In Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity, there has been no lack of great ideas or storytelling. But over each chapter so far, there has been a shadow hanging over everything; as if the Gentry (those inter-dimensional fiends) are already tainting these chapters by bringing in a feeling of malaise and fear from the first pages. This latest chapter of The Multiversity, in comparison, is pure, unadulterated joy. Starring the Big Red Cheese, Captain Marvel (aka Shazam in most modern DC media), himself; this latest installment will make you feel like a kid again.
Beginning on the Rock of Eternity, a focal point in any of the multiverses according to the Multiversity map, the wizard Shazam has noticed something VERY odd, the addition of an extra day: Sivanaday! The Rock is soon under attack by a more massive replica built by Dr. Sivana himself, with some assistance from various multiversal counterparts. Sivana soon empowers his children with Captain Marvel level abilities, using his name as the magic word, and send them to kill Captain Marvel. Meanwhile, on Earth, this extra day is wreaking havoc on Space-Time, sending dinosaurs, Sioux warriors, and cavemen. Kid reporter Billy Batson is on the scene, only to get a warning by his future self. But soon, the battle is on as Sivana’s empowered kids attack. It’s Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel Junior to save the day! How? Read on, brave reader.
This entire story is a delight. Morrison writes Billy with an innocence not seen in years (and definitely not in his Earth Prime counterpart, for better or worse). Sivana is back to his mad scientist self, and his cackling alternate are just as crazy, if not crazier. Sivana’s kids, while pretty much there as people to fight, each get their own moment to shine. However, it’s Captain Marvel and his allies who shine. Captain Marvel is all smiles, even when fighting against his nemesis. He’s cocky, but not in the slightly abrasive way seen in Shazam (one could argue some of the more “gee-whiz” qualities of the classic Captain Marvel is finally starting to peak through into Shazam). Mary Marvel gets a few digs in at modern superheroine design while outsmarting her counterpart, and CM3 is a lively counterpart to his “older” partner. Some fans might bemoan the lack of Black Adam, but his presence is felt here as well. While the personalities may come off as cartoonish, it fits perfectly for this loving homage to the Silver Age (which also pokes fun at how Billy Batson can be employed as a reporter: “Lax Child Labor Laws”).
Stewart’s art keeps to that Silver Age feel. Captain Marvel is back to being a lively, grinning, Silver Age hero. Sivana, and his counterparts, are humorously ugly. Shazam is the old and wise wizard of years past. Mary Marvel is the girl next door and CM3 is, to quote Morrison’s own Supergods, “a lithe Ariel in flight” (that’s the trickster fairy from The Tempest, not the mermaid). There is an energy and joy to all the drawings, something lately lacking in many comics on the shelves these days. There is also a VERY trippy two page spread on the train to the Rock of Eternity, and just how large the Multiverse can be. Stewart even places a previous issue of Multiversity into the tale, this time the S.O.S. issue other than the cursed issue infecting other worlds. He also leaves us on a happy note, leaving us readers grinning.
Speaking of that S.O.S. comic, Captain Marvel reads it and sees how morose and depressing it is; “What ever happened to happy endings?” he asks. Well, we readers certainly agree. A tale of pure whimsy and childhood wish-fulfillment; Thunderworld is a treat for kids and kids who never truly grew up.
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