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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 209

Daredevil #209
Marvel Comics
Arthur Byron Cover, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Bulanadi, Christie Scheele, Joe Rosen

Monday, February 16, 2015

MULTIVERSITY POWER RANKINGS: The Bottom 10 Earths

Last week I wrote about the Top 10 Earths so far in Multiversity, so this week I'm following that up with The Bottom 10 Earths so far.  It's always good to keep an open mind about these sorts of things, but it's also true that there are a lot of stinkers in the multiverse.

THE BOTTOM 10
10.  Earth-7
This is the earth that was based on Marvel's Ultimate universe, and also it looks like Mike Mignola's Hellboy has been thrown in there for some reason?  It's not that important, considering this entire Earth was wiped out in the first issue of Multiversity to show how bad and tough those tough bad guys, The Gentry, can be.  Maybe it was a kind of cheeky/petty move having the analogues of everything wrong with the comics industry destroying the stand-in for the basis of the incredibly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, but whatever, I'm glad it's gone.  This Earth is here because on top of being a first issue casualty, it's a copy of a copy mashed up with an adaptation of a copy of a universe.  It's like Walter Benjamin's nightmare vision, plus Hellboy is hanging out for no reason.

9.  Earth-46
Throughout The Multiversity Guidebook, Grant Morrison includes entries for seven unknown worlds that were created by the seven "Monitor Magi" with no further information beyond that.  It's a nice way to create some more mystery around the Multiverse, and I'm pretty interested in seeing what develops, though I have my own ideas.  Earth-46, however, is the worst one of the mysterious bunch because it is listed as "The second most mysterious of the 7 UNKNOWN EARTHS."  It's the second most mysterious because we actually know one thing about it: it apparently came SECOND PLACE in the mysterious Earth Olympics, which means it is the silver medal of mysterious Earths, and we all know that second place is just first loser.  On top of that it's being proudly billed as "the second most mysterious?"  Nobody cares about who's second most mysterious!  You're either the most mysterious or you shut the fuck up about it and fall back in line with the other Unknown Earths.

8.  Earth-34
I literally have no idea what this Earth is about.  It looks like an Earth whose superheroes were influenced more by Ancient Greco-Roman theater than adventure pulps?  Which, now that I'm thinking about it, could actually be a pretty interesting concept that, upon further reflection, would most assuredly fall flat on its grease-painted face.  Who cares.  Oh, also, shoutout to Piotr Rasputin hanging out in his overalls and boots in the back there.

7.  Earth-38
I believe this one is sort of based around John Byrne's Superman & Batman: Generations Elseworlds stories, which I'll admit I've never read, but a quick look at this makes me think that the most interesting idea here is our two main superheroes aging in real-time.  According to this entry the premise is about Superman and Batman being heroes in the 1930s and generations of their sons and daughters taking up the mantle after them, which means that this Earth is filled with a bunch of entitled, self-righteous prick superheroes that probably aren't as fun as my dudes in The Just.  The idea of Superman and Batman in the 1930s just makes me think of Tom Brokaw and all his "Greatest Generation" horseshit, and their children, a group of asshole baby boomers enforcing the status quo in a world of coded racism and late-stage capitalism.  I don't give a shit about John Byrne comics.

6.  Earth-35
This appears to be an Earth populated with ripoffs of characters from Supreme or WildC.A.T.s or Youngblood?  Maybe it's loosely based around Wildstorm properties (Although I think the Wildstorm properties were folded into the regular Earth-0 continuity)?  Is it just a general Image superheroes dump?  At any rate, it's another case of a copy of a copy being forced into a Justice League template, and I'm clearly not a huge fan of those.  You know what while we're at it, what does it mean that the majority of these Earths feature a Justice League-type of configuration?  I mean I know it's all about branding and legacy with DC, but I'm talking story-wise here.  Almost every Earth seems to have a version of the Justice League and given Grant Morrison's interest in spirituality and mysticism perhaps there's something there about that Justice League configuration repeating itself throughout the Multiverse?

5.  Earth-19
Is this a Gotham by Gaslight Earth?  Whatever.  Not interested.  I've read Gotham by Gaslight, and it was a fine comic book that I certainly did not want more of.  There are also some pretty steam punk-y looking designs here so *dismissive jacking off motion*

4.  Earth-33
This is supposed to be our Earth.  This is the Earth where you wake up and read twitter and facebook and get angry about some stupid bullshit and it bugs you for a good chunk of your shitty day and you wonder whether there's a specific point where everything went wrong or if it's just always been this bad and you just weren't smart enough to notice.  And now that you are smart enough why can't anyone else figure it out?  This is the Earth where you are reading a blog post about The Multiversity Guidebook.  Thanks for reading, by the way.  This is also the Earth where I truly do appreciate you taking the time to read any of this.  Also this is the Earth with ISIS and anti-vaxxers.  It sucks.

