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.
...Who was Walter Lilly III ? The other letter hacks referred to , I remember , but not WLIII ~ actually , are you referring to Guy Lillian III ?
Richard Willis said:
Captain Comics said:
The only feedback DC got in those days was from letter writers, mostly the same veterans over and over. And, trust me, people like The Mad Maple and Walter Lilly III and Irene Vartanoff were not people who wanted the board turned over.
And of course from Roy Thomas, Denny O'Neill, Marv Wolfman, Mark Evanier and Tony Isabella. We should probably ask just how representative of the general audience these letter writers were. How representative are the members of the Round Table? I think that's the question the editors finally asked. Roy Thomas is notorious for trying to tie everything up in a ribbon, continuity as if it was a drug addiction. I think most of the fans who finally became writers and editors realized that trying to maintain the continuity that we all loved made their jobs (and deadlines) a lot harder.
I think if we all agreed on everything we wouldn't be representative of the general audience at all, just a small group. The fact discussions have sometimes gotten pretty heated here until a mod called it off probably means we're diverse enough to represent a good percentage of the audience.
The Baron said:
Ron M. said:Since DC has made all those attempts to fix what wasn't broke in the first place, and fans keep complaining about Final Crisis and Infinite Crisis and Screwy the Crisis Bunny, why does Marvel suddenly want in on the "fun"? "Look at all the publicity DC is making ticking their fans off! Let's tick ours off and get them talking about us like that!"I would read Screwy the Crisis Bunny.
As would I. And think of the team-up potential! Captain Carrot, Thunder Bunny, Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, Cutie Bunny ... They could form the Leporidae League!
Cutie Bunny would get the place raided.
...Does anyone remember a 1973/4-ish letterhack named James McCoy, Junior (or similar) ?
He was someone about my age,who was handicapped/" crippled" with CPor MS or similar ~ and the last letter printed concerning him was a letter from his sister ~ announcing his death .
I think he wrote mostly to the Schwartz DC titles.
I remember a vet writing to one of the DC horror titles asking if they'd be interested in stories about walking dead attacking soldiers in Vietnam. The editor asked him didn't he think the real horrors in Vietnam would make having monsters or ghosts show up there seem pretty pale in comparison.
In the end what sells gets published more than what does not sell. When I first got into comics marvel had built it's line partially on continuity and dc was copying that, but layering continuity onto characters who were created before continuity. It's hard to have a continuity on Wonder Woman without explaining Wonder Girl over in Teen Titans. Now marvel has decided that continuity doesn't matter and they seem to be right since they sell well anyway and dc is following the trend. I guess the real start of all of this was when Kang conquered the world in Avengers and no one else noticed.
In a way I can't really blame them. What sells, sells and if you don't like it you don't have to buy it. While fans like me who considered continuity a part of the story used to be the driving force behind sales I think I have to accept that I'm not anymore and thus I don't really matter. I think DC and marvel would prefer that I like what they are doing but they are ok with me not liking it, they have other fans and those other fans are supporting them now. Funny I never out grew comics but I think comics have decided to out grow me.
MULTIVERSITY #6: THE MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK #1
We see the Atomic Knight Batman of Earth-17 (left) and the chibi Batman of Earth-42 (with lots of artistic license).
The two Batmen are surrounded by four circular, planet-like vignettes of 1) heads of many superheroes of various earths, 2) Kamandi, 3) the House of Heroes under siege and 4) the Multiverse map. All four of these are addressed within, as are the two Batmen.
The Hannibal Lecter Sivana (seen in Thunderworld) is killing the chibi Martian Manhunter (from Earth-42) with a flamethrower. We see an impaled Aquaman-42 and a melted Cyborg-42, both presumably dead. Manhunter-42 cries out “M’yri’ah!” as he dies, which is the name of Manhunter’s dead wife on Earth-0, and likely everywhere else there’s a Martian Manhunter. (It’s pronounced “Maria”). Sivana-42 is watching, but he’s a bit unnerved at the brutality, as “I’ve never – gulp! – never killed anyone before …”
Obviously on Earth-42, as is usually the case, Martian Manhunter is vulnerable to fire.
The Lecter Sivana has a rolled-up comic book in his pocket, which appears to be the very book we are reading.
The issue’s title is “Maps and Legends.” Legend here seems to use at least two meanings of the word, that of a famous person or story, and also the description on a map or diagram explaining the symbols used.
Batman-42 puts out the flame on Manhunter-42 with an aerosol-sized fire extinguisher, presumably from his utility belt. With him is Hawkman-42 and Green Arrow-42. We have seen Batman-42 before, in Action Comics #9 (2012, also written by Grant Morrison) where we also first met Calvin Ellis, the President Superman of Earth-23. In that issue, we saw a “demon-Superman” (Cal’s words) named Superdoomsday from a parallel world caged in between dimensions. But in a two-panel flashback, we also saw something that informs this work: The death of Optiman on Earth-36, and the death of chibi Superman on Earth-42!
