DC Comics, December 2014, Color, 48pgs, $4.99
Written by GRANT MORRISON ; Art and Cover by BEN OLIVER and DAN BROWN; 1:25 Variant Cover by EDUARDO RISSO; 1:50 Variant Cover by DALE EAGLESHAM; 1:100 Variant Cover by GRANT MORRISON
The next chapter of the greatest adventure in DC’s history is here!
When they last collaborated, Grant Morrison joined artist Ben Oliver (LOBO, BATMAN/SUPERMAN) for the acclaimed ACTION COMICS #0. For their next team-up, the two superstars take a spin around the self-obsessed Earth-16 – a.k.a. Earth-Me!With all of the world’s threats having been handled long ago by their parents, the next generation of supers – including Chris Kent, Damien Wayne,
Morrison's tough love paean to DC's 'throw everthing at the wall and see what sticks' output of the 1990's. Marc Singer makes an excellent case for this being Morrison's least 'comics about comics' single issue in years, even going so far as to say it's Grant's best comic since Seaguy: The Slaves of Mickey Eye back in 2009. Go read, and come back here when you're done to find out who all of those colourful folk in the party scenes are...
Cover - Ben Oliver's regular cover is a mock celebrity gossip magazine cover featuring appearances by (or references to) a bunch of characters we'll meet in this issue. It was titled 'Sleb in the preview art but here the magazine's logo is obscured by the Multiversity title box. Oliver's photo-referenced art really suits the subject matter here and the faces in particular are great. Earth 16 - the setting for this issue - is the sole Earth in the sidebar this time around.
Eduardo Risso's 1:25 variant is (I think) a homage to Mike Sekowsky, Murphy Anderson and Jack Adler's cover for 1960's The Brave and the Bold #28, the first appearance of the Justice League of America. Like Chris Burnham's Captain Carrot variant for The Multiversity #1 Risso has given the cover a multiversal spin by swapping out the original Justice League for their Bizarro counterparts (though the Bizarro Green Lantern is normally drawn in a yellow outfit, as is his teammate The Flash on occasion). The sidebar confirms that the cube-shaped Earth 29 shown on the Multiverse Map is indeed Bizarro World as many thought. I much prefer Risso's reframing the scene to suit his own style over the straighter homage of Guillem March's cover last month. While little details like Wonder Woman's pose and the minimal background mirror the original, Risso's cover has a lot more pop than Sekowsky's obviously iconic but unquestionably old-fashioned cover.
Dale Eaglesham's 1:50 History of the Multiverse variant is another call back to the Silver Age Flash's adventures across the parallel Earth divide (as with Bryan Hitch's cover to The Multiversity #1), but this time around it's the Flash's time and space traversing Cosmic Treadmill that takes centre stage. The Treadmill was first introduced in 1961's The Flash #125 by Morrison favourite John Broome and Carmine Infantino and made many appearances during the Barry Allen era. Apparently it's just made it's debut in the new Flash TV show too.
The 1:100 Grant Morrison cover is once again made up of a collage of Grant's sketches from his notebooks. This time around we've got Earth 10's Nazi Batman, Leatherwing - a partly obscured glimpse of the full sketch was seen briefly in The Multiversity #1 - and (I'm guessing based on what might be a turtleneck?) Morrison's sketch of the Immortal Man from last issue's Society of Superheroes. Weirdly, the overlaid writing ("Buys? Forager's ID") is from Morrison's sketch of Doc Fate, who doesn't appear on this month's cover. Forager is a Jack Kirby New Gods characters who played a major role in Jim Starlin and Mike Mignola's Cosmic Odyssey, but I've no idea if this is actually a reference to him or not.
Page 1 -Like last time out, elements here echo the first page of The Multiversity #1 with the deadly techno virus in Sasha's blood filling the role of the insect swarm from that issue.
Sasha Norman, aka Sister Miracle, is presumably the daughter of Shilo Norman, the third Mister Miracle. Shilo starred in Morrison's Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle mini-series and in Final Crisis, but first appeared back in 1973 in Mister Miracle #15 by Jack Kirby. Sasha makes her first appearance here in a red, yellow and green swimsuit that recalls the colour shceme of Kirby's classic Mister Miracle costume.
Back in Morrison's DC One Million, Vandal Savage and Solaris unleashed a techno virus from the future on the 20th century via the robot Hourman.
"We're all doomed and there's nothing we can do about it...", for more of Morrison's thoughts on nihilism see Annihilator from Legendary Comics, currently on the stands and featuring some absolutely amazing artwork from Frazer Irving.
Megamorpho, aka Saffi (Sapphire) Mason, is the daughter of Metamorpho and his long time love interest Sapphire Stagg. Metamorpho and Sapphire were created by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon and first appeared in 1965's The Brave and the Bold #57.
"Has any superhero ever commited suicide before Sasha?" - Well, there was Adrian Chase, the second Vigilante who killed himself in the last issue of his 1980's series (DC Comics Aren't Just For Kids!), but the reference here is much more likely to be Element Girl's suicide from 1990's Sandman #20, by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran. Element Girl, who first appeared in 1967's Metamorpho #10, was a female counterpart to Metamorpho who, due to her unusual appearance, ended up isolated from the world and suicidal. Unable to kill herself because of her shape-shifting powers, Element Girl was visited by Death, who told her how to ask Ra (the Egyptian God whose Orb originally gave her the power) to take her powers away and let her die.
