The Multiversity Guidebook

multiversity guidebook 1

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing The Multiversity Guidebook, originally released January 28th, 2015.

Michael: Currently I’m re-watching Animaniacs, a children’s show which often wore the disguise of an educational tool pretending to be a cartoon. Sure, the characters are goofy and zany, but they still teach you the names of all of the countries of the world in a catchy tune. With that in mind, The Multiversity Guidebook is a story disguised as a “history book.” There’s a lot of information thrown at you about the multiple earths of the DC Universe, but it is clearly the connective tissue of every chapter of The Multiversity thus far. It’s the history of the same story: The DC Universe story.

The Multiversity - Guidebook (2014-) 001-022

The biggest connection of The Multiversity Guidebook comes from The Multiversity: Thunderworld 1. We see the attack of the “Legion of Sivanas” on Earth-42, home of “The Little League.” The Batman of Earth-42 teams up with the “Atomic Knight” Batman of Earth-17 to figure out how and why this attack is happening. Simultaneously, the heroes of Earth- 51: Kamandi, Prince Tuftan and biOMAC learn the history of The Multiverse while the New Gods watch from above. And we as readers get familiar with (most) of 52 worlds of The Multiverse via the Batmen and “The Multiversity Guidebook” — the very same book we are reading! The Atomic Knight Batman meets up with “The House of Heroes” (from The Multiversity 1) just before it is attacked by “The Gentry.” The final page reveals that The Little League is now (?) under the control of what appears to be the creator of the entire Multiverse itself.

As hard to believe as it is, The Multiversity Guidebook is the SIXTH book in Grant Morrison’s epic The Multiversity series, and things are starting to tie together in a very Grant Morrison-y way. The Multiversity is Morrison’s latest “final word on superheroes” in a career of final words on superheroes. It is as difficult to separate The Multiversity Guidebook from the rest of the series as it is to separate The Multiversity as a whole from his entire career. There are so many Easter eggs and nuggets of Morrison law and lore in The Multiversity Guidebook that link to Morrison’s work in Final Crisis, Action Comics, Supergods and more. The Multiversity Guidebook is Morrison’s comic book philosophy and approach to the DC Universe; one that I have studied avidly and firmly believe in myself.

Morrison has often stood by the concept that everything that has ever occurred in DC’s publication history is part of continuity, and this issue solidifies that fact. According to Morrison’s Guidebook, Earth-0 (The New 52 Earth) is in fact the same one as it was pre-Flashpoint, pre-52 , pre-Crisis etc. “It has survived several attacks, surgeries and reconstructions on the way to its current form.” (Though I personally still hold out hope that the pre-Flashpoint Earth is the past version of Kamandi’s Earth-51.) If The Multiversity is Morrison’s love letter to superhero comics/DC Comics, then The Multiversity Guidebook is the envelope that that letter is enclosed in (killer metaphor, right?) This issue is an appreciation of all Crisis-dom: reboots, the never-ending story and the unyielding nature of the hero.

flashy

The true villain of The Multiversity is still patiently waiting on the periphery of this story — perhaps it’s The Gentry, the creator of the Multiverse or hell, even Darkseid is a possibility. Whatever it is, the above caption indicates that in true Crisis form, it will be the biggest, baddest mother out there. And I am positive that The Flash (of some Earth) will be a big part of the final battle against this force. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Morrison is telling us that no matter what version of these heroes we are presented with, they can typically be boiled down to their essential, original incarnations. Evil will always strike, evil may sometimes even win. The entire fabric of reality might be torn apart and put back together, but heroes will always be heroes. Morrison presents us with 52 Earths of heroes who fight for what they believe is right; even if what they believe is right is insane (as is the case of Earth-3.)

If The Multiversity Guidebook is to be taken as a history book, and the silly old adage of history repeating itself is true (which in DC’s case, it typically is) we are on the brink of a massive shift and change in DC continuity. Is it possible that The Multiversity is the inciting incident that leads to Convergence (whether Morrison intended that or not)? Is “the empty hand” the ultimate villain of the story? And what the hell are the secrets to the “7 UNKNOWN WORLDS: created by an Inner Chamber of 7 Monitor Magi for a mysterious purpose”? Mark, what do you think?

Mark: Michael, The Multiversity Guidebook is by far the issue of The Multiversity that I’ve been looking forward to the most. Ever since the DC Multiverse went from an infinite number of worlds to 52 set worlds, I’ve hopefully anticipated some sort of map or guide that would firmly delineate what each world contained.

