Thursday, September 18, 2014

Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes

Grant Morrison has a love of and knack for the mashup: Combining fictional worlds, styles and forms into something full of familiar images to an original result. His second installment of Multiversity is a blend of previous DC creations similar in many ways to his previous miniseries Seven Soldiers. As in that work, Society of Super-Heroes draws on characters from different eras, ranging in obscurity from the bottom almost all the way to the top. More than anything else, it feels like a twist on the Golden Age Justice Society, but JSA counterparts make up a minority of Earth-20's SOS.

"Doc" Fate (a name and biography a bit like Doc Savage) and the Atom (Al Pratt) appear much as they were in 1940's JSA. In addition, there is a Green Lantern wearing a costume much like Alan Scott's, but indicative of the mashup, this Green Lantern is Abin Sur, of Earth-20's Green Lantern Corps. It should be noted that this is one of the first times that any Earth in the Multiverse besides the "main" DCU dimension has been implied to have a GL Corps led by their own copy of the Guardians. Notably absent are any of the other big guns of the DC lineup; no Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or Flash are to be seen.

This proto-JSA teams with an all-female team of Blackhawks, a creation who appeared in Quality Comics at the same time as the original Justice Society, and were bought out by DC years later. They are also teamed with the Immortal Man, a character who debuted in the Fifties as a sci-fi character outside of DC continuity. His original rival, Vandal Savage, appears here as a main villian, but it's the Earth-40 Vandal Savage who leads zombies into a war against the SOS.

Earth-20 was first seen over six years ago in just one panel of Superman Beyond #1, with Doc Fate and Lady Blackhawk looking up as the various Supermen carry a huge interdimensional ship over them. That event is referred to in SOS. Now, worlds are colliding and Earth-40's villians are using a dimensional collision that is not of their doing to raid Earth-20 like pirates boarding another ship.

Along the way, Morrison mixes in wildly different elements of DC lore such as Blockbuster, Parallax, "52"'s Lady Shiva, and Al Pratt suffering severe facial damage that will require him to wear his mask permanently, just as the original Al Pratt's son Damage did in Infinite Crisis.

Most central to the plot are the elements that tie into the rest of Multiversity. Doc Fate is aware of the Monitors' history and the haunted issue of Multiversity makes an ominous appearance. Nix Uotan's name is twisted into the quasi-Mexican name Niczhuotan.


The story ends noncommitally, with the action to continue in other issues of Multiversity. The grim nature of the threat to Earth-20 is offset by the inherent fun of the mashup, which left me appreciating the issue more for its tone than its plot. The plot is sure to continue, but it's hard to predict now if Earth-20 will get more in-depth coverage or if its struggle to survive will be handled summarily.

3 comments:

  1. It's all great fun. So far, Multiversity doesn't have the "weight" of Seven Soldiers or the old JLA run or the Batman run. But perhaps it's not intended to. This feels like "Around the Multiverse in 80 Days," a victory lap or farewell tour for Mr. Morrison.

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  2. Seven Soldiers really drops the hammer of grim importance in the first issue, and keeps on doing it throughout the series. Multiversity, indeed, starts off light, and by all appearances could be even lighter after the next issue. But far be it from me to think that I can intuit fully where Morrison is going to take a story next.

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