Botswana Beast: Hello readers, in my ongoing efforts to to trick other people into writing entire or the majority of my pieces for Mindless Ones, I have enlisted another vict… expert, silver Hawaiian Kelly Kanayama, who you may be familiar with from the excellent Women Write About Comics and More than Four Colours, amongst other things; she is also presently writing a Ph.D. on Judge Dredd, Preacher and transatlanticism, which is a thing you can do nowadays, even if you are a lady. I was surprised too, but she is totally brilliant, and yes of course has a Mindless name, see; this is her head:-

Maid of Nails: The Multiversity is one of those series that burrows into your brain — like the cordyceps fungus, not uncoincidentally. Sometimes you need a friend and collaborator to help you exorcise it. (It was this or make my girlfriends listen to me going mad about Grant Morrison, and quite frankly they’ve suffered enough.)

 

Isn’t that what academia is for?

Ha ha. There’s no room for YOUR MOM jokes in academia, nor for unbridled written enthusiasm. Besides, if this were academia, I’d have to include shitloads of footnotes and wouldn’t be allowed to say the word “shitloads”, and no one wants that.

Instead I subjected ya boy Botswana Beast to numerous Internet communications in an attempt to figure out what the hell was going on in this comic and, more importantly, why it had been lodged so firmly in my mind for so long.

As is often the case with GMo, we thought this was going Nix Uotan-ward at first but it ended up mostly focusing on Pax Americana: the black hole within the black hole pulling all thoughts and analysis inexorably towards its centre, and the infinite recursion of Algorithm 8 leaving us no clear point at which to get off.

What follows is — I hesitate to say “the process”, because dwelling too much on the process by which critique occurs is the sign of a total wang. “The correspondence”? No, that sounds worse. Maybe just the parts of an extended analysis, in the sense of the parts that make up Allen Adam’s dog, nerves and organs and eyes laid bare; not quite a dog themselves, but at least showing a little of what makes the dog work.

BB: (we also deigned to suffer some latter interjections from yer man Illogical Volume)

Worlds on the balance of chance

0

recent photo of Pluto’s moon, Nix

BB: I’m just thinking of riffing on the 0-51 conceit, but like so ’0′ is the Earth Nix is on, the main DCU one; I think he will probably be the major topic of discussion, issues 1 & 2 under that… rubric, is that the word.

MoN: Re: the possible future use of Multiversity’s developments, is there awareness of potential squandering/futility the whole way through? GMo did get burned after New X-Men (hence Seaguy), and what with having to tie Batman Inc into the New 52…if I had to choose, I’d say this is what the Empty Hand is about. You can try and achieve closure – in the sense of reaching the end of the story arc, etc – but since it can all be undone, the hand remains empty, if that makes sense.

4

BB: so, but not sequentially, and I guess the worlds is probably gonna be the thing…? But I think Pax/4, also the fourth issue in the series – I’m just interested in numbers, numerology, all this, I obsess over primes and prime products sometimes mechanically and so it’s interesting to me how two score and a dozen numbers have correspondant Justice Leagues now or whatever… but anyway, four is a unique number in that it is both the product and sum of its component prime, 2, (this fact seems to be a major agitating factor behind Iron Man 1 actor Terrence Howard’s rebel mathematical system Terryology) and the whole thing is about bifurcations and shit… four is an uncanny and discomfiting number

 

 

MoN: Pax thoughts, of varying coherence:

Allen Adam’s dog: perhaps a connection to Foxy, “Grant Morrison’s” imaginary friend in Animal Man? (I’m putting it in quotes here because “Grant Morrison” = the fictionally represented persona of actual Grant Morrison.)

[Illogical Volume: Also makes me think about the bit in the first issue of We3, about the scientist getting attached to the animals, defending herself: "Isn't that the point?" (check for exact quote, this is off the head)

Animals as avatars of attachment in Morrison vs. the "reader" view, the 4D view - mebbe more "anchors" than "avatars", I think.

So, bringing it back to Adam and the dug, whit's the point of reading a comic if you're only going to see its constituent parts? Part of Moz's ongoing wrestling match/love affair with his eager internet audience, as played out throughout Multiversity, innit?]

Plus, to the reader the dog is always ephemeral, not quite there; are we then put in the place of Allen Adam, for whom the dog only really exists now as a concept? And while it seems kind of reductive to say that the dog = the comic, what else could it be?

