After years of anticipation, writer Grant Morrison More took the stage at this weekend’s MorrisonCon in Las Vegas and gave attendees a first look at Multiversity, his ambitious “love letter to superhero comics.” The project was at one time targeted for a 2010 release, but at last it will see a late 2013 release.
“It’s the only comic I’ve ever done where I’ve gone back and revised it the way you do a movie or TV script,” Morrison said. “One of the things I wanted to do was just take years on this like, Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ world, where 20 years go by and you’re still on this thing.”
“I’m taking years to draw it!” Quitely added.
Multiversity is an eight-issue series that will be comprised of six one-shots and a two-part conclusion. Each issue will be illustrated by a different artist, contain a 38-page lead story with an eight-page backup, and take place on one of DC’s different parallel Earths. There will be a world of legacy heroes that features the now-adult sidekicks and children of the Justice League; a Nazi world reminiscent of Superman: Red Son; Thunderworld will populated by the Captain Marvel/Shazam characters; and so on. And in a nod to the multiverse of DC’s Silver Age, each world in the Multiversity series publishes comic books about the heroes on the other worlds, and once the characters realize this, they unite to confront the villains.
“There’s something always appealing about a Russian Superman and a vampire Batman,” Morrison told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a different way of looking at the archetypes that we’re familiar with. And I wanted to do a really massive story that would be my ‘Lord of the Rings’ and it would be the best thing I’ve ever done. Whether it is, I don’t know. But I’ve certainly spent a long time on it.”
At MorrisonCon, the writer debuted art by his All-Star Superman collaborator Frank Quitely for Pax Americana, the most talked about issue of Multiversity, is set on the world of the Charlton Comics characters, who DC bought the rights to in 1983. The issue features such characters as the Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and The Question, who fail to stop the assassination of the U.S. president. While some of those same Charlton heroes served as the basis for the characters in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen,” Morrison insists he’s not trying to replicate that landmark miniseries.
“We’re taking the characters and applying it back to Watchmen and seeing what we could get,” Morrison told the trade paper. “Nobody has really used those Alan Moore tricks in 25 years so it seemed right to take that very tight, controlled, self-reflecting storytelling and seeing if we can do something new with it. […] It’s not trying to be Watchmen, it’s more of an echo of a storytelling technique of ‘Watchmen.'”
Morrison offered that they will show their take on the character the Comedian in Watchmen was based on, the Peacemaker. “His title was, a man who loves peace so much he’ll kill the Communists for you,” he said describing the character. Morrison added about his Peacemaker, “He’s a really good guy but he assassinates the President in the first page.”
Morrison showed inked pages showing the assassination in reverse. The action unfolds backwards, rewinding further with each panel, until it arrives back to the Peacemaker preparing to shoot the President from space. The comic also goes further back in time, taking the reader through the President’s life. Morrison also showed off pages featuring The Question and Blue Beetle together, and with The Question and Nightshade fighting.
Morrison said that they made a very conscious choice to do the comic in eight panel grids. “The ‘Multiversity’ series is based around a musical concept. The DC Multiverse is all vibrations, so we did the grid which was based on musical octaves and harmonic scale — the whole thing is based on music.”
When Morrison was asked to discuss how spiral dynamics relates to Pax Americana, he explained by placing Objectivism as the opposite of spiral dynamics, a world defined in black-and-white terms with no room for gray. “We thought, let’s fuck with that, Morrison said. “The whole notion of spiral dynamics is human evolution can be seen as a series of specific stages and you apply those to the evolution of society or kids growing up.”
Breaking things down into color codes describing the levels of human experience, in the comic The Question is obsessed with that color code. “It’s a little bit like Rorschach but absolutely nothing like Rorschach,” Morrison said.
When asked about the structure of the series, Morrison admitted, “I wanted to write it like Alan Moore. The Captain Marvel issue, for instance, is written like a Captain Marvel story but updated, so I wanted to use the Alan Moore methods, which is not like the way I work at all. I don’t like working everything into the last detail but we did for this one. I don’t know if I’d do it again. It’s like doing calculus.”