Page 2-3 - Sasha finds something to be sad about...
This is the teenaged version of the Atom (as per this roundup of the Multiversity panel at SDCC 2014) from Dan Jurgens and George Perez's short-lived 90's Teen Titans relaunch. The Atom was originally created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane and first appeared in 1961's Showcase #34. Though he shared a name with the Golden Age Atom who we covered last issue, he was much more of a departure from his inspiration than Fox's other Silver Age reboots. After a number of years where no-one seemed to know what to do with the character (apart from co-creator Gil Kane, who was very keen to feature The Atom in a sword and sorcery book), The Atom was de-aged to a teenager during the Zero Hour crossover in 1994 (a similar fate would befall Iron Man the following year, a weird tale that Marvel have hypnotically erased from the comic book reading group-mind). When the Teen Titans' title was relaunched in 1996 the teenaged Atom would became their leader.
It doesn't look like Ben Oliver has taken much from Grant Morrison's redesign sketch for The Atom's appearance here, preferring instead to go with the costume that Ryan Choi (another Morrison creation) wore as the All New Atom beginning in 2006's Brave New World one-shot.
-cyte, from the Greek kytos 'hollow', means a cell.
Page 4 - Damian Wayne, the son of Batman and Talia Al Ghul, first appeared in 2008's Batman #655 by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert. As he did in his handful of appearances as an adult during Morrison's Batman run, Damian is living in a sweet penthouse pad at the top of the Wayne Tower.
Looks like a bit more Doug Mahnke art from the upcoming Ultra Comics to me. Nice.
Alexis Luthor makes her first appearance this issue, though the concept of a junior female member of the Luthor clan is a well-storied one. Lex was previously shown to have a daughter named Lena during Joe Kelly's early 00's run in the Superman books. Lena was named for Lex's pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths sister, and, though she played a key role in the Our Worlds at War crossover, after Kelly left the Super books she would suffer the same slide into obscurity as her aunt. There was also Nasthalthia Luthor, Lex's neice. Nemesis of the Bronze Age Supergirl, Nasthalthia (or "Nasty") would, after many years in limbo, resurface in Morrison and Quitely's All-Star Superman.
There was an Alexis Luthor who appeared in the short-lived Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon in 2006, the "richest girl in the galaxy" who lost her hair at the end of her first appearance. Though Morrison does pay some lip service to connecting the world of The Just to DC's cartoon output (specifically the setting for the Young Justice cartoon, also previously noted as Earth 16), I think it's pretty unlikely that this Alexis is a direct reference to her Legion cartoon counterpart.
Note Alexis is rocking the traditional family colour scheme of green and purple.
We don't get a very good look at the interdimensional attackers this time around and, unlike The Multiversity #1's Sivana-bot, they don't get their Earth highlighted on the cover either. More invaders from Earth 5 maybe? Or, like The Society of Superheroes issue, from Earth 16's binary twin Earth 45™ (home planet of Superdoom from Action Comics #9)?
Alexis' bored "I saw it online" coupled with Batman's finger wagging "Real life is better than any comic" speech over the page betrays Morrison's get-off-my-lawn distaste for the internet and it's importance to today's yoof.
"Is Batman gay?" is probably a tongue in cheek reference to this interview Morrison gave to Playboy in 2012 -
"Gayness is built into Batman. I’m not using gay in the pejorative sense, but Batman is very, very gay. There’s just no denying it. Obviously as a fictional character he’s intended to be heterosexual, but the basis of the whole concept is utterly gay. I think that’s why people like it. All these women fancy him and they all wear fetish clothes and jump around rooftops to get to him. He doesn’t care — he’s more interested in hanging out with the old guy and the kid."
Page 5 - It's not just the spoilt and super-rich that are disenchanted or blasé about the impending alien invasion. It seems that everybody on Earth 16 (apart from Batman strangely enough) has a been-there-done-that attitude toward this sort of thing.
Damian's ">tt<" is a long-standing verbal tick under Morrison's pen, a counterpoint to his dad's ">hh<"
Page 6 -Though Chris Kent's super-suit has gone all New 52, his dad's Super Robots are still rocking pants outside of their tights.
Trashbat dot Cock was the titular character's website in the prophetic hipster-baiting 2005 Channel 4 sitcom Nathan Barley, written by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris (who also penned the Blue Jam sketch show that heavily influenced Morrison's The Filth).
"Picto-fics" is Earth-16ese for "graphic novel". Fair point Batman, what is wrong with calling them comics?
Batman mentions later this issue that only one of Alexis' Multiversity comics has a publisher with an address on their world - presumably it's not Ultra Comics then, and DC Comics is as alien to them as Spire Comics or Quantum Comics are to us. It would have been great if they'd actually changed the publisher and indicia address of the various issues, but I'd imagine that could cause all kinds of legal headaches. They do seem to manage it in the Viz every month though...
