Welcome back, gang, for another stab at Grant Morrison's Multiversity. We had a thread about this title once before, but it petered out. Which was fine, until the second issue came out, which just begs for closer examination. So let's begin again. 

I'm no expert on Morrison, or his themes/hobby horses (I'll leave that to Feargal). But I am pretty familiar with comics history, so at the very least let me point out the trail markers as Morrison does shout-outs forward, backward and sideways. In other words: annotation, not analysis.(You guys can do the analysis!)

Step one is necessarily the Map of the Multiversity DC released. It's not only a blueprint of the DCU, but also a roadmap of sorts for Multiversity. Here 'tis (click for larger image):

Note, for example, that at dead center of the multiverse is the "House of Heroes," which will be referenced in the first issue.

More significantly, while there are 52 worlds, there is an Earth-0 (Us?), so the count will be from 0-51 -- meaning there's no Earth-52. Further, there are seven worlds denoted by question marks, presumably referring to the missing numbers 14, 24, 25, 27, 28, 46 and 49. Earth-30 has a hammer and sickle on it, Earth-10 has a red X on it, Earth-29 is square (Bizarro World?), Earth-26 has cartoon eyes and there oddities like Earth-19 where it's hard to tell what is meant.

But I'm getting ahead of myself ...

THE MULTIVERSITY #1

Cover

We see President Superman, Calvin Ellis of Earth-23, where there's an all-black Justice League, first seen in Final Crisis #7 (2009). We see Captain Carrot of Earth-C (which I imagine will get an official number before this is over), first seen in an insert in New Teen Titans #16 (1982). We also see a Mary Marvel, earth origin unknown, and a red-skinned Green Lantern with horns (Abin Sur of Earth-20). 

Page 1

The camera opens on a city with people running around like bugs, zooming in closer and closer to a woman knocking on a door, closer still to lice in her hair. The omniscient narrator intones about life taking root wherever it can. Morrison often announces his themes with the opening panels, Iike with Anthro in Final Crisis #1, and I don't believe this to be an exception. 

Page 2

A young black male is typing in commentary on the Cosmic Cosmos Forum about a new comic book from DC titled Ultra Comics, which is rumored to be haunted. I don't know if it's significant, but there was a comic book published by Fawcett that ran 14 issues from 1951-53 titled This Magazine Is Haunted.

The man is addressing a stuffed monkey as Mr. Stubbs. Mr. Stubbs was a circus chimpanzee in the 1880 children's book Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks with a Circus, which was adapted into the Disney movie Toby Tyler in 1960.

The young man is listening to music (presumably) on earphones; music will play a big role in this series, so that might be important.

Page 3

The captions in Ultra Comics appear to be warning not just the young black man but also us readers to not read any further. Morrison has often broken the fourth wall, and appears to be doing so here. Mr. Stubbs comes alive (in a pirate outfit) and urges the young black man to change into his alter ego, Nix Uotan, the last of the Monitors, as seen in Morrison's Final Crisis.

Page 4

Nix Uotan refers to his super alter ego as Superjudge. That's a new reference, unless you count the obscure album by the obscure band Monster Magnet.

Page 5

The comic book has evidently summoned Nix Uotan to Earth-7, which he travels to in a ship named Ultima Thule. "Ultima Thule" was used in ancient times as a generic reference to someplace far away, generally impossible to get to. By Medieval times "Ultima Thule" was used to denote far Northern lands about which little was known, and at various times was a reference for various far-Northern areas, such as Scandinavia, the Shetlands, even an island in the Baltic Sea. The Thule Society, formed in 1918 in Germany, believed that Thule/Hyperborea was a perfect place in antiquity, possibly Atlantis, far in advance of us technologically, and the birthplace of the Aryan race. (As you can imagine, these Aryan-lovers were tight with the Nazis.) In modern times, Thule is a place in Greenland. Whether Morrison is referencing any of this, or even Conan's Hyperborea, or Aquaman's Atlantis, or Lori Lemaris' Atlantis, or even Arion's Atlantis, isn't clear.

Earth-7 is adjacent to the House of Heroes on the map, immediately to the left.

When Superjudge and Mr. Stubbs arrive on Earth-7, it is in ruins. Dead super-people litter the ruins, although I can't distinguish any of them. The words "We Need Your Help" appear in the air.

Page 6

The words in the air are apparently a message from an ethereal, vaporized Invisible Woman analog. A fiery face appears to be a transformed Human Torch analog. A stretched-out Mr. Fantastic analog dominates the foreground, while some of the ruins are sentient and moving, apparently all that's left of this planet's version of The Thing. 

Page 7

Superjudge describes Earth-7 as "so badly out of tune, the laws of physics have been disabled." Another reference to music.

