THE MULTIVERSITY 1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ivan Reis
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool news)
I have waited five years for MULTIVERSITY. I feel as though my dreams of what this title would be though, are a far cry from what it is in this iteration, but I hold strong promise for what it could become. It’s not that MULTIVERSITY is bad, it’s just starkly reminiscent of this:
An Ode to FINAL CRISIS 1-28-09
God bullets fired from the gun of Kirby shatter the illusions of shackling continuity for a new dawn of infinite confusion.
Darkened calculus suffocates hope; Salvation in face painting gives purpose To elementary school art teachers at last.
Horsedogs ride the night, Their battle armor under a red son,
A crimson beacon to warn the talking kitty cats That cough hair balls of justice.
Boobies and boots, A Marvel versus an El. If only they didn’t fly, Then Jello their battle would be bathed in.
The Rubik’s Cube of discord realigns the trinity And bleeds through the parallel universe lava lamp.
The death of the Bat, Resurrection by a naked aborigine.
The Monitor’s world goes white, All hail the 5th world. I think!?%
My pea size brain can comprehend concepts of math that destroys or grants life. I can also even understand and honestly truly appreciate Sci-Fi Silver Age goodies like spaceships made of frozen music powered by harmonic drives. If this was all the 5th age were, and I still had the option of 52 x 52 Elseworld story writers crafted by more grounded writers, all would be grand.
The 5th age though seems to be the final shattering of the 4th wall. Like the powers wikis and social media gave the common man’s voice on the media waves, MULTIVERSITY is saying WE, you and I, the readers are now literally part of this world beyond just our imaginations.
Why? Kurt Busiek pulled a similar trick recently within the pages of his ASTRO CITY relaunch as well. But Kurt has always played that line, and more broadly not once have his books been heralded as the salvation of an entire comic line. I find it interesting though that this is the evolution towards the definition of our next comic epoch. If you thought the Dark Age of 1986-2000 shattered the illusion of comic hero infallibility, I’ll tell you now the kimono was only open just enough to see the tip folks. MULTIVERSITY says there is no longer any veil, that we are one with fiction.
WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY???????
After reading MULTIVERSITY last night I have since: helped our APAC office build a powerpoint deck for a CIO conference in a few weeks, walked my dog, sang some “once more with feeling” with one of the neighborhood kids while they petted my dog, listened to my Father tell a fascinating story about the hunt for a beaver in their retirement community and finally banged out a review in a meeting where I shouldbe looking at % marks on the screen. I’M NOT IN THE COMIC BOOK. MY LIFE HASN’T CHANGED. LIES!!!!
It’s a cute concept in theory and I’m fine with it being a fun facet for the three year olds clamoring to read Morrison books, but this is the crux of a story that has been touted as salvation twice now. After I saw the grand and glorious multiverse map big bang out of San Diego, I honestly was waiting to see MULTIVERSITY come in and devour the New 52. However, with this clear direction of talking directly to me through the pages, I beg that my predictions never become reality. I don’t understand the shame in simply telling some cool freaking Elseworld stories where Superman is a rabbit or Aquaman has boobs.
The MULTIVERSITY plot is quite simple; this is the forming of JUSTICE LEAGUE E. The Earth 23 Baraqaman, a character named Thunder from Earth 8, a Flash here, and an Aqualady there, you have a team that’s ready to go off and fight the threat of the last Monitor (remember the days of Pre-52 when the Monitors were reborn, then died, but formed 52 worlds, earth, universes that we only saw like three of over the past five years. Sweet Judas’ nuts I just lost my train of thought). These are the story elements I find alluring. I was delighted watching President Supes drive the JLE’s Frozen Music ship to see where a small knowledge of jazz will take them. Hell I even liked Captain Carrot whose universe is all cartoon physics based, and Dino-Cop, the character I’m sure Eric Larsen will file a lawsuit over. I am even on board with the fact that each character is a comic book piece of fiction on the worlds of their fellow team members.
Given this strong foundation, given the fact Elseworld fangeezers like me will buy the 52×52 titles DC can pump out (not even counting the stories that could take place in The Bleed and other ethers of the grand cosmic map), why the sweet hell was there this need to destroy what is supposed to be escapism by drawing us back in?
MULTIVERSITY holds such promise, but this issue promised me last night I would wake up in some grand adventure beyond my imagination and instead I simply woke up to the same grand adventure I live every day. Perhaps I am not seeing the grand plan here, but I also don’t need one if the goddamn story didn’t insist it would be there.
