It’s been a weird period in Grant Morrison’s career for the last few years. There is no doubt that you can see the scope and breadth of his influence all over comics as some of the most popular creators like Geoff Johns, Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Rick Remender, Ales Kot, Greg Pak, Charles Soule and Jason Aaron all wear their influence of his on their sleeves and all over their writing. Morrison’s work on past titles also continues to inform their present continuity as titles in the X-Men, Batman and Superman line of books are all informed and live with his past writing on said continuity. But Morrison’s most recent writing has become less essential to the medium as of late were even before an extended year long hiatus his work wasn’t quite setting the world on fire the way it once did. His time on Action Comics seemed to be polarizing for both new readers and life long fans while trying to appeal to both, people were already sick of Batman Inc before it got the chance to complete itself and Happy! came and went with little to no fan fare. Morrison’s Multiversity has been in the planning stages for years now and in the New 52 state of DC Comics didn’t look like it was ever going to happen but it’s here now and it’s as fantastic and anybody could have hoped for. The ambitious project made to be an epic across 52 separate parallel realities opened with artist Ivan Reis and it’s debut issue manages to live up to it’s high expectations in setting up a large scale story whose scope and pace are awe inspiring in the way that they manage to do so much within the confines of 40 some odd pages. In it we are first introduced to a comic book reader who becomes a superhero in a parallel reality fighting against an evil force attempting to destroy all existing life. Comics are fond of retelling or calling back to past stories, especially comics from DC and Marvel, but more often than not that’s become a crutch for derivative story telling without adding anything positive or interesting to the past narrative it references or current narrative it’s propelling. Multiversity also plays with a lot of past comic continuity using elements from Crisis Of Infinite Earth, Final Crisis, DC One Million, JLA
& Morrison’s own Action Comics run among others but where as a lesser book would try and make those central points of the narrative Multiversity synthesizes them into one large multifaceted tapestry that add’s depth and gravitas to not only Multiversity itself but moreover, those stories it references and the DC universe as this fascinating concept of an ever evolving shared multiverse. In some ways this is par for the course with Morrison’s work but not only is it refreshing to see him come back to that but it also feels slightly different then in his previous work. Here the concept is a little more focused while also feeling vastly expansive. If you haven’t noticed this review is featuring a lot of conjunction’s and that’s entirely a credit to the rich complexity of Multiversity. It also hasn’t even touched on the story itself which does the herculean task of this expansive world building while also telling a tight, concise and epic plot, in effect giving the best of both compressed and decompressed story telling styles in equal measure. I’d be remiss here if I didn’t spotlight the art as well where Ivan Reis does some fantastic pencil work that is like nothing I’ve ever seen him create before. Reis has probably been the best at doing DC’s New 52 “house style” as his art style has always managed to be precise in detail yet full of life and the way he uses that to explore the many high concepts here is pretty astonishing all things considered. Multiversity utilizes the elasticity of his style by letting him draw everything from a Brooklyn apartment to a post apocalypse to outer space in equal measure of quality and imagination. In terms of creating straight forward illustrations from a craft stand point he’s probably one notch below Jerome Opena or Esad Ribic and that’s it, bare minimum. To see him apply that style in a story this fantastic and out there is epic in and of itself as it brings alive pieces of imagination in a most uncanny way. Multiversity is one of the best new Grant Morrison comics that’s been produced in quite some time but it also feels like something more than that. This is only the first issue but even with what little we have it reads like a culmination of every thing he’s done in the DC Universe up to this point. It’s a complex and thoughtful epic that manages to expand the context of it’s world while showcasing an engaging narrative effortlessly. The Grant Morrison that changed comics for the better is back and it looks like he hasn’t stopped yet. He’s just started exploring and teaching the Multiversity and while I have no idea where we go from here I can already tell that it looks amazing from what I’ve already seen.