We also meet The Thunderer, the Thor analog of this world, likely based on Australian Aborigine myths or folklore, given his dialect. At his feet are various dead super-people that are avatars of both Marvel and DC characters, including Captain America, Superman, Vision, Blue Devil and Wonder Woman. (There are more, but I can't distinguish them, although one of them is possibly Cyclops.)

Page 9

The chief bad guy appears, announcing he and his kind as The Gentry, who want to remove all hope. Weirdly, he reminds me of the sidekick in Berni Wrightson's Captain Sternn. It's essentially an eyeball with bat wings. That's actually a fairly common image, but I don't know where it comes from.

We see The Thunderer from behind this time, so the figures in the background are clearer. Still can't tell if that's supposed to be a faux-Cyclops or not.

Page 14

Thunderer mentions "the Rainbow or Worlds," possibly a reference to the Multiversity Map. (He also loses his "Thor" powers -- and his front teeth -- as he reverts to Don Blake an ordinary Aborigine.

Page 15

Thunderer says "the Pitiless Ones" are from "behind the invisible rainbow" and are "opposite of everything natural." One must assume again that he is referring to the Multiversity Map, and that The Gentry are from beyond its borders. 

Nix Uotan references "The Orrery" and the "House of Heroes" from the Map.

Page 16

We meet the other Gentry: Dame Merciless, Hellmachine, Lord Broken, Demogorgunn and Intellectron. These names are not familiar to me. The latter two are portmanteaus of Demiurge/Gorgon and intellect/electron. There is a demogorgon in mythology, but it's not a significant figure.

Page 17

The "anti-death equation" is described as something that won't let you die and/or extends the moment of death indefinitely, as opposed to the anti-life equation -- central to Final Crisis -- which removes free will.

Page 18-19

We visit Earth-23 and President Superman. On Earth-23 Brainiac is apparently Superman's computer/major domo. 

Page 20

The President's assistant is Courtney. I am unfamiliar with any significant Courtneys in DC history that look like this twentysomething brunette. Courtney Whitmore is a blonde teenager.)

Page 21

We meet Earth-23's Justice League, whose headquarters resembles the pre-Crisis Justice League's satellite. Members include Steel, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Zatanna, Black Lightning, Batman, Green Lantern, Red Tornado, Vixen and a man in a leather jacket with a half-helmet of gold -- likely Mr. Terrific, but possibly Dr. Fate or Guardian. All are black except possibly Batman, who is probably black, but if he is, he's very light-skinned. 

Superman has destroyed a robot of unknown origin and unknown materials that degrades upon contact with real-world physics -- obviously, something from The Gentry's neck of the woods. Wonder Woman suggest they look for its origins "in higher planes and rare geometries, or in the harmony of spheres where endless worlds and voices sing in rhapsody sublime." 

This might be a good time to mention that all of this talk of music, musical spheres and harmony has resonance with the ancient theory of "the music of the spheres" as well as the original separation of Earth-One and Earth-Two by vibrations.

For Music of the Spheres I can't do better than Wikipedia:

"Musica universalis (lit. universal music, or music of the spheres) or Harmony of the Spheres is an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the SunMoon, and planets—as a form of musica (the Medieval Latinterm for music). This "music" is not usually thought to be literally audible, but a harmonic and/or mathematical and/or religious concept. The idea continued to appeal to thinkers about music until the end of the Renaissance, influencing scholars of many kinds, including humanists.

The Music of the Spheres incorporates the metaphysical principle that mathematical relationships express qualities or "tones" of energy which manifest in numbers, visual angles, shapes and sounds – all connected within a pattern of proportion. Pythagoras first identified that the pitch of a musical note is in proportion to the length of the string that produces it, and that intervals between harmonious sound frequencies form simple numerical ratios.[1] In a theory known as the Harmony of the Spheres, Pythagoras proposed that the Sun, Moon and planets all emit their own unique hum (orbital resonance) based on their orbital revolution,[2] and that the quality of life on Earth reflects the tenor of celestial sounds which are physically imperceptible to the human ear.[3] Subsequently, Plato described astronomy and music as "twinned" studies of sensual recognition: astronomy for the eyes, music for the ears, and both requiring knowledge of numerical proportions.[4]

Meanwhile, the original concept introduced in "Flash of Two Worlds" in Flash #123 (1961) was that each universe vibrated at a slightly different rate, so the Flashes could travel from one world to another by adapting their internal vibration to the universe they wanted to visit. 

Morrison appears to be tying the vibrational concept to a literal Music of the Spheres.

Page 22

On Earth-23, Lex Luthor was trying to access the multiverse with a "Transmatter Symphonic Array" -- which suddenly activates and whisks Superman to ... 

