The end of Grant Morrison’s multi-part, universe jumping epic is one step closer with this week’s The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1. What happens when the reader is the one responsible for saving or ending the world? If you value your lives, you must (Not) read this review!
THE MULTIVERSITY: ULTRA COMICS #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Jaime Mendoza
Colorist: Gabe Eltaeb, David Baron
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Rickey Purdin
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in The Multiversity: The Gentry has been set loose throughout the Multiverse, infecting each world and its superheroes in different ways. As each universe learns of theMultiverse’s existence, warnings are sent out about the oncoming danger. The story now continues with us, the readers, on Earth-33 aka Earth Prime!
I THINK I MAY HAVE JUST DESTROYED THE UNIVERSE
Talk about a mind screw! The opening pages of The Multiversity: Ultra Comics are so intense, meta and engaging that I almost questioned my sanity. We immediately begin as Ultra Comics talks directly to us, the reader, warning that our world is in danger. As he is overtaken by the spreading evil he begs us not to read on. Of course, I didn’t listen. I couldn’t help it. Then a man reading the comic addresses us directly again and begins to explain what is basically the concept of the book. It’s brilliant and makes Morrison’s idea as easily understandable as a Morrison idea can be. We’re interacting with a real, physical object and can hear the character’s voices in our head, so the story must be real, right? This just scratches the surface of thought processes this comic takes you through. From there we see the creation of Ultra Comics the hero, him interact with the world (and us) and eventually discover the evil threatening the world.
I don’t want to spoil any more of the book because it’s truly a unique experience to have, especially on the first read. Morrison grabbed me from the start and I was thoroughly engaged. I never wanted to put the book down and during the few times I did, I hurried back because I was dying to see what happened next. There are great and hilarious moments where Ultra hears the reader’s reactions to the comic in his head. “This guy’s raped my wallet WAY too many times” became my favorite and is quite a statement about comic fans’ relationship with Grant Morrison. What the issue does best is teasing the reader and egging us to read on while explicitly stating that doing so means our doom. It’s effective and at some points I really thought about putting it down. What if it’s true? Could I put something like this down and go without knowing the ending or what the danger is? It’s a fantastic concept and is one of the most brilliant and successful ways to include the reader in the story.
Even at forty pages, it’s still not enough for Morrison to expound upon his ideas. The Transmatter Cube, Ultrabox and Ultraa all feel short-changed and those unfamiliar with the history of Earth Prime will benefit from a Wikipedia search. I was happy to see the series’ villain show up at the end and tie the series together finally. It still is a bit rushed but a good teaser for the conclusion that is coming next month and I hope we finally see a big fight between good and evil.
COULD HAVE EASILY FALLEN APART WITH OUR WORLD
Even with the great writing this book could have failed with bad art. Luckily Doug Mahnke goes above and beyond, delivering what is some of his best work. The emotion conveyed in the faces, especially Ultra’s, work with the dialogue in creating tension. Detail is immense and there is something to discover within every panel. Mahnke even leaves some clues for the observant reader concerning one of the big reveals. Everything within the book looks and feels epic, especially when the action ramps up. There really is a sense that a world is coming apart. Credit should be given to the numerous inkers on the comic as well. Usually multiple inkers can harm the art, making it look inconsistent or worse. Here, I never noticed a change and it all looked like what I’ve come to expect from Mr. Mahnke. Coloring is top-notch too and one only has to see the panel of Ultra emerging from his creation tank to see the talent being used. Exceptional work by the whole art team in making a fun and unique story come to life.
THE BOTTOM LINE: I’M GIDDY FOR THE END, IF WE MAKE IT
I can’t heap enough praise upon Morrison’s The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1. Everything from the concept and storytelling techniques to the artwork from Doug Mahnke and company are fantastic. The story engages and involves the reader in a way I’ve never experienced before. Even though there still isn’t enough space for Morrison to cram his many ideas, I feel like I got a completely understandable yet challenging story. If you haven’t been reading Multiversity, this isn’t the place to start though and I suggest going back and picking up all the rest. If our world is destroyed because I kept reading remember this: I had to write this review which required me to read the entire issue. Therefore, it’s Stephen’s fault.
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