The Multiversity – Grant Morrison
w/ artists – Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Jim Lee, Doug Mahnke, Frank Quietly, Chris Sprouse, Ben Oliver, and Cameron Stewart.
This one’s for Noah. You see the hardest part of selling comics is that every once and awhile there comes a tome of epic brilliance, packed with ideas and concepts that when the salesperson tries to explain it to a customer it might come off a little insane, or just flat out intimidating. So the customer retreats and the salesperson collapses in tears and a brilliant story gets overlooked all because they really wanted to get you into the best read in ages, but due to it’s complexity, it’s, well, it’s sometimes a rather hard sale. And that can be really disappointing, especially with a book like The Multiversity, which its endless accolades and critical praise could not out shine what seems like an impenetrable read. For there are some comics that are just crap, and no matter how popular they are, they will ultimately be forgotten. Then there are good comics, some get remembered, some get forgotten, but rarely does just a “good” comic get mentioned in university lectures. Then there are the literary canon of comic book titles that will be held up like holy relics and last beyond any concepts of time and place. Such as Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns, which will always be top reads as they not only capture the very essence and era of the deconstructionist movement, but also push the medium at every angle and direction, pushing the medium to its very best efforts.
The Multiversity is a book like this. It will be talked about over and over again, as time progresses; I am willing to bet money that in 40 years this book will be discussed in the same reverent tones as Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns. Where those two books were at the beginning of the realist, deconstructionist, and ultimately dark atmosphere of graphic storytelling that has pretty much dominated the industry for 30+ years, The Multiversity stands at the threshold of something different, something inherently positive, not deconstructing but renovating and rebuilding aspects of comics that appeal to all readers, of all ages, sexes, and nationalities. The Multiversity is a celebration of ALL that comics can be and it humbly invites the reader to see that ALL in one book that manages to be every book.
So basically, here is Grant Morrison playing with ideas and concepts that were once eliminated from comic book discussion, because back in the day publishers doubted the brainpower of the reader. All readers. Every reader. Ideas like parallel realities, alternate variations to familiar icons, and the possibility of endless representations, which leads to endless possibility.
Evil demonic figures that represent the corporate necessity of any artistic endeavour are seeping into the final products, warping the minds of those who digest those artistic endeavours so that they consume more, require less from what they consume, and ultimately become consumers of a lesser, inferior art form that one doesn’t even realise is inferior, and therefore doesn’t feel the need to question.
This is literally the medium speaking directly to it’s viewers in a plea for thinking bigger, thinking brighter, all while being respectful of the past, cherishing the past, without making a mockery or deriding that past. This is truly one of the greatest books ever put together, but I can see your eyes glossing over already, as you step away from the book on the shelf and go for something a little easier to wrap your head around. Don’t be fooled. This book is not complicated. There are multiple realities. In each reality there are certain heroic and super heroic archetypes that always exist. To fight the evil entities warping the minds of readers in every reality, heroes from across the Multiverse unite to defeat them. That’s your story, quick and simple, and a super heroic classic. What makes it legendary though is the form it takes. Morrison here has constructed a series of individual stories, stories that represent different comic book publishers from different realities, hence placing that basic conflict within the full realm of what a comic book can be and how broad that answer is.
I don’t say this often, but there is literally something for everyone in this book. Stories focus on what the basic superhero story of different socio-political backgrounds could be. Such as superhero stories in a Nazi ruled earth, or superhero stories in age where social media is the be all and end all. Classic superhero stories vs. the need to break and bend the boundaries. It might seem complicated but you will really be rewarded for taking the plunge. You will not come out of this feeling cheated or like you didn’t get every cent’s worth out of it. And every artist is spot on perfect for their selected chapter.
The Multiversity. Don’t make Noah try to explain it to you. Just buy it. Read it. Love it. In the end you will thank him for it.