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
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We visit Earth-23 and President Superman. On Earth-23 Brainiac is apparently Superman's computer/major domo.
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.)
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 Sun, Moon, 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. 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, and that the quality of life on Earth reflects the tenor of celestial sounds which are physically imperceptible to the human ear. 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.
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.
On Earth-23, Lex Luthor was trying to access the multiverse with a "Transmatter Symphonic Array" -- which suddenly activates and whisks Superman to ...
... 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not really a pulp novel, but this brought to mind the novel, "Childhood's End".
Also we see Kent Nelson ... and he's black.
I thought he was of asian descent.
Why change Abin Sur like that? It's not like the regular Abin is going to suddenly show up or anything. Last I heard he was still dead.
There's dead and then there's Bucky dead. Er...I mean...there's dead and there's Abin Sur dead. Er...uh...never mind...
To make him more visually striking and distinct.
Or to make him look less like Sinestro!
Never saw any resemblance between them. Horns implies he's not the good guy regular Abin Sur was. (Although no superhero these days is the good guy he used to be.) Maybe he eventually turns into that world's Sinestro?
Ah, Ron. Did you read the comics? This alternative world Abn Sur looking like the devil and hiding away is part of what the comic is about - in fact one of the things the whole series is about.
Throw away the stereotypes. Accept the different. etc.
Does it now?
The ones where he was a detective and pretending to be human. Before they turned him into a green Superman.
THE MULTIVERSITY #3
The cover is modeled after a celebrity magazine like Us Weekly or People, titled The Just. (All of which reminds me of a magazine my sisters liked when they were teenagers in the '60s: Teen Beat. Some things never change.) It features vignettes of several superheroes who appear to be second-generation heroes, dealing with them in a superficial, celebrity manner.
From the list on the side of the cover, we see this issue features Earth-16. A blurb at the top right nicknames it "Earth-ME!" -- which is also the title of the story.
Blurb: ALEXIS -- SMILING!
Picture: Alexis Luthor holding up a key (and smiling)
Quote: "He gave the the key to the Batcave!"
This is a reference to the daughter of Luthor dating the son of Batman (Damian Wayne), which inside is a secret.
Blurb: SASHA -- REBOUNDING!
Picture: Sasha Norman (Sister Miracle, daughter of Shilo Norman, the second Mr. Miracle, who had a big role in Morrison's Seven Soldiers.)
Quote: "I'm gonna party Jakeem Thunder right out of my life!"
This is a reference to Sasha breaking up with Thunder (also referenced inside), who was introduced in 1999 JSA comics as Jakeem Williams, but took the name Jakeem Thunder when he discovered he controlled the magical genie formerly called Thunderbolt with the magic words "so cool." The genie changed his name to Johnny Thunderbolt, because it was combined with the spirit of Johnny Thunder, the original master of the genie. Jakeem Thunder has yet to appear in the New 52 AFAIK.
Picture: Batman II and Superman II (Chris Kent)
Blurb: Is the WORLD'S FINEST bromance over?
Obviously, that's a reference to how the first Superman and Batman were the "World's Finest" crime-fighting team. This "World's Finest" is just a friendship. The two do have an ongoing disagreement inside, and there is some friction over Alexis, but they are still friends.
Chris Kent was introduced in the 1990s as Lor-Zod, the son of General Zod, who was rescued from the Phantom Zone and adopted by Clark Kent and Lois Lane (they were married at the time). He aged in spurts due to having been in the Zone, and was a teenaged Nightwing (Kandorian variety) before the Old 52 ended in Flashpoint. He doesn't exist in the New 52 AFAIK.
Blurb: KON-EL -- "DON'T CALL ME SUPERBOY!"
Picture: Kon-El (Connor Kent)
Blurb: "... but can he make it in the art world?"
This is a reference to inside, where Kon-El is an artist who has a show at an art gallery. In the '90s, Kon-El was a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor who couldn't age -- and here he is, still 16. In addition to traditional Superman powers, he has "tactile telekinesis," allowing him to control things he touches.
