Review: The Multiversity Guidebook #1

Spoiler Alert! There is absolutely no way to review this comic without spoiling certain aspects of its story. I’m also going to take the opportunity in this review to explore the facts about the DC Multiverse that this comic reveals. I won’t talk too much about the actual story involving two Batmen fighting for their lives, but more about the worlds revealed.

Multiversity-guidebookTHE MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK #1

Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art by NICOLA SCOTT, GARY FRANK, KLAUS JANSON, CAMERON STEWART, DAN JURGENS, CHRIS SPROUSE, BEN OLIVER and others
Cover by RIAN HUGHES
1:10 B&W Variant cover by RIAN HUGHES
1:25 Variant cover by TOM FOWLER
1:50 Variant cover by PHIL JIMENEZ
1:100 Variant cover by GRANT MORRISON
On sale JANUARY 21 • 80 pg, FC, $7.99 US • RATED T

Solicitation:

The guidebook to the greatest adventure in DC’s history is here!
With a detailed concordance featuring each of the 52 worlds in the Multiverse, a complete history of DC Comics’ universe-shattering “Crisis” events, a map of all known existence, AND an action-packed dual adventure starring Kamandi of Earth-51 alongside the post-apocalyptic Atomic Knight Batman of Earth-17 and chibi Batman of Earth-42, this 80-page mountain of MULTIVERSITY madness cannot be missed!
The MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK contains everything you ever wanted to know about DC’s parallel worlds and their super-heroic inhabitants. Meet the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R. The Light Brigade, the Super-Americans and the Love Syndicate! Meet the Accelerated Man, Aquaflash, BiOmac and more!
Overflowing with today’s top artists and completely written by Grant Morrison himself, readers of the DC Universe can’t afford to pass up this oversized, sixth chapter of MULTIVERSITY!

multiversityguidebookclipReview:

I didn’t realize how much I missed the DC Multiverse until this series, and now, seeing all of the various worlds displayed, I miss it all the more. With Marvel seemingly getting rid of their Multiverse, I worry about how much this type of house-cleaning really limits storytelling opportunities. Grant Morrison is telling a certain story with this series, exploring certain metaphysical aspects of a multiverse and what it means for us, as readers. However, in this one, he gets a little bogged down in creating an encyclopedia that the story’s meaning is lost. The link that he explores here between New Genesis and Earth 51 insinuates that the lines and circles drawn on the Multiverse map mean something. Unfortunately, that leaves some stories told since Flashpoint in a little bit of confusion. How did the characters of Earth 3 get to Earth 0 so easily? What path did Power Girl and Huntress take to Earth 2? Are the lines just the easiest paths, because even in this series, it’s been determined that travel between universes is based on vibrations.

Now, let’s explore the Earths given here:

Earth-0 This is the New 52. It is acknowledged that it was shaped largely by the actions of Barry Allen, who has been involved in most of the big multiverse revelations.

Earth-1 This is the Earth depicted in the series of specials titled Earth One. So far we’ve seen Superman, Batman and the Teen Titans, and Wonder Woman is planned. The heroes on this Earth are at the beginning of their careers and its world is much more grounded and realistic.

Earth-2 This is the world we’ve seen in the series Earth 2. Darkseid’s invasion crippled it badly, but left room for the emergence of a new breed of heroes that inherit the responsibilities left behind by Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman, that world’s only heroes for so long.

Earth-3 Home of the Crime Syndicate, keeping alive a tradition going back to the earliest days of DC’s Multiverse.

Earth-4 As seen in Pax Americana, this is the home of the old Charlton characters, now depicted more along the lines of Alan Moore’s Watchmen.

Earth-5 As seen in Thunderworld, this is the home of Captain Marvel and all of the old Fawcett characters. It remains brighter in the traditions of the Golden Age comics that spawned the Marvel family.

mutiversitythunderworld

Earth-6 What if Stan Lee created the DC Universe? Published in 2001, Stan Lee re-imagined several DC characters along with a host of some of the top artists of the time.

Earth-7 This was last seen in a state of destruction from an assault by the Gentry in Multiversity #1. It has many similarities to what we consider the Marvel Universe, but all that is apparently moot, as it has only one survivor, the Thunderer.