I’m guessing that out of the Pax characters, the reader is ostensibly most like Adam/Atom, in that we are the analyzers, the pickers-apart who attempt (and fail) to reconstitute the whole in the process. We’re also in contact with multiple layers of lacunae, although in our case these are the gaps between creator-material, material-reader, reader-comprehension, comprehension-analysis. (How many black holes or whatever are there in Pax?)

But if Peacemaker is the killer – and I’m still grappling with that, although I have no evidence for why he shouldn’t be – then we’re him, too, in the sense of being Januses. Many critics have discussed reading Pax forwards first and then backwards, so there’s that. There’s also the Animal Man criticism of readers not wanting and yet wanting characters to suffer: being “two-faced” in terms of consumer/audience desire.

Still trying to figure out my stance on the whole death-of-the-father bit, but I do think that is hugely important. That’s the one part of the story where we get to see as much as we can of the tiny elements that make up a person (Quitely/Fairbairn’s miniature, very detailed panels). Does Morrison think that’s what the comics industry is doing: killing its fathers, so to speak, in the hopes of defending itself – and going on to create ever-constricting circles of self-destruction in the process?

It’s Hurley’s mouth we see shattered in the first couple of pages: a visual of voice/narration being silenced. There is a highly intricate sequence of events leading up to that point, but it’s not Hurley who gets to tell us about it and thus to explain himself. Is that the sort of “peace” – i.e. the preservation of the status quo at all costs, rather than the creation (there’s that word again) of active harmony – that the Peacemaker and, more broadly, the “Pax” of Pax Americana, are after? Avoidance of conflict is easier if people can’t speak; maybe this is one of the many things GMo is trying to get at…

“Pax Americana” —> Pax Romana: peace, yes, but achieved through subsumption and consumption of different cultures and regions. Is the superhero comic —> America in this scenario – both of them subsuming and consuming in an effort to achieve “peace” (huge air quotes here)?

 

16

BB: The Just is sweet Earth-16; I wondered if it were a stealth sequel to ASS and Batman & Robin, lots of things I want to say about it as a story machine…

MoN: I actually read The Just as more of an inverse Batman-666 future than a Batman and Robin sequel. One of the things that links many of GMo’s dystopias is a lack of movement toward any productive goal; people get turned into drones (the Darkseid future in JLA), become slaves to a higher power (like with the Lloigor in Zenith), or are bent on the destruction of what already exists rather than on creating something new (Leviathan). So while the second-generation superheroes of Earth-16 aren’t enslaved or drone-like, they are stuck in an existence of ennui that repeats rather than creates – they have to relive the battles that have already gone before and can’t fight their own. The creativity that we do see is infected by the Gentry: Kon-El’s art exhibit, as well as Kon-El himself – which makes me think of the Lloigor building new structures in Zenith, although this might just be because it’s the last Morrison comic I read that wasn’t Multiversity. We’re in a world where people/heroes can mimic, reenact, and serve as conduits, but not one where people can be creators in and of themselves.

Still puzzling out my thoughts on Damian Wayne + Alexis Luthor, although I really do like Damian’s awful dirty talk. Clearly he has inherited the Wayne sexual neurosis.

A case of premature Batjaculation?

I will say, though, that in GMo’s Bat-related comics, Damian only makes it to adulthood in super terrible futures – so maybe his appearance in The Just is a clue that their future, glamorous as it may be, is in its own way as terrible as that of Batman-666 etc.

-Imagine a lifeform disguised as a story.

-Whose voice is this in your head? Yours?

The aim of the cordyceps fungus is not to take over the ant’s brain and body; that’s just a means to an end, namely reproduction. Presumably the story-lifeform wants to do the same thing.

A mirror-image world = a world of emptiness (Empty is thy hand) and no real depth (Imagine how your 3-D world appears to me)

It’s not just the hand that’s empty if we’re talking about the cordyceps

If we imagine a lifeform disguised as a story, does that mean it’s already gotten in? Also, imagine —> image

*Is that the hypnotic suggestion – “imagine”? IT MAKES SENSE. You know it does. “Imagine” is a suggestion to enter into a particular state of mind – i.e. hypnotic.

