Monday, August 25, 2014

My review of Multiversity #1

At the risk of continual comics curmudgeonliness--

Grant Morrison's Multiversity #1, which I was looking forward to, is (of course) a disappointing, muddled mess.

It's another rehash of the pet themes he's been slinging around ever since his days on Animal Man (transquartomuralism, writer as god, reader and the reader's world as part of the story, realities beyond and alongside other realities, the music of the spheres, etc.).

My voice doesn't sound like that.

I think this one is left over from an old Morrison Doom Patrol comic.

Don't ask me, buddy.  I' can barely play Heroclix.

"Blah blah, blah blah blah BLAH blah blah!"

Apparently Grant's changed his name to Lex Luthor, now.

Me, too!  Ever since Gardner Fox TOLD us that in Sept. 1961.

It's called a key change, Grant.

In other words, exactly the same hodgepodge of the same concepts Morrison so spectacularly failed to make word in Final Crisis.

These are fine ideas (even if he's repeated them about 8000 times too often), but, once again, his fractured, kaleidoscopic viewpoint makes it impossible for him to tell a coherent story.  At times, in fact, it seems composing a complete sentence escapes him.

I'm sorry, sir; your application to the Brotherhood of Dada must be submitted on paper
in the form of a tone poem or collage.

And, sure, it makes a little more sense after a second reading. But doesn't EVERYTHING (with the exception of Identity Crisis)?!

In my hobby of choral shows, we call people like Grant Morrison "Concept Producers."  They can produce concepts, but they can't produce actual SHOWS.  They have fascinating, out of the box ideas... but THEY can't carry them out. Other more sensible, down-to-earth, coherent, logistically-oriented people have to be there to do that for them, or it all winds up a flaming mess.  Like Multiversity.

Grant Morrison is such a person. He needs an editor--or a writer-- to put his ideas into action.  Until then...

Finally, something Grant and I can agree on.


Anonymous said...

Infinite Crisis was written by Geoff Johns. Do you mean Final Crisis?

Scipio said...

I do! Sorry, I get them confused.

Anonymous said...

It is kind of ironic that someone who so clearly loves the nonsense of the Silver Age doesn't like the work of pretty much the only modern writer who embraces that concept-is-greater-than-plot aesthetic. I don't know that Morrison is any more caught up in this style than any other writer. Most of them have their bag of tricks (or ticks, depending on how much you enjoy them). People remember "52" for being a weekly but I always thought that was the least interesting part. The real success of that book was taking 4 superstar writers with very different styles and getting them to collaborate in an integrated way. I would have loved to have seen that book if the artists had more time and Didio didn't keep inserting his one-year gap fixation in the creative process.

I do like Morrison's use of idea bombs - dropping some cool concept and then leaving it to the reader to fill in the spaces in our own mind. It can be annoying and overused but I prefer it to excess in the other direction, which leads to the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" and mitichlorians.

Bryan L said...

I felt pretty much the same way, Scipio. I was left with a vague sense of deja vu, and very little desire to read the rest of the story. Also, I liked Captain Carrot's original artwork better. If you're trying for go-for-broke crazy, throwing a funny animal cartoon can only help.

Scipio said...

"I prefer it to excess in the other direction, which leads to the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" and mitichlorians."

Heh;that IS a good point.

I challenge your sense of irony; if you'll read this blog again, you'll see I don't have a love of SILVER age nonsense. It's GOLDEN AGE nonsense I love, if anything. And it's easy to laugh, unconcerned at something that happened long ago in another time and continuity, rather than something that will serve as a blueprint for all further DCU writing.

I also challenge your statement that Morrison is the only modern writer who embraces the idea that concept is greater than plot. I think, for the most part they ALL do (which is why their plots don't hold up to much scrutiny).

It's just that in their case, their plot fig leaves are large enough to cover their concept junk, whereas Morrison's is just kind of hanging out there like some conceptual porn star.

Anonymous said...

I'll grant your love of Golden Age nonsense trumps all but I think there's been plenty of Silver Age nonsense wrapped in this blog (what era do those Martian Manhunter stories fall?)

In saying Morrison is fairly unique in elevating concept-is-greater-than-plot vibe, I wasn't suggesting that the rest of them are worshipping at the alter of story construction. They're just elevating different things - nostalgia or soap opera or "coolness" or, in the case of Geoff Johns, dismemberment and reductionism.

SallyP said...

I am in something of a quandary over this. Parts of it I rather liked. Parts of it, I couldn't make heads or tails of. And then a part of me just thinks he is trying to out-crazy Neal Adams in Odyssey.

John said...

Me, too! Ever since Gardner Fox TOLD us that in Sept. 1961.

I think this basically sums up Grant Morrison's work, to me, more than his inability to piece together a story. He doesn't write anything new, just trots out a handful of ideas that other writers put more succinctly, and treats it as a revelation worthy of everybody's attention for months or years at a time because he presents it in a more frenetic way.

