Man, I am totally a sucker for the oddness of Grant Morrison. I can be down on the New 52, unengaged with the DCU as a whole, and here I am, thrilled to see the next chapter from DC’s mad scientist.
It doesn’t hurt that this book barely counts as a new 52 (if it does at all). The Superman on the cover is President Superman from another Earth. He teams up with characters like Dino Cop (Savage Dragon?) Captain Carrot, and Aquawoman. These aren’t the New 52 versions of anyone; these are just kick-butt new heroes and analogues. Best of all, it is very easy to find yourself rooting for this random group of champions as they stand against the darkness.
Final Crisis’ Nix Uotan shows up too, as the Superjudge. He’s got a definite super-hero vibe going, and it is impossible not to root for the guy as he saves another hero from the series’ villains. The Thunderer is a great new addition too, and he actually has a much easier time of it than our poor Nix.
The villains. Oh my, the villains. They are absolutely horrific, these cosmic-level threats to the entire omniverse. The Gentry are absolutely wonderful. Their dismissive text-speak is threatening and unique from the very first quote. “We want yu. We want yu 2 give up yr dreams. We want yu 2 abandon all hope. We want 2 make yu like us.” That’s a horrifying villain!
The designs by Ivan Reis are a mix of Lovecraft and Tom Mandrake, absolutely perfect for comic book antagonists. These guys look Shuma Gorath and other Doctor Strange villains rebuilt to face down the Justice League. I can’t understate Reis’ design for the different heroes too. In addition to the mixed up cosmic team from the Hall of Heroes, he also gets to introduce the “Avengers” of Earth 8. Even casual readers can recognize the analogues immediately, and of course, the Hawkeye one captured my attention first.
So one issue in, we’ve seen a couple Earths. Earth 7 is the Thunderer’s Earth, and it has already fallen to the Gentry. It seems Thunderer might be the only survivor.
Earth 23, home of President Superman, our point of view character and protagonist. He’s a cool hero, taking absolutely everything in stride. Nothing surprises him in this whole issue.
Earth 8 is ALMOST the same as 7. Home to the Major Comics style heroes, who are remarkably similar to the Avengers. (Lord Havok as Dr. Doom is pretty dang awesome.)
But the BEST thing about this EXCELLENT comic? That the narration boxes are screaming warnings and threats at the reader. Morrison is crazy, but man, he makes fantastic comics.