3.  Earth-1
This is the Earth based around DC's line of Earth One graphic novels, the bulk of which JMS is largely responsible for.  (I don't ever want to try to fumble my way through spelling Straczynski ever, so thank god for whoever came up with the ol' JMS.)  I'll admit to having never read any of those books, but I will also admit to never really being that interested in them.  Also, the thought of JMS setting the tone for an entire universe of stories is upsetting to me.  I believe at some point this was supposed to be DC's attempt at an Ultimate-style version of their universe but with serialized graphic novels instead of monthly issues, but from what I've heard there is still some confusion about how this universe is supposed to function in the scope of DC's business model.  Apparently none of the creators on any of the titles set in this Earth are sure whether they're bound to an official Earth One continuity, and to be fair the description in the Guidebook does playfully acknowledge this, but story-wise there are fifty one other Earths that seem to have figured out their shit.  What's Earth-1's excuse?

2. Earth-36
Earth-36 just looks like another off-brand Justice League but not even with the twist of a different theme like most of the other Earths.  It's lazy.  This just looks like a straight up one to one copy of Earth-0's Justice League, but with some typical, boring redesigns.  It'll probably fit in great with DC's lineup when it gets its own book and some asshole who claims that this is their favorite thing tries to revitalize it or whatever and make their own suitably derivative Justice League of Earth-36 stories to sell to other fans who keep whining about wanting something different and diverse but are still largely unwilling to look past superhero signifiers for that.  I'm sorry if I'm being hard on all the brave work that went into giving Earth-36's Green Lantern a torch or whatever, but I'm using Earth-36 as an example of just how lazy superhero comics can be and how willing we are as fans to not only take this nonsense but to play our part in the hype machine for something as meaningless as a Justice League redesign, or worse, superhero movie casting news.

1.  Earth-32
Speaking of the laziness of superhero comics, take a look at Earth-32 and their mashup version of the Justice League.  This is an Earth so lazy they couldn't even bother to come up with some original redesigns.  They just decided to smash a bunch of characters together in totally boring combinations.  As unexciting as this Earth is, I am pretty compelled to wonder a few things about this Earth: Is everyone in this world a boring mashup?  Are ordinary people mashed up with their other equally ordinary counterparts?  Is the Earth's population cut down in half because what would typically be two people on our world is now actually just one mashed-up person on Earth-32?  Is all music mashed up?  Is everyone just listening to Girl Talk and the Hood Internet like all the time?  Is there still a demand for that type of mashup party music over there?  There are too many stupid questions that come with this Earth, and none of them are that fun anyway.  Fuck this place.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 208

Daredevil #208
Marvel Comics
Harlan Ellison & Arthur Byron Cover, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Bulanadi, Christie Scheele, Joe Rosen, Cover by David Mazzucchelli & Bob Wiacek


Monday, February 9, 2015

MULTIVERSITY POWER RANKINGS: The Top 10 Earths

Back when the first issue of Multiversity came out, I wasn't so hot about it, but since then, I'll admit that it's steadily been working to win me over with each issue.  The Multiversity Guidebook was released recently, and I've been really loving flipping through and seeing all the little capsule notes about the different earths and thinking about all the stories that we're never going to see.  In a way it reminds me very much of reading video game strategy guides for games I'd never played back when I was a kid.  I got a bunch of old Nintendo strategy guides from an older cousin and I'd read through those things, telling myself that if I ever did get to play any of these games, I'd be prepared.  Same thing with X-Men trading cards.  I really liked X-Men when I was a kid, and aside from the cartoon, the trading cards were my favorite way to just devour information about the complicated back stories.  All of these handbook/guidebook type things take me back to a time when I was a kid who was just hungry for pure information, ready to assemble my own context for these disjointed glimpses of narrative.  The Multiversity Guidebook really works to capture that hungry energy and to place that within the scope of Grant Morrison's larger narrative.

Of course, not all Earths are created equal, and with listicles dominating internet #content these days, I figured I'd take a crack at creating my own Multiversity Power Rankings, to give you what I think are the top 10 and the bottom 10 earths so far in Multiversity.

Here are the rankings for the top 10 Earths as of whenever The Multiversity Guidebook was released:

THE TOP 10
10.  Earth-47
I know very little about Prez aside from what I half-remember from that one issue of The Sandman, but mostly what I like about Earth-47 is those wacky Hanna-Barbera-esque designs, particularly that logo on "Sunshine Superman" and that Shaggy-looking "Magic Lantern."  Something really funny to me about a children's cartoon character being an upfront, anti-establishment slacker.

9.  Earth-43
It's a world of super-vampires drawn by Kelley Jones!  Oh, what?  Are you over vampires?  You're over one of the most enduring horror fixtures of all time?  Do I need to remind you you've been reading superhero comics?  Please.