Unless Morrison has a way of unleashing the forces of Brainiac on the world this Christmas, I am casting aside about 15% of MULTIVERSITY 1 from my brain juice because I read comics to escape the doldrums, not be told that my doldrums are going to be saved by a group of heroes we all know will never literally come.
To keep getting my dollars MULTIVERSITY, I need a lot less talking to me and much more Elseworlds entertainment.
JUSTICE LEAGUE 23
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)
DC just got Skull Fucked…and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
After much hullabaloo, speculation that has ranged from the outrageous to the downright erroneous, and fan reactions that could only be silenced by the monumental news of #BatBen, Trinity War ends.
I dug the Trinity War…a lot, but I’m also a self-professed DC fangeezer. To show my fervor isn’t completely deaf to reality though, I hear the arguments and I can’t say I disagree. However, it’s all about perspective. This is a build up to something else (namely Forever Evil), but I say that’s comics folks, everything should be a buildup to something else. I hear the accusations about false promises, but again comics should be a surprise – and when did anyone swear on a bible to work at a comic company? Finally, I totally understand the rage against the New 52 characters being different than they were before, but here is where old timers and those accepting of the New 52 can come together in gleeful harmony. Because these young upstarts are about to get bitch sla vbpped with some old-school alternate Earth awesome.
That’s right Pandora’s Box…skull…was more likely developed by Jerry O’ Connell than God, it’s a transport device that brings forward the Crime Syndicate of Earth 3…and we all shat our pants.
This is a great choice to be the next morsel thrown to us alternate reality fans. As much as I would have loved for all 52 earths to have been revealed in form and function when the Monitors wept at the end of FINAL CRISIS, I must admit this slow reveal satiates my all too male thirst for the hunt and frankly the tease. Thus far, the multiverse inductions have been stellar from Earth One’s heft, to the blink and you’ll miss it appearance of Earth 23 in ACTION. Every story has felt special because we simply never know when and how the next will appear.
This series and particularly this issue also helped quell a bit of my rage at the first arc in JUSTICE LEAGUE. I was not a fan of volume one, the whole thing lacked purpose in my opinion except that is on EARTH 2 where all the big guns died in a blaze of glory. Earth Prime’s League though, seemed to tussle with a few Mother boxes and had Darkseid yell at them for one panel before all was right again with the world. As it turns out there was a story behind that story. Whether it’s true or ret-conned I don’t care. It fills in gaps I was looking for on the eternal question of “why?”
All of these behind the scenes machinations are relayed to our dumbfounded heroes by the mystery man who orchestrated the war and much of the wrong doing since September 2011 – Earth 3’s very Joker like Alfred Pennyworth. This bad ass who has sent all of Earth’s heroes chasing around the globe and beating the piss out of one another is just a minion on the opposite and far more badass Earth 3.
The story ends with Pandora’s skull getting cracked open wide by ole Alfie so he can bring forth his masters of Ultraman, Superwoman, Owl Man and Johnny Q.
Johns also throws in a double…make that triple agent whose the cause of Superman’s sickies in this series. Nope, Supes ailments have nothing to do with the box…skull.
Forgive the run on sentences in this review, but I didn’t want a week to go by before congratulating DC on a job well done. Trinity War is pure comic booking, in any reality.
JUSTICE LEAGUE 19 REVIEW
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis & Gary Frank
Reviewer: Rob Patey ( aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
As I expected, after last month’s recruitment session this JUSTICE LEAGUE serves to utter the quiet murmurs that will crescendo into a cacophony of chaos in coming months.
Longtime fans won’t experience much shock or awe at the Gatefold WTF moment of BATMAN taking down SUPERMAN with a hunk of homegrown Kryponite, what is shocking is that once you get inside the opening pages BATMAN isn’t the one wielding the green death. We don’t know who it is actually, all we know is a clandestine figure with open access to all Bat-Cave systems knew exactly where to find Batman’s cache of JUSTICE LEAGUE busting weaponry. If I was BATMAN I probably would have mislabeled the suitcases in such an event (i.e. put the Kryponite inside the case labeled for the Flash), but I also understand that page counts are sparse these days and a page of the nefarious burglar opening suitcases doesn’t make for the most exciting moments in comics.
Now, what was truly WTF worthy is the second story in this book where SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN enter the global political theater. In a moment sure to enrage FOXIans and other right wingers, Supes and Wondie decide to enter the sovereign nation of Kahndaq to end a hostage situation after the US was specifically told to stay out. That’s not the part that will piss off disciples of Limbaugh though, it’s the duo’s rationale for this raid.
