After a rip roaring start to his new epic, Grant Morrison starts us on our tour of the Multiverse in a pulp-tastic entry called The Multiversity: The Society of Superheroes: Conquerors From The Counter-World. The question is of course is what does this add to this miniseries, and how does it fit into the overarching plot. Is it a decent stand alone entry, or a cog in Morrison’s Mad Multiversal Machine? Let’s find out, shall we?
The tale is told from the perspective of the Immortal Man of Earth-20, who arrives in New York to join a Doc Savage-like Doctor Fate’s team of up-and-coming superheroes. Joining them is Al Pratt, the Atom, an Iron Fist-like teenaged martial artist, the all female Black Hawks, and the demonic looking Abin Sur, who serves as this Earth’s Green Lantern. They soon face a threat of epic proportions, as the Vandal Savage of Earth-40, a world he ravaged, arrives in his multidimensional flying wing looking for more worlds to conquer. This begins a war for Earth-20’s survival. Savage is soon joined by Lady Shiva, Felix Faust, and a Blockbuster familiar to anyone who read the old Nightwing series from the 90s. This war comes to a breaking point in the Latin American jungle as Doc Fate makes a last-ditch effort to get help from the Multiverse and Immortal Man decides to go into combat against his fellow immortal.
Morrison weaves a tale straight out of a 1930s pulp novel, complete with magic, strange tech, tough talking dames, and a clever hero surviving by his wits and knowledge. Each character gets a chance to shine, though many of them have their moments be rather small compared to the others, which is sadly the case for the ladies of Blackhawk. Doc Fate is an excellent leader, Atom is incredibly likable, Vandal Savage chews up scenery, and Immortal Man acts as the group’s Han Solo, reluctant to fight, but going to anyway. Unfortunately, there are very few connections to the main plot of The Multiversity from the previous issue. Our only hints is Fate’s discussion about the Monitors, Savage’s ship, and Faust secretly working for the Gentry, the entities wreaking havoc on the Multiverse. On its own, the issue is a wonderful one-shot; but as part of a whole it falls short.
Sprouse’s art continues the pulp-tastic feel, creating great action and character moments. Each character is expressive, even Atom and Fate under their masks. The set pieces and environments are well executed and polished. Story and Wong’s inks and McCaig’s colors perfectly compliment the pencils. It was like seeing Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow (one of my guilty pleasure movies) appear on the pages of the book.
Overall, this is a good entry into Morrison’s Multiversity epic. The only downside is that its connection to the overall plot of the main storyline is tenuous at best, non-existent at worse. This might be the theme for the various issues, unless the characters in the main storyline start popping up here and there. And with the next issue looking like superpowers combined with a teen drama, Morrison might be better off bringing in elements of the main plot. Overall though, Society of Superheroes is a good entry into the miniseries, it just lacks the overarcing connections that would make it great.
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