As Richard De Angelis pointed out on Facebook, comparing Ultra to Pinocchio is weirdly reminiscent Ultron's "There are no strings on me" from the new trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, coincidentally unveiled by Marvel Studios the same day that The Multiversity: The Just was released.
Page 7 - Damian's mom and grandad are of course Talia and Ra's Al Ghul respectively. His belief in curses ties in to Morrison's 'Damian as adult Batman' story in Batman #666, where Damian had gained mysterious powers at the expense of selling his soul to Doctor Hurt. There was an oblique hint that Damian was somehow responsible for the death of his father as a result of his deal with the devil.
Page 8 -""This Be The Verse" Best poem ever", Alexis is referring to Philip Larkin's celebrated ode -
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
Judging by Cathryn Laver's trusty Evolution of the Batman Logo poster, Damian is decorating his apartment with the logo from 2003's Batman: Gotham Knights for some reason.
Just like his dad, Damian prefers to keep the mask on...
Page 9 - Haha, I like to imagine that the second "Admit it!" is done in a Christian Bale-style stupid Batman voice. Damian is obviously just as messed up as Alexis; he just likes berating her about it more than her.
Page 10 -Chris Kent (alias Lor-Zod) was created by Richard Donner, Geoff Johns and Adam Kubert and first appeared in 2006's Action Comics #844. The biological son of General Zod and Ursa, both Kryptonian criminals and residents of the Phantom Zone, Chris was fostered by Clark Kent and Lois Lane, though due to editorial edict and a long delay in Donner finishing his debut comic book Superman tale, that status-quo didn't last long. Chris returned to the Phantom Zone as a child and re-emerged not long after as a surly teen, adopting the costumed identity of Nightwing (a kind of Kryptonian Batman based on one of Superman's endless disguises from the Silver Age) and periodically aging 5 or 6 years overnight. As the pre-New 52 Superman titles wound down with the 'War of the Supermen storyline', Chris would return to the Phantom Zone and regress to being a child again.
Another son of Zod, a kind of New 52 'reimagining' of Chris Kent, recently debuted in the Earth 2 book, though like the Superman of Earth 23, Val-Zod is black.
This being the book focusing on 90's comics, Chris has no cape or red underpants but he does have a few pouches going on.
"I came back early from space." Hmm, I wonder why?
Ah, so that's why he's got the Gotham Knights bat up on the wall, underneath the trenchcoat...
Page 11 - Great character dynamic between Chris and Damian; Superman as the stoic hero who's never bothered to learn anyone's real name, Batman as the much more cynical but also more genuine of the two. It's a neat reversal.
Presumably that's Bruce's cowl in the foreground of the final panel. That's Jean Paul Valley's Azrael costume in the glass case at the back, another short lived legacy hero from the 1990's. Not sure what the sphere is in the other display case.
Page 12 -Next to the Azrael costume is Damian's Robin outfit. There was a similar cabinet in Damian's Bat-penthouse in Batman #666, though in that issue it was mainly Batman cotumes on display.
"Neil Gaiman's Sandman?" made me laugh out loud. Though Damian is super dismissive of Chris's team-up adventure, dreams have played (and continue to play this issue with the 'Grey Lady') a subtly important role in this story so far. I wonder if the Dream and Nightmare realms have a bigger role in this story than we've realised?
"The Ultimate Dreams of Superman" sounds like a very Mort Weisinger Silver Age conceit.
The big daft gun is a Hyperpoon, as seen in the hands of Klyzyzk Klzntplkz, a Fifth Dimensional member of the Superman Squad from All Star Superman #6. As with Dream above, I'm pretty sure we've had a throwaway line about the Fifth Dimension - conspicuously absent from the Multiverse Map - in every issue so far. Absolutely certain there's more of that to come.
"We're the World's Finest Chris -- why would we join the Justice League?" Harking back to the darkest days of the mid 90's, when you wouldn't find Superman or Batman anywhere near a Justice League, whose membership was more likely to consist of the Crimson Fox, spiky shoulders Metamorpho and somebody Gerard Jones had just made up on the fly.
Page 14 -"He's just got this thing about his dad being dead because of your dad" Haha. Hmm, I wonder if Morrison intended this to read as following on from All-Star Superman (where Luthor 'kills' Superman in the first issue)?
Looks like a Justice League teleport tube that Alexis is leaving in.
Page 15 - The Atom exits Sasha's body via her tear duct, the same 'escape hatch' that the crew of the miniaturized submarine Proteus used at the end of the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage.
The "big creepy space lady" is Dame Merciless of The Gentry, as we'll see later this issue.
Page 16 - Offspring, aka Ernie O'Brien, son of Plastic Man, first appeared in 1999's The Kingdom: Offspring one-shot by Mark Waid and Frank Quitely, part of Waid's prequel/sequel to his Kingdom Come series, Though initially not a part of mainstream continuity, Offspring was co-opted into the 'One Year Later' Teen Titans by Geoff Johns for a brief scene in 2006's Teen Titans #34. Though Johns' Offspring was originally intended to be a different 'son of Plastic Man' than Ernie, the two were eventually merged into one by the time honoured tradition of middle names (see also, Stan Lee's Bruce Banner/Bob Banner slip-up). Mark Waid was likely inspired by both Arnold Drake's short-lived 1960's Plastic Man comic starring Plastic Man Jr., and Baby Plas from the 1979 Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show cartoon.