Blurb: ARROWETTE -- SHOCKING
Picture: Arrowette (Cissie King-Hawke)
In the Old 52, Cissie King-Jones was the daughter of the first Arrowette (who first appeared in 1960), Bonnie King, and her husband, "Bowstring" Jones. (Bonnie King, it should be noted, is some sort of play on Ollie Queen. Had they married, would their daughter have been Cissie King-Queen? Bonnie, Cissie and Ollie all have the same grammatical construction.) Anyway, here Bonnie King married Conner Hawke, the son of Oliver Queen who was Green Arrow in the '90s and still is on this world. (Evidently Oliver Queen, who died in the '90s, is still dead here.)
In Young Justice, Arrowette II retired from superheroing, and couldn't be induced to return to "service." On Earth-16, this Arrowette desperately wants to be a superhero/celebrity. She is 16, and dresses provocatively.
Blurb: "I'm not Daddy's little girl anymore!"
Blurb: "See her sexy photo-shoot for MAXIMUS"
Maximus is obviously this world's Maxim magazine.
I like the title "The Just" for a super-team on this world. Just can mean justice, but it also means just "just." As we'll see, these "heroes" are not their mothers and fathers, they're "just" a bunch of shallow wannabes.
Sasha Norman is talking on the phone to Megamorpho (Saffi Mason, the daughter of Sapphire Stagg and Rex "Metamorpho" Mason). Sasha is planning a "super-party." Saffi is depressed and feelilng hopeless (this is an effect of The Gentry). She suddenly commits suicide.
We meet Ray "The Atom" Palmer, who is eliminating a techno-virus from Sasha's bloodstream. He is identified as Sasha's "friend," not "boyfriend," but he doesn't appear appreciably older. So this must be the "teen Ray" we had for a while in the '90s, at roughly the same time Marvel had "teen Tony."
We meet Damian "Batman" Wayne and Alexis Luthor, who are a couple. Batman is watching Superman robots battle an invasion from another universe. ("Invasions from other universes" is sort of a recurring theme.) Alexis is reading Ultra Comics. They are having a debate about whether comics are art or not. Alexis is bald, like her father (an affectation? unknown) and Batman wears the cowl, but no cape -- he wears a dark trenchcoat. They are completely unconcerned about the invasion.
Alexis jokes that Batman is gay for Chris "Superman" Kent. Morrison once gave an interview where he argues that Batman is gay -- not in a sexual sense, but more in a conceptual sense. Fetish gear, sweaty fighting with other men, etc. This is probably a reference to that interview, for which he caught a lot of grief.
Batman's position is that people don't care about anything any more, and they should. This bothers me, because he essentially takes the opposite side of the argument with Superman later, which is one reason I found it so hard to get into this issue (I started it three times before I managed to get through it).
Alexis refers to comics as "picto-fic," which may or may not be a reference to EC Comics' "Picto-Fiction" line, its last-gasp effort to stay in the comics business after the Comics Code.
Damian says "TT" when he disapproves of something, like he and Bruce did when Morrison was writing them. How is that pronounced, anyway? Is it the equivalent of "tch tch"? Is it just a grunt? Is it a sigh? Inquiring minds want to know!
Alexis is aware that there's a "curse" on Ultra Comics, but doesn't appear to take that seriously.
Alexis says parents always screw up, and therefore screw up their kids, and references the poem "This Be the Verse," by Phillip Larkin, which says essentially the same thing. Given who their parents were, it's significant that Alexis calls it the "Best. Poem. Ever." It is an important theme of this issue. Also, this is the third poetry reference in as many issues.
Alexis and Batman begin to have sex. Foreplay begins with Alexis calling him a "bat-faced freak," and Batman calling her "sick" and "twisted" ... "all the things Batman likes." A metatextual commentary on Batman? He badgers her to admit she's a "psycho-autistic mess!" Yeah, talk dirty to me, Batman.
