Hiding behind a quite clever Heat type cover treating superheroes as celebrities is the latest in Grant Morrison’s story of alternate Earth’s in DC’s ‘New 52’ multiverse. Like the previous two issues it’s full of meta-references that if you know nothing about superheroes will make it not only impossible to read, but even if you’re as deep into comics as I am, it makes it an often quite turgid read.
There’s a lot in this which seems familiar and the Trashbat reference lays it on a plate for anyone familiar with the work of Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker.
Morrison has this world inhabited by the children of familiar superheroes but because they’ve wiped out all their villains, and are able to deal with any major threat quite easily, these children of heroes are bored and apathetic celebrities. In it Morrison takes a few pops at the cult of celebrity, not to mention modern culture, in ways which seem quite cutting, but again, if you’re unfamiliar with the likes of Morris or Brooker then a lot of this will seem just a bit like well trodden ground.
The problem is that Morrison’s making it too obvious that this is all a great postmodern (or post-postmodern as he has Batman say in this issue) gag, but it’s the sort of thing he’s done before but when he added a bit of bite. This postmodern satire is like being mauled by a pitbull with no teeth, which isn’t to say it’s an interesting read (it is if you like the sort of old superhero stories which told tales of Superman and Batman’s sons) but for all the quite lovely art there’s an emptiness at the heart of Morrison’s Multiversity which is that the bite has went out of Morrison’s writing. It’s all fun and everything to go through this teen angst superhero comic, but it is frankly, painfully dull at times not to mention all the attempts at meta references gets annoying smug.
The Just isn’t a bad chapter in this story, and there are good things in this comic but this is as I’ve said previously, the sort of thing Morrison can knock out in his sleep. Yes, it’s fun to see the Justice League looking a wee bit different but there’s nothing new or different in these stories.
But for all it’s problems Multiversity is leaps ahead of most other superhero stories because although Morrison’s retreading old ground on the whole (I will say the central idea of a lifeform disguised a story is wonderful), it’s still different to the majority of other superhero comics out there. Now that could be a testimony to Morrison’s skill or just that there’s a lot of really bad superhero comics out there but The Just is a good read if you know your superhero comics, have read Morrison’s work before and haven’t seen teen dramas at all in the last decade or two.