Page 24-25

... the House of Heroes, "outside of normal time and space -- between universes" at the center of the Multiverse (according to the Map). We learn this and a whole lot more exposition from Captain Carrot, who has also been pulled to the House by a Transmatter "Hutch' as have a host of other heroes, each pulled by a Transmatter machine of some kind, which materialized on their worlds after Thunderer sent out an SOS. Captain Carrot describes the fluid in which the worlds exist as "Bleedspace" that's rotating through the fifth dimension (where Mr. Mxyzptlk lives) around a fixed point of the multiversal Orrery of Worlds."

Addendum: Captain Carrot thinks he has met Superman, but he's thinking of the Superman from Earth-One, whom he met in Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew #1. CC says that all humans look alike to him -- a racial slur on our planet, but here, the reverse: Captain Carrot literally cannot tell the black Superman from the white one. They're all equal in his eyes.

He also refers to the House of Heroes as "a watchtower," which has JLA resonance.

It is also called Valla-Hal, Valhalla sideways.

Page 26-27

We meet more heroes snatched up by the SOS. We see (and will later be introduced to) Spore and Dino-Cop (Spawn and Savage Dragon) from Earth-41, Red Racer and Power Torch (Flash and Green Lantern) from Earth-36, Vixen and Bloodwynd (no Earth specified), a Hawkman of unknown origin, Aquawoman of Earth-11 (probably the world of gender swaps we've seen before), Lady Quark and Lord Volt (of Earth-6, first seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, 1986, and subsequently killed, so these may not be the same ones), plus chibi versions of Wonder Woman and Steel.

Incidentally, the Image planet Earth-41 is exactly on the opposite side of the Map as President Superman's Earth-23, which is probably significant, as we'll see next issue.

Page 28-29

Superman's Brainiac belt buckle makes contacts with the computer which is ... Harbinger. Or "Harbinger Systems," with a big floating Lyla "Harbinger" Mychaels head. Of course, she's been dead for a long time, and even showed up as a Black Lantern in "Blackest Night." She refers to herself as having been sleeping, but ... oh, who knows? Can't have a Crisis without a Harbinger, I guess.

Harbinger says "Earth-4. Earth-5. Earth-10. Earth-16. Earth-20. Earth-33. The Multiverse needs you!"

However, the team that goes to rescue Nix Uotan are not from those planets, so I don't know what that means.

ADDENDUM: Since Earth-20 needs help in the next issue, maybe those are the six Earths we're going to see imperiled in issues #2-7.

Page 30-31

The rescue party will consist of Superman of Earth-23, Thunderer of Earth-7, Red Racer of Earth-36, Aquawoman of Earth-41 and Captain Carrot of Earth-C. (I wonder if Earth-C is Earth-26, the one with the cartoon eyes on the Map? Seems likely.)

We learn that the Ultima Thule is made of "frozen music." 

We learn that Red Racer, like Barry Allen, is a comic book fan.

We learn that the adventures of the various heroes appear in other universes as comic books, just like Barry Allen reading about Jay Garrick back in "Flash of Two Worlds." 

We learn that Red Racer's civilian name is Ray (Palmer?) and Power-Torch's is Hank (Hall?). Their good-byes are very intimate, and one assumes they are gay. Their world's Superman was named Optiman, and he's dead.

The Justice League on Earth-36 is called Justice 9.

Marvel Comics on Earth-36 are called Major Comics.

Page 32

Morrison drives home the Music of the Spheres bit.

Red Racer: "-- vibrations! Of course -- the worlds of the Multiverse vibrate together! Separated only by their different pitches."

Thunderer (who has gotten his powers, and his front teeth, back): Fifty-two worlds occupying the same space. All ringing. It's all one big song."

Superman discovers the Ultima Thule is a trans-dimensional yacht powered by sound vibrations. "A musical engine for traveling between universes." He powers the ship by playing music, and selects destination by alter the pitch. 

Page 33

The crew sees a horrible monster in the Bleed between universes. Remember life taking root wherever it can, filling in every niche? I think that's what is happening here -- and possibly with The Gentry as well.

Page 34

We see Lord Havok (Dr. Doom) facing off against the Future Family (Fantastic Four) on Earth-8. He has the Omni-Gauntlets (Nega-Bands? Infinity Gauntlet?), the Genesis Egg (no idea) and the Lightning-Axe of Wundajin (hammer of Thor) which he claims will give him the Power Eternal (Power Cosmic?).

It should be noted that a Thor analog named Wandjina first appeared in Justice League of America #87 (1971) as part of the Champions of Angor, which included Bluejay (Yellowjacket), Silver Sorceress (Scarlet Witch), Captain Speed (Quicksilver), Bowman (Hawkeye) and Tin Man (Iron Man), all of whom are dead, at least they were.