Action Comics #9 also introduced the “transmitter symphonic array,” which the Luthor of that Earth said came to him while he was on drugs. That’s sort of a dream, right?
Hawkman-42 says they have lost (chibi) Wonder Woman and (chibi) Steel to “that box.” He appears to be talking about the transmatter cube. We have seen the Wonder Woman and Steel of this Earth on the Hall of Heroes, where they had been summoned by the “S.O.S.” in Multiversity #1, and now we know they got there by transmatter cube (if we didn’t know already).
Batman-42 tells Hawkman-42 and Green Arrow-42 (who looks like the Neal Adams version of the late 1970s and early ‘80s) to leave. He addresses Hawkman-42 as “Katar,” indicating that the alien origin of Hawkman applies in this world, the one in place from the Silver Age Hawkman’s creation in 1961 to the Crisis in 1985-86.
Lecter Sivana is accompanied by human-sized robots, which he orders to kill the three chibis while he and the chibi Sivana leave via the transmatter cube. He mentions that it’s word-controlled, and mutters some words we cannot “hear.” Once again, sound – vibrations – activate the inter-dimensional transport.
The “Little League” (Batman-42 calls his team that on page 6) is ineffective against the robots, but suddenly all the robots are gunned down.
The Batman of Earth-17 arrives, from the Atomic Knights world. It is he who shot the robots. He arrives through a square “door” – likely a transmitter cube on Earth-17.
He uses “Krakkin’ Ex” where we would use “effing hell,” or something similar.
He mentions “the Dark Tower of Luthex,” the “Cosmic Grail.” We don’t know what these things are (yet), but we recognize references to Luthor and the Holy Grail, or ersatz versions of them, anyway.
Batman-17 says he dreamed “the rose that grows in winter,” entered “the vault of ages” and saw “the four-stone.” Again, we don’t know yet what these mean, and they don’t seem to have any specific reference to our mythology or literature. There is a Fourstones village in Northumberland, and Forestone manufactures musical equipment, but neither seems to apply.
He suggests Batman-42 might be a “mutoid” or “one of Darkseid’s crew.” Mutoid could be generic, but there’s no missing a Darkseid reference. Obviously, there’s an Apokolips in his universe.
Batman-17 also uses “Jokerdammit” where we’d say “Goddammit.” I’m not even going to guess what that implies for his world.
Batman-42 says they’re on the Pacific Island HQ of Professor Sivana. I don’t know if Sivana ever had a Pacific Island HQ in any Captain Marvel comics – he probably did – but it could also be a reference to Oolong Island. That island began as the HQ of “Egg Fu,” an inexplicably giant egg-shaped villain in Wonder Woman #157 (1965). (There were related stories involving Egg Fu the Fifth and Dr. Yes.) After Crisis on Infinite Earths Egg Fu was revealed to be a product of Apokolips. After Infinite Crisis, a new Egg Fu appeared, calling himself Chang Tzu, who was also an agent of Apokolips. He captured or coerced mad scientists to his Pacific island base, which was renamed Oolong Island. (Presumably for the Chinese tea.) Eventually that plan came undone, and Oolong became a sovereign nation, and is currently under the protection of the Doom Patrol. Given Oolong’s Apokolips connection and Batman-17’s reference to Darkseid, they could be related.
Batman-42 calls Batman-17 “Bruce” and reveals himself as the Dick Grayson of this world. Why is Batman-42 Dick Grayson when all the other chibis are Silver Age versions?
Lecter Sivana brings Sivana-42 back to the mechanical Rock of Eternity (seen in Thunderworld), located in The Bleed, and we catch him in mid-story explaining how the “League of Sivanas” came to be. They are the Sivanas of 25 parallel worlds. He describes the transmatter cubes as “doors” between the worlds. He also describes Mech-Eternity (I’m calling it that) as “smaller on the inside than it looks on the outside,” reversing the line usually reserved for tesseracts, magic bags and Dr. Who’s Tardis.
The Sivanas reveal their plan to conquer the multiverse. But Sivana-42 is told by the snake Sivana that he and his earth are only good for snacks.
Reference is also made to Dr. Hoot seeing the transmatter cube in a dream. Dr. Hoot is a villain on Earth-26, Captain Carrot’s world.
The Marvel Family of Earth-5 (Cap, Mary, Junior) arrive, clearly searching for the Sivanas as we saw them at the end of Thunderworld. Lecter Sivana blames the Sivana of Earth-5 for how the Marvels found them. Maybe, maybe not. (It’s hard to take the word of a Sivana.) “Count Sivana” is ordered to get his “vampire troops.” (I’d guess they’d be from Earth-43, the Red Rain world.)