Earth-8 This is more along the lines of what we regard as the mainstream Marvel universe. We last saw it in Multiverse #1.

Earth-9 This is commonly known as the Tangent Universe, created in 1997 as a fifth week event, the type of things DC used to do when a month had a fifth Wednesday. It was the subject of two such events and then showed up in the 2008 series Superman’s Reign, and a handful of appearances since.

Earth-10 Also called Earth X, as a version of it was called in the Pre-Crisis Multiverse. It’s the home of a Nazi Superman, and its greatest heroes are Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, who battle to liberate America from Nazi rule.

Earth-11 A gender-reversed DC Universe.

earth12Earth-12 One of the more exciting developments is the existence of the DC Universe depicted in Batman Beyond. Given that this universe was revealed as being the future of the animated series Justice League Unlimited, it can be assumed that this is the universe formerly referred to as the DC Animated Universe, although it is established that movement to this Earth without travelling through time takes you into the Batman Beyond time of this Earth, as time has progressed slightly faster here.

That makes this one of the few universe in Multiversity with its own action figure line, the fantastic Justice League Unlimited toy line.

Earth-13 This is a horror-themed universe home to versions of the characters usually associated with the Vertigo universe, but also containing darker, mystical themed characters like the post-Zero Hour Fate and Ragman. It’s analog to Superman is an amalgamation of Superman and the Demon Etrigan.

Earth-14 Unknown

Earth-15 Destroyed by Superboy Prime, a fragment remains somewhere in the Multiverse.

Earth-16 Depicted in The Just, Home to second and third generation heroes, many of whom are based on the familiar characters of the Young Justice animated series, although here they exist as spoiled, self-absorbed celebrities that never have faced any real threat.

earthme

Earth-17 Depicted in this issue, its a world that suffered a horrible nuclear apocalypse in 1963. It’s heroes all wear armor to protect themselves against the radiation and battle against mutations and mad science.

Earth-18 This is the world of the Justice Riders, from the 1997 graphic novel of the same name. The world is an analogue of the old west.

Earth-19 This is a steampunk-themed world seen before in the graphic novels Amazonia and Gotham By Gaslight.

Earth-20 Home to the Society of Super-Heroes, seen in the second Multiversity issue.

Earth-21 This is the world seen in DC: The New Frontier. It’s revealed here that on this world, John F. Kennedy was not assassinated.

Earth-22 This is the world of Kingdom Come.

Earth-23 This world is where Kal-L of Krypton is president of the United States. It has been stated that he is based on if Barack Obama were Superman and this world’s Wonder Woman is based on Beyoncé.

Earth-24 Unknown

Earth-25 Unknown

Earth-26 This is the world of Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew. It’s revealed here that it had been destroyed but according to laws of cartoon physics, it bounced back into existence.

Earth-27 Unknown

Earth-28 Unknown

Earth-29 This is a Bizarroverse. where everything is bizarrely reversed.

bizarroverse

Earth-30 This is a Cold War-themed Earth first seen in the 2003 mini-series Superman: Red Son.

Earth-31 On this Earth, global warming and other disasters have left it completely submerged. It’s Batman-analogue is Captain Leatherwing who keeps the seas safe with the crew of his ship, The Flying Fox.

Earth-32 This Earth is based off of the 1994 graphic novel Batman: In Darkest Knight, where Bruce Wayne gains the Green Lantern ring. Other members of the Justice League are also merged as the Justice Titans.

Earth33Earth-33: This is Earth Prime, an analogue of our world where super-heroes are only in comic books. When it’s inhabitants write stories, those events occur on other alternate worlds. Previously, it was explained that comic book writers psychically tapped into events happening elsewhere in the Multiverse, only now is it being revealed that these comic books are the cause and not the effect.

Although not mentioned here, if this is Earth Prime, then it is the home of Superboy Prime who may or may not have his powers. Superboy Prime is mentioned both in the history at the beginning of this book and in the write up for Earth-15. A thousand years in the future it should also be the home of what is referred to as the “Threeboot” Legion of Super-Heroes, created by Mark Waid and Barry Kitson.