Khandaq has stood as “that” ethereal Arab nation for a longtime at DC – sometimes it’s been Iraq, other times Afghanistan – not geographically, but politically. After the raid, Supes and WW have a moment of introspection where they justify events by saying all of the unwanted occupations and bombing of innocents haven’t changed a damn thing over the years. That’s a pretty bold statement by Johns and even bolder is how this changes the tide of comics. The last time SUPERMAN thumbed his nose at the American way in ACTION 900 there was a comic outcry. Now with the two biggest heavy-hitters singing a similar tune someone will need to step as the antagonist to this choice. Dangerous ground; is quipped by Batman who was spying on the couple, this is how villains get started.
What’s interesting is that Bats approaches the two with a velvet glove instead of the aforementioned hunk of Kryponite and whatever the hell he has tucked away to subdue WONDER WOMAN. He also brings up the fact that their hidden relationship is anything but. This was a great character moment as Bats shows genuine concern for their well-being versus simply being an information stream control freak. Despite the pleasantries, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will hear the Trinity Wars’ battle drums off in the distance. Months ago we all thought this upcoming schism would be caused simply by forbidden love; this moment just upped the stakes to a battle of ideologies for all comic characters.
The rest of the issue follows a similar set-up cadence, but with less gravitas and more fun. With some league members investigating the bat-cave to find out who walked away with the Kryptonite, Firestorm and Lady Atom are left alone in the watch tower. That is of course after Atomette finishes her dungeon raid in World of Warcraft. Great little character moment made greater for those of us who truly wish we could shrink ourselves and actually step inside Azeroth. As an MMO player though, I will wish her ill will for blinking out half-way through the raid – unacceptable whether late for an appointment or not. She gets payback though, as Despero crashes the down the doors of the satellite on the last page.
Reis delivers great pencil work, especially during the rising tension behind the trinity. Pain and anger adorn Wonder Woman’s face in every panel. Reis also does a great job of portraying Superman with a hanged lasso whipped expression on his face. Don’t judge, we’ve all been there.
The SHAZAM back-up continues to deliver on all fronts. Again, I truly hope there’s a plan here to meld the JUSTICE LEAGUE and SHAZAM threads, I would hate to think this gold has festered at the back of the bus for so many months with no good reason.
JUSTICE LEAGUE has had an awakening creatively since “Throne of Atlantis,” and while the past issues have been a respite action wise, it’s clear this is simply the walk before some great running in the near future.
No other title in the New 52 has polarized fandom like JUSTICE LEAGUE. From one side the popcorn eaters have said it’s a tantalizing thrill ride that thankfully hasn’t gone too deep into morose waters of heavy emotions from the team and global angst. I believe the word “fun” is the term they often use. Also, the K-5 set have gone absolutely gonzo for JUSTICE LEAGUE, making Johns and Lee comic books’ Phineas and Ferb.
Then there are the comic erudite, those who have read so many books that they expected JUSTICE LEAGUE to not only traverse new grounds, but to do so in a way that would bring forth an originality of content that would leave Grant Morrison agog. My complete objectiveness has allowed me to see both sides. I was forgiving of the first few issues mainly because of the excitement surrounding the New 52. I didn’t feel we could pass judgment until an antagonist surfaced.
Well, that villain came and went in one page. Literally! With one two-page splash decrying “I am Darkseid,” a Parademon Cocksicle sticking out of the ocean, and a one page trip to Apocalypse, the world’s greatest heroes banded together and no one was really sure why, least of all our heroes. Again, I was forgiving, trying to look at the whole universe and DC’s mantra to offer books to fans of all ages. I figured if the kids dig it, groovy, I’ll simply go wade in more adult waters.
Then arc 2 turned the tide, but not in a good way. The five years before excuse went away, yet coming forward a half-decade offered no maturation of this team. And nothing jibed with each hero’s solo title. Barry and Hal were still the two Corey’s. Azzarello has been portraying WONDER WOMAN as a dark God slayer and protector; in JUSTICE LEAGUE she liked ice cream. SUPERMAN is all over the map from title to title; in JUSTICE LEAGUE though he just moped and hit things while SUPERMAN and ACTION battled for “whose personality is it anyway?” And the second arc’s story was just meh. Not a ton of fun watching the world’s greatest heroes Battle their psyches.
Then came the kiss that made the fans of Lois Lane spontaneously combust from blood boiling rage, but it also moved the needle ever closer to an intriguing team dynamic for JUSTICE LEAGUE. Couple this wanton super affection with BATMAN slapping a Bang Bros. secret camera on Superman’s back and we began to see wafts of the Johns we know and love.
