MULTIVERSITY: the JUST Review
“#earthme” (40 pages)
Story by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Ben Oliver
Colors by: Ben Oliver w/ Dan Brown
Letters by: Clem Robins
Covers by: Ben Oliver; Dale Eaglesham w/ Gabe Eltaeb; Eduardo Risso w/ Nathan Fairbairn;
Murphy Anderson & Jack Adler; Grant Morrison
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Welcome to Earth-Me. Not only is it in the title, it was in the solicitations two months back! This is The Young and the Restless¸ DC style!! The juvenile heroes of this world all face one enemy none of them can ever truly vanquish: BOREDOM! What to do when you live on a crime-free planet? Focus on yourself, go to parties, and keep the legacy going despite no real battles or crises.
Like any other utopian universe, the cracks eventually begin to form and dystopia seeps in. The idyllic reality is shattered with the suicide of one of the super-heroines: Megamorpho (true identity: Sapphire Mason). Her BFF Sasha Norman a.k.a. Sister Miracle is too self-absorbed with a techno-virus in her bloodstream that threatens to produce tears on an otherwise perfect porcelain face. Saffi drops a bombshell when she asks Sasha about any hero committing suicide and before you know it, off she goes. Megamorpho is literally the very first suicide taker on this Earth. Her death immediately erases all technocytes which makes The Atom’s job much easier in assisting Sasha since he’s in her bloodstream. Just like that, nothing will ever remain the same.
Cut to this issue’s most intriguing couple: Alexis Luthor and Damian Wayne. Stranger bedfellows there cannot be! This gives the phrase ‘sleeping with the enemy’ a whole new meaning! Alexis is flipping through a comic book while Batman is fixated with the red sky effect. Any astute, long-time DC reader knows exactly what that’s all about. At any rate, Damian is his stiff stoic self like his father used to be. Alexis shrugs the imminent threat from another universe while Damian tries to devise a solution. Even passersby react one of two ways: awe or disinterest. Some real heavy surreal stuff is discussed between the couple. I’ll get to that at the end of the review.
Alexis and Damian bandy some more about the comic in question when their debate reaches a fever pitch that leads to the bed! Their foreplay involves their attraction to each other despite being polar opposites. Things are about to happen when in swoops Superman, better known as Chris Kent. Damian detected him just in time. Like a cliché gag from any old sitcom, Damian shoves Alexis in the closest with a lead-lined coat draped over her so Chris cannot spot her. Chris delivers the shocking news to Damian. Finally, a bona fide super-mystery to solve!
Damian tries to knock down Chris a few pegs by asking him if he even knew Megamorpho’s real name. Chris is able to relay that info but considers her to have been a real hero. Chris laments the all-too-perfect security network that his dad left behind for the planet. Even the multiple Superman robots can never be modified or shut off. To relieve the ennui or stress, Damian suggests that he and Chris poke at the 5th Dimensional beings, home of Mrs. Mxyzptlk. Chris exposes Damian’s poorly planned ruse by spotting a female form in the closet with the lead-lined coat. This is soap opera at its best: best friend #1 is upset with best friend #2 because he is romantically involved with girlfriend who is the daughter of the enemy of best friend #1. Talk about putting a strain on things!! Damian nails it with Saffi’s reason to off herself: BOREDOM!!
Soap opera plot II: best friend #2 brushes off girlfriend to help best friend #1. Girlfriend, in a fit of frustration, just asks BF #2 to admit his man-love for BF #1. Alexis teleports herself to Sasha’s party. Speaking of which….Sasha rings up Damian. Sasha wants to ensure that the two biggest super-heroes will attend her party otherwise it’ll be social suicide. Poor choice of words on her part considering her bestie just killed herself. However, this being Earth-Me, the self-absorption continues when her apparent sadness shut down the techno virus. She doesn’t even consider inviting The Atom, the man who did an enormous favour with his aid and expertise.
Ernie O’Brian a.k.a. Offspring a.k.a. son of Plastic Man and Megamorpho’s boyfriend meets up with Kyle Rayner, the very last of the Green Lanterns. The same comic Alexis was reading ends up in Ernie’s hands. He tries to sell its worth to Kyle and gives him a short reading list. At the League HQ, Connor Hawke (Green Arrow) and Kyle exchange pleasantries. Since there’s no crime to fight, what’s the point of parading around in costumes?!? G.A. accurately points out that their parents’ enemies’ children are now BFF with their own children. Ironic, don’t ya think??
Kon-El has made it big in this world, not as a super-hero but as an artist. Where the heck did that come from? At the Suicide Slum Art Gallery, Alexis and Joker’s Daughter ponder the former Superboy’s fate. Since he’s a clone and Alexis’ dear-old-dad was the forerunner of that, the inevitable outcome for Kon is “turning Bizarro”. Joker’s Daughter is turned on by the possibility of a freakish transformation. As if they were psychic, Kon becomes Bizarro-like when he inhales vapor from a painting of The Gray Lady which he reveals came to him in a dream. MMMMM. Arrowette makes an impression helping out Kon and receiving a few sneers given her age and identity.
To relive one of their greatest battles, the Justice League re-enact a real doozy: facing off against Red Amazo in a scenario called “Red Amazo Crisis”. This harkens back to the holodeck on Star Trek: the Next Generation or even the Danger Room sessions first shown in Uncanny X-Men. Things go awry and playtime ends real quick when the holobot malfunctions and beings dishing serious damage to the Leaguers. My favourite part, which actually made me chuckle, is when Alpha Centurion utters “merda” as he is taken down. For those who don’t know what that means, it’s “shit”. Natasha Irons a.k.a. Steel suspects some inter-dimensional interference. Kyle relives another traumatic event — the murder of his girlfriend Alex at the hands of Major Disaster Force. Looks like Grant got his Majors mixed up. She was, wait for it, chopped to pieces and stuffed in a refrigerator. Anyone familiar with the term “fridged”?