There are other worlds that are shadows of each other! Batman has an evil opposite! Superman is the greatest of all heroes ever! Writers, as you point out, are the sadistic gods of their fictional worlds! Goofy stories could have been gritty! Yawn. Wake me at the anticlimactic ending that winks at a Silver Age trope.

I have to disagree with you on Identity Crisis, though. It makes perfect sense. Every issue starts with the characters asserting the importance of their secret identities, there's a red herring about who's behind the plot and some arbitrary carnage. Lather, rinse, and repeat until the Final Reveal, where we find out that their secret identities are completely irrelevant but nobody in the story seems to notice.

It's extraordinarily stupid, but completely understandable stupid.

Anonymous said...

As I was telling the guy at the comic book shop recently, I loved "The Return of Bruce Wayne", but damn if I can actually understand it.

Morrison is happiest when he's doing a thing, but that's not always the same as putting out a good comic. I don't mind if a writer tells a story that is initially confusing, because there is the promise and expectation that, once the story unfolds, the chaos will resolve into order and it will be worth the suspense. Morrison doesn't always hold up his end of the bargain.

The thrifty part of me tends to do this arithmetic when a new Morrison series comes along: I can gamble on Morrison, or there are still other books by writers who hit it out of the park consistently (Snyder, Soule, Tomasi, even Johns) and perhaps I ought to spend my money on them. Sorry Morrison.

Scipio said...

"He doesn't write anything new, just trots out a handful of ideas that other writers put more succinctly, and treats it as a revelation worthy of everybody's attention for months or years at a time because he presents it in a more frenetic way."

BOOM, as the kids say.

Hoosier X said...

"He doesn't write anything new, just trots out a handful of ideas that other writers put more succinctly, and treats it as a revelation worthy of everybody's attention for months or years at a time because he presents it in a more frenetic way."

Exhibit A: Nearly every paragraph in "Supergods."

Anonymous said...

I prefer optimism over pessimism and utopaias over dystopias. That is, I am a DC fan.

I will do my best to keep an open mind about the rest of "Multiversity." Nevertheless, I am discouraged about the fact that TWO of the available universes (I think there are presently 52 of them?) have already been devoted to Marvel pastiches. \

I would have preferred zero of such things. Unless it (they) is (are) somehow, clever, and respectful of the other organization.

Of course, this is not what I read.

Here's the plus side. I read that a "Crisis" anniversary might lead to changes. This might all be irrelevant in another two years' time.

Also: I want Shayera back. Happily married to Katar, who know that she is probably smarter than he is, and does not mind in the least.

Anonymous said...

Of course, this is all madness: At the day, any hope of making sense of the DC universe ended when a five-year timeline (Hello, Flashpoint?) got combined with a decision to retain most of the Batman and Green Lantern timelines, is ridiculous.

Noting the above, I must assume that Ace, that Bat Hound, was around for longer than the first Robin, the Boy Woner (aka, Dick Grayson).

No.At around about month number two of Batman's adventures, Professor Potter (oe, a Batman-equivalent thereof) send him off to some sort of alternative universe or acid dream. Fifty years have passed from his perspective. Two seconds from the rest of us.

By magic, he has brought along with him a Batwoman. mutiple Batgirls. Catwoman and the Riddler, each played by multiple actors. Et cetera, et. cetrra.

Along with at least three more Green Lanterns. Notincluding Chip and Gnort who wre already, somehow, part of the timeline already.

John said...

Having now bothered to read "Multiversity," I needed to mention that what I specifically didn't like was that it seemed to all be set pieces, loosely bound by the same story introduction that we've seen a thousand times.

In other words, the big bad (not Krona, the Anti-Monitor, hyperdimensional moths, or those guys from Sliders) is eating universes, so we need a long Marvel Comics vignette (technically two, I think), the cartoon rabbit getting smashed into a disc, and a handful of other incidents that the story was written around rather than helping tell the story.

I guess I should be thankful they're not scouring the multiverse for the N+1 Items of Power in teams of three in a race against the most generic villains the multiverse has to offer.

Anonymous, I like to think that the DCU itself fights back against attempts to organize continuity. It fought against the single universe by retaining the history of the Teen Titans. When that mess was finally cleared up, it replaced Hawkman retroactively. Zero Hour was such a mess that Hypertime was introduced to rationalize it. Every time writers (or villains) try to make things more rational, the result has some enormous blemish that leads to the next attempt.

Personally, I think the solution is to just accept that Green Lantern has met Binky and his Buddies. A couple of years before Crisis on Infinite Earths, a letter-writer asked why Binky didn't already know GL in Showcase #100 when they met in some other issue. Editor Marv Wolfman ranted for a long time about how someone needs to clean house at DC and decide what's canon (superheroes) and what isn't (teenagers).

I don't think the DCU likes that idea.