Lecter Sivana makes his unhealthy interest in Mary Marvel known again. I’m guessing foreshadowing, but I honestly hope it’s just characterization.
Batman-42 describes how the Little League was trapped and mostly killed. He describes his world as one where everyone is “only playing” and nobody gets killed. Even the villains only use “crazy gadgets and mind games.” It’s almost like Silver Age DC!
Batman-42 mentions that his Sivana, Doc Sivana, learned about the transmatter cube in a dream. Another bad guy, another dream, another transmatter cube. Meanwhile, Batman-17’s dream was of the “Rose That Grows in Winter.” One assumes the villains’ dreams come from The Gentry, but Batman-17 may be referring to Flower, whom Kamandi & Co. are looking for on an island (probably the same one) on Earth-51.
Batman-17 can’t operate the transmatter cube, and he describes his Gotham as one with a “rad-pit” and “mumdads” turning into “shamblers.” Mom and Dads turning into mutants? Perhaps his own Mom and Dad, inspiring him to be Batman? Just speculation on my part.
Batman-42 finds the Multiversity Guidebook, apparently left behind by Lecter Sivana. Batman calls it a “picture book” – there are apparently no comic books on this childlike world, which is either commentary or irony – and correctly figures out the whole parallel Earth business. He may be tiny, but he’s still a Batman.
As he speaks he’s looking at …
Earth-51, where we see Kamandi, Ben Boxer and Prince Tuftan (from Kamandi comics) in a raft, arriving at “The Island of the God Watchers.” As I said above, this being a Morrison book, it is probably the same Pacific island Batman-17 and Batman-42 are on, just in a different universe.
The trio are searching for “her,” which we will find out is Kamandi’s quasi-girlfriend Flower. (The Rose that Grows in Winter?) Their dialogue is a bit stilted, doubtless a nod to the famously stilted dialogue of Jack Kirby, writer-artist-creator of Kamandi.
They find the empty tomb of Darkseid, with footprints leading out.
Tuftan wonders if “god watchers” means the gods are the watchers (as we’ll see, he is right). He also finds the flower Flower usually wears in her hair – it’s how she got her name – indicating that she had been there.
Meanwhile, dialogue indicates someone is watching the trio and commenting that “all that we feared has come to pass.”
The watchers are Jack Kirby’s New Gods, whose Supertown, instead of floating in space, is on a mountain (like Mt. Olympus). One watcher describes how they had slept after their “celestial labors” and Darkseid took advantage of their absence to seed himself on many worlds, wearing many faces. Presumably the gods watch this island to prevent Darkseid’s escape, but napped on the job.
We see the throne room of Supertown, where we see (clockwise) Takion, Big Barda, Mr. Miracle, Highfather, Himon, Lonar, Fastbak,
the Invisible Woman Avia and Lightray, all New Gods from Kirby’s “Fourth World” books. There is no Orion, who is probably wherever Apokolips is, given that Mr. Miracle is here – that is to say, this is before or after “The Pact.”
The New Gods discuss Darkseid and New Gods on other earths as reflections of themselves. The suggestion is that these New Gods are the primal ones, the originals, the blueprints.
As they watch Ben Boxer decides to activate his Cyclo-Heart. He calls upon the satellite Br’er Eye to “OMACTIVATE!”
Ben Boxer becomes BiOMAC, a combination of two Kirby concepts, the armored form of Ben Boxer and OMAC, the One-Man Army Corps activated by the satellite Brother Eye, seen here and referred to as Br’er Eye. Earth-51 is evidently the Earth of Kirby Koncepts! In the original Kamandi, Ben Boxer simply turned into an armored form of himself (not OMAC) after yelling ACTIVATE and pressing his Cyclo-Heart.
Boxer solves one mystery by telling us who took Flower – Kangarat Slavers.
The trio discover hieroglyphics that are essentially a comic book on the wall. We know that comic books can be used to allow entry to The Gentry, or to pass messages from one universe to another, so any “comic book” in this story could be dangerous.
As if to remind us of one of Morrison’s themes, BiOMAC says, “Be careful, Kamandi. Stories can be dangerous.”
The story is a “picture history” from “before the before,” and is apparently Morrison’s Book of Genesis for the DCU.
In a style somewhat similar to illuminated manuscripts – suggesting a religious undertone – we learn that when nothing and everything were the same thing, all of it constituted Perfection (a vast field of white). But then an imperfection appeared. “A flaw that ‘is’ Everything Perfection is not.” (Amusingly, the “is” in quotes made me think of the Clinton attorney wanting to know what the definition of “is” is.)
The vast field of white, as Morrison has said in interviews, is the blank page. And the stories being drawn on it are the imperfection, which irritates the blank page, which sequesters the imperfection away, in what we now call the DC Multiverse, and the container we call the Orrery of Worlds.