Batman grills Offspring on his girlfriend’s demise. Being the ultimate detective, he figures it out. More on that in a few pages (or paragraphs). Superman has sought Menta to help her find any trace of Megamorpho. She wasn’t entirely successful but she did catch a glimpse of the Grey Lady as well as The Gentry which has her freaked out. Superman gives her “I’ll let you know” line which means he probably won’t rely on her anymore. Batman cuts in on Dr. Midnite’s autopsy and Bloodwynd’s investigation urging Superman to accompany him.
Connor begrudgingly indulges his daughter when she asks him for five trick arrows to join a new group her friends are forming: The Just. Despite not training, not ever having been in a fight, and dressing ‘like a stripper’, she gets the okay from her father. Connor is on the mark with his perceptive comments: (1) crime is dead, (2) super-heroics are not a game, (3) “Even a utopia can screw up.” That pretty much sums it up. Arrowette tells her dad that it is a game since there’s no real danger and she won’t be able to join the club unless she has some weapons to go with her person.
The big reveal!!! The comic isn’t cursed, per se. It is a life-form disguised as a story that induces hypnosis!! What’s worse is that it has been traveling from dimension to dimension, reality to reality, affecting and infecting anyone who comes into contact with it. Bats make the terrifying realization that the love of his life is the most recent target.
Bloodwynd and Gypsy seem to have figured it out on their own as well. Given their supernatural abilities, they tell Dr. Midnite that it’s a demon disguised as a comic book. Doc doubts the validity of the diagnosis since he’s a man of science.
The end approaches. The World’s Finest continuing arguing over Alexis’s character. Superman asks who else was uninvited to Sasha’s party. Now things are getting interesting! Batman informs him that it’s Jakeem Thunder who just so happens to be Alexis’ ex-beau. The connections are made. Alexis is the saboteur after all, the destroyer of fun. She had Jakeem’s genie, the 5th dimensional imp, douse the Red Amazo android with magic. She ponders control over the Superman robots. This is all for one petty reason: she was snubbed at the biggest social gathering. Like father, like daughter. The human equation will always mar the most perfect or near-perfect world.
Sasha’s party is a roaring success. Arrowette can’t believe her good fortune. The new group will have a true-blue menace to fight. Sasha isn’t concerned since the Superman robots handle everything. Sasha texts/blogs about the possibility of parallel worlds. She’s über-excited at the prospect of meeting other ‘hers’ or should I say ‘me’s? Just like that, Sister Miracle uses the hashtag #earthme as the Superman robots do their peacekeeping thing.
Grant continues to share his vision with us simple, common folk. I always enjoyed the ‘out-there’ concepts in all his work. It was always a trip to re-read anything he wrote twice or thrice. However, here I find the premise to be too simple. It’s as clear as day what this issue and more specifically this Earth is all about but I feel that despite the revelation of the cursed comic book, there’s not much else to keep the wheels spinning. The vignettes serve their purpose since they are connected. Some minor characters get a nod, or panel but ultimately it focuses on a different kind of Trinity: the World’s Finest + Alexis Luthor. A leopard cannot change its spots.
Ben Oliver does a spectacular job with the double dose of pencils and inks. His ‘paint work’ gives an almost three-dimensional effect to the characters (from a visual standpoint, not a literary one). I haven’t been too exposed to his work but I know he was the initial artist on Batwing. He gives the characters an appropriate tone to the faces except for Superman and Alexis. They have two shades going on, making them look doll-like.
Dan Brown gives a good assist to the colours. All the hues and nuances are as they should be depending on the particular scenes.
Clem Robins knocks it out of the park especially with the texting/tweets/posts made by Sasha. The big white letters for identification purposes are clear (literally) and stand out from the multi-coloured backgrounds.
P.S. It’s no coincidence that this is Earth-16. Think about it…..
This book is more an Earth-34 out of 52 Earths (65.3%).
An Abundance of Allusions
•DC Comics (x2) — page 6, page 27
•Pinocchio — page 6
• “cowardly superstitious lot” — page 7
•Lex Luthor — page 8
•zombie apocalypse movies — page 9
•Sandman — page 12
•Neil Gaiman — page 12
- A Christmas Carol — page 12
•Lady Shiva — page 17
•Planet Krypton restaurant (x2) — page 17, page 30
•Bizarro — page 18
•Tourette’s Syndrome — page 18
•K-poisoning — page 18
•Doomsday — page 20
•Major Disaster Force — page 23
•Professor Morrow, Amazo, Red Tornado — page 23
•Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes — page 27
•Fawcett City, Hub City — page 33
Similar but Different
The play-on-words, analogues and amalgams are deliberate:
•Sister Miracle (Sasha Norman), Megamorpho (Sapphire Mason)
•Batman (Damian Wayne), Alexis Luthor, Superman (Chris Kent)
•The Gray Lady [sic – The Grey Lady]
•Steel (Natasha Irons), Wonder Woman (Artemis), Aquaman (Garth)
•Menta (Holly Dayton), Arrowette (Cissie King Hawke)
Whole New Ball Game
Things have to be different when dealing with parallel worlds or alternate universes, right?
•Major Comics: Bestial Behemoth, Future Family, Rampaging Retaliators, Essential Retaliators, Essential Genocide crossover, The Bug, The G-Men
•Red Amazo (crisis)
•Battle of Boston
•Ultra Comics, Keyhole Comics, Quantum Comics, Spire Comics, Victory Comics
•Cosmoville, Blue Stamp, Satellite City, New Hooverville
•The Day of the Demon
Tags: Ben Oliver, DC Comics, Grant Morrison, Multiversity, Reviews