Some will say this change was spurred by Lee hitting the happy trails. I don’t think any of us know how Lee and Johns developed the story, so this is true speculation. If Lee was plotting things though, with the art coming first, this theory more than treads water. Johns needs smaller panels with faces to thrive. Big bodacious poses just ain’t where he’s comfortable. So with the right artist in place and some real personality for the remaining team members we enter the first big cross-over for JUSTICE LEAGUE with “Throne of Atlantis.”
JUSTICE LEAGUE 15 delivers on its 42 Point Font cover exclamation – this is indeed A BOLD NEW ERA! And it succeeds for every reason the past 14 issues have faltered.
Epic destruction is the order of the day. After a missile test is sabotaged it sends a barrage of ballistics that give the denizens of Atlantis the Long Johns deep fryer treatment. However, not every mermaid and merman end up cooked, there’s still plenty left to initiate Phase I of the Atlantean Attack plan to…wait for it…drown the Eastern seaboard. After watching countless hours of the Japanese Tsunami on YouTube I figured I would pretty desensitized to comic destruction. Ivan Reis does wonderful work though trumping reality with epic size waves that send Metropolis and Gotham (sing it with me) uhnda da sea, uhnda da sea…Lois, it’s better down where it’s wetter just wait and seeeeeee. If you appreciate good art, there’s a two page spread that one could stare at for five minutes – you’ll know it when you see it.
One could argue that we’ve had big images in JUSTICE LEAGUE prior and that the Darkseid run had thousands of parademons. The problem though was every single page was a bombastic spectacle, with issue 15 the epic is juxtaposed with the closer views of real life. Arthur helping Batman catch a criminal. Superman and Wonder Woman finally going on a date in their civvies (with a very nice explanation on why glasses are such an effective disguise). And of course the grand reveal that Aquaman helped craft the plans that drowned several million people.
Another phenomenal aspect of this JUSTICE LEAGUE arc is the grand villain, the King of Atlantis and Aquaman’s half-brother, the fully Atlantean Orm. All right, I’ll admit I’m cheating here. All of the Orm build-up happened over in AQUAMAN’S title, but honestly what fan of DC isn’t reading AQUAMAN right now? He’s the most interesting thing in scales since Daryl Hannah took a bath in Splash and he’s probably the most three dimensional character in the DCU right now. Also, JUSTICE LEAGUE should be an amalgam that brings books, titles and events together, instead of trying to be the fulcrum from which the universe expands.
For once SHAZAM wasn’t the best thing in JUSTICE LEAGUE, but make no mistake the back-up that should be a full title, continues to deliver. Billy lets adulthood get to his head and we leave with the first encounter between Billy and Black Adam.
Throne of Atlantis is to action, what Death of the Family is too horror – together they show that the superhero genre has many places to go yet other than deconstruction.
GREEN LANTERN #34
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Bromance, man-love, unrequited hairy nipple passion; there have been a slew of terms conjured up over the past few years to help an overarching homophobic society develop a level of comfort for the affection between two men. In the opening pages of this latest foray into the genesis of Earth’s original GREEN LANTERN (no, I don’t consider Alan Scott a Green Lantern) writer extraordinaire Geoff Johns boils down the relationship between Hal Jordan and Sinestro into one simple term that we don’t hear too often anymore: respect.
The friendship once shared by these two has become the stuff of legend over the past forty some odd years. Through a multitude of intergalactic battles and epic douchebaggery on the part of the great magenta one, it’s easy for us all to forget (especially younger readers) that these two were once fighting for the same side. While both acting in the purest sense of their mandated mission by the galactic guardians, it was never the “what” that drove a wedge between them, but rather the “how”.
One of the over arching challenges of doing a prequel is the fact that everyone knows how the story is going to end. The trick is to make the journey enticing by providing unknown nuggets in an entertaining and enlightening fashion. Lucas missed the mark with the last three (or I should say first three) “Star Wars” movies, for example. Johns avoids these trappings by delicately unfolding the Blackest Night prophecy and gently interspersing the feelings of these two emerald juggernauts towards one another and the galactic guardians. This delicate blend of the old and the new satiates even those overflowing with knowledge about all things Emerald, while also providing a damn nice entrance for those that could not tell an Abin Sur from an @$$hole TalkBacker.
What set this issue apart from the rest of the story arc is that Johns is truly starting to embark into new territory despite the fact we’ve all been here before. There is only so much you can do with Hal Jordan’s early years, the man is who he is and the circumstances that made him so are not to be trifled with. His Dad can only die one way if he is going to traverse the rest of his heroic destiny. Johns did an admirable job updating these events with modern sensibilities and his own spot-on interpretation of characterization, but aside from a few nuggets about “the prophecy” (oh the delectable prophecy), much of the material was old hat.