The imperfection first appears as a red, electric-looking thing. It’s very small, though, so perhaps we’re not seeing it clearly. However, if it is a red, electric-looking thing, that suggests The Flash. Could this be the Speed Force?
Perfection became aware of the flaw and in response named itself Monitor-Mind the Over-Void. This tells us something important: The outer “universe” containing the DC Multiverse (the “Over-Void”) is sentient! This is something we’d naturally call “God,” but I don’t think it’s going to work that way. For one thing, Perfection is pretty imperfect in its actions. To wit:
“Of the Over-Void is Monitor born and Anti-Monitor, the Conflict generator, the Story Machine.”
It’s unclear here how the Monitor/Anti-Monitor come about. The passive tense indicates Perfection didn’t mean for them to come into being, it just kinda happened, perhaps as a result of Perfection suddenly being less than Everything – giving itself an identity to separate itself from the imperfection. But the second half is more straightforward: Morrison is once again establishing stories – narrative – as the driving force of the universe. Now we see the need for a “devil,” the Anti-Monitor: He brings chaos and conflict, from which stories spring. Without him, the universe would be static. This, clearly, is the theology that Morrison is establishing here (and perhaps subscribes to himself).
Perfection contains the imperfection in what we will someday call the Orrery of Worlds. It creates Science Monitor Dax Novu to study it. Novu is infected and splits into two (the Monitor and Anti-Monitor, presumably, of Crisis on Infinite Earths) and in other stories, the Monitor splits into 52 to monitor each individual world. That is not mentioned here, however, where instead Novu is “blinded, corrupted by the Flaw’s lightning dazzle.”
“And so begins all things,” reads Kamandi, “with a Flash …” as he touches a symbol showing a lightning bolt splitting a circle.
Ohhhh, boy. There’s a lot to speculate on here. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: The Flash launched the Silver Age (Showcase #4), and discovered the Multiverse (Flash #123), so he’s present at the creation of those two seminal events. He also played a central role in both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint. So, yeah, it all begins with a Flash – Barry Allen, to be precise.
But that’s metatextual. Within the text, does it suggest that the “dazzle,” the “Flash” that blinds Novu, is the Story Engine, and therefore the Anti-Monitor? Or does it suggest that the Speed Force, from which all Flashes spring, is the original imperfection Over-Void contained in the Orrery, and is the wellspring of all story? Or is it something else entirely?
It may or may not be significant that the “imperfection” in the Over-Void’s perfect white expanse looks like red lightning – like The Flash.
Further, the symbol is a lightning bolt over a circle, similar to Barry Allen’s first chest symbol. However, the bolt isn’t lying over a circle, it’s splitting it – suggesting that the “dazzle,” the “Flash,” (or perhaps the Speed Force) is what splits worlds into multiple worlds, i.e., how the multiverse gets created.
Or maybe it destroys worlds. Discuss.
Meanwhile, BiOMAC discovers some comic books. Specifically, the one we are reading. As we know, comic books are The Gentry’s entry into the multiverse, and/or are messages between universes. The comic book we are reading, however, seems benign (as opposed to Ultra Comics).
Morrison doesn’t corroborate any of the above speculation, but he does spend four pages on Barry Allen and the history of the multiverse as revealed in comic-book stories, which is probably significant. Morrison does a brief overview of Barry Allen’s discovery of the multiverse, from a Morrisonian perspective. He uses captions with little hands pointing to things mentioned in the caption, which Carmine Infantino used to do in Silver Age Flash comics.
Morrison says Flash can approach the speed of light, but he doesn’t refer to it as the speed of light … he just calls it “light.” Is the Speed Force the “let there be light” of DC’s Genesis?
He refers to Earth-Two’s vibrational frequency as “only a bass tone.” That can also be read as “only a base tone” – because Earth-Two, the world of the Golden Age heroes, is the basis for everything else.
While the original stories always referred to Flash’s ability to cross the multiversal barriers as a matter of vibration, Morrison always uses the language of music to describe it. Since music is essentially ordered vibration, that’s pretty clever.
Morrison says “… was Barry Allen a fiction in some higher, as yet undiscovered world?” Well, yes, because Morrison has established that. Specifically, Barry Allen in is a fiction on Earth-36, and maybe elsewhere.
The fourth panel on Page 24 is a reproduction of the cover to Flash #123 (“Flash of Two Worlds,” the first Earth-Two story).
The fifth panel on Page 25 is a reproduction of the cover to Justice League of America #21 (“Crisis on Earth-One,” the first JLA/JSA crossover).
The first panel on Page 25 shows a variety of Flashes from a variety of worlds. Some are familiar (Jay Garrick of Earth-Two, Jay Garrick of Earth-2, Barry Allen), but most are not. Front and center is a chibi Flash, presumably from Earth-42.
