The Multiversity #2

"The Multiversity" #2 wraps up Grant Morrison's universe hopping epic with the able assistance of Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Eber Ferreira and Jaime Mendoza. While it's a nice conclusion, even as Morrison leaves himself room for a follow-up, the earlier installments had a bit more of a bite to them.

The majority of "The Multiversity" #2 gives us glimpses of the different universes as they're invaded by both the Gentry and some other opportunistic villains. It's entertaining, and Morrison reminds the reader that he has a wicked sense of humor when it's appropriate. The entire Earth-13 sequence is so wonderfully berserk that it will no doubt make a lot of readers wish that we had nothing but an entire issue devoted to this particular storyline. For those who love all things multiverse, Reis's pencils for the huge two-page spread featuring representatives from most of the different universes is just gagging with references to familiar-yet-changed faces from all throughout DC Comics' history.

Morrison also enters some pointed comments about crossovers on the whole; the narration referring to how every universe has a crisis and "a conclusion that never comes but continues to arrive" seems to not only refer to what's actually happening in the issue but the medium as a whole. That's not to say that Morrison doesn't see his own complicity in the matter, though; with comments about "Multiversity-2" and even his own particular conclusion here, he's feeding into the overall notion that, in comics, nothing ever truly wraps up.

For those who choose to ignore meta-commentary, the main thrust of the battle between the different heroes and a possessed Nix Uotan is a good reminder that Morrison still understands superheroes. The manner in which multiple characters each have their own specific role to play, the surprise twists and turns and even the gotcha moment when one fact turns out to be anything but (you'll know the moment when you see it), it's crafted excellently.

Reis, Prado Ferreira and Mendoza's art is beautiful. Reis's pencils shift subtly from one Earth to the next, matching the universe's tone appropriately. Earth-13 has a hint of J.H. Williams III, for example, as all of the mystical creatures rally to defend their universe. The Thunderworld characters, in comparison, are a little cleaner and smoother and Earth-18's Western theme comes to life not only in the art but in also the colors from Dan Brown, Jason Wright and Blond, who bring in a gorgeous sepia look to those moments.

Reis also handles large splashes with multiple narration boxes well. It may sound like a simple thing, but it's not. When Hellmachine attacks, for example, we get a massive full splash of it and its minions with a cityscape in the background. By carefully dividing the splash into six panels (that fit perfectly together to form a single image), Reis has the reader's mind pause briefly in each panel, most of which contain a different narration box. It provides pacing for Morrison's words and also helps the reader linger over the finer details of the art rather than breeze past it.

With all this in mind, though, it's almost a letdown that "The Multiversity" #2 doesn't measure up to some of the earlier pieces of the puzzle. One of the big reveals at the end appears to tie into an earlier Morrison event and, while it's unclear if that's truly the case, it's a tiny bit disappointing. The setup for a future confrontation feels a little hollow rather than ominous, partially because who knows when or if it will happen and also because it feels like the proverbial football is being kicked down the field again. Compare this to comics like "The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures" or "The Multiversity: Ultra Comics," which were both pretty near perfect and also read as a single, self-contained comic. Here, the dangling threads left behind feel a little too untied and loose.

There's also an overall lack of humanity missing in "The Multiversity" #2. The characters are fun, but this is very much about the superhero identities rather than the people behind them. It stands out in part because that humanity was present in so many of the earlier one-shots, and also because of the final page, which belatedly tries to include some as an epilogue. It's not a bad idea, but it's calling back to something that we haven't seen since August 2014. What could have been a nice, satisfying character beat instead just feels like an afterthought.

Even with these flaws, "The Multiversity" #2 is still a very good comic, just not an overwhelmingly great one. With any other creative team, this would be jaw-dropping. From people as talented as Morrison and Reis, it's merely strong. Hopefully, we will see some follow-ups from Morrison down the line and this isn't really his final word on these subjects. He's left himself room to tell further stories in this vein, after all, and there's so much potential untapped. "The Multiversity" #2 is ultimately a comic that doesn't quite extend its full reach as much as one would hope, but what it does accomplish results in a satisfying conclusion.

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