Comixology Sale Picks: DC Multiversity
Posted by Seb Patrick at 23:00 on 20 Aug 2014
Anyway, here's our look at what's worth buying, although be warned that the sale includes both 52 and Crisis on Infinite Earths, so if you're going to take our word on absolutely everything, you're in for an expensive one.
We covered this the last time it went on sale, but the succinct version is basically that 52 is a really, really good series that's very worth reading. Unfortunately there's no real way of separating it into smaller chunks, so you've really got to go all in on it or nothing. But read our previous feature for a more detailed explanation of just why it's worth picking up.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
On the one hand, the original Crisis is everything that's wrong with modern-era crossover event storytelling: relying heavily on knowledge of existing continuity, killing off characters for shock value, and arguably leaving things in an even more confused state than they were before.
On the other hand, there's a reason there have been so many stories like it ever since, because despite all of that, it's utterly fantastic. It's dense as hell (made possible largely by the skill of George Perez in cramming in so many characters into so many tiny frames), but the basics of the plot (multiverse-crossing villain seeks to wipe out all the universes, heroes from everywhere band together to stop him) are a clearly discernible line throughout it, and there's certainly nothing oblique or deliberately difficult about the storytelling.
Sure, I wouldn't recommend reading this if you have no familiarity whatsoever with DC's characters and history, but a passing knowledge should be enough, because it does tell you most of what it needs to. What you get for your money is a humongous, epic, head-bender of a story that, despite several attempts, nobody's really been able to replicate since.
You'll find people who deride this heavily. It's hard to logically refute most of the arguments against it, but to be perfectly frank, I still enjoyed it at the time, perhaps because it had that strong sense of heavily changing the game and leaving you unaware of what might happen next (even though the game was barely changed at all by the end of it, certainly compared to what the original Crisis and later Flashpoint did).
And yes, it's a little uncomfortable reading a story in which the original Golden Age version of Superman gets beaten to a bloody pulp, but put that aside and there's still good stuff in here. It's basically a far more Hollywood-ised version of a big DC crossover, although if you've never read any of the books DC were putting out around the early-mid 2000s, you might be a bit lost on some of the status quo it expects you to understand.
The Grant Morrison crossover that turned out not to be as significant - or indeed as good - as we were all hoping, but it's still Grant Morrison writing DC characters and so there's still plenty of interesting stuff going on, even when it's slightly failing to hit what it reaches for. Morrison saw it as the culmination of what he'd started with Seven Soldiers and continued with 52, but DC seemed to get cold feet over throwing their full weight behind it, and so although it does work as a pretty good capstone for that mid-2000s DC era that began with Identity Crisis, it's not allowed to work as a fully satisfying conclusion, with the storylines instead meandering on for a bit until Flashpoint a few years later.
Its biggest problem is that Morrison seems to want to tell more stories than he actually has the space to (this is why, for example, the two part Superman: Beyond 3D mini became necessary - no idea how that works digitally, incidentally, I might have to buy it to find out), meaning that there's plenty which is underdeveloped or simply gets lost by the end. But the core story, if you strip it out on its own, works well, and is topped off by a fantastic final issue.
Much more of an actual crossover than the previous stories listed (which all, while they did have tie-in issues, stand alone pretty well in the core series alone), the problem with Zero Hour is that the main series is far from the best thing about it. There were some absolutely terrific tie-in issues produced in various books (not to mention the fact that James Robinson's Starman launched out of it), but there's very little to recommend in the main series itself, except that Dan Jurgens' art is pretty much at its mid-90s peak of quality.
I mean, the two villains in this story are Hal Jordan as Parallax and Hank Hall as a post-Armageddon 2001 Extant, which should tell you everything you need to know about it. It's basically an attempt to clear up various confusing alternate timeline threads that had sprung up after the original Crisis (including the Time Trapper's "pocket universe" and the Legion of Super-Heroes), but if you don't know or care about any of those, you'll just be completely lost.
Oh, but if you do buy it, be warned that the issues run down in reverse order (from #4 down to #0). The sale lists them in the correct order, but I imagine when you get them on your device they might get listed the other way.
Batman Across the Multiverse!
Three Elseworlds stories, and yet none of them are the brilliant Speeding Bullets. Sigh. Gotham by Gaslight, as I mentioned in the last Batman sale, is the original Elseworlds, and is entertaining enough if inessential. The same goes for In Darkest Knight (if you couldn't guess from the title, it's "What if Batman had got Abin Sur's Green Lantern ring?"). The Dracula one, Red Rain, is very skippable.
Across the Multiverse!
A hodge-podge selection of other Elseworlds and alternate-world-related stories. Superman: Red Son remains one of Mark Millar's better works (while still suffering from some of his less annoying tics), and while the people who say it's the best Superman story ever tend to be people who don't like Superman, it is a very good one.
Kingdom Come is of course an utter masterpiece, but is really only for hardcore DC fans. Not because you need to know all the character background, but because it requires you to really care about them. If you do, you should love it.
The various single issues are a bit of a random assortment, and mostly don't really stand out in isolation, although if you're going to read Multiversity you might want to catch up on Morrison's Action Comics #9, which basically served as a bit of a tryout for some of its concepts.
The one major exception is Flash #123, the classic "Flash of Two Worlds", which is basically one of the most important comics stories ever published. It's Silver Age Flash, so be prepared for that stylistically, but otherwise if you've never read it, now is absolutely the time.
Panel Beats Approved Checklist
Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12
Final Crisis #1-7
Final Crisis: Superman: Beyond 3D #1-2
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight
Superman: Red Son #1-3
Kingdom Come #1-4
Action Comics #9
The Flash #123
Total (with 52): $82.17 / £57.27
Total (without 52): $30.69 / £21.39
The sale runs until next Monday 25th August.