Earth-34: Home to a group of heroes called the Light Brigade, based in Cosmoville and led by their version of Superman, Savior.

Earth-35: This world is a “Pseudoverse” created by the Monitors in this universe’s concept space and is home to the Super-Americans.

Earth-36: Home to the Justice 9. It’s members Flashlight and Red Racer were seen in Multiversity #1. On this planet, Red Racer is a comic fan showing that the exploits of some other Earths are published here as comic books as well. It’s version of Superman, called Optiman was recently killed by Superdoomsday.

Earth-37: The current time of this Earth is based on the 1997-98 Batman: Thrillkiller stories by Dan Brereton. It’s revealed here that the Howard Chaykin / Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez mini-series Twilight is set in this Earth’s future. Given how much I love that story, I’m actually very fond of this Earth, and will probably go back and read Thrillkiller again to get a sense of why Grant Morrison felt the need to tie those two stories together like this.

Earth-38: This Earth is based around John Byrne’s Generations trilogy of mini-series, where all of the characters aged  in real time and passed along legacies. I’m extremely fond of these stories as well, probably evidenced by my crazy idea that comic characters should age in real time.

earth38

Earth-39: Home of the Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R., who are apparently analogues for the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, which DC lost the rights to in 2012. (Source)

Earth-40: A counterpart to Earth-20, much like Earth-3 is a counterpart to Earth-0, This is the evil home to the Society of Super-Criminals, seen in the second Multiversity issue.

Earth-41: This is the home Earth of Dino-Cop, seen in Multiversity #1 and late in this issue. It’s described as a dark and violent world. It’s very possible that this is an analogue world to the Image Comics Universe.

Earth-42: This the home of tiny versions of classic DC Heroes, much like those depicted in Li’l Gotham. Their origins are left mysterious at the end of this issue when their Batman makes a startling discovery and their heroes begin acting strangely across dimensional barriers.

Earth-43: This is a world of vampires, based around the 1991 graphic Novel Batman & Dracula: Red Rain.

Earth-44: On this world, there were no heroes so the brilliant, yet bipolar Doc Will Tornado built a robot version of the Justice League, crossing the heroes with analogues of the Metal Men.

Earth-45: This world is the origin of the monstrous Superdoomsday that killed the Superman of Earth-42 and Overman of Earth-36 before being stopped.

Earth-46: Unknown

Earth-47: This world is based on groovy 1970s characters like Prez and Brother Power, The Geek. Having a fondness for the few issues of Prez that were actually published, I find this one entertaining, especially with characters like Sunshine Superman.

Earth-48: Referred to as Warworld, this planet breeds champions to battle against Darkseid. Included aamong their ruling family are Lord Volt, Lady Quark and their daughter Liana, all first seen in Crisis On Infinite Earths #4, although there it was referred to as Earth 6 and was destroyed by the Anti-Monitor.

Earth-49: Unknown.

Earth-50: Home to the Justice Lords, thus linked to Earth-12. Those not familiar with the Justice Lords can find their origin depicted in the 2003 Justice League animated series episode “A Better World.”

Earth-51: Home of the Great Disaster depicted in the classic Jack Kirby series Kamandi. It’s probably appropriate that it’s so closely linked with another Kirby creation placed outside the Orrery of Worlds, the New Gods.

That’s it for the guidebook. The art by various artists helps define the alternate worlds. On this series, the rotation of artists is making for some really nice effects as the artists are being chosen very carefully. My only beef is with Jon Bogdonave’s Earth-38. His style just doesn’t resemble John Byrne’s enough to capture the feel of that world. I don’t know who I would have gone with here, but I don’t think he was it.

I also have problems limiting the multiverse at a time when our real science is discovering so much about the possibility of a Multiverse actually existing, and looking very much like there could be actually be an infinite number of Universes, varying from slight differences to our owns, to many that can support no life whatsoever. It’s even possible that a universe exists somewhere outside of our own that would resemble a comic book universe with different physical laws that would allow some of the abilities we see comic book characters exhibit on a weekly basis.