“The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures” #1 is in many ways the least complicated of the various “The Multiversity” comics to date. That’s clearly deliberate, though. In a world based on the classic “Captain Marvel” comics, this is something that shouldn’t get too convoluted or over-thought. And really, that’s exactly what Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart are trying to tell us.
Right from the start, with moments like the Wizard Shazam stopping a speech to no one with the comment, “I was just practicing my omniscient narrator voice,” you know you’re in for a good time. And from there, that’s exactly what you get. With Sivana creating timequakes by adding an extra day of the week into the calendar (Sivanaday, of course), using science to replicate the Rock of Eternity and to give powers to his children, and a fight between Shazam and Sivana’s prodigies, Morrison’s script runs gleefully from one moment to the next. The fight between Sivana’s children and the Captain Marvel team is classic superhero fare, and the resolution between Black Sivana and Captain Marvel feels directly out of those old comics. It’s silly and you can’t overthink it, but it doesn’t matter.
Or rather, it does matter, because that’s the point of this comic. “The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures” #1 is all about not overthinking and overanalyzing comics. It’s about leaning back and enjoying the magic of comics, which in the case of this, is both figurative and literal. Morrison admits that there’s no rational explanation for how Captain Marvel’s powers work, and in the same breath tells us that we shouldn’t worry about finding one. And if that means we can get things like crystallized time, Sivanaday, or the Monster Society? Well, all the better.
Stewart’s art is some of the best I’ve seen from him yet, and considering what a strong artist he is, that’s no small feat. I’d place this side-by-side with Jeff Smith’s rendition of the Captain Marvel family from a few years ago as a perfect example of the right artist drawing these characters. Every smooth ink line is perfectly placed, and the end result is amazing. I love Captain Marvel’s heroic jaw, or how Stewart draws an elevated train crumbling when it hits one of Sivana’s super-powered children. When Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. swoop in to save the day, their smiles light up the pages stronger than any sun; their glee is near-infectious. Even little moments that could have easily failed because of comics being a static medium — like the “don’t look away from the man with two strong arms” maneuver — comes to life because Stewart’s art has such energy in every single moment.
“The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures” #1 has a tenuous connection to the rest of “The Multiversity” comics, and that’s a good thing. (You’ll see the through-lines here and there, from the other multiverse Sivanas to the copy of the S.O.S. comic.) I don’t want to see the Captain Marvel family going up against grim-and-gritty characters. I just want them to have exciting, joyous adventures like we got here. With contemporary jokes like Billy Batson’s reporting running up against child labor laws, this feels classic yet modern. If there’s any way to convince Morrison to write a “Thunderworld Adventures” ongoing, well, I know I’d buy it. If nothing else, Morrison and Stewart have given us a pretty-near pitch-perfect comic that shows us how viable these characters are. Post-“Convergence,” maybe we’ll get lucky with a return to Thunderworld.