Just as they are getting to business, Batman hears Superman arrive. He makes Alexis hide in the closet, covering her with his trenchcoat.
Superman brings the news of Megamorpho's death, calling it a "super-mystery." Finally, action! But Batman takes the Alexis "I don't care" position, that the Superman robots will take care of it, as they do everything. We get a lot of exposition on the robots, which Superman's dad created (before being killed by Lex Luthor) as "the most foolproof and sophisticated planetary defense system ever created" that "can't be turned off or tampered with." That not only explains why all the super-people are bored on this earth and have nothing to fight, but is also foreshadowing, as we shall see.
Batman and Superman wander through Batman's apartment, which has souvenirs -- actually, mostly costumes from the 1990s.
Superman mentions a team-up he once had with Sandman. ""What Sandman?" Batman says. "THE Sandman? Neil Gaiman's Sandman?" It is that Sandman, which I'm guessing appeared as a comic book on this earth, since he was off in Vertigo in the '90s. Plus, it's funny. Anyway, the team-up was Superman battling all kinds of things in the dreamworld, which Batman dismisses. "And that was your team-up? ... You fell asleep and had a dream?"
"You have to ruin everything," says Superman. "I don't know what's wrong with you." Again, this was essentially Batman's position with Alexis earlier, where he argued that she "just likes offending people" and that "real life is much more interesting" than comics. Now he's suddenly the nay-sayer. Is this some point I'm missing? It actually just feels like a lot of exposition stuffed in the mouths of convenient characters, like most of this story.
Then Superman says "why are you trying to distract me, anyway?"
He knows the answer. He's mentioned already that he super-hears someone breathing, and now says he's aware of a female figure under a lead-lined trenchcoat in the closet. (That explains the trenchcoat!) He says he knows it's Alexis Luthor. He tells Batman he won't go to the big party if Alexis is going to be there, because her father killed his father.
Batman agrees to help investigate Megamorpho's murder, but "jokes" that she probably committed suicide out of boredom. Again, he is taking the negative side, whereas Superman says "You need to take this superhero thing way more seriously than you do." Batman says they should investigate separately and meet up later to compare notes. Perhaps this is a legitimate plan, or perhaps it's just to get Superman to leave so he can get his girlfriend out of the closet. As events will show, she may also be coming out of the closet as a supervillain.
Alexis is furious. Not only can she not go to the super-party, but now Batman isn't going to Kon-El's art gallery opening with her because he'll be working on the investigation. Alexis sees this as Batman choosing Superman over her.
"Why don't you and Chris finally admit you love one another, Batman?" She doesn't appear to be joking this time. "Don't expect me to put up with this! I'll get even!" More foreshadowing.
Sasha tells Damian that she was telebonding with Saffi during her suicide and got a mental flash of "a big creepy space lady." It's Dame Merciless of The Gentry, referred to throughout this issue as The Gray Lady.
Sasha cries Ray Palmer out of her system, onto a microscope slide. This triggers all sorts of memories in me that I can't place. Both Atom and Ant-Man have shrunk down and gone into other people's bloodstreams, both undoubtedly lifting from Fantastic Voyage. But hasn't Atom been cried out before? Or was that Ant-Man? Atom shrank down and entered Superman in World's Finest #236 -- I looked it up -- but he didn't come out through tears. Did he do so in a later issue? Or am I just thinking of this Jimmy Olsen cover? No shrinking here, just tears.
We see Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner) and Offspring (Ernie O'Brian, son of Plastic Man, and Megamorpho's boyfriend). Evidently the 1990s continued unchanged on Earth-16; Kyle Rayner is still the last of the Green Lanterns (and Hal Jordan is still dead). Offspring began in Mark Waid's 1999 Kingdom, the sequel to Kingdom Come, before appearing in the DC Universe proper.
Offspring and Rayner are talking comics. They both read Major Comics, with the Retaliators, Future Family and Bug. We met these Marvel doppelgangers as real people on Earth-8 in the first issue, where we also learned that they were Major Comics characters on Earth-36 as well. Not only are they comics characters here on Earth-16, but they made a Bug movie as well.