Kyle Rayner, originally the last of the Green Lanterns as he appears to be on this Earth, was introduced as the replacement for Silver Age GL Hal Jordan after his heel turn in the 'Emerald Twilight' storyline. He first appeared in 1994's Green Lantern #48 and was created by Ron Marz and Darryl Banks. He headlined the Green Lantern series throughout Morrison's late 90's JLA run and on until 2004 when Hal Jordan returned to fill the green long-johns. Since then he's suffered somewhat through numerous relaunches, reinventions, costume and name changes in search of a purpose, and as of this writing is part of the cast of the New 52 Green Lantern: New Guardians title, due for cancellation in early 2015.
Like Captain Carrot and 1970's Captain America, Kyle made his living as a graphic artist in his secret ID. We were introduced to the 'Major Comics' characters in The Multiversity #1 - analogues of the Marvel Universe who reside on Earths 7 and 8. The Essential Retaliators are presumably the Ultimate Avengers, whose universe (Earth 8) was indeed blown up back in the first issue. 'Essential Genocide' might well be a direct reference to last year's 'Ultimate Cataclysm' storyline, but equally that could just be a happy coincidence.
More Doug Mahnke pages from the forthcoming Ultra Comics, which look to reference the classic fourth-wall breaking 'I can see you!' sequence from Morrison's Animal Man. Ultra's eyes are different colours - red and blue, maybe suggesting a 3D effect? His emblem looks like an amalgamation of the Superman 'S' shield and Captain Marvel's thunderbolt, and there's some pouches going on there too. Maybe Ultra will be some sort of gestalt hero that combines elements from all of the preceding Earths featured in this series?
"The Bug? That was a movie right?" An offhand reference to superhero's current spectacular success at the box-office, seen by billions while the source material (the comics themselves) remain the nichest of the niche.
Page 18 -That's Wally West as The Flash there. Another casualty of DC's relaunch, Wally - the Silver Age Flash's nephew and the former Kid Flash - picked up the mantle after 1986's Crisis On Infinite Earths, and remained the headline attraction in The Flash comic until the New 52 relaunch in 2011. He was recently reintroduced in the New 52 universe as a black teen, causing much hand-wringing for folks who have the time and inclination to get perturbed over such a thing. He's brought fellow Justice Leaguers Bloodwynd and Green Arrow along to assist in the investigation.
Bloodwynd was created by Dan Jurgens and first appeared in the first issue of Jurgens' brief JLA run, 1992's Justice League America #61. He was revealed as a disguised J'onn J'onzz at the end of the 'Destiny's Hand' story a year or so later, though in a move pre-empting Marvel's solution to the Xorn problem, the *real* Bloodwynd showed up in the next issue. Apart from the odd cameo here and there he's barely appeared since. He did manage to escape what many of the characters appearing in this issue couldn't - death at the hands of Geoff Johns (though Bloodwynd's actions during Johns' Day of Judgement mini-series did lead to him being "badly injured" by a group of demons in the JLA: Black Baptism mini-series, so he didn't get out totally unscathed...).
The second Green Arrow, Connor Hawke, was the long lost son of the original, raised in a Buddhist monastery while his dad remained blissfully unaware of his existence. He emerged just in time to take up the Green Arrow mantle after his father's death in 1995's Green Arrow #101. Though most associated with writer Chuck Dixon, he was created by Kelly Puckett and Jim Aparo and first appeared in 1994's Green Arrow #0. Alongside Kyle Rayner and Wally West, he was also a part of Grant Morrison's JLA. When DC returned their Silver Age 'icons' - including Green Arrow Sr. Oliver Queen - to their books in the mid-00's, Connor was written out of the series via an assassination attempt that left him in a coma. So far he hasn't made it into DC's New 52 continuity and, with the current Green Arrow book sticking as closely as possible to the style of the popular TV show, it's extremely unlikely he will.
"Looking good Lantern. Gym membership paid off." While this might just be a bit of super-banter, it might also be a reference to the long-running fan theory that Connor was gay. Arrowette's appearance later this issue appears to put paid to that as a 'one or the other' proposition though.
We met a parallel Earth version of Lady Shiva last issue. Planet Krypton is the DC Universe equivalent to the Planet Hollywood restaurant chain. Like Offspring, Planet Krypton made it's debut in The Kingdom, Mark Waid's 1999 sequel to his Kingdom Come mini-series. As we see later this issue, Green Arrow is actually meeting up with his daughter rather than heading out on a hot date.
Saffi's been reading Ultra Comics too. I thought the negative paste-up on the back cover might have been something to do with the Vigilante, given Ben Oliver's first work for DC proper (he'd already done some stuff for Wildstorm and America's Best Comics) was drawing a 2005 Vigilante mini-series written by Bruce Jones - as mentioned above, the 80's incarnation of The Vigilante was one of the few comic book 'heroes' to commit suicide, so it certainly fits Kyle's 'DC Comics Aren't Just For Kids'-style comments - but after seeing something similar on the back of the Society of Superheroes issue that appears later on in this issue, I think it might actually be a negative image of a page from inside Ultra Comics. Time will tell I suppose...