The second panel on Page 26 looks very much like the wraparound cover of DC 100 Page Super Spectacular #6 by Neal Adams, although it isn’t drawn in the Adams style.
The third panel on Page 27 depicts the battle against the Anti-Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The first panel on Page 28 depicts a scene I do not recognize, of Parallax standing triumphant over Superman while holding the empty uniform of Barry Allen. However, it does sort-of symbolize the Parallax story.
Panel two of Page 28 depicts the “pounding of Superboy’s fists” – the Superboy of Earth-Prime (Earth-33) who first appeared in DC Comics Presents #87 and was the central antagonist of Infinite Crisis. He is symbolically shattering the barriers between universes.
The third panel of Page 28 depicts Booster Gold, Rip Hunter and Nova from the last Booster Gold series, where Booster was essentially a space/time repairman.
The fourth panel shows Monitors observing the Orrery of Worlds, while the captions say they kept a record of all the changes in the multiverse in the fictions of Earth-33 – Earth-Prime.
The first panel of Page 29 says Nix Uotan, the only son of Novu, as the last monitor. But the panel shows him hugging his girlfriend, also a monitor, which is a mixed message. Also, this is as good a place as any to mention that Morrison said in an interview that Uotan is pronounced “Wotan,” the Teutonic version of Odin, which can’t be coincidental.
The second panel depicts Barry Allen and Thomas “Batman” Wayne from Flashpoint.
The third panel depicts the open hand with the universe in it at the dawn of time, first seen in Green Lantern #40, which DC has essentially been trying to explain ever since. However, in this depiction, we see the flaw/orrery of worlds in the center of the open hand. (Incidentally, one Crisis or another established that the hand was that of Krona, who messed everything up, then that ofThe Spectre, reaching back to the beginning of time to straighten everything out. I guess Morrison is ignoring that story.)
In the fourth panel BiOMAC mentions that it is the Kangarats who freed Darkseid in some “barbaric rite,” answering the question Highfather asked earlier. I have to say it’s pretty curious that the freeing of Darkseid to proliferate throughout the universe has just happened in this book, when it clearly happened much earlier in “our” storylines. Morrison doesn’t explain it, and I have no guesses.
In the final panel, Batman-42 twigs to what Multiversity Guidebook is, and says the maps will “save us all.” Batman-17 cannily sums the book and the story as their “reality from the outside.”
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The now familiar map of the Multiverse, which has been available in print online for some time.
However, I have never before been able to read the legend on the left. With the aid of afternoon sunlight and a magnifying glass, I was finally able to do so, and found some interesting things:
* Beyond the Source Wall is not only the Over-Void, but “The Source” and “The Unknowable.” They are capitalized, so they are proper nouns, but I don’t know who/what they are.
* Limbo is “where matter and memory break down,” not – as I assumed – where forgotten/canceled characters hang out.
* All gods and demons, not just of comic books but of real-world religions, hang out in the “Sphere of the Gods.” The Christian heaven and hell, for example, are here – equal and not superior to Skyland, where the pagan gods hang out, and New Genesis, where the New Gods hang out. Evidently Jesus, Jehovah and Mohammed are just characters in the multiverse, lower in rank to the Over-Void.
* “Dream” isn’t just the home to Neil Gaiman’s Morpheus, but also Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Amethyst’s Gemworld. (Has Gemworld been revealed to be a dream of some kind? I know it’s been retconned a couple of times.)
* Hell isn’t just the home of the Christian devil, but also comic-book devils/demons like Etrigan, the Demons Three (Abnegazar, Rath and Ghast), Trigon and Neron. If your theology has a devil, he’s here.
* Wonderworld is the home of “primal superheroes.” I wanna see what Morrison thinks are primal superheroes!
Batman-17 references the “Dark Tower” again. Perhaps that’s Darkseid’s tomb on his world, located on the same Pacific island as on Earth-51.
Batman-42 reveals that Li’l Gotham #12 is connected to Multiverse. The cover blurb “Who’s that knocking on the door” isn’t just a reference to an old Rod Stewart song, but also to The Gentry.
The next panel puts an unsolved Rubik’s Cube front and center. You’d think that with Batman-42 puzzling out the comics and transmatter cubes, it would be a solved cube!
Batman-17 also makes the same reference in panel three of Page 33, “We don’t have time! They’re knocking at the door!” Although he may be referring to Sivana’s robots. Either way, it’s a reminder that The Gentry are still out there, trying to access all 52 universes.
Batman-42 refers to the 52 worlds as “the local multiverse.” That implies a broader one out there, beyond the 52 universes we know.
Descriptions of the Earths of the 52 universe. My page numbers don’t match up to the ones on the book, because I’m counting ad pages and the Guidebook does not.
Earth-0: The New 52.