Offspring has read Ultra Comics. He is not terribly concerned about his gf's death, as he expects her to return. He gives Ultra Comics to Rayner, who pages through it.
Rayner meets with others superheroes in Megamorpho's apartment looking for clues. He tells them Offspring is in shock. We see Flash (whom we later have identified as Wally West), Green Arrow (Conner Hawke) and Bloodwynd, who in the '90s was initially Martian Manhunter in disguise, but then emerged as a real character later. He is that character here.
Rayner asks if Conner's going to join them for "Red Amazo Crisis." We learn later that these superheroes re-enact old battles for entertainment, like Civil War re-enactors.
Alexis Luthor and Joker's Daughter are discussing Kon-El at his art opening at the Suicide Slum Art Gallery. Evidently even slums have been tamed and gentrified in this boring utopia.We see more '90s characters: Max Mercury, Gunfire, Loose Cannon.
Alexis correctly assesses Superboy as degenerating into a Bizarro, like all her father's cloning experiments.
Superboy accidentally inhales Vapor (Carrie Donahue), a character who was part of the Conglomerate in Booster Gold comics in, yes, the 1990s. I hope Morrison didn't damage his brain re-reading all those terrible comics.
One of Superboy's paintings is of The Gray Lady (Dame Merciless).
Alexis Luthor continues to complain about being barred from Sasha's party.
We meet the Justice League at the re-enactment. They are Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Aquaman (Garth), Wonder Woman (Artemis), Argus (Nick Kelly, who got his powers in the 1993 "Bloodlines" annuals), Alpha Centurion (Marcus Aelius), Atom (teen Ray Palmer), Red Tornado (who has been bonded with Amazo at a molecular level), Green Arrow (Conner Hawke), Flash (Wally West), Bloodwynd, Steel (Natasha Irons, niece of John Henry Irons). It's hard to remember now, but back in the '90s Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Atom, Aquaman, Flash and Green Arrow had all been replaced by younger versions, all at the same time. The originals all came back, one by one, on our earth. But on Earth-16, the replacements were permanent. Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen and Barry Allen are dead, Diana Prince is working at a Big Belly and Ray Palmer has been de-aged.
Anyway, something goes wrong and Leaguers are actually getting injured. Green Lantern goes berserk, starts calling the android "Major Disaster," accuses it of killing his girlfriend, and almost destroys it.
Rayner is referring to his girlfriend Alex, who was killed by Major Force in 1994 and stuffed in a refrigerator (which pre-famous Gail Simone used as the launch of her "Women in Refrigerators" website, which launched her career). It's strange to see GL refer to Major Disaster rather than Major Force; that's probably just a mistake.
Steel says the Amazo robot has been infected with something from a higher dimension (that is foreshadowing, my friends). Rayner explains his behavior by saying "Those comic books brought it all back. It's like something crawled into my head. Something so bad ... " Again, it's The Gentry working through Ultra Comics.
Batman questions Offspring, who is still weirdly disjointed in his response to his gf's death. Shock, or The Gentry? He has read Ultra Comics after all. He shows Batman his comics collection which is mostly Major Comics, but also the previous issue of Multiversity and the issue of Ultra Comics. We learn here that while regular Marvel analogs are called Major Comics, Ultimate heroes are called Essentials, and the world of Essential Major Comics was depopulated in the Essential Genocide Crisis -- suggesting Marvel's Ultimate Universe was represented by Earth-7, which we saw post-destruction by The Gentry in the first issue. Anyway, Batman gets an idea and calls Superman ...
... who is questioning Menta (Holly Dayton, daughter of Steve "Mento" Dayton and probably Rita "Elasti-Girl" Farr), who used the Mento helmet to freshen her breath look for traces of Megamorpho's consciousness. She gets flashes of The Gray Lady.