Pages 35-39

We meet the Retaliators (Avengers) of Earth-8, which include Wundajin (Thor), Crusader (Captain America), Machinehead (Iron Man), David "Behemoth" Dibble (Bruce David "Hulk" Banner), Bug (Spider-Man) and characters that look suspiciously like Falcon, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Hawkeye.

The Behemoth isn't just childlike like the Hulk, he's actually a giant, blue, super-strong baby in a diaper (like Baby Huey). 

Red Racer is the one who knows the names of their foes, from reading Major Comics (Marvel Comics) and seeing their movies. He also mentions the G-Men (X-Men) and Stuntmaster (probably the Daredevil analog, given that the Stuntmaster was a DD villain, but he rode a motorcycle, so he could be a Ghost Rider analog). 

Captain Carrot is governed by cartoon (Tex Avery) physics, which appears to be a super-power of sorts.

Pages 40-43

Lord Havok cracks open the Genesis Egg, apparently killing him (with the help of "Hawkeye") and the Future Family. He dies saying "I saw their faces," which I'm guessing is a reference to The Gentry.

Page 44

Nix Uotan is now calling himself "The Judge of Worlds" and has apparently been corrupted by The Gentry.

Once again the captions speak directly to the reader. If nothing else we should assume that the comic book we are reading is telling true events from elsewhere in the multiverse, and that it is, perhaps, haunted.

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Some additions (if I may)

Page 7

We see ghostly images of characters from previous alternate worlds like Fury (Hippolyta Trevor)) and Firebrand II from Earth-Two, Nightstar and Hawkman from Kingdom Come and Starfire from Earth-One among others.

Page 25

Doctor Hoot was an actual foe in Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew.

Page 28

Superman exclaims "Great Vathlo!" Vathlo was a Bronze Age addition to Krypton. It was the home of a "highly-advanced black race". They meant well...

Page 35

The winged woman is wearing a costume similar to the Falcon's original green and orange outfit.

Philip Portelli said:

Some additions (if I may)

Good lord, by all means! There are too much Easter eggs for one person to catch!

Page 7

We see ghostly images of characters from previous alternate worlds like Fury (Hippolyta Trevor)) and Firebrand II from Earth-Two, Nightstar and Hawkman from Kingdom Come and Starfire from Earth-One among others.

Case in point: I completely missed those ghostly images. My eyes aren't what they used to be, but also I was focused on the FF analogs. (Weirdly, Morrison kills off two versions of the FF in the same issue!) Thanks!

Page 25

Doctor Hoot was an actual foe in Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew.

I knew that, but didn't think it was worth mention any more than saying "Lex Luthor is an actual foe of Superman." But sometimes I forget not everyone has read everything I have!

Page 28

Superman exclaims "Great Vathlo!" Vathlo was a Bronze Age addition to Krypton. It was the home of a "highly-advanced black race". They meant well...

Thanks again. Interestingly, Grant Morrison made a point about race in that to Captain Carrot, there was no difference between the black Superman and the white one. Which is another point I forgot to make:

Page 24

Captain Carrot says he has met Superman before, but it was the Earth-One Superman in Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew #1.

The winged woman is wearing a costume similar to the Falcon's original green and orange outfit.

I mentioned that there was a Falcon analog on Earth-8, but didn't mention the costume. I don't know if that's significant -- but, it could be.

Also, while I mentioned that there are other instances where it's been established that events on one Earth tend to show up as comic books on other Earths, I missed a big one: Super Squirrel. Captain Comics and the Zoo Crew visited an earth where the Just a Lotta Animals existed, despite Captain Carrot believing that he created them (in his civilian ID as a comic-book artist). 

Another big one is the Justice League of America two-parter that showed the Earth-Prime Cary Bates and Elliot Maggin interacting with the Justice League, and anohter is the one where Flash met the Earth-Prime Julius Schwarz. But I don't know if those two exist any more, because I don't think Earth-Prime exists any more. Dunno.

Actually Super Squirrel and the Just A Lot Animals was Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw!'s original pitch to DC but the legal department said that there would be issues with merchandising them so Roy and Scott came up with Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew. Not that they merchandised Captain Carrot either, more the pity.

Some have complained about Captain Carrot's new look but I can rationalize as the other heroes' interpretation of Cap's cartoon form. On Earth-C or 26 or whatever, he looks like he always did.

Also we must remember that on his Earth, Captain Carrot is its greatest hero even though that was seldom mentioned. So I approve of his high profile here.

I don't know if the color scheme is important either. It just caught my eye.

As for Earth-Prime, the first explanation was that the writers and artists had dreams about the heroes' REAL adventures and that inspired them. But in Justice League of America #123-124, Elliot S! Maggin seems to imply that he could make the heroes' lives more difficult if he chose to. Or he was just spouting off!

Both the Flash and JLA stories feature the same Earth-Prime.

