The Multiversity 1

August 22nd, 2014

10:22 PM, I get an email. “New Arrival! BoJack Horseman is now on Netflix”
10:24 PM, I open the comic. The first page on the inside is an advert for BoJack Horseman. It has today’s date on it.

Andrew Hickey? That’s a totally ludicrous name. The symbolism is just too blatant. ‘Andrew’, meaning ‘strong and manly’, an obvious name for a hero. And then ‘Hickey’ — a ridculous joke of a name, but it means ‘healer’ or ‘doctor’ — and this man is supposed to also *write about* a character called ‘Doctor’ all the time? Give me a break… and then you’ve got those initials — A.H., just like Hitler. He’s obviously going to turn out to be the villain all along. Morrison’s lost it.

There’s an obsession here with the past, and with fate. We’re told “THE ORIGIN STORIES BEGIN IN: GOTHAM”, yet scant pages later we’re told “THE PAST CANNOT CHANGE”. “THE FUTURE IS IN MOTION”, but it’s at “FUTURE’S END”. “THE NEW 52″ at future’s end, though, features only 41 titles. They all feature 3D lenticular covers — showing a movement that will always return to its original position, and a desperate attempt to break out into another dimension.

Covers are clearly important to whoever created this artifact. Not only is there this talk of 3D lenticular covers, but we also see four different sets of credits for “variant covers”. But the cover doesn’t vary. No matter how much I stare at it, it stays the same — and the characters on it stare back at me.

We’re told “Watch the DC All Access Webseries that takes you inside DC Entertainment”, but on the very next page we’re told “INTRUDERS: Don’t let them in” and shown a shadowy figure encroaching from… somewhere else. We’ve gone from being the invited guests of “DC Entertainment” to being the villains of the piece, something confirmed on the back cover, where it says “get ready to root for the bad guys”. But notice, it says “get ready”, yet the date here is August 12, ten days before the date at the start. We’ve gone backwards in time.

But we’ve not gone backwards in time ten days at all — because the INTRUDERS page says August 23, the date it will be by the time this gets posted. So we’ve gone back in time eleven days in all — just like the eleven days lost when Britain changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. Or the eleven issues missing from the FUTURE’S END.

There’s an obsession here with variants on a theme, with characters in different versions, and the absence of them. Harley Quinn is alternately sexualised and presented as a bride in white — the virgin/whore dichotomy in one character — and everything seems to centre around Batman.

Yes, yes, I get it, he’s examining the comic as physical object in the world. “Dissecting” it, if you will. Treating all the stuff around the story, the metatext, as if it were the text itself. It’s old stuff, nursery-school postmodernism. I expected better from Morrison, frankly, although I don’t know why, given that I read his run on Action

Time has ticked over to August 23 now. The day “the Doctor” returns, although this seems more interested in another BBC series premiere, one from a man who made his name with a cult property in the 90s. As the day ticks from the inside front cover to the inside back cover, another email comes through:

“Yeah great adverts. The reinvention of the bat baddies as small business owners is interesting / pure ideology / something something. Love the Miller steal on the twin towers design, although it’s twisting the knife a bit, poor fucked old fucker”

While the world sleeps, Bobsy is awake.

The comic tells us to “prepare for the self-obsessed heroes of “Earth-Me”", but it tells us to prepare for them. Everything here is talking directly to us, asking us to impart great significance to every detail of our lives, to see ourselves as heroic merely for the media we passively consume, yet the very last thing we should be is “self-obsessed”.

My dad phoned me up yesterday. He was watching TV and Alan Moore came on. “Alan Moore looks just like you will in thirty years!” he said, as soon as I answered the phone, without even saying “hello” first.

Wait, so this Andrew Hickey guy, the one who’s going to become the villain, is another of Morrison’s Alan Moore standins? Christ, he’s getting almost Dave Sim-like in his unsubtlety…

There’s also an obsession here with the writer as ahead of the artist. On the “All Access” page, Grant Morrison’s name is mentioned five times, while the artists are reduced to an aside. Morrison even is credited as an artist for one of the variant covers (again, no matter how I stare, there is only one cover on this comic. The other covers must exist in different possibility-spaces).

It’s a dark, depressing, vision — a world of infinite possibilities compressed, squashed, to uniformity, watched over by the all-seeing eye of the consumer (definitely a consumer, not an audience, as the word “audience” refers to listening, an active engagement, rather than the passivity of consumption). Maybe in future issues we’ll get to see something different, something lighter and better, but here everything’s about darkness, where the only light is the false light of hedonism seen in the BoJack Horseman page, a page filled with phallic imagery. And note that that page takes place in Hollywood, while all the dark pages take place in “Gotham” — or New York, and note that DC Comics is moving to California soon, to join the rest of DC Entertainment.

Now Morrison’s just ripping off Watchmen — the bit where Ozymandias looks at all the adverts on TV and gets a sense of the culture from it. Can’t the man do anything original?