Earth-1: The world of the Earth-One series of graphic novels, which so far include three Superman books, two Batman books and one Teen Titans book. While Wonder Woman is depicted, she has yet to appear in any Earth-One graphic novels.
Earth-2: The updated Earth-Two, currently being depicted in the books Earth-2, Worlds’ Finest and Earth-2: World’s End.
Earth-3: Home of the Crime Syndicate of America, the version that recently appeared in the “Forever Evil” storyline. Another version first appeared in Justice League of America #29-30.
Earth-4: Home of the original Charlton characters. Peacemaker and Captain Atom are depicted as alive and well, despite the events in Pax Americana.
Earth-5: Home of the original Fawcett characters, as depicted in Thunderworld.
Earth-6: A parody of Marvel, including a Secret Invasion (of Durlans instead of Skrulls) and a Civil War, but using variations of DC characters. First appeared in Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1.
Earth-7: Thinly veiled version of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Destroyed in Multiversity #1, as it is soon to be destroyed at Marvel in Secret Wars #1.
Earth-8: Thinly veiled version of Marvel’s regular 616 universe, with Future Family (Fantastic Four), The G-Men (X-Men), The Retaliators (Avengers), American Crusader (Captain America), Machinehead (Iron Man), Behemoth (Hulk), Bug (Spider-Man), Wundajin (Thor), etc.
Earth-9: The characters from the Tangent line of books. First appeared in Tangent: The Atom #1.
Earth-10: Formerly Earth-X (X being 10 in Roman numerals), a world where the Nazis won World War II, first seen in Justice League of America #107-108. The familiar DC superheroes are the bad guys, while the characters from Quality Comics (Uncle Sam, Doll-Man, Phantom Lady, Human Bomb, etc.) are the good guys, known as the Freedom Fighters. It appears the next issue of Multiversity will focus on this world.
Earth-11: Gender-reversed world. First seen in Superman/Batman #23.
Earth-12: Home of Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond.
Earth-13: A supernatural variation, where the superheroes are monster-ish. Because, you know, 13. First seen in Countdown: Arena #1.
Earth-14: Unknown. I like that some of the worlds are unknown. That leaves room for other writers to spin their own tales; or to place our favorite cartoons, movies or Elseworlds stories; or to imagine our own alternate earths. Morrison, like any good writer, leaves doors open.
Earth-15: Home of Superboy-Prime … before he destroyed it. Nothing is left except for a Green Lantern power battery, which Morrison describes as “immensely powerful” and “hidden somewhere among the many worlds of the Multiverse.” It’s called the “Cosmic Grail,” akin to the Holy Grail of Arthurian legend, which Batman-17 referred to earlier.
Earth-16: “Earth-Me,” the world of the bored and privileged sons and daughters of the DC heroes, as seen in Multiversity: The Just. Various characters have been ascribed to this world (some later un-ascribed), such as Bob Haney’s Super-Sons, the Young Justice cartoon and Christopher Kent. It also seems to represent the DC Universe of the 1980s, without any of the later changes (Kyle Rayner is the only Green Lantern, Wally West is still The Flash, Bloodwynd is in the Justice League, etc.).
Earth-17: Home of the Atomic Knights of Justice, led by Captain Adam Strange. A variation on the old Atomic Knights stories, complete with a nuclear war in 1963. (That’s Morrison tipping his hat to John Broome, I imagine.)
Eath-18: Home of DC Western characters, like Superchief, El Diablo, Cinnamon, etc. This world was first seen in the Elseworlds Justice Riders.
Earth-19: Home of Victorian/Edwardian versions of DC heroes, some of which were seen in the Elseworlds Gotham by Gaslight and Batman: Master of the Future. Could include Wonder Woman: Amazonia and JLA: Age of Wonder.
Earth-20: The pulp era Earth, as seen in Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes.
Earth-21: The JFK-era Justice League, as seen in Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier.
Earth-22: The Kingdom Come Earth.
Earth-23: Home of Calvin Ellis, President Superman. It appears on this Earth that black is the dominant skin color/race, as all of the Justice League (except Batman, for some reason) are black. President Superman was the star of Action Comics (second series) #9, and his first official appearance is listed as Final Crisis #7. However, The Flash ran into a black Justice League back in Crisis on Infinite Earths. If a black Superman appeared in the group shot – I don’t remember if one did – that’s too much of a coincidence, so I would consider that his first appearance.
Earth-26: Home of Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew. A land of cartoon physics, formerly known as Earth-C.
Earth-29: Bizarro world. (Yay!)
Earth-30: The Earth of Superman: Red Son.
Earth-31: Home of the privateer Captain Leatherwing (Batman), first seen in Detective Comics Annual #7.