Also the Red Racer being a comic book buff is a homage to Barry (Flash) Allen who also collected comics!

The Genesis Egg is probably a counterpart to the Cosmic Cube (aka The Tesseract).  In the MC2 Universe, Spider-Girl occasionally teamed up with twin sisters wearing the original green & orange Falcon costume (only one at a time, as they pretended there was only one such costumed heroine), named Lady Hawk, or something like that.  They didn't have wings tho.

MULTIVERSITY #2

Cover

Doc Fate, Green Lantern (Abin Sur), Lena of the Blackhawks, the Mighty Atom of Earth-20 face off against invading zombies from Earth-40, done in pulp fiction style. From his depiction here and later, it's obvious Doc Fate is this world's Doc Savage analog.

Page 1

A narrator (soon revealed to be Immortal Man of this world) approaches the Tower of Fate -- which, unlike on Earth-Two (and perhaps Earth-0), where it's a windowless stone tower in Salem, Mass., here it's a windowless black obelisk in New York City. It resembles, mildly, the black monoliths of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Immortal Man mentions a Professor Rival (I'm unaware of any actual reference there) once dubbing him Anthro. If you'll recall, Anthro was the beginning and the end of Final Crisis, which looms large in Morrisson's ouevre. 

Pre-Flashpoint, Earth had both an Immortal Man -- an early comic-book character resurrected as one of the justly named Forgotten Heroes -- and a Resurrection Man. In some iterations, they are the same character. This Immortal Man may be the avatar of one of both. He is usually the arch-enemy of another immortal, Vandal Savage. More on him in a minute.

Pages 2-4

We see Immortal Man, and he's dressed like a soldier of fortune of the 1930s, of the heroic mold (Captain Easy, Indiana Jones, et al). 

We meet the five women who comprise the Blackhawks, who are more analogous to the Spice Girls than any Blackhawks I know.

Their leader Lena (Scary Spice) addresses Immortal Man as "Stranger." Phantom Stranger?

Immortal Man mentions "Al Wadi." That's a fairly common term -- and geographic feature -- in the Arab world. Algebra, or whatever his name is in Demon Knights, mentions it as his homeland, so maybe it's a place in DC geography.

Lena mentions "The Gulf," which could be any number of gulfs, from Mexico to Tonkin. Usually -- at least in this century -- it refers to the Persian Gulf. Given Al Wadi above, I wouldn't be surprised if someone can find a specific mention in some DC comic book or other! 

Immortal Man mentions the adventure "The Man-Eating Men of Ghoulistan," which is an unknown reference (at least to me), but sounds very pulp-y, and is a play on Gulistan, which is both a number of places in Iran and a famous collection of poems and short stories by the Iranian poet Sa'di.

Immortal Man gives the Eye of Giaour jewel to Lena. "Giaour" is an unflattering term for outsider or infidel in Turkish, similar to gaijin in Japanese or kaffir in Arabic. It's also a famous poem about Lord Byron, inspired by the Turkish custom of the time of drowning adulterous women in sacks. It also, according to Wiki, has an element of vampirism attached to it. (Allah may curse Giaours to become vampires who feed off the blood of their loved ones.)

That's two poetry references in a single page. Weird.

Immortal Man references "the orphanage" and "the Museum" as if they are places with which he and the Blackhawks are familiar, and the context suggests philanthropy. Did any pulp heroes support an orphanage or museum? That seems to be the vibe. Indiana Jones, of course, supplied antiquities to a university and museums.

We meet Al Pratt, aka The Might Atom, age 18, very similar to the one we know. He wears a full-face, blue mask with a hydrogen symbol on it. That is, of course, explainable as a symbol representing his nom du combat. Of course, it's also the symbol sported by Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen, and given Al's blue face mask, the connection is strong. Of course, the original Atom wore a blue face mask, so it could be coincidence. (Atom is otherwise un-costumed, wearing a sleeveless, V-neck sweater in the collegiate style of the time.)

Al says he is the only person who ever completed "the Iron Munroe bodypower course." This can be a reference to the ubiquitous Charles Atlas ads that ran in comics forever. Also, Iron Munroe was a super-strong comics character first appearing in Shadow #1 in 1940 (published by Street & Smith, the pulp publisher of The Shadow and Doc Savage), who was loosely based on Aarn Monroe, a super-strong pulp character of the '30s. After Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-86), Superman had been erased in pre-Crisis DC history, so Iron Monroe was inserted in his place. This version of the character was the illegitimate son of Hugo Danner, the superhuman protagonist of Philip Wylie's Gladiator, who was an inspiration for both Doc Savage and Superman (with Savage also an inspiration for Superman). 

