Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Multiversity: The Just

Multiversity: The Just depicts a world of superheroes that’s all style and no substance. At least, they haven’t had to have substance for quite a while, but that is due to change. Based, in Grant Morrison’s words, on the reality TV show, The Hills, The Just has TV-style captions that introduce a large number of characters of Earth-16, some very familiar from mainstream continuity, and some variations on characters we’ve seen before.

In tone, this ends up resembling Kingdom Come and its sequel in many ways. The characters are mainly second-and-third generation superheroes and supervillains, but unlike the setup in Kingdom Come, where the super-powered godchildren wreak havoc, these no longer do much of anything besides capture the public attention and play-act past battles as a kind of stage-acting while robots built by the first, and late, Superman solve every imaginable problem. The two main characters are the sons of Superman and Batman, calling to mind the ongoing “Super Sons” feature set in an indeterminate future, published in World’s Finest during the Silver Age.

Befitting the concept, the story arc is very simple but the surface details many. A list of annotations covers the details:

Sister Miracle, Sasha Norman is the daughter of Mister Miracle, Shilo Norman.
Megamorpho, Saffi Mason, is the daughter of Metamorpho, Rex Mason.
Megamorpho commits suicide, much as a similar character, Element Girl, did in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.
As soon as that reference is made, “Neil Gaiman’s Sandman” is mentioned explicitly, reinforcing the theme in Multiversity that comic books describing one Earth exist as publications in other Earths.
The Atom, Ray Palmer, is the only “adult” from the Silver Age seen in The Just.
Damian Wayne is now Batman, wearing the same outfit seen in three Grant Morrison stories set in an apocalyptic future. Alexis asks him if he believes in curses, which possibly reinforces his association with Doctor Hurt, who, as the Devil, gave Damian enhanced life span and invulnerability in those stories.
Alexis Luthor is Lex Luthor’s daughter. She is dating Damian, but
Superman is Chris Kent, using the same name as the adopted son of Superman and Lois Lane who existed between Infinite Crisis and Flashpoint.
Offspring, Ernie O’Brian, is the son of Plastic Man, Eel O’Brian, and was part of the aforementioned Kingdom Come continuity.
Kyle Rayner is the only Green Lantern in this reality.
Wally West is the Flash.
Connor Hawke is the Green Arrow. Cissie King-Hawke is Arrowette.
Kon-El is Superboy. He is beginning to turn into a Bizarro.
Jakeem Thunder is the owner of the Magic Thunderbolt.
Natasha Irons is Steel.
Garth is Aquaman.
Artemis is Wonder Woman.
Pieter Cross is Doctor Mid-Nite.
Bloodwynd, no secret identity.
Cynthia Reynolds is Gypsy.
Holly Dayton is Menta.

As in the previous issues of Multiversity, comic books, in particular the Ultraa story that will end the series, are haunted, bringing a threat from across the Multiverse. It is this infection that causes Saffi to commit suicide. Alexis Luthor takes control of Jakeem Thunder to attack Earth-16. This is another thematic connection to Kingdom Come, in which Luthor plans treachery by controlling that story’s lightning-bearing superhero, Captain Marvel. And as in the previous issues of the series, there is an unresolved threat as of the last page, with the Superman robots wreaking havoc under Alexis’ control, and an Multiversal invasion set to begin.

The basic pattern is clear. The one-shot issues of The Multiversity show us a new world, show more signs of a huge cross-Multiverse threat, refer forward to the very comic book issue that will end the series, and end on a cliffhanger of imminent doom. The concept is not without appeal, but if the pattern isn’t varied much, then we have three more issues before the finale with, like The Just, more style than substance.


  1. Really enjoyed this issue, even though it seems there is little action in it, more talking heads, more panels, seems like more things happening in the background, I feel like as with most Morrison comics I'm going to have to re-read this 3-4 times. No signs of Nix either..I think. - @kukheart

  2. I actually completely missed the gravitas of this issue. It felt like total filler and im just wondering if TONS went over my head?

    1. Yes, a lot went over your head I think. Did you read DC Comics in the 90's? here is what you mostly missed from this issue. --

  3. No I totally got the 90's stuff, I just don't get the cohesion yet of these one offs. Im slowly getting it as I see the Gentry SUBTLY show up in each issue

  4. kukheart, it does seem like the main threat of Nix/the Gentry was offscreen. Presumably, either the main threat is launching all of these other menaces or Morrison has a strangely bifurcated pair/series of menaces coming to the forefront at once, as in Rock of Ages and Final Crisis. Either way, we'll probably have to figure out later how the seemingly separate attacks were intertwined.

  5. Andriulli, "subtly" is probably the key word. After the September 11 attacks, Morrison has used sneak attacks in several of his larger stories, including the Black Glove's attack on Batman and Darkseid's strategy in Final Crisis.

    In JLA Confidential, Morrison showed the Sheeda failing miserably in a frontal attack on the Justice League, so they planned a sneak attack shown in Seven Soldiers.

    Here, the Gentry are obviously avoiding a massive frontal assault, a la the Anti-Monitor in COIE. So far, each Earth is being surprised by the piecemeal attacks, so we have yet to see if we get a massive counterattack from the good guys, suggested in Multiversity #1, or a piecemeal, but effective, counterattack, such as in Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis.

  6. After re-reading the first three issues a few times and with the benefit of others' insights, I see a pattern here that isn't accidental. There's a particular thing that Morrison is trying to do and it's there on just about every page. I'll give the source materials another read tonight and summarize my thoughts in a post very soon.

    1. thanks for both replies i enjoyed them. and yeah I personally feel like every issue is the same, in a tasteful and purposeful manner.

      i liked that comparison to the Sheeda taking on the JLA to get smashed, so Morrison used them to a more effective end in 7S. that seems to hold some of the missing logic i had sitting in my noggin to bridge some gaps.

      now i feel much more likely that we are going to see a proper climactic send off rather then a twist ending. but thats just me.

    2. good call with Morrison's usage of sneak attacks. xorn forward.

  7. It's a little weird see Damian in an issue, especially since it's been over a year since the character's death. But a future with him as batman is still intriguing. After reading this issue I started drawing parallels between the vandal savage character and Dr. Hurt - they are a meta force to be reckoned with. I get the impression that both of these characters might be coming from the same source of evil (The Gentry). This would explain the mystery of Hurt and his essence as a character in Morison's bat run after reading your analysis on what The Gentry may represent as well as seeing what Vandal Savage's role represents in the Multiversity series. Also, I remembered that Sivana created that meta material during the batman inc run and since he's a big character in the upcoming captain marvel issue it would be interesting to see what Morrison reveals about him other than he seems to be an agent of The Gentry.

  8. Re-read "The Just," realizing just how dense it is. And it appears the Kyle Rayner character is speaking for Morrison as a commentary on how violent and "creepy" comic books got back in the '90s. He highlights a few times what might have been the most appalling moment in a '90s comic book -- the woman in the refrigerator. And I think Rayner's inability to let that go in this particular book is Morrison saying comics turned down an unfortunate road of shock value. It's hard to see anything heroic in many titles when the villains go on for pages and pages doing things most of us wouldn't want to see in a movie. And what mom or dad is going to hand a book with a scene like that to a kid or even teenager to read?