Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Multiversity: Mastermen #1

What an open. I’m certain that I’ve never read a comic where the opening shot was Adolf Hitler reading a comic and crying on the toilet. Holy cow. That’s a statement!

We’ll lead off with the artwork, because it is pretty rare to see Jim Lee drawing a full comic these days, and I believe this is the first time Lee has worked with Grant Morrison. (Or am I forgetting a previous collaboration?) Lee does a nice job with the art, as always. His redesigns for the Nazi Justice League aren’t off-the wall creative, but they certainly get the point across. I particularly enjoyed the blonde and Aryan Wonder Woman. Most interesting to me is seeing Leatherwing, the evil Batman. Even that variant makes me miss seeing Lee’s dynamic Batman in action regularly.

Morrison comes out with a bit of nature vs. nurture here. The Nazis raised this alternate Superman into Overman; an evil tyrant. Yet as we see him age into adulthood, he clearly retains some of Superman’s inherent goodness. He has done some bad things and supported the wrong side, but it clearly weighs on his soul. It’s neat that Morrison loves Superman enough to write him like this.

As for the Freedom Fighters? Uncle Sam is more of a rebellious leader representing a forgotten America. The Human Bomb gets a few moments to shine. The rest of the team is reduced to one (admittedly cool) splash page. That’s OK, this is a book starring villains, where the heroes get the page count reserved for antagonists.

Should I be embarrassed that I think I finally understand the structure of these Morrison Multiversity books? Let’s start with the obvious; each issue shows us a glimpse of an alternate Earth, complete with its own set of super heroes. And again, it is obvious that at least one member of the Gentry will show up, sewing chaos and discord on that Earth. What is unclear to me is the role the multiple versions of Dr. Sivana serve. Is Sivana working for the Gentry? Do the Gentry work for him? Is Sivana incidental or integral to the greater Multiversity plot?

Now, for the first few issues, I was annoyed at the cliffhanger endings. In almost every case, the book ends with an apocalyptic scene clearly caused by the Gentry. SOS had the huge invasion. Justice League Me had the Superman robots turning on humanity. And this issue has the Nazi League satellite crashing into Metropolis as the world is tossed into chaos. Each issue ends at about the same point, with little to no resolution for that issue’s plot. I had hoped to see some sort of progression as we moved along, but I don’t’ think we are going to get it. Instead, I think the true conclusion will be in Multiversity #2 (much like the structure of Seven Soldiers). That leaves me with one big question: Will we even see these characters again at all? Will they play a part in Multiversity #2? Will we just follow President Superman and Nix Utoan? I’m curious.

So, like the other Multiversity issues, this is a glimpse of an interesting world with unique takes on the DCU’s heroes and villains. And just like every other issue of Multiversity, I am left wanting more. I want to know how the story ends.  

This is a FAIR comic; I just wish I had more of the story. Even when the set up is simpler than most of the other Multiversity titles, I’m still more interested in this than the new 52.

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