Interesting that both Doc Fate and The Mighty Atom have Superman connections. Which is this world's Superman analog? And if one is Superman, who is the other? Or are all these characters, being from the pulp genre, pre-Superman? I think I know, and I'm setting up the answer.

The Atom says he wants to hook up with other superheroes to see if he's got the right stuff. Interesting that in this pulp setting, superhero -- a concept which followed the pulp heroes in our world -- is a conventional term and familiar concept. You would think Atom would say "mystery men," not "superheroes." 

Immortal Man calls himself a "friend to the animal kingdom," which could be a connection to Tarzan, Animal Man or even B'wana Beast. Given that Morrison wrote a famous run of Animal Man, it can't be discounted as a throwaway remark. Or it could be there to cement his connection to pulp heroes, especially the many jungle heroes, not just Tarzan but Thun'Da, Ka-Zar and all the rest. It's entirely possible he is all of them, as well as Anthro, Immortal Man and Resurrection Man. He is legend!

Immortal Man also mentions walking "from the center of the earth," which could be a reference to any number of concepts, from Warlord to Pellucidar. Or, again, it could just be cementing his connection to heroes of pulp science fiction, not just ERB's David Innes but also Jules Verne's Arne Saknussemm.

Lena mentions "the Great War against Herr Hex and his Desert Crescent allies." In our world, the Great War was World War I, where the Turks fought on the side of the Germans, so that may explain it all. The mention of Hex -- as in Jonah Hex -- raises other possibilities as well. In interviews, Morrison has mentioned that this world has just finished fighting something akin to World War II, so perhaps on Earth-20 Earth WWI and WWII were combined.

Page 5

Dr. Fate says he prefers the nickname Doc, which was what his father called him, further cementing his Doc Savage cred. 

Fate mentions Ibn al Ghul and his suicide djinn. The former seems a reference to Ra's al Ghul, or perhaps Bruce Wayne's son Ibn al Xu'ffasch in Kingdom Come. Or perhaps, on evil Earth-40, Bruce Wayne becomes Ra's successor (as Ra's wants him to be on our "good" earth), and takes the name Ibn al Xu'ffasch.

I don't know of any "suicide djinn" priors.

Ultra Comics is once again called cursed or haunted, this time by Fate.

Lena curses in Polish (swiety bog, more or less "good God"). Janos Prohaska, DC's Blackhawk, was Polish.

Page 6

We meet Abin Sur (who appeared on the cover to issue #1), who was undoubtedly Earth-0's Green Lantern, albeit unseen, during the pulp era and is so here, where he is likewise the Green Lantern of Sector 2814. Unlike our Abin Sur, this one has horns, like The Demon or Blue Devil. If there is some pulp reason he looks like the popular image of Satan, I don't know it. In story, it gives Abin Sur a reason not to show up until he absolutely has to. And here he is.

Abin Sur's ring is from the Guardians, but it looks like Alan Scott's. Appropriate for the era, one supposes.

Abin Sur says his ring "turns my thoughts into material things." Yes, that's how power rings work. But it was also a theme in Morrison's Animal Man and Final Crisis, where the importance of stories in constructing reality was a theme.

Al Pratt makes his second comic book reference. Like The Flash of Earth-One and Red Racer of Earth-36, he is a comic book fan. Will every team have one, and if so, why? Or does this mean Al is the Flash analog of Earth-20? (No.)

Page 8

Doc Fate's crystal ball shows a phantom airship that appears to be a gigantic Flying Wing. Flying Wings were researched by the U.S., Germans and Soviets between the world wars and sparked the popular imagination. It seems likely they appeared a lot in pulp fiction, as they still do in today's period fiction (Captain America: The First Avenger, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, etc.). However, I'm not pulp-era expert enough to know if this is a specific reference, or if any specific character was closely associated with the Flying Wing. It does seem that bad guys of the era are always either in Flying Wings or dirigibles.

Page 9

We see our superhero team assembled: Mighty Atom, Immortal Man, Doc Fate, Lady Blackhawk, Green Lantern. Normally when five heroes assemble, they are analogs to the Big Five of the Justice League: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern. It's hard to see that here, even if you squint. Maybe Immortal Man is Batman and Atom is Flash, since he's a comic book fan? (No.)

Doc Fate gives the team a name: Society of Superheroes, or S.O.S. The Gentry sent an SOS in issue one to attract Nix Uotan. The Thunderer sent an SOS from the Hall of Heroes to assemble the team to save the multiverse. Here's another SOS in a series, collect 'em all. (And now we know why Al Pratt said "superheroes" and not "mystery men." Morrisson needed the "S"!)

Pages 10-11

We see the Flying Wing. It is from a parallel world that is completely opposite the one we've just been introduced to. (And it's on the opposite side of the Multiversity Map as well.) We're told that every 100,000 years two opposite universes become one, and this is such an occasion. That might explain why the universes remain at a static 52 -- new ones come into being, but combine with existing ones. 