Earth-32: A JLA-in-a-blender world, riffing off the Elseworlds Batman: In Darkest Night (in which Abin Sur gives his ring to Bruce Wayne). Barry Allen, Clark Kent and Diana of Themyscira are also given Green Lantern rings on that Elseworlds, which is not the case here – instead, along with the Batman/Green Lantern mash-up called Bat-Lantern, you have a Super-Martian (Superman/Martian Manhunter), Black Arrow (Black Canary/Green Arrow), Wonderhawk (Hawkman/Wonder Woman) and Aquaflash (Aquaman/Flash) as members of the Justice Titans (Justice League/Teen Titans). I have to say, some of those blended superheroes seem a lot more useful than the originals! (I’m looking at you, Wonderhawk.)
Earth-33: Earth-Prime, where Ultra Comics comes from. Originally Earth-Prime was our planet, and real people like Julius Schwartz, Cary Bates and Elliot S. Maggin were depicted in various issues of Flash and Justice League of America. And we had our own Superman, briefly, called Utraa. Now, however, Earth-Prime appears to be just another fictional universe. We’ll learn more, I imagine, in Multiversity #2. It should be noted that the Guidebook says Earth-33’s lone superhero is Ultra Comics, which is such a weird name that it’s probably either a story point or a mistake. I’d guess the later, given his literary predecessor’s name was just Ultraa.
Earth-34: DC’s Wiki says this world is the one that appeared in Wonder Woman: Amazonia, but it looks more to me like a thinly veiled Astro City.
Earth-35: The Rob Liefeld universe, with Supremo (Supreme), Majesty (Glory) and others I can’t identify, because I never read Awesome Comics.
Earth-36: The Earth of Justice 9, where Optiman (their Superman) was killed by Superdoomsday in Action Comics (second series) #9. We met Red Racer (Flash) and Flashlight (Green Lantern) in Multiversity #1. Marvel Comics are called Major Comics on this Earth.
Earth-37: Home of the Thrillkiller characters.
Earth-38: Home of John Byrne’s Superman and Batman: Generations characters.
Earth-39: Home of Tower Comics characters, called Agents of W.O.N.D.E.R. (T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents). They include Cyclotron (Dynamo), Doctor Nemo (NoMan), Corvus (Raven), Accelerator (Lightning) and Psi-Man (Menthor).
Earth-40: Another pulp era world, where the major characters are all villains, as seen in Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes. The Guidebook says Earth-40 and Earth-20 form a “binary universe” that resonates in “catastrophic harmony.” Incidentally, the characters who met a fatal end in S.O.S. are shown hale and whole here.
Earth-41: The Image universe, with Dino-Cop (Savage Dragon), Nimrod Squad (Youngblood), Nightcracker (Darkhawk), Spore (Spawn), etc.
Earth-42: The chibi world, which the guide says “hides a great and terrible secret.” We know from later in the story that part of the secret is that the Little League (and perhaps the entire population) is made up of robots. As mentioned, the Superman of this world was “killed” by Superdoomsday in Action Comics (second series) #9.
Earth-43: A world riffing off the Elseworlds graphic novels Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist. In those books Batman was a vampire, but in the illustration, it appears the entire Justice League is vampiric.
Earth-44: A sort of Justice League-Metal Men mash-up world: Gold Superman, Iron Batman, Platinum Wonder Woman, etc. In a cute twist, the only robot Justice Leaguer (Red Tornado) is the only human here – Professor Will Tornado (the Doc Will Magnus analog). The DC wiki says these characters – Metal Justice, maybe? Metal Hurlant? – appeared in Final Crisis #7 and Justice League of America (second series) #43, but I don’t remember them.
Earth-45: The world where Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent and Lois Lane came up with thought technology, which was used by Overcorp to create Superdoomsday, who killed the Superman analogs of Earth-36 and Earth-42 before being destroyed by President Superman of Earth-23 and The New 52 Superman of Earth-0.* I don’t know of any other super-chararacters from this Earth, and Earth-45’s one-eyed Lois Lane is now living on Earth-23 (the Clark and Jimmy of Earth-45 are dead).
* Brief digression: I do think of The New 52 Superman as just another Superman, and not “THE” Superman. I think THE Superman went away with Crisis on Infinite Earths, and we have been subjected to a parade of pretenders ever since. That’s because I’m an old fart, of course, but also because of stories like this, which reinforce the idea that every world has its own Superman, which they think of as THE Superman, so why should I think of any of them as the original?
Earth-47: The world where Prez and Brother Power, the Geek happened. It also seems like a world where fashions, styles and the drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll culture of the late 1960s never changed, so we have Sunshine Superman (named for a 1966 Donovan song, with a ginormous blaxploitation-style Afro), Speed Freak (the Flash analog, named for a slang term for an amphetamine addict), Magic Lantern (probably a riff off the 1968 Steppenwolf drug anthem “Magic Carpet Ride”) with the Timothy Leary phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out” on his shirt, and so forth.