Page 19 - Lots of familiar faces from the true Dark Age of comics here at the party. The big guy with blonde hair and purple skin is (I think) Loose Cannon, created by Jeph Loeb and Lee Moder in Action Comics Annual #5 (part of 1993's Bloodlines crossover); the group of three chatting in front of him is, in the black suit with the geometric patterns, Walker Gabriel, alias Chronos (created by John Francis Moore and Paul Guinan, he first appeared in 1998's Chronos #1); Pantha (with the cute little cat ears), who was created by Marv Wolfman and Tom Grummett in 1991's New Titans #73; and what looks like the first Icemaiden (though if it is her skin should be coloured blue), created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon in 1977's Super Friends #9. Though she made her (non-canonical) debut in the 1970's, the first Icemaiden didn't really appear in a whole lot of comics until she joined Justice League America in 1996 just prior to Grant Morrison's 'Big 7' relaunch.
Below Chronos is Anima, another character from the Bloodlines crossover (and not the last one we'll meet this issue by a long stretch), sporting her crappy armoured outfit. Anima was created by Elizabeth Hand, Paul Witcover and Malcolm Jones and first appeared in 1993's New Titans Annual #9. Not sure who the readhead behind Chronos is but the guy in the goggles talking to her is Gunfire, another Bloodlines character, this time from the should-have-known-better pens of Len Wein and Steve Erwin. He first appeared in Deathstroke the Terminator Annual #2. The only other easily identifiable characters in that line up are the guy with the big blue collar; Max Mercury - introduced in Mark Waid's Flash run but based on a much older Golden Age character named Quicksilver - and, in the bottom right hand corner, Golem from the short-lived Primal Force series, created by Robert Loren Fleming and Pat Broderick in the pages of the 1991 Ragman mini-series.
(Update: Over at the Comics Alliance comments thread for David's annotations, Jeff Klein spotted Aura from Superboy and the Ravers between Gunfire and Max Mercury, and Risk from Dan Jurgens and George Perez's 90's Teen Titans series down front with the green shirt. He also identified the lady I pegged as a miscoloured Icemaiden as Chain Lightning, a reformed enemy of Mary Marvel who appeared in Jerry Ordway's Power of Shazam series in a very similar costume to the one that this character is wearing).
That's Arrowette in panel two, more of her later. Alexis is gossiping about Kon-El with Duela Dent, alias Harlequin (or Joker's Daughter), who at various points has claimed to be the daughter of The Joker and of Two Face. She's dressed in her Alex Ross-designed costume from Kingdom Come. Interestingly enough Ross' model for Harlequin was artist Jill Thompson, who also served as visual inspiration for Ragged Robin from The Invisibles.
Superboy Kon-El was introduced as one of the four replacement Supermen in the wake of the Death of Superman in 1993. He first appeared in Adventures of Superman #500 and was created by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett. .He was eventually revealed as a clone of Superman manufactured by Luthor, as implied here, though later Geoff Johns would decide that Kon-El's DNA was half Superman's, half Luthor's (a plot point Johns would foreshadow in a letter published in the Superboy letter column in 1996). The reference to clones of Superman having a tendency toward turning into Bizarros refers to John Byrne's post-Crisis Bizarro origin from his 1986 Man of Steel mini-series. That's Krypto, Superman's Kryptonian pet dog, beside Kon-El, looking pretty much identical to his New 52 counterpart.
The guy in the gold armour in panel 4 is Kaliber, a reformed para-demon of Apokolips and member of Superboy's Ravers, who first appeared in 1995's Superman #104 by Dan Jurgens and Jose-Luis Garcia- Lopez.
Page 20 -Sure enough, that's The Gentry's Dame Merciless, whose name was probably inspired by La Belle Dame sans Merci by Keats, also referenced in the last issue of Batman Incorporated.
Kon-El's decay into a Bizarro-state is well underway, with his skin taking on a white/grey pallor and his speech articulating the opposite of his intent. Does that mean that Dame Merciless came to him in a nightmare? Alongside all of the references to dreams in the series so far, is this a clue as to where The Gentry have come from?
Vapor was a member of the original Conglomerate, a corporate super-team set-up by Booster Gold and Max Lord's ex-wife as competitors to the Justice League. She first appeared in 1990's Justice League Quarterly #1 by Keith Giffen, J.M. Dematteis and Chris Sprouse.
The Grey Lady is a very generic ghost name over here in the UK - we had one who lived in the sports equipment cupboard at my primary school.
Are the crowd all laughing at Superboy? Seems a little mean no?
Page 21 - Earth 16's Justice League - more a support group for superfolks with inadequacy issues than a real crime-fighting force, thanks to Superman's robots.
From left to right we have Green Lantern Kyle Rayner; Argus, Artemis, Steel, The Atom, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Arrow and (mostly off panel) the Alpha Centurion.
Argus was another character who debuted in Bloodlines crossover. After making his debut in 1993's The Flash Annual #6 by Mark Wad and Phil Hester, he went on to become part of The Flash's supporting cast before enjoying a brief 6-issue run in his own 1995 mini-series.
