The Multiversity

The Multiversity

I’m torn between thinking this was good, and thinking this was somewhat pretentious. I like Grant Morrison, but he has a tendency to let his ideas get away from himself and we end up with something like Multiversity. This is a fine collection of one-shots that show obscure versions of DC characters in a lot of different circumstances all vaguely related to a possible apocalyptic event in all 52 universes of the DC “Multiverse”. The problem lies in that the “cement” that holds this book together, the story of a cursed comic book created by an evil organization to destroy reality, is easily the weakest part of the series.

This book comes across as far too ambitious for Morrison, who perhaps was trying to create a Watchmen-esque satire of DC’s obsession with these large cross-over events, and ended up making something that barely makes any sense. There is also an attempt to make the reader part of the story – ala The Neverending Story, that feels forced and unneeded.

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Some of the one shots were good – really good. I’m a sucker for Captain Marvel, so anything starring that character is always right up my alley, as was S.O.S, and The Uncle Sam vs Nazi Superman story. A few others were sort of bland. There was one in particular about a world of entitled DC teen superhero reality TV stars that overstayed it’s welcome to me pretty quick.

Perhaps the Most ambitious story here was Pax Americana, Morrison’s send-off of Alan Moore’s The Watchmen. The Watchmen was based on old Charlton Comics characters that ultimately were modernized to better work with the material. Here Morrison goes back to the original characters and weaves a story that is more of an art piece than an actual comic. The story is told backwards, that is each page turn reveals more about what happened before, and the reader is made to read in a bizarre figure-8 pattern that is a meme in the story. I kind of wish it would be it’s own book, but it was a bit over-the-top and considering Morrison’s hatred of Moore (and vice versa), could have been a jab at his nemesis in some way.

All in all, this is worth reading, but as a whole “Graphic novel”, it fails to seem like anything other than a stack of one-shots. It’s a shame because something like this could have been huge.


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Utopia: Episode 2 (2013)

Spoilers and speculation ahead:

 

At the end of episode one, our recurring question of “Who is Jessica Hyde?” seemed to finally be more clear, but we don’t get to that right away. Episode two of Utopia starts in the same shocking fashion as the previous episode. Just in case we all forgot the crux of all the show’s intrigue, a sought after manuscript for a second volume of an infamous graphic novel called the “Utopia Experiments” makes another appearance. If you recall, the book was written by a man who supposedly not only predicted the future, but went crazy and killed himself because of the first volume. Could it be a coincidence, or is the group of assassins seeking the book a dead giveaway that the pages of loose paper are more than they seem? This time we see a man looking at a hidden copy he has stored in his cellar, away from the prying eyes of a nondescript vagrant rummaging through trash nearby. After pulling up boards from a secret walled stash, the man wraps his find, places it in a post box, and nonchalantly jumps in from of a large truck on a highway.

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One of my biggest unanswered questions from episode one was the relationship between the health civil servant storyline and the graphic novel. I assumed we would have to wait weeks to find this out, but luckily this was explained (somewhat) within the first ten minutes. It seems that an organization was created in the 1970’s to stop bio-terrorism from the Soviet Union. Dubbed “The Network”, this organization answered to no nation and was left to get their job done by any means necessary. We can surmise that the graphic novel somehow predicted something to do with the network since we learn of the author’s connections to the organization. In the previous episode, we also found out that Becky’s dad died of a manmade disease called DEALS and the genetic code for DEALS was imprinted into the pages of the book. We find out that the two unconventional assassins that have followed around the main characters are in some way associated with “The Network” – we finally have a sliver of a clue what the over-all plot of this story is!

The cinematography is strong in this episode as well as the first, and even the small touches like a yellow camera filter used on most outdoor scenes, gives the show an otherworldly, almost unsettling, feeling. The saturation doesn’t make the show look purposefully old, like some other productions try to do with yellow filters, but it makes grass greener than normal, the sky brighter, and anything yellow REALLY stand out. I’m not sure if this is just a nod to the fact that the show’s logo is a simple yellow title card, or if there is some other meaning hiding in the background. General color theory holds that yellow is the color of sunshine. It’s associated with joy, happiness, intellect, and energy. This seems in stark contrast with the themes of the show other than the name “Utopia”, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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The inclusion of Fiona O’Shaughnessy as Jessica Hyde is a welcome addition to the cast as her robotic, distant, and unfeeling nature really helps to offset the eccentricities of the rest of the cast. She’s like a cross between La Femme Nikita and Linda Hamilton’s character from Terminator. You can tell that she’s been out there running from “The Network” for years and has become a master manipulator in the race to stay alive. She hardened, has little empathy, and trusts few people. Her character has a mysterious past we learn a little about involving her father’s position in all of this. You see, Jessica’s father was originally named Philip Carvel – the man who originally helped start “The Network”. Carvel ended up in a psychiatric ward where he was given a new name – Mark Deyn – and started drawing as part of his art therapy. I bet you can see where this is headed: Deyn was the man who created “The Utopia Expiriments”!

Episode two of Utopia seems to have all the answers, but I wonder if we can take the Wilson Wilson view in all of this: This all seems well and good, but what if the whole thing isn’t this simple, I bet this is merely a cover for the real conspiracy within. Aside from that, they did tease us with another whopper of a question – Who does Becky work for? She’s been at odds with Jessica since day one, and for the most of the program I assumed it was just catty girls being catty girls as usual. Towards the end of the episode we see her slip into a payphone and inform someone that she has Grant and he knows where the manuscript is…..dum….dum…DUM!

 

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Onward to episode three!