8.  Earth-13 
I cannot believe the multiverse contains TWO goth earths, but here we are, and I'm having a great time.  I've always had a casual fondness for those DC magic/supernatural/horror characters, and Jae Lee's designs look appropriately dark while being tongue-in-cheek.  Making Etrigan this Earth's Superman is a really funny and exciting idea, and I can't wait til this Earth's stories are told exclusively on van murals and large denim jacket back patches blocking your view of the Iron Maiden concert.

7.  Earth-20
This is like a world where everybody is friends with Indiana Jones.  It's an Earth that's filled with tough as nails pulp-hero men and women who are those Doc Savage-type dudes who are probably all about living a balanced life, so they definitely run that line at you like "It's important to work out your body and your mind to realize your fullest potential.  Why, I remember a few years ago when I was in Nanda Parbat..."  Just think about how inspired you'd be to, like, buy some dumbbells and read a bunch of Penguin Classics while you have steak and eggs and cocaine for breakfast.

6.  Earth-18
Just about the only thing tougher than a pulp-hero Earth would have to be a Cowboy Earth, right?  I love thinking about a western-syle DC universe, just filled with a bunch of dirty, ugly super hombres.  I'm also really down with Andrew Robinson's Wonder Woman cowboy design.  Detractors may call it out for being a theme-party Earth, but to them I say this: Flip through the book again. They're ALL theme party Earths.

5.  Earth-3
The Crime Syndicate of America is such a dumb, comic book-y idea, and it feels kind of classic in that regard, but what I like about it is how broadly the idea of "the opposite of our heroes' world" is applied.  Good is evil, things are made of anti-matter, crime is legal, etc.  It's like an Earth where it's The Purge ALL THE TIME.

4.  Earth-4
Superheroes existing at the decline of American optimism is such a good setting, particularly for DC's fixations on tradition and legacy, as it seems like a perfect point of inevitable change while struggling to hold on to an idealized past.  Also, after that Frank Quitely-drawn issue, it's tough not to want more of that. Bonus: This is an Earth that exists largely as a subtweet to Alan Moore, and I think that's an amazing power move (or I guess it'd be more of a power move if Alan Moore actually gave a shit about comics anymore, but let us hold on to this adolescent power fantasy). 

3. Earth-0
This one is here because it just has to be, c'mon.  It's the main earth in the DC universe, and while it's had its fair share of bumps and Jim Lee-designed bruises, it's the one we keep coming back to, the one where the stories we love have happened.

2.  Earth-51
It's the Jack Kirby Kamandi Earth!  Sort of.  We've got a couple of fun changes here like a Ben Boxer/O.M.A.C. mashup called biOMAC and the New Gods hanging out (question: maybe I missed something, but why are the New Gods hanging around this earth in particular?  Do the New Gods exist outside of the 52 Earths, or are there 52 versions of the New Gods?).  My favorite little redesigns here are Mr. Miracle's new extra chain and Highfather's Mark Mcgwire forearms.  Grant Morrison loves working with Kirby concepts, and it's always pretty fun to watch him try to recapture that Kirby energy, something that maybe no one will ever fully be able to do while working with Kirby's own creations, but you know, shoot for the moon and all that.

1.  Earth-16
This one's at the top because The Just was my favorite of the Multiversity issues so far.  (Sidenote: is The Just a little dig at Mark Millar's Jupiter's Legacy?  Maybe some one upmanship?  Or maybe it's just another superheroes as celebrities thing, I really can't tell.)  The Just, I think, takes the concept of DC's preoccupation with legacy and pushes it forward.  Not only do we see the future versions of the children of our heroes, but we see our current heroes aging and unable to move on from their past.  Perhaps the older heroes, caught up in their historical reenactments, are a stand-in for older superhero fans unable to move past the glory days of when comics were exciting and fun for them, and the children of the heroes are the new generation of readers born into this world where it's all been done.   I think the concept of superheroes being bored celebrities is pretty well-tread at this point (my favorite being Milligan & Allred's X-Force and X-Statix), but I always find it interesting because it seems like one of the most realistic outcomes of superheroes existing in our world (the other outcome in my opinion being straight up fear/fascism).  It's fun and trashy, playing up the triviality of these superhero comics by so closely paralleling celebrity gossip magazine story lines.  This take on superheroes really just leans into that more voyeuristic hunger/dependency of fan culture.  It's shameful, but we're all guilty of it, and it's interesting to see that reflected back to us in the context of our beloved superhero genre.  It's a fun concept for me because it doesn't entirely boil down to "Stay positive, don't let the cynicism of the world/industry twist you" message that has been present in Morrison's corporate superhero work lately.  Don't get me wrong, I think he does that well, and I don't mean to reduce his output of late to that single theme, but it's nice to know that he still has at least some interest in adding some shades of gray and layers of critique to that message.

NEXT TIME: MULTIVERSITY'S BOTTOM 10 EARTHS

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 207

Daredevil #207
Marvel Comics
Denny O'Neil, William Johnson, Danny Bulanadi & Mel Candido, Julianna Ferriter, Joe Rosen, cover by William Johnson & Bill Sienkiewicz