Deadshirt Is Reading… Multiversity, Diversity and Autobot Adversity

Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.

Dom, Max, and Jason are reading…

In honor of this week’s release of the greatly anticipated first issue of Multiversity (for context, DC officially announced the book in 2012 for a 2013 release), Deadshirters Dominic Griffin, Max Robinson, and Jason Urbanciz fine-tuned their vibrational frequencies to share their impressions of it.

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Multiversity #1

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado (inks) and Nei Ruffino (colors)

Lettered by Todd Klein

DC Comics

“Who else wants to argue with cartoon physics?”

Dom: Ever since Grant Morrison and collaborator Frank Quitely debuted Multiversity art at MorrisonCon in late 2012 (and, if we’re being honest, even before that) this has been the most hotly anticipated comic book project in the known universe. In the weeks leading up to this first issue being released, I won’t deny a sense of foreboding, of worry, that perhaps my favorite writer on Earth might not deliver, given the crushing pressure of expectations. I am ecstatic to report the contrary. In fact, I think this book arriving two years after the beginning of the Nu52 is something of a Godsend, as it colors the entire project a distinct shade of “Fuck you, DiDio.”

I trust my feelings about this comic will only grow more passionate and complex over the next few months as new issues drop and new meanings become apparent, but for now, Multiversity feels like Grant Morrison reminding DC of what makes them, and the medium of comics, so special. Having a diverse, interdimensional superhero team traverse the multiverse, battling something called The Gentry seems as thin a veiled metaphor for Comics As Key To The Optimistic Future of Humanity as anything Morrison has ever given us. As special an event as this is, I want regular comics to be more like this. Death to the DC House Style. Fuck high collars and amputated limbs. I want more of Black President Superman and Bulked Up Roger Rabbit and Aboriginal Thor and Nerd Flash and Aquawoman and Monkey Dressed Up Like A Pirate. That’s what comics should be about.

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Max: Wow yeah this book was worth the wait. I like that, this first issue atleast, is as much a loving tribute to 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths (Reis nails the George Perez vibe on those crowd scenes aboard the Monitor’s satellite) as it is a follow-up to 2008’s Final Crisis. The playful tone of this issue, like Morrison’s hyperbolic, seemingly screaming narration boxes bossing the reader around, or his inspired Bugs-Bunny-as-Superman take on Captain Carrot, works in tandem nicely with some of the deeper messages he’s beginning to put in place. (It doesn’t seem like an accident that the three ostensible leads of this issue are people of color.) The end result is a comic that offers genuine narrative complexity while still being a complete thrill to read. Be sure to check out David Uzumeri’s always invaluable annotations on the issue over at Comics Alliance.

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Jason: Yeah, I loved it too. The book hammers at the same themes as Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis: that darkness is trying to eat our souls and fiction is the only force powerful enough to save us all. I can get the criticism that Multiversity doesn’t differ in basic story from those two previous works (and a lot of his other stuff too), but that’s been a lot of Morrison’s DC work over the last decade, using multiple story arcs to hammer at and refine an approach to a similar theme. Re-reading the Batman & Son collection of the beginning of his years-long run across multiple Batman titles, it’s amazing to see how many themes are there from the very beginning. They are wrapped up and reopened time and time again during his run and it’s no different here. I loved going back to Action Comics #9 and seeing how many threads from that book lead directly into this, and I can’t wait to start diving into the individual worlds that make up the sadly ignored DC Multiverse. (Yeah, Earth 2 has its own book, but it’s just Earth 1 with a different coat of paint.)

Reis’s work here is smart enough to get out of the way of the story (but the Perez call-back during the Watchtower scenes was beautiful), especially since the art will really be the star as they drill down into the individual earths. This book was announced in 2008 and I’ve been building it up in my head since then, but it’s managed to meet my expectations and that’s pretty amazing. My biggest disappointment with this book isn’t Morrison or his collaborators’ fault at all. It’s just that he’s again setting up this massive framework that the whole company could jump off of but it’ll be forgotten once it’s over, shelved along with all the heroes of Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis’s Super Young Team (though Joe Casey made an admirable attempt with FC: Dance). This book is a diamond in the rough when it should be sitting at the center of a field of other gems.