Earth-48: Home of the Forerunners seen in Countdown to Adventure. However, the Guide tells us that it is the home of Lady Quark and Lord Volt, first seen in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Earth-48 is nicknamed War World, not to be confused with Mongul’s Warworld.
Earth-50: Home of the Justice Lords from the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited cartoon.
Eearth-51: As seen earlier in this very issue, the home of Jack Kirby’s major concepts for DC: Kamandi, New Gods and OMAC.
In the first panel, Kamandi speculates that on another world “on an island like this one, people like us are … “ I’m guessing this confirms my speculation that they are on the same island on Earth-51 that the two Batmen are on, on Earth-42.
In the second panel, the fiery hand appears, writing on the wall. This looks identical to the Moving Hand of The Source that would give instructions to Kirby’s New Gods in the 1970s. Only in this scenario it doesn’t appear to be benign. It is writing “I Found You” as Kamandi, Tuftan and biOMAC flee, because the walls are shaking.
Highfather, still watching, says the walls of all the worlds are shaking. That Darkseid is just one theme in a symphony. (A symphony of evil, one imagines, that is coming to crescendo.)
Highfather mentions Nix Uotan as “the son of the Monitor Novu – a young supergod broken and corrupted by demons.” We saw that happen in Multiversity #1, where the “demons” were The Gentry.
Highfather also mentions a power “beyond them all – that dread and empty hand! Whose name none dare voice.” This seems to be a reference to the empty hand from Green Lantern #40, but is also said in proximity to the fiery hand, suggesting that IT is the “dread and empty hand.”
Highfather says he fears “That One” has awakened, but there’s nothing they can do until their powers “return in full.” Because they’ve been copied to 51 other earths? Unclear.
Lightray indicates that the New Gods consider Kamandi “our last, eternal boy.”
The skies turn red in the third panel. Red skies were a sign of the approach of the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter wall in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The final panel of Page 69 has Nix Outan claiming to have freed Darkseid in the name of The Gentry and hin whom they both serve, “The Empty Hand.” For a character we didn’t know about until last page, that empty hand is getting quite a workout!
Batman reads the line in the Guidebook about Earth-42’s “terrible secret,” but doesn’t know what it is. How do you not know you’re a robot?
Batman-42 figures out how to activate the transmatter cube just as Sivana’s robots break in. Batman-42 sees the “dead” J’onn J’onzz, whose robotic parts are showing, revealing the “terrible secret.” Or part of it, at least. Batman-17 hears his friends through the transmatter cube, so it is likely tuned in to Earth-17. Batman-17 throws Batman-42 through the cube, but he stays to fight the robots. (He does know how to activate it now, so he has a chance.)
Batman-42 reaches Batman-17, where Captain Adam Strange, and the Atomic Knights Flash and Wonder Woman (all riding giant dogs, like the original Atomic Knights) want to know where their Batman is. Batman-42 is carrying the flower that came from Earth-51, which Strange declares is the Rose That Grows In Winter. Could that simply mean any flower that grows … in a nuclear winter? Like the one on Earth-17?
In the final panel of Page 70, the skies turn red. Obviously, bad news is on the way here, too.
Batman-17 escapes Earth-42 and ends up in the Hall of Heroes. We see Dino-Cop of Earth-41, Lord Volt of Earth-48. Bloodwynd of Earth-16 and Steel of Earth-42. They say the characters sent to Earth-7 (back in Multiversity #1) have failed to return. (That would be Superman of Earth-23, Thunderer of Earth-7, Red Racer of Earth-36, Aquawoman of Earth-41 and Captain Carrot of Earth-C.) They say the entire multiverse is under the attack (explaining the red skies, I guess) and that they are on the front lines.
Incidentally, Lord Volt was killed in his introductory story, Crisis on Infinite Earths #4. I guess he got better.
Hellmachine, one of The Gentry, has manifested on our plane and is attacking the Hall of Heroes. The Harbinger Mind computer sends out an S.O.S. (another in a series, collect ‘em all!).
The Steel and Wonder Woman of Earth-42 go blank-eyed and start chanting “empty.” Back on Earth-42, Four of the “dead” Little Leaguers (Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and Martian Manhunter) are to “Get up” and “reset” by … AN EMPTY HAND! “You have died before, and you will die many times more before I am done with you. See how my hand is empty.”
The four robots get up, saying “Empty is thy hand” in unison. So now we know the “terrible secret” of Earth-42!
A black Superman appeared in Morrison's Animal Man.
A couple of things:
* The characters from Earth-47 showed up in Morrison's Animal Man.
* I find it interesting that Morrison created a world specifically for the Beyond universe characters. I'd always assumed--just like the Legion(s)--that the Beyond characters were the future of the main DCU. Sure, there could be multiple variations of them, but why one just for those characters? And for that matter of fact, where was the Legion if such is the case?