
Going back to the classic multiverse-introducing “Flash of Two Worlds”, wherein Barry Allen could read about Jay Garrick’s adventures in comic books, so too will that meta-structure return for “Multiversity” in order to highlight what Morrison calls “the most terrifying threat anyone’s ever created in a comic. I don’t do hyperbole,” he laughs, “BUT. This is the one. We’ve discovered, what I think, is actually a technology…it’s like hypnosis…this is a new thing we are doing” that will highlight the increasing threat over the course of each issue, as one world has to pass portents of doom along to the next. “Something is bringing down the structure of the multiverse.”
“Like I said, we have seven different books dealing with this,” he continues. The initial story will feature a multiversal Justice League, with Calvin Ellis, the black President Superman from Final Crisis and Action, as the protagonist. The second story will be a pulp adventure tale, using both old pulp characters and repurposed characters who could easily fit the mold, including an Indiana Jones by way of John Constantine “Doc” Fate. Also present will be Lady Blackhawk, the Atom and the Immortal Man in a story set in the year 2013 after a world war has decimated the human populace down to two billion people. Following that will be “The Just”, taking place on Earth-11, showcasing the return of the Super-Sons and the children of other superheroes. Surprisingly citing The Hills as an inspiration, the disaffected super-kids will be introduced in ways similar to that program, and the utopian world brought on by their parents will be echoed by their dull, meaningless, “shallow” conversational patterns. We’ll also see the remnants of a bored Justice League, filled with nearly-forgotten 90s characters with nothing to do but superhero/supervillain battle re-enactments. When asked who would be appearing, Kyle Rayner will be the Green Lantern featured in the book, but Guy Gardner will be present. Other 90s characters set to appear include Bloodpack, Bloodwynd, Anima, Walker Gabriel and, yes, Wally West, amidst a host of other legacy characters introduced in the era, hinting at appearances by Azrael and the “replacement” Supermen. Knowing that it would always come back to the most iconic versions of the characters, such as Bruce Wayne, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan, Morrison wanted to give these heroes “a world they did inherit, but they didn’t inherit anything” worthwhile.
Next up is “Pax Americana”, Morrison’s long-awaited take on the Charlton heroes, such as Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, that Alan Moore’s Watchmen was based on. His take on Watchmen itself, Morrison has altered that series’ famous nine-panel grid into an eight-panel grid for “Pax Americana” in order to drive home the concept of “the musical harmonics that kind of underpin the whole series. It’s all based on the number eight, which becomes really important.” He refers to the artwork as “beyond what most people in comics are doing”, claiming it’s the next stage in Frank Quitelty’s continued artistic evolution. He firmly believes it’s the “best thing” that he and Quitely have yet accomplished in the world of superhero comics. “Thunderworld” will be in an all-ages style and will immediately follow “Pax Americana”. After that, readers will be due for a trip to Earth-10 (formerly Earth X in the pre-Crisis world) home of the Nazi superheroes that helped defeat the Allies in World War II. The issue, which Morrison gleefully revealed “opens with Hitler on the toilet reading Action Comics” and yelling about Superman. Morrison reveals that in this world, Superman’s rocket landed in 1938 in Nazi-occupied territory and Hitler raises the child. Everything in the story (which Morrison compares in scope to Shakespeare and HBO epics) will evolve from that point, with Superman realizing, in his twenty-fifth year of life, the precise nature of Hitler’s evil and realizing “who the baddie is”. Deciding instead to take down the Nazi regime and create a utopia, Superman won’t stray too far from how he’s been raised, with Morrison promising sweeping Wagnerian architecture and a melodramatic world. He promises the story will delve deep into Superman’s inner conflict; he’s created a Utopian society that looks perfect but “is built on the bones of the dead” and has to come crumbling down. At this point in the story, in 1956, Morrison will re-introduce the Quality characters known collectively as The Freedom Fighters, this time making them both literal and figurative enemies of Hitler. Uncle Sam, the last remaining vestige of America, will again form and lead the team. Quoting Emma Lazarus (“Give me…your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”), Morrison teases a team featuring a version of Dollman who’s a Jehovah’s Witness, a homosexual Ray, a gypsy Phantom Lady and an African version of Black Condor in what Morrison calls “the return of the oppressed.” Thematically, the story will deal with a society under siege by terrorists who are in the right, and the regime they’re striking against knows it.
“Ultra Comics” will be a story set in the real world and involves the technology Morrison had mentioned earlier, which he refuses to talk about before the issue is released because “it will blow your mind. This comic will possess you. This comic is haunted, is all I’m going to say.” He promises to “make a superhero in front of” the reader in our own world. Morrison also promises a guidebook to the Multiverse will accompany the series, which he calls his magnum opus.
Once upon a time, Grant believed he could use the complexity of the DC Universe to literally make it a sentient being. Now he wants to make the reader into a superhero when they read it.
Don’t know about you but that’s one hell of a cover gimmick.