Best Comics of 2014: The Multiversity

Best Comics of 2014: The Multiversity
Around five years or so ago, the prospect of Grant Morrison writing a multiverse-spanning, self-referential exploration of DC's superhero lineage would have been pretty much the most exciting thing in comics. But as the time between The Multiversity's conception and its actual execution grew ever longer, the doubts began to creep in. The resetting of DC's entire continuity was the biggest elephant in the room: if The Multiversity was originally conceived pre-New 52, would it be compromised by eventually coming out after it?

But even aside from that, with what seemed to be Morrison's final definitive statement on the superhero comic, in his epoch-defining Batman run, finally at an end, and following the apparent inability of his Action Comics to stake out a claim for greatness in this new era, this supposed final hurrah began to feel like little more than an afterthought. Sure, it would be nice to see a bit of new Frank Quitely art, especially if he was drawing the Blue Beetle. But would The Multiversity really have anything new to say?

It turns out that yes, it did. And what it had to say was The Man Don't Give A Fuck.

Different people have reacted to different bits of The Multiversity in different ways, and that's been one of the most edifying things about the series. Someone else could sit here and write a look back that concentrated mainly on the first two issues of the series - and in particular, the Society of Super-Heroes chapter - and talk about how the Chris Sprouse-drawn, note-perfect take on pulp heroism (and bizarre yet somehow perfect confluence of otherwise largely unconnected DC characters) worked for them. The same is true, I'm sure, of the most recent chapter - a delightful Captain Marvel/Shazam riff with, again, supremely judged Cameron Stewart art.

For my part, the one that hit for me - as I've already discussed in detail - was The Just. It was a comic that I bought in print after having bought and read it digitally, just because I wanted to make damned sure I owned a permanent, tangible copy of the thing. It was a comic that confirmed for me that Grant Morrison is still capable of being the Grant Morrison who first blew my immediately-post-adolescent comics-reading mind when I read the last issue of his Animal Man a shade over a decade ago.

But then there was Pax Americana. Which was a comic that I bought two copies of in print after having bought and read it digitally, because not only did I want to make damned sure that I owned a permanent, tangible copy of the thing, but because I also wanted to make sure that my father - the man who got me into comics in the first place - read it too.

(I mean, I would have always bought the print copy anyway, Because Quitely. But even so.)

I can't even really begin to talk about Pax Americana in any detail. I don't really feel equipped to do so. The only way I can really frame it is in terms of that dramatic phrase I stuck just before the page jump to draw attention. This is what happens when Grant Morrison really doesn't give a fuck. And I don't mean that in the sense of not caring about his work: I mean in the sense of not caring what anyone else thinks about it.

So yeah, he's going to put Lady Shiva and Dr Fate in the same comic, and to hell with those who think that's the sort of thing that should never cross over. So yeah, he's going to act like all those legacy heroes you hated in the '90s were actually kind of great. So yeah, he's going to call Captain Marvel "Captain Marvel" in the pages of a 2014-published DC comic.

And yeah, he's going to take the nuclear option in his long-running war with Alan Moore, by crafting an elaborate Watchmen pastiche that both reveres, and thumbs its nose at, the original work simultaneously. And he's going to do it in tandem with the best comics artist of the last twenty years working at the height of his own storytelling powers.

Because Grant Morrison has moved past giving a fuck what you think about his comics any more. He's already made his grand statements about the superhero comics that are, were and will be. Now, he's decided to just go ahead and write a bunch of individual comics that are how he wants them to be. And it's brilliant, and it's terrifying.