Weirdly, it also mirrors the storyline in Jonathan Hickman's current Avengers titles! Talk about parallel worlds ... 

It is Vandal Savage that is told this by Felix Faust, the latter wearing headgear similar to his early Justice League of America appearances but otherwise dressed in period adventurer clothes (johdpurs, canvas shirt). They are clearly the opposites of Immortal Man and Doc Fate, respectively.

Faust is getting his information from a copy of Ultra Comics. I hear it's haunted, you know.

Savage decides he is a pirate from a pirate universe. Mr. Stubbs wore a pirate uniform in the first issue for no apparent reason.

Pages 12-13

Vandal Savage conquers America with commandos, killer robots and zombies. Killer robots show up everywhere, I know, but were the other two familiar tropes in the pulp era? There was also a killer robot fighting Superman on Earth-23 last issue.

Page 15

The Atom makes another reference to the cursed comic book.

He also talks of his face, and yells "I saw it!" In context, it seems he is referring to "the fear thing" that we will soon learn is Parallax, from Earth-40. But in the previous issue, a distressed character is unmanned by seeing "their faces," presumably The Gentry. It can be read either way.

In the presence of Parallax, The Atom sees what he fears most, the death of Abin Sur. This isn't made clear immediately.

Pages 16-17

As Doc Fate spins up his own Transmatter, The Atom hears the music of the spheres. 

Doc Fate calls Parallax "The Makara," which is a Hindu sea god, half-man and half-fish. It is associated with monsters but is also, oddly, associated with love and desire. 

Fate knows of the Monitors, and says that Nabu (of the helmet, as on Earth-Two, New Earth and then Earth-0) sometimes speaks with the voice of Novu, the proto-Monitor. This jibes with DC history, where the original Monitor subdivided into a lot of little Monitors, the first of which was Dax Novu. (The last of which, of course, is Nix Uotan.)

Fate says "When the Monitor race died, things from outside came to occupy the vacuum they left behind." This takes all the way back to page one of issue one, where the omniscient narrator notes that life fills any available niche. Other references in the first issue support the idea that The Gentry are from outside "the rainbow of worlds" -- a decent description of the Multiversity Map -- and have come here because the death of the Monitors left a niche for them to fill. It's also mirrored by the monster we saw in Bleedspace, filling a void with life. But that's not always a positive. In fact, in three cases we've seen -- lice, the Bleedspace monster, The Gentry -- the life that fills the void is vermin or monstrous. Perhaps it's always vermin, and that's what The Gentry will turn out to be.

Fate says Nix Uotan is imprisoned fighting an eternal battle for all mankind. This has resonance in Valhalla, where the heroes battle for eternity, and other mythological battles that last forever, but also with Roy Thomas' solution as to what to do with the JSA after Crisis on Infinite Earths: He had them fighting Valkyries forever. 

We know the specifics of Nix Uotan's imprisonment: He's fighting The Gentry, and will lose and come back infected by them to face the gang assembled in the Hall of Heroes. But if I'm reading the solicitations right, that story won't conclude until the last issue of Multiversity, #8. Issues 1 and 8 are bookends, and the six issues in between are all one-shots occurring on different parallel worlds.

Fate makes a point about Al Pratt not dying in the temple of Niczhuotan (Nix Uotan). Because Al is one of his "children." Fate says "You're a super-- " but is interrupted. Maybe he was going to say "superhero." But I'm guessing he was going to say "Superman."

Here's my thinking: I'm guessing the rest of S.O.S. is the old guard, and on their way out, and that's why they don't correlate to the Justice League. And we've seen Atom's Superman connections: The mask that makes him the analog to Dr. Manhattan, who is the Superman analog (first superhero) in Watchmen, and the Iron Monroe connection, and the Gladiator connection. I think Atom is meant to be this world's first superhero, its Superman. And those that follow him will match up to the familiar archetypes. In other words, we simply don't have a Batman, Flash or Wonder Woman on Earth-20 ... yet. We have a Green Lantern, but he isn't the modern one, and his ring acts like Alan Scott's. So we don't have the Justice League Green Lantern yet. But if this world was allowed to develop normally, I'm thinking, Atom would be Superman, and the first of the new breed of superhero. Meanwhile, Doc Savage/Fate and the other pulp heroes would fade away. However, that's not going to happen, as we shall see.

Also we see Kent Nelson ... and he's black. Another reason for a full face mask? The second issue in a row with an oblique reference to race. (Remember Captain Carrot can't tell humans apart -- they all look alike to him. He knows them by the color of ... their costumes.)