Sarah Register is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 6.38.44 PMStorm #2

Written by Greg Pak

Art by Victor Ibañez and Ruth Redmond (colors)

Lettered by Cory Petit

Marvel

 “I got a feeling you had a bad girl hiding inside you long before we ever said hi.”

Storm appears in a long overdue solo series and adds to the few female lead titles of Marvel NOW. Ororo Munroe is dealing with a lot after everything that has happened in the past year or so. Without even realizing she’s doing it, she veers off to try and find herself, pushing away her more grand titles and trying to reconnect with the little girl who grew up on the streets of Cairo.

It’s interesting to watch Storm put her larger obligations on the back burner. Her encounters in this story are less grand and more grounded, literally underground in this issue in which she transitions from Wind-Rider to sewer-exploring sleuth in order to find a missing non-mutant person. Hank and others are questioning her motives to involve herself in such small-scale matters, but then kind of catch on and help out. When you spend your life winning and losing these world-altering battles, helping out a troubled teen can be restorative. This change is even apparent in the art–Ibañez not only nails the powerful goddessy aspects of Storm but also illustrates her with pretty killer taste in civvies (in which she spends a lot of her time).

Part of me is almost a little disappointed that this series is so episodic, but I know Storm is in good hands with Greg Pak. There’s a lot of inner monologuing where Storm compares her worldly-wise way of thinking now to how she used to be, but she still tends to overestimate her own grasp on situations. In the first two issues of the series she’s learned this same lesson twice, and Storm is suddenly so much more human than I’ve ever seen her. It seems as though nothing terribly significant to the Marvel universe will happen in this series, but then again I suppose that’s kind of the point. We’re getting a more intimate look at Ororo in fragments of her more everyday life.

Patrick Stinson is reading…

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 6.39.59 PMThe Transformers: Robots in Disguise #32

Written by John Barber

Art by Andrew Griffith and Brendan Cahill (pencils) Josh Perez and Joana Lafuente (colors)

Lettered by Tom B. Long

IDW

“You’re actually surprised someone would turn on you…when you allow creatures like Prowl into your ranks?”

This issue is what Transformers is like when it is firing on all cylinders. The road to get here was a little uneven. This arc has used flashback and in medias res heavily, trying to create mood and beat a slow-burning story into the rhythms that fit single-issue stories. Unfortunately, the result is a few plot elements and character motivations that weren’t quite sold effectively.

However, this is Transformers. When you really knock the action, humor, and melodrama out of the park, the rest will be forgiven. Griffith and Cahill have created some of the greatest on-page action Transformers comics have ever seen, flawlessly depicting a complex and chaotic firefight between Autobot infiltrators, Decepticon commanders, the Earth Defense Command base, and the main Autobot and Decepticon forces on Bikini Atoll. It’s all being puppeteered by master bastard Prowl, who’s seemingly reaffirmed his loyalty to the Autobot cause but with more ruthless methods than ever (which is saying something). Interestingly, both Prowl and the Decepticon Soundwave are given moments of redemption in the battle, continuing the general refusal of the comic franchise to paint anyone as a one-dimensional villain. Galvatron, who’s been portrayed as a somewhat thick Evil Space Conan here, gets a chance to show a little more guile, broadening his character and positioning himself as a much more dangerous obstacle to Soundwave’s alliance with Earth.

While new readers should just roll with the action and the witty puns (there is now an ongoing gag in both books about the Transformers mispronouncing and otherwise mangling the English language), people who’ve followed the arc are rewarded with some of the earlier confusing alliances being clarified. The ongoing “wtf is Prowl up to?” thread is resolved in a way that should greatly satisfy fans of the character.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Todd KleinRead More: Grant Morrison’s ‘The Multiversity ‘Annotations, Part 1 | http://comicsalliance.com/multiversity-dc-comics-grant-morrison-annotations-part-1/?trackback=tsmclip

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