Pax Americana is going to be a controversial issue of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity not because of any sex or violence, but because it’s ‘inspired’ by Watchmen. When I actually say ‘inspired’,I really mean that Morrison uses the same style and techniques that Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons used making that comic, plus the comic even starts with a murder of a main character not to mention we get this on the opening page.
It’s obviously designed to invoke the opening of Watchmen, and right away this doesn’t do Morrison any favours in terms of accusations that he’s just a plagiarist of Alan Moore’s work. Considering this issue is centered round the Charlton heroes who Moore and Gibbons loosely used to create their own characters in Watchmen, the accusation of Morrison trying to ‘do an Alan Moore’. In fact the entire issue doesn’t just shamelessly nick from Moore, but Morrison (as he has done with each issue of this series) nicks liberally from himself.
As for the plot, the issue opens with Peacemaker killing the American president, a man he was supposed to protect while the Vice-President takes over with plans to ditch the super hero for good, which considering his daughter is Nightshade causes some family discussion.
Quietley’s art is stunning and his storytelling is superb so it’s a pity that although Pax Americana is enjoyable, it seems (again, like previous issues) like the last failings of a once huge band going over old glories and nicking some ideas from your peers.
All of this is summed up with this series of panels featuring Captain Atom.
It could be argued this sums up a lot of Morrison’s ideas and there’s a point to that but all of Morrison’s ‘borrowing’ from Watchmen does get tiresome as frankly, he needs to stop rehashing ideas and tropes so he can go back to creating his own ideas rather than old ones or Alan Moore’s.
That said, this is the best of the Multiversity comics so far as long as you realise this isn’t really anything new but I suppose the nicest way to put what Morrison does here is a homage to Watchmen, or at sad rip off at worst. There’s moments of genuine quality though, especially Morrison’s handling of Captain Atom, but it’s all a bit trying too hard to make any lasting impression even though it does move the story on.
The one thing Pax Americana is missing is a clear political point, let alone does it act as a satire or comment on superhero comics. It’s just more of what we’ve got used to with Morrison’s superhero comics over the last decade and there’s a pity. This could have been a sharp satire on Moore’s Watchmen, or a comment about Morrison’s own delving into Moore’s skillset but it ultimately ends up being something we’re very used to with superhero comics in 2014. It is ultimately Quitely’s art which raises this above the other issues so far and should be purchased just for that alone. It really is that good.
Next issue is Morrison’s version of Captain Marvel, which could be quite interesting indeed if it references Marvelman at all…..