By Kyle Pinion
Grant Morrison’s Multiversity has been a long gestating project aimed to spin-off of his Final Crisis event from 2009. The “Scottish Shaman of Comics” has been teasing this event and artistic collaborators ever since. Finally in recent solicits, Multiversity is becoming a reality with the release of The Multiversity #1 on August 20th.
As a part of the promotion of the mega-series, Grant Morrison, artist Cameron Stewart, and editor Eddie Berganza were joined by John Cunningham, VP of Marketing at DC Comics, to discuss and preview what fans can expect in the coming months from this, sure to be mind-altering, series.
– With Cunningham giving a detailed slide-show, Morrison began the panel by pointing out some of the influences that led to the central premise of the series. They began with a discussion of the classic “Flash of Two Worlds” storyline, of which Morrison was particularly struck by how Barry Allen knew of Jay Garrick as a superhero that existed in comic-book form in his world. From there Morrison determined the sort central premise of the series as: “what if a threat so devastating were to hit the entire Multiverse, one of the ways we could communicated about it is by writing comics about it?
So you’ll see each issue, they’ll be reading comic books about the other worlds’ adventures. And our own real world also exists – it’s Earth-33, which used to be known as Earth-Prime. I also liked that the multiverse was based on vibration – vibration is music! A lot of people didn’t understand how Superman basically sang Darkseid to death at the end of Final Crisis. The whole DC Universe is a piece of music, so it’s all put into an Octave and a structure of eights.”
– He also pointed out that in Kamandi, who is an important figure in Multiversity, also learned about the past of the DC Universe through his reading of comic books, particularly Superman who was a figure of worship in his world. Additionally, because of the effects of Final Crisis, with the elimination of the Monitors, we no longer have anyone looking after the multiverse and threats from beyond more easily loom.
– Morrison stated that Multiversity has been a blast to work on over the years, and he has worked to integrate it into the continuity of the New 52 as well, though he provided no elaboration on what that might exactly entail.
– Nix Uotan will be returning, making his first appearance since Final Crisis, and will be the “author figure” for Morrison, and stands as the Last of the Monitors. His quest to stop the multiversal threat that emerges is the through-line for the entire series.
– Another element Morrison is excited about is the ability to talk directly to the reader, which he is looking forward to employing much in the way Stan Lee did in the 60’s, of which Morrison then did his best impression of the comics legend: “Isn’t this corny?”.
– The Multiversity #1 will kick off the event before spinning off into a number of non-chronological one-shot number ones detailing the various earths and then Issue #2 will wrap the series.
– Morrison praised the work of his Issue 1 collaborator Ivan Reis, of whom he noted was able to perfectly emulate the style of his favorite artist Neal Adams, amongst others.
– A breakdown of the announced one-shots came next, first-up is “Society of Superheroes” (Earth 20), which is based on the pulp-world of Earth 20: where the heroes will have just come off a World War-type situation. The main stars will be Doc Fate (a pastiche of Doctor Fate and Doc Savage), Lady Blackhawk, The Immortal Man, and the Abin Sur Green Lantern. The latter of which has been redesigned as a type of satanic looking figure dressed in the original Mart Nodell Green Lantern costume. Expect to see a lot of zombie paratroopers. Chris Sprouse will be providing art.
– The next one shot featured was “The Just” (Earth 16), which is based around the legacy heroes of the DC Universe having taken on the mantle of their forebears after Batman and Superman have eliminated all crime on Earth. With no villains left to fight, these new teenage heroes have become “feckless characters” and Morrison was quick to bring up “The Hills” as a strong inspiration here.
Particularly notable is his comparison of Conner Hawke as the “Billy Ray Cyrus” of this world. Other characters like Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy, Offspring, and Wally West also play major roles, as well as Morrison’s own creation Damien Wayne and his paramour Alexa Luthor (which is problematic for Superman’s son, since Lex killed Superman in this particular reality) Even The Atom will appear, but in the Dan Jurgens “was reverted into a teenager” form. Ben Oliver will be handling artistic duties on “The Just”.
– The next world of focus was Morrison’s spin on the Charlton characters known as “Pax Americana” (Earth 4). Morrison’s aim with this story is to mix Steve Ditko’s original characters with some of the same flavor as seen in Watchmen, which Morrison admitted was probably the most well known iteration of those characters. According to Morrison, while “Pax Americana” will be political, philosophical story and focuses in on the original basis of The Comedian (Peacemaker). The central question of the one-shot: “Why did Peacemaker assassinate the President of the United States?”.
Morrison also highlighted that he and long-time collaborator Frank Quitely worked toward utilizing some of the same narrative tricks as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s seminal work including using an 8 panel layout rather than Watchmen‘s 9; a choice Morrison described as “Dark Knight Returns-esque”. His ability to torture Frank Quitely was also mentioned as he has “produced five pages of script for each page of story”. Even the cover is aimed to reminiscent of the first Watchmen cover and the iconic smiley face button.
– “Thunderworld” (Earth 5) was the final issue of focus, which will feature art by Stewart, a development that actually was announced by Morrison before Stewart even knew what it was. But Stewart gave Morrison’s take on the Shazam mythos his best “Oh Captain, My Captain” and signed on-board. Stewart, in discussing his approach to the series, said he didn’t want to emulate CC Beck but made sure to keep his art within that same quality.
Stewart also described Morrison’s approach to Captain Marvel as a one issue “Alpha-version” akin to the take on Superman seen in All Star Superman. Morrison described “Thunderworld” as his ultimate Captain Marvel story.
Attendees were also shown a page featuring long-time Captain Marvel nemesis Thaddeus Sivana’s version of the Rock of Eternity, which is a science-based reverse engineered version of Shazam’s long-time source of power, all in his attempt to track Captain Marvel’s lightning back to its source. Morrison says “Thunderworld” is aimed for an all-ages audience and unique in that regard amongst the rest of the Multiversity line-up.
– Cunningham pointed out that there will be a guidebook to accompany the series that will give a full description of all 52 Earths in the Multiverse, and will star Kamandi, who will be going on an Odyssey-like quest. The guidebook will include little winks and nudges as well, one of which Morrison pointed out was that Earth 6 was the “Just Imagine…” Stan Lee created Earth and it sits directly opposite of the side that Jack Kirby’s Earth is placed on.
– Morrison has also left seven blank spaces for other creators to come in and define what Earths those mysterious areas might occupy. He emphasized that these various Earths are not his attempt to “create an evil Batman” but instead create fully developed ideas and worlds that can live on.
– While Q&A was limited for this panel given time constraints, Morrison was able to contribute a few answers to fan queries:
In response to a question for why he was attracted to this project: He always has been interested in alternate universe versions of character, and made specific note of his childhood love of Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash and early Earth 2 stories.
When asked if he might re-use the Batman of Zurr En Arrh concept of a raw hero without their human super-ego, Morrison said that it won’t play a major role, but on the outskirts of the event will be a set of Batmen who took on their heroic identities from other animals and objects flying through his window, similar to his Batman-Final Crisis tie-in issues.
There will be a team of heroes that get pulled together from across the multiverse, similar to the team of Supermen from Final Crisis, but there will only be one straight white male on it, which got a nice applause from the audience.
He also spoke to the idea of reconciliation between “The Just” Earth 16 and the Young Justice animated series Earth 16. He wasn’t aware of the conflict initially, but looked to devise a way to make both work together for those that feel passionate about the issue, including perhaps his characters using holograms to appear as cartoons.
All attendees received lithographs of the Multiversity map with the full diagram of Morrison’s concept. A lovely parting gift that will certainly adorn this writer’s wall in the near future. August can’t come soon enough.