This issue not only tugs at the heart strings, as we see a friendship and a romance (not with Sinestro) form that we know is ultimately doomed, but Johns in usual style delivers a blindsiding donkey punch of action to boot. You want inventive ring wielding? You got it, as Hal for the first time realizes the full potential of not only his ring, but also the man that wields it. Yes, Sinestro is still a condescending prick, but he’s a prick that hasn’t lost his…well, his humanity for lack of a better word. There is a genuine affection for Jordan as Sinesto views a piece of himself in the neophyte ring wielder. Also for the first time in his life Sinestro is plagued with doubt at his own abilities as he sees Jordan overcome that which no other Lantern has ever been able to surmount, the dread color yellow.
This is the first issue where the prophecy became secondary for me and I just wanted to see more of Hal and Sinestro. Ahh well, there will be an issue 35 in four short weeks, where I am most thankful that Guy Gardner is not in the picture yet, because if anyone would drop the term bromance it would be him.
GREEN LANTERN #30
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
Amidst his duties of rebooting the entire DC Universe with FINAL CRISIS and LEGIONS OF THREE WORLDS, Johns continues to build on the breakneck momentum he started with the SINESTRO CORPS WAR with this latest foray into the history of Hal Jordan.
I was a little put off with this first part of this series. I couldn’t buy into the whole concept of once again serving up a “very special” series recounting the turbulent times of Hal Jordan’s youth prior to becoming a green galactic defender. I wondered if there wasn’t some better way to rewrite history to accommodate the Blackest Night prophecy.
After all in the grand scheme of things, while noteworthy, Hal is but a mere zygote in the infinite history of the Green Lantern Corps. Wouldn’t we be better off with a deluxe soft cover a la “GANTHET’S TALE” to unfold the Alpha of this prophecy as we approach the Omega in regular continuity?
I realized, though, that my problem wasn’t with the fact that this was Hal’s story, it was how the Blackest Night material came across. It didn’t feel like it belonged, almost like I was reading two stories. All of the events surrounding the Blackest Night prophecy felt inappropriately bookended around the events recounting the indelible scars of Hal’s youth. I realize now that Johns was telling things from a linear perspective.
This issue takes the same approach, but it feels more integrated this time around. Rightly so, since this issue focuses on the final fateful flight of Abin Sur before he crash landed on Earth and bequeathed the ring to Jordan (actually the ring does the bequeathing, but allow me some poetic license). It was easier as a reader to buy into the prophecy during this issue, since it was all unfolding on familiar ground.
Speaking of familiar ground, I made the mistake in my last review of comparing this origin tale to EMERALD DAWN. While both titles share certain keystones of the series like Abin Sur crash landing on earth and Sinestro still being one of the most complex villains ever to grace the panel pages, Johns makes one quintessential distinction between “Secret Origin” and its predecessor. EMERALD DAWN gave us the “what happened”, while Secret Origin tells us the “why”.
This is the first time I’ve seen someone delve into the psychology of Abin Sur. Why is he in a ship instead of using his ring to fly? What was his compelling reason to come to earth in the first place? At one point, Abin Sur chuckled at the thought of a human taking on the emerald mantle: “He never thought he would see the day”. With that simple line Johns took an epic moment for silver and modern age fans alike and made it his own with subtlety and unwavering reverence.
Aside from the landing and the deeper explanation about the prophecy, the book follows the rest of the GREEN LANTERN canon a little too faithfully. I was really hoping to see a deeper exploration into the relationship between Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris; after all the two are locked in a passionate embrace on the cover. Also, Carol still felt like a corporate piranha, trying to make a way for women in the workforce by being overly bitchy and bossy. This worked for her in the 80s, but feels a little clichéd n 2008. After Johns’ great characterization of the Jordan brothers last issue I was expecting a similar treatment for Carol, although I’m sure if the story continues to form, the persona of Carol will be fleshed out in next month’s issue.
The art was once again top notch. Reis moves between rendering space and terra firma with deftness and unparalleled detail. I don’t know whose idea it was to have Hal be a limp rag doll when he first gains control of the ring and is learning to fly, but it was refreshing to see this “Greatest American Hero” take on learning to use new powers.
Once again a solid title, delivered by a brilliant creative team. I can only hope that this book remains flawless as Johns’ attention is diverted elsewhere in coming months.