Artemis, created by William Messner Loebs and Mike Deodato in 1994's Wonder Woman #90, was a hyper-violent Egyptian Amazon who briefly replaced Wonder Woman ala the Azrael/Batman debacle.
Steel, aka Natasha Irons, daughter of replacement Superman John Henry Irons, first appeared in Steel #1 by Louise Simonson and Chris Batista, though she didn't don her own armour until 2003's Superman Versus Darksied: Apokalips Now! one-shot.
Aquaman, formerly Tempest, formerly Aqualad, and teen sidekick of the original Aquaman, has been around since 1960's Adventure Comics #259 by Robert Bernstein and Ramona Fradon. He's wearing a variation on Aquaman's underwater camouflage costume from Neil Pozner and Craig Hamilton's 1986 Aquaman mini-series.
The Alpha Centurion was introduced during the Zero Hour crossover in 1994. A Roman soldier alien-abductee created by Karl Kesel, he first appeared as a one-shot alternate timeline Superman analogue in Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time #3. His mainstream DC Universe counterpart appeared the following year, for all intents and purposes the same character. Though he featured briefly in Morison's JLA/WildCATS, his appearances outside Kesel's own Superman comics (and a one-shot special by Kesel's then-wife Barbara Randall) have been few and far between.
'Red Amazo' is a conflagration of super-androids the Red Tornado and Amazo. Their respective creators, T.O. Morrow and Professor Ivo, previously teamed up to create the android Tomorrow Woman in Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's JLA #5 from 1997. The idea that the Tornado was only one of Morrow's androids in a whole Red family was floated by Morrison in 52 - where the Red Inferno was mentioned - then picked up by Brad Meltzer for the first arc of his 2006 Justice League of America series. Eventually Kevin Van Hook and Jose Luis would introduce a whole Red Tornado Family in the pages of the 2009 Red Tornado mini-series.
Professor Ivo's Amazo robot, like his red namesake, possessed the combined powers of all of the 'Big 7' Justice Leaguers.
Page 22 - Alpha Centurion giving it a bit of the cod-Shakespearean Thor dialogue there. "The blow decisive" indeed.
Page 23 - "Merda!" is Italian for "Shit!"
Page 24 - Kyle's episode relates to his girlfriend Alex De Witt being dismembered and stuffed into a refrigerator by Major Force (not Major Disaster as the dialogue has it here - I assume that's a mistake) in 1994's Green Lantern #54 by Ron Marz and Darryl Banks. "Women in refrigerators" has since become a catch-all term for the inherent and all too frequent misogyny of mainstream super-hero comic books.
Page 25 - Recalling the impossible robot that Cal Ellis battled back in The Multiversity #1, Red Amazo has been reprogrammed (by Alexis Luthor) using 'higher dimensional' components.
Page 26 - Five and a half pages, a handful of lines of dialogue - all it takes to confirm Earth 16's Justice League as insensitive assholes with Capital-I Issues. Whistling while Malibu burns.
Page 27 - "I can't get past this level boss on Young Justice!" After it was announced that The Just would take place on Earth 16 (confirmed as the home of Bob Haney's Super-Sons stories as of a 2008 DC Nation column promoting the Countdown Arena mini-series), fans were quick to point out that this Earth had also been ear-marked as the setting for Greg Weismann and Brandon Vietti's popular Young Justice cartoon. Morrison remarked in an interview that he'd try and bridge the gap in-story so as not to exclude either possibility, presumably explaining the YJ reference here.
Page 28 - The closing scene from the Society of Superheroes issue. Morrison mentioned in numerous interviews in the run-up to Multiversity's release that, in a hat tip to the original parallel Earth relationship between Earths 1 and 2, each individual one-shot would be seen as a comic book on the following issue's world. As of this writing we're past Thunderworld and so far The Just is the only issue where this has actually happened (though we are seeing an awful lot of Ultra Comics in every issue of the series).
Is Ernie supposed to be using his powers to 'fill-out' like a comic book muscleman here? He looks a lot bigger in this panel than he did on the previous page. And what's with the Elvis hairstyle over the mask?
Page 29 - Menta is the daughter of Mento, late of the Silver Age Doom Patrol and (presumably) his team-mate and sweetheart Rita Farr, Elasti-Girl. Mento and his telepathic helmet made their debut in 1964's Doom Patrol #91 by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. He went insane helping DC's magic users save Heaven at the climax of Alan Moore's 'American Gothic' from his acclaimed Swamp Thing run, before becoming a recurring nemesis of the Teen Titans in the late 80's.
Holly is probably the only character in the series so far apart from Thunderer to make direct contact with The Gentry and not become an agent of their scheme against the Multiverse (or at least not as far as we see here...)
Page 30 - Pieter Cross, the third Doctor Midnite, was created by Matt Wagner and John K Snyder and first appeared in their (long-delayed) 1999 Doctor Midnite mini-series. He is, for all intents and purposes, functionally identical to the original Doctor Midnite, created by Charles Reizenstein and Stanley Aschmeir in 1941, though Cross operates in the present day and isn't 80+ years old. Cross was a long serving member of Geoff Johns' JSA throughout the 00's.