Page 18

We meet Blockbuster, the "Megaton Monster," the "Brute with the Billion-Dollar Brain." He appears to be an amalgam of Blockbuster, Solomon Grundy and Ultra-Humanite, the latter of which started as a Superman foe. And he is the Atom's opposite number ... because he's Superman. 

The Atom pulls on a spare mask. Does he need the mask for his strength to work? Unclear.

Page 19

Doc Fate calls on Buddhakh-Amun and Ra-Amida. I can't find any specific deities with those names, but you can squint and see Buddha, Amon, Ra and Amidah: one Buddhist reference, two Egyptian gods and a Jewish prayer. That's good enough for me. (If you say them fast you get Buddokan and Ramada, so maybe Morrison had a memorable hotel stay in Japan.) 

Page 21

We meet Lady Shiva, Lady Blackhawk's opposite number. You all know Lady Shiva, right?

Savage is holding a piece of the meteor that made him immortal, and he plans to use it to kill the Immortal Man. I don't recall this bit of lore from any previous Savage story, but there are a lot of magic rocks out there -- the Philosopher's Stone, the Starheart, Star Sapphires, etc. -- and this could be an echo of any of them.

Savage wants to raise a god from hell to do his bidding. One of The Gentry? Etrigan? Trigon?

Page 26

Fate says, "Zombies! I expected something more original." A commentary on today's pop culture?

Faust makes Earth-40's connection to The Gentry concrete.

Page 27

The Atom uses the Atom Punch, which he said earlier went against his principles. The original Atom had an Atomic Punch, but it wasn't really anything but a good right cross, while in later iterations he had super-strength derived from radiation, and could focus that radiation into an atomic punch, so the term meant something a bit more. 

Page 28

Al agonizes over having killed a man. He mentions his principles again.

Page 29

Parallax, the opposite number for Abin Sur, finally gets a proper name.

Doc Fate straps Faust into an "electro-re-habilitation program." This mirrors Doc Savage's methods of rehabilitating criminals.

Page 31

Reflected sunlight off The Eye of Giaour briefly blinds Shiva, allowing Lady Blackhawk a temporary victory. 

Page 32

Immortal Man gives us the poop on the meteor rocks. On Savage's world, the meteor that gave Savage his immortality became the first murder weapon, while on Immortal Man's world it became a holy relic. Another parallel. 

Page 33

Like the Egyptian swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Shiva confronts the Blackhawk squadron and learns what happens when you bring a sword to a gunfight.

Page 34

Doc Fate fears that he has transgressed his own principles as well.

Atom mentions another fear, that he'll be disfigured. That never happened to any Al Pratt that I know, but in DC history it happened to his son, Damage.

Page 35-36

Abin Sur recites the Green Lantern oath and destroys Parallax, the pawn of "Count Sinestro," whom he is holding.

Page 38-39

Immortal Man turns his holy relic into a spearpoint, and kills Vandal Savage. 

Immortal Man reflects that the first thing he made was a weapon. If he is Anthro and Final Crisis is history, then the first thing he made was fire, after Metron gave him the knowledge.

In DC history, Vandal Savage is Cain of biblical lore. Him smiting Immortal Man with a rock in the head is an echo of the first murder.

But Savage is pleased with the results. "All of you -- I've turned you into -- killers." Well, some of them might have been before -- the Blackhawks weren't throwing beans from their airplane's guns -- but even Green Lantern and Atom have killed. Which I suspect means that no heroic age will come to this world: Their Superman has broken his principles, so no super-people will follow. That's my guess, anyway.

Savage also says spilling immortal blood will summon Nix Uotan (now corrupted by The Gentry).

Page 40

Sure enough. Perhaps this is the demon Savage meant to bring to earth. And Immortal Man says "SOS!"

Seems the Superman of Earth-23 would be the Sunshine Superman Morrison briefly mentioned in Animal Man.

Different worlds must have different Cain's, since Cain of House of Mystery is also supposed to be the Biblical Cain.

All these realities but no room for Earth-1 or Earth-2?

How do you know there's no Earth-One or Earth-Two? Most of these earths aren't explored, and six of them don't even have numbers! 

It just seems extremely unlikely we'll see them after all the efforts they've made over the years to erase all signs of them. They've made it pretty clear they don't want an old Jay Garrick or Alan Scott.
The question "What lies beyond" does imply there are more than 52 worlds, though, so we'll see.



Philip Portelli said:

Also the Red Racer being a comic book buff is a homage to Barry (Flash) Allen who also collected comics!

That was my favorite detail of the first issue!

...Notice that next issue's cover promises Jakeem Thunder(of course , promises may be nonfulfilled/fulfilled differently than expected) , nonseen in the N52 years...........

True. Jay Garrick and Alan Scott are in the N52 but they're not the characters we know. And a lot of Supergirls have turned up but none of them were the one that died in Crisis.

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