Superman meets with the Dr. Mid-Nite of the '90s (Pieter Cross), Bloodwynd and Gypsy (Cynthia Reynolds), of Justice League Detroit and Justice League Task Force. Batman arrives and interrupts. Didn't he just call Superman two pages ago? How come Superman didn't know he was coming?
Arrowette meets with her father, to ask for trick arrows, because she and he friends are forming a new group, The Just. Hawke tells her that crime is a thing of the past, and trick arrows won't make her a superhero, and that it's dangerous. She wheadles, and he relents, and gives her five arrows.
Batman points out to Superman that many of Offspring's comic books aren't published on this earth. (Cities and publishers are familiar to us, though: Fawcett City, Hub City and the like.) Superman realizes they're bleeding through from other dimensions and infecting the readers, like Megamorpho and Offspring. (Superman refers to Offspring as Eddie, although his name is Ernie. Either that's another mistake, or this Superman doesn't remember names well. He hasn't been portrayed as particularly bright.) Batman realizes Alexis has read Ultra Comics.
Bloodwynd, the "Mega-Mage" of this earth (Sorcerer Supreme?), confirms that the comic books are carriers. He says Megamorpho's spirit is saying "Who's that knocking on the door," which is either a reference to a Rod Stewart song or a reference to the beginning of the first issue, with the landlady scene. Also, of course, it's The Gentry invading this dimension. Dimension-invading is the new black. Sorry, this book is getting to me.
Superman and Batman (and several Superman robots) go to Alexis' apartment. Pictures -- Ultra Comics disassembled? -- are pinned to a wall with twine pegged between and circles and arrows in a way that TV always tells us is obsessive and crazy. S&B realize she's gone bad, and ask themselves who has a grudge and unlimited power to help her. The obvious answer is Jakeem Thunder, and just then a robot cold-cocks Superman as Alexis and "Jay-Jay" walk in. She explains that the genie -- who is from the fifth dimension, the "higher" dimension referred to earlier -- learned how to control technology via the Red Amazo android, and now she controls technology and magic ... and the robots. which can't be reprogrammed, can't be tampered with and can't be stopped. She has Thunder summon the genie, which he does with a strange variation of the "So cool" magic words. (He seems a little strung out, to tell you the truth.)
The party. It's the 1990s gone wild: Impulse, Mas y Menos, Miss Martian, Fire, the shaggy Krypto. Sister Miracle does a little tweeting that doesn't seem to have any relevance to our analysis. They are all aware of the invasion, but of course nobody is worried.
Superman robots attack a city, burning up everything with heat vision. Will they destroy this earth? The local heroes sure don't seem up to the task of stopping them. (Although there's one panel of Batman still fightng the robots. No sign of Superman, though.) All will no doubt be resolved in Multiversity #8.
Teen Beat lasted to 2007. The Just might be a joke on Young Justice saying they weren't the Teen Titans they were "just us" and being misquoted as Young Justice. Who's that knocking on the door might also be reference to the old song Barnacle Bill the Sailor or a 1967 movie Who's That Knocking At My Door by Martin Scorsese.
Shrinking Violet was "cried out" of Superboy's body in Adventure Comics #350.
In Fantastic Voyage, the three surviving Voyagers escape through the patient's tear duct.
It's strange to see GL refer to Major Disaster rather than Major Force; that's probably just a mistake.
I knew that didn't sound right when I read it, but I didn't spend too much time trying to figure out why.
Superman refers to Offspring as Eddie, although his name is Ernie. Either that's another mistake, or this Superman doesn't remember names well.
He doesn't remember the other heroe's real names. Earlier it took him a while to remember Megamorpho's real name, and Batman gave him grief about it.
Superboy accidentally inhales Vapor (Carrie Donahue), a character who was part of the Conglomerate in Booster Gold comics in, yes, the 1990s. I hope Morrison didn't damage his brain re-reading all those terrible comics.
Well so far this series reads like a ton of the Elseworld's stories from the 90s: good, but nothing special. I'm not too worried about him.