Doc Midnite chortling over a corpse there; again with the insensitive assholes...
Page 31 - As noted above, Connor Hawke grew up in a Tibetan monastery; his advice to his daughter to get away from the rat race comes as no surprise.
As well as the obvious Miley Cyrus visual reference, Arrowette specifically references an old ally of Green Arrow's, and her daughter - Bonnie King, the original Arrowette, first appeared in 1960's Worlds' Finest #113 by Lee Elias, as a Batwoman-style superheroine inspired by Green Arrow's heroism. Though she wasn't seen for many years, Arowette returned during Tom Peyer's run on Impulse as a pushy mom forcing her daughter, Cissie King-Jones, to become the second Arrowette. She would go on to become part of the cast of the Young Justice comic book under Peter David, and was initially intended to become part of the Young Justice cartoon cast too, before being replaced by a new character named Artemis. There was some hints during Cissie's stint in the Young Justice comic that her father was actually Green Arrow, though obviously there the reference was to Oliver Queen, the original Green Arrow, rather than his son Connor.
Connor's begrudging acceptance of the effectiveness of his father's trick arrows was a plot point during his stint in Grant Morrison's JLA.
Page 32 - "Its not a game for spoiled kids" except, as we've seen, on this Earth that's pretty much exactly what it is.
Page 33 - Can't find anything specifically listing the chemical composition of the paper used in modern comic books, but those ingredients are most likely accurate (including formaldehyde, which is not hugely promoted for it's use in anything really, let alone children's periodicals).
That's a negative image of an interior splash page from the Society of Super-Heroes on the back of the issue there.
Cordyceps is, as Batman relates, a (real) mind-controlling type of mushroom. It features heavily in the back story to the 2013 survival horror game The Last of Us,
Page 34 - Frazer Irving's variant cover for the Society of Superheroes issue there, with a Cameron Stewart Captain Marvel from the interior of Thunderworld in the next panel.
Not sure why it's Keyhole Comics, but Whiz Media is the modern version of WHIZ Radio from Fawcett's old Captain Marvel comics. Beck Plaza is named for Captain Marvel creator C. C. Beck, and Fawcett City for Captain Marvel's original publishers Fawcett Comics. Fawcett City was, for a number of years, a city in the mainstream DC Universe, though perhaps surprisingly it first appeared in Jerry Ordway's The Power of Shazam! graphic novel in 1994.
Quantum Comics of Hub City are most likely the publishers of Pax Americana - the Quantum referring to Captain Atom and Hub City being the fictional home city of The Question, both from the original Charlton comics. Not sure which comics are published by "Spire Comics out of Cosmoville", "Blue Stamp, Satellite City" or "Victory Comics. New Hooverville." but I assume they're one of Ultra Comics, Mastermen or the Society of Super-Heroes - 'Hooverville' was the name given to shanty towns built during the Great Depression; coupled with the WW2 connotations of 'Victory Comics' it would make a good fit for SOS or Mastermen.
Oh, and the comic peeping out from beneath Batman's speech bubble is Morrison's Action Comics #9, so there's a chance the publishers listed don't correspond one to one with the Multiversity one-shots anyway.
I'm sure it's a coincidence rather than a deliberate nod, but Satellite City was also referenced in the last issue of Flex Mentallo.
There's the back of that Ultra Comics issue again at the bottom of panel 4 - the costume looks right for Ultra but that background sure doesn't look like Earth Prime...
I thought initially Superman's "like Eddie" was another Major Disaster-esque editorial mistake - he's talking about Offspring, whose name is Ernie, not Eddie. Given his conversation earlier with Batman though regarding not knowing Saffi's real name, this could well be a bit more characterisation via dialogue here - the people behind the masks are totally unimportant to him, even when it comes to crunch time
Page 35-36 - Hilarious comment from Bloodwynd there who, along with his colleague Gypsy, are pretty much the dictionary definition of Justice League has-beens. I'd guess that the 'Multi-Mage' is a position analogous to Doctor Strange's role as Sorcerer Supreme in the Marvel Universe.
Aztek the Ultimate Man, created by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, was also a character biding his time waiting for a demonic End of the World prophecy to come true. In his case it was the coming of Mageddon in the 'World War III' storyline that concluded Morrison's run on JLA.
Gypsy was a member of the much-maligned Detroit League - a bunch of amateur heroes who could look after League business full time while Superman and Batman were away having adventures in their own titles - who first appeared in Justice League of America Annual #2 in 1982 and was created by Gerry Conway and Chuck Patton. She served alongside J'onn J'onzz in the 90's League spin-off book Justice League Task Force, and would later appear in the Birds of Prey books. She's only appeared a handful of times since JLTF was cancelled to make way for Morrison's revitalized Justice League in 1996.
"Who's that knocking at the door?" It's Menta, who as we learned earlier has been in direct psychic contact with The Gentry...
Page 37 - "Something's put them in bodyguard mode" That would be Alexis again. The pages plastered on the walls of her apartment are from Society of Superheroes and Ultra Comics.
"Is this the end of the "Worlds' Finest"?" was basically the plot of every Bob Haney Super-Sons story.