18

BB: some entries might be relatively short, like I kind of want to chide him for calling the Native American character in the Western world Strongbow, even though I also laughed at the name initially, little Glasgow music hall comedian details like this

 11

BB: or the return of Superwoman; it always struck me as odd that distaff versions of characters generally weren’t – you do have Spider-Woman I suppose – equivalent; man/woman, boy/girl… however Grant has also thematically chosen the bingo number which the caller reads “Legs…” and made Aquawoman, with her connection to the tides I suppose, the leading character… also might discuss if this ingenuity, like much of his has been for the company’s wider publishing, has been for naught, that these worlds on the balance of chance will be used little, or poorly.

40

MoN: Also, I’m interested in who the villains are (in the issues with straight-up villains – i.e. excluding Mastermen and Pax): the iterations of Sivana, Vandal Savage/Lady Shiva, Alexis Luthor, the chibi heroes….

*Vandal Savage: immortal; first name relates to the destruction of property, which in turn relates to ideas of ownership —> the Gentry

*Lady Shiva: Shiva —> male god of destruction (consort of Kali: female goddess of destruction who comes up several times as a point of comparison to Talia in Batman Inc, both visually and verbally)

*The different Sivanas: only a reflection can fight a reflection? – the Sivana “family” vs the Marvel “family” – I don’t know about this one so much, though

 Immortals, scientists/doctors, the Gentry – is there a conceptual connection here?

****

NEXT TIME:

Pax Pax Pax Pax Pax

Looking into the depths of ASS

The Shadow Dimension and your mom

European art’s Anti-Dad

same Mindless time, same Mindless channel

10 Responses to “MULTIVERSITY: HOW TO BUILD A PORTAL”

  1. Deep Space Transmissions Says:

    Smashing it so far, looking forward to see what else yous have got cooking up…

    Strongbow is a real DC western character, though he hasn’t been in a proper comic for knocking on 45 years. Surely DC has enough room for at least one of the Unknown Earths to be entirely populated by characters named after rough 80′s cider? Strongbow! White Lightning! The Woodpecker! T.N.T! Pulse! etc etc

  2. Illogical Volume Says:

    SOMEONE HIRE BEN QUICK BEFORE THEY TAKE HIM BACK TO DIMENSION X!!!

  3. James Says:

    What a great Mindless Name.

    Fantastic spot that “Imagine” lets them in on a single word, and could totally see Earth 16 being where P.R.O.J.E.C.T. 2 ends up.

  4. Maid of Nails Says:

    DST: I look forward to the introduction of Earth-Leave-It-Mate

  5. Deep Space Transmissions Says:

    Morrison’s acute awareness of the futility of the whole exercise is very important to Multiversity I think – The “Hmm, 52 Justice Leagues? This is a bit tired” reader reaction to the Guidebook vs Ultra Comics’ explicit “THIS IS SO TIRED AND CYNICAL AND YOU SHOULD PROBABLY STOP CARING ABOUT IT SO MUCH” (spectacularly embodied by Marc Singer’s consecutive reviews for those two issues).

    It’s the same “To Be Continued” story Morrison’s been telling since he came back to DC after X-Men, but I dunno if Nix’s ultimate redemption is a very convincing counterpoint to the Empty Hand. “Things will never change because that’s how The Empty Hand/Neb-U-Loh/Morrison/Editorial/Us, the audience, like it to be” strikes me as a much more convincing argument than Nix’s “Ah, who cares it’s all just a bit of fun anyway. Look! some superheroes having a fight!”

    Linking in to a thing Morrison’s brought up a few times in interviews (albiet usually in a positive way) I think this is the key to The Gentry’s Anti-Death Equation – These 2D approximations of a life will outlive us all, never grow old, never die, but **never change**. Where previously Morrison has framed this static fictional immortality as a good and valuable thing, where he ended up at the end of his Batman run seems to have pushed him so far the other way that the idea of this endless procession of slightly different spins on hoary old concepts being a *good* thing (eg the end of All-Star, or Superman Beyond) seems more distant than ever.

  6. James Says:

    I reckon the seed of that negativity goes back to All-Star at least – I always found the big 2-shield quite unsettling. (I’m sure Morrison said it was supposed to be ambivalent, but I can’t find the quote right now.)

  7. James Says:

    I know he’s done Kon-El and his descendants as good and proper Supermen elsewhere, mind.

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