There’s always a danger in reviewing the first issue of anything, of course, that one might have to eat one’s words, but by the way this issue plays with time, with space, with signifiers — to the point that at the end there is the totally meaningless addition of the Facebook logo on the back cover, with no reference to anything else, as if merely saying “Facebook” gives something magical powers — I suspect that The Multiversity will turn out to be very interesting indeed…

10 Responses to “The Multiversity 1”

  1. Zakaria Says:

    Wait… Hold on… STAND FAST…
    Am I supposed to shoot a pop-star or president after reading this?

    Ah!

    Say no more, say no more…

  2. Hollistic Tendancies Says:

    He doesn’t look like you in thirty years; he still has hair. ;)

  3. Jjaassoonn Says:

    I got half a dozen pages into this and a load of giant spiders suddenly appeared in my room, it was horrible.

  4. K. Jones Says:

    Yesterday I was attacked by sentient over-used Grant Morrison tropes because I fixated on the wrong point in Five-Dee Space.

    My bad.

  5. Josh Says:

    I feel like someone put an ol’ Barbelith Spanish article into Babelfish and then posted it on here by accident

  6. jameswheeler Says:

    Red Racer Realtalk: I enjoyed this post much more than I did The Multiversity #1.

  7. plok Says:

    I don’t think anything is ever “meaningless” in a Morrison book, and I know corporate logos are usually specially-commissioned and then replicated en masse, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Morrison hadn’t drawn this story-specific version of The Big F himself. I’m definitely willing to concede that Grant probably didn’t choose the placement of “F” himself, but then again that’d be perfectly in lime with his M.O. (pardon me) if he made conceptual room for somebody else’s decision in that regard. “Artless art”, unplanned architecture, trusting to (and maybe even encouraging by omission)…

    [ENCOURAGING BY OMISSION, mark you, Mindless!]

    …Falling into the empty spaces. The repurposing of the essentially vacuous Facebook glyph as a decided vacuity, in this case? As a sigil it’s clearly CRAP, standing for a consciousness-less acquiescence…Darkseid in a shadow-puppet rabbit. “Duh, I can make THIS!” “I belong to THIS!” As always, Morrison attracts attention even if he’s a bit behind the times as they are. Even stalker-moms are leaving Facebook now. Facebook is OVER. “Shyeah, I’m sticking it up the nose of the MAN!!” Like Mick Jagger said about David Bowie, Grant’s always a day late and a dollar short…and don’t play him a song that you’ve got on the boil, because he’ll just TAKE it!

    Take it…but make the damnedest good thing out of it. “Facebook”, well it’s over so I guess it’s fair game. What’s a livre without letters, anyway? Just a bunch of pages? This is Anti-Life for true: no remarks and no notions, just the stolen souls, lost miniscule slices of time, trade you your heart’s desire for just ONE MEMORY…I mean that’s what’s so awful about FB, right? That private picture is out there for good That annniversary photo, that needlessly-graphic pic of the birth of your child…no private moments anymore. So maybe that’s what Morrison’s trying to say with his BIG F, maybe it’s a critique we already know as readers and writers and (heaven forfend!) content-producers…that (if you will) when you gaze into the story the story also gazes into YOU…so the haphazard presence of the Big F just reinforces the idea of the comic-book reader as surveiller, a reminder of how it isn’t just metatextually true that we look in on the mundane crap of our reader-lives when we look in on the dingy apartment of Superjudge (!), but that it’s also true AS TEXT that we could be him, bloody well are him…

    Yet none of it really matters, because it’s all just a phantasmal reality. In the really REAL world there are no gaps or spaces, no negative abstract moments or thoughts or actions or sensations…only in the mind is there any “vacuity” to speak of. In these endless Wally Sage tales of his Morrison’s clearly chasing the dragon at this point, and so are we…so what could be more appropriate than for the Big F to be our Barbelith here? Our lifeline and anchor, out tether to the reminder of a REAL reality, mundane and stupid and a bit out-of-touch of course, but doesn’t that almost make it a bit more poignant?

    “Hi, follow Flex Mentallo on Facebook. Now with more Superman and other branded properties. Get updates on Flex Mentallo and what he’s doing now! SIMPLY SIGN UP TO JOIN.”

    And yet the whole thing’s going away. When we finally lose Facebook, what happens then, you know? Will we not even remember the memory we’ve lost? After putting it all in this terribly leaky bucket for safekeeping?

    It adds up, I think. Maybe it’s a minor detail, but that’s what I read Morrison comics for: the minor details.

    “Facebook”. Fuck, it’s like reading Zatanna all over again!! Don’t bring it down if you can’t keep it up, amirite fellas?

    Think the ladeeez in the house know what I’m talkin’ bout.

  8. plok Says:

    (Okay, I can say now that doing a parody of youself leaving a comment on Mindless Ones…it may seem like a fun idea, I understand that…

    BUT O LORD THE DESPAIR)

  9. K. Jones Says:

    Hyperbole was appropriate.

  10. Mindless Ones » Blog Archive » The Multiversity #1 p1 Says:

    [...] The symbolism is just too blatant. ‘Andrew’, meaning ‘strong and manly’, an obvious name for…  Shih-Tzu are ‘lion dogs’, lions being the zoomorphic solar-phallic symbol par excellence, and Superman’s widely acknowledged spirit animal. [...]

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