I think that Transmatter Cube in the last panel has just risen up out of the floor?
Page 38 - That's some sort of tracking device Damian is pulling out of his coat; confirming to Alexis that Damian and Chris are inside her apartment and the end game has begun.
Jakeem Thunder (J. J. Thunder in his earliest Morrison-penned appearances) debuted in 1998's The Flash #134 by Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Paul Ryan. He gained control of the mystic Thunderbolt in the following year's 'Crisis Times Five' story in Morrison's JLA, becoming a member of the revitalized Justice Society in the process. The magic word he's using here "ZZZOKUUULLL" suggests that it's the evil blue Thunderbolt Lkz that he's controlling rather than his usual companion, the good pink Thunderbolt Yz. Both Thunderbolts are genies or imps from the Fifth Dimension (as we've said many times before, conspicuous in it's absence from the Multiverse map), and possess limitless powers to bend reality to their whim.
Jakeem's outfit recalls Captain Marvel, and may be a specific reference to Roy Thomas' aborted early 80's plan to reintroduce the Captain to DC continuity as a black man called Captain Thunder.
Page 39 - Another crowd scene. This time around we've got Miss Martian's green legs at the top of the panel (created by Geoff Johns and Tony Daniel, she first appeared in 2006's Teen Titans #37 and would go on to be one of the main characters in the Young Justice cartoon); with Krypto the Superdog (again) and Impulse also in the foreground (Impulse, the far-future grandson of the Silver Age Flash, was created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo and first appeared in The Flash #92 in 1994).
I'm not sure who anyone is on the far left of the pool, but that's Slobo, a teenage clone of Lobo from Young Justice #38 by Peter David and Todd Nauck, underneath Krypto's back leg, Loose Cannon again next to him, and underneath them probably Fire from the JLI (I couldn't see anyone else in the DC Wiki "Green Hair" category that would fit the bill) who first appeared as one of the Global Guardians in Super Friends #25 by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon, and maybe Blue Beetle in the bottom corner.
The guy in white with his back to us and his twin brother in the white and red costume on the far right are Mas Y Menos, Guatemalan super teens who first appeared in 2006 in a third season episode of the Cartoon Network's Teen Titans. Not sure who that is directly above him but that's Icemaiden (or Chain Lightning) again to his right. Above her in the purple suit with the white star on his belt is The Protector from the 1983 New Teen Titans Drug Awareness Special by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The Protector functioned as a Robin proxy in this Keebler-sponsored special issue as another company (Nabisco) owned Robin's snack food merch rights - he's maybe appeared twice since then, exclusively in the background of group shots like this. Bottom right from The Protector are Pantha (probably) and Aura from the Ravers again.
Arrowette with the plot dump there in case you weren't following. Still getting the impression these teens aren't taking the threat of The Gentry too seriously...
Page 40 - Is that a mind-controlled Damian clobbering Superman in the top panel?
Impulse again on the far left of the pool panel, with his arch-enemy Inertia in the blue and green next to him - Inertia, effectively the Reverse Kid Flash, was apparently co-created by Ethan Van Sciver (5%), Mike Wieringo (20%), Grant Morrison (25%) and Todd Dezago (50%) (figures and credits courtesy of Van Sciver himself), and first appeared in 1999's Impulse #51. Hawk from Hawk and Dove (created by Steve Ditko and Steve Skeates in 1968's Showcase #75) joins them in the air for this panel. In the bottom left corner of the pool are the robotic Hourman of the 853rd Century, created by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter in 1997's JLA #12; and Kaldur'ahm, son of Black Manta and the second Aqualad, who first appeared in the Young Justice cartoon before making the leap to comic books in Geoff Johns' Brightest Day in 2010. Mas y Menos are there again in the middle of the page (juggling chairs?), alongside what might be Tomorrow Woman from Morrison and Porter's JLA #5 and The Protector again (with his back to us this time). That's The Creeper with the yellow skin on the far right (another Ditko creation, this time from 1968's Showcase #73). And Chronos, just beneath Hawk's head, looks to be talking to Donna Troy, Wonder Girl maybe? Donna Troy was amongst the Ben Oliver character designs shown for this issue before it went to press but she doesn't seem to appear anywhere in it apart from maybe here.
(Update: Thanks again to Jeff Klein over in the Comics Alliance comments for spotting Aquagirl and Bombshell on the left underneath the Creeper (yikes...). Both were briefly members of Geoff Johns' Teen Titans, though Aquagirl made her debut during Will Pfeifer's Aquaman run.)
There really is a @SisterMiracle on Twitter, though it's unlikely you're going to get much interesting or useful information out of following them, judging by their user page...
Page 41 - The Superman robots go on the rampage, led by Bizarro Kon-El as another issue draws to a close just as we reach the beginning of the final act. Morrison is setting up some pretty big hoops to jump through for this story's inevitable conclusion in The Multiversity #2 and we haven't even hit the halfway point yet...
Pax Americana annotations soon, Thunderworld soon after that. I need to get match fit for The Multiversity Guide Book - with 80 pages covering every Earth it's probably going to take me about ten years to annotate. Wish me luck... (but in the meantime, any questions, comments or suggestions let me know. Cheers!)