Thursday, August 21, 2014
thoughts on Multiversity and being okay with things moving on without you
Grant Morrison, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado
I used to be really into punk rock music. Like most kids in high school, it was the only kind of music that I thought really spoke to me. Today, I still like to listen to punk rock but it's with a sort of detached, almost academic kind of fascination. It no longer really speaks to me and my worldview so much as it makes me recall a time when I really believed in this music. This is all a roundabout way to help you understand me when I say that I read that first issue of Grant Morrison's Multiversity the way I listen to punk rock today.
I liked that first issue of Multiversity. I think Grant Morrison is great at these kinds of grand, multiversal, ensemble superhero narratives. It was fun, and I think more superhero event epics could benefit from this approach of making everything as big as possible. However, my problem with it is that it seems that we've seen most of this before. I understand that that's partly by design. Morrison enjoys making call-backs to his previous work and he seems to be interested in dealing with a certain set of themes in all his work, most especially in his superhero epics from DC Comics, but another part of it is that even all of these big ideas where he sort of just mushes together a bunch of sci-fi/spiritual/mystical-sounding concepts together to make things seem so big and crazy and wild and connected just all felt kind of routine. I don't have the issue at hand right now so I'm paraphrasing, but there's that part where Captain Carrot is telling Earth-23 Superman about how the House of Heroes is orbiting through bleed space or something, and for all the sci-fi elements in his explanations about how the House of Heroes works, it kind of all just amounts to "This door won't be in the same place in five minutes." Cool. It's a place where everything shifts around because of weird science. Yeah, I'm familiar with that. Got it. I'm being a little paltry here, but it's only because I think I'm just disappointed that I don't get that enthusiastic charge from all that sci-fi gibberish speak that I used to get when I was reading Morrison's comics in High School and College.
The rest of the issue feels like that as well. Parallel Earths! I know. Analogues of familiar superheroes from other comics! Yeah, I see. From other publishers! Right, like Image used to do. Those guys are in there too sort of! Yes. There's a spaceship that goes through the space in between universes and it's controlled by music! Yeah, we saw that in the last Grant Morrison event comic. It was cool. METATEXT! I live on the internet.
For a while I was wondering if I even still like superhero comics. I'm more of a grump about it these days, but I do still like this stuff. I just don't get the same high I used to from it. Multiversity itself is good so far, it's doing what it's meant to be doing, and a few years ago I would have been really excited by all of this. I think somewhere along the way my tastes and sensibilities have changed, and I don't respond the same way to the same things like I used to. Maybe it's because of over-exposure? Like maybe somewhere along the way we all got over exposed to superheroes saturating the media and the weird metatext themes of superheroes being in the real world just became the actual text and it wasn't so weird to think about these things anymore. Sometimes it feels like all you see on the comics internet these days is superheroes in the real world or movie casting news about the latest superhero movie or cosplay about superheroes and the last thing you are going to be excited about is how there's a Savage Dragon analogue in a DC event comic. That's fine. That happens. I think the mistake lies in thinking another superhero comic is the answer to that problem. Superhero comics can't save you from superheroes. I think my problem was approaching a new superhero comic and thinking that it was the kind of thing that would make me feel like how I felt when these things were still so fresh and new and vital to me. All a new superhero comic has anymore is more superheroes.
Anyway I give it Fifty Two (52) Bright Shining Earths out of an Entire Universe of Possibilities, and I'm going to continue to read along because I still listen to punk rock and watch skateboard videos for some reason.