Reasonable people can have differing opinions on the importance of continuity in comics. I’m a professed continuity nerd. Granted, continuity falls low on my list of things that make a comic book enjoyable, but I appreciate when the effort is put in to keep everything straight. One thing that irritated me about the DC universe pre-Flashpoint was the erratic state of their multiverse. 52 reestablished the multiverse’s existence in 2006 with the number of worlds firmly set at 52, but that was as far as it went. So you’d have multiple books reference a specific world, all with their own widely different idea of that world’s inhabitants and stories.

With the launch of The New 52 in 2011, DC has worked to eradicate that problem. Only a few worlds have been revealed over time, with the big blowout finally happening with The Multiversity Guidebook. I read most all of my comics digitally, but this is one I went out and bought a physical copy of so I could have it as a reference guide.

Flipping through and reading about the inhabitants of each world is a lot of fun. There are a lot of entertaining earths, but the one that made me laugh the most is Earth-29.

Earth-29

“Bizarro-Superman leads his Unjustice League of UnAmerica on pointless, inexplicable and utterly futile adventures” is such a wonderful summation of what this world would be. I’d absolutely read a limited-series about their boneheaded adventures.

This is all to say nothing of The Multiversity story that bookends the reference guide. I knew very little about The Multiversity going in, and after the first few issues I’ve been operating under the assumption that each issue was a stand-alone story from different worlds in the multiverse. So having everything begin to connect and build to a larger story is a surprising, but awesome, development. I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything different from Grant Morrison.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the state of DC after Convergence. My undoubtably wildly off-base prediction/hope is that it’ll be used as an opportunity to return some of the better elements of pre-New 52 DC. Maybe I just want to see some old, grizzled superheroes make a comeback.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

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12 comments on “The Multiversity Guidebook

  1. Wild theorizin’ time! Do you think Morrison left those seven worlds undefined just to leave room to get creative down the line, or do you think they’re already set, he’s just keeping them secret to play out some kind of surprise?

    • I think they’re already set. I think they’re already defined, and that one of them is the JSA Earth. The cosmic grail plotline may tie into their discovery in some way. I think, as noted above about the importance of The Flash, that the original Golden Age Superman from JSA’s world (who factored so importantly in the original Crisis) will play a part in whatever is to come.

    • Holy monkey doodles, what a ride!
      I am of the firm opinion that those 7 worlds act as a sort of “wiggle room” for Morrison and any other creators who would like the kind of creative leeway that a blank slate would grant. Maybe it’ll come up this year; maybe it’ll only come to fruition years from now during the year 20–oh god, Morrison’s story even tracks that far into the future!

  2. I loved this, and will read it over and over. A few cool things off the top of my head:

    Hooded Justice is in the Darwyn Cooke universe, interacting with New Frontier characters!

    The StormWatch vehicle The Carrier designed by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch is now described as being a vehicle of The Monitors; insinuating that it was The Monitors who deputized StormWatch as universal watchdogs, or that StormWatch came in possession of an abandoned or stolen Monitor vehicle. I’m leaning toward the former.

    There is a whole vampire Justice League on the Batman: Red Rain trilogy world, indicating things went much more poorly than the end of the series indicated.

    I wish I wasn’t at work so I could flip back through and jog my own memory. This was literally chocked full of brilliant ideas.

  3. Also, since Mark posits the question about what a post-Convergence DCU may look like, I do have a few theories on new books:

    JSA returning (as one of the 7 currently unnamed worlds, with its own book, but named after JSA and not whichever Earth it resides on):

    Birds Of Prey relaunch with something like Bluebird, Spoiler, and Julia Pennyworth in the Oracle role alongside a few classic members like maybe Batgirl and Black Canary

    • Oh that’s bold – the BoP, prediction, I mean. That’d be super fun, but I’d hope they could some how incorporate Black Canary and Starling too. After those first like 6 or 7 issues of DS’s Birds of Prey, I’ve just wanted to see more of those bad-ass ladies. Supplement them with those three you just mentioned – baby, you got yourself a stew goin’.

  4. I could see it going either way. Right now we’ve got 3 issues left, and DC’s solicitations for each issue list the Earths that are featured in each particular issue. “The 7 Unknown Worlds”: 14,24, 25,27,28, 46 and 49 are not listed for any of the last 3 issues. If we are to trust this – which I don’t completely – then we won’t see any of those Earths in the remainder of the series. I believe that Morrison will use at least one of them however, maybe even make it an essential piece of the story’s conclusion.

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