By - GRANT MORRISON
This new book is something that I’ve been working on for quite awhile. It’s nine issues that are 40 pages each. The first one and the last one comprise an 80-page, giant DC super-spectacular story. There are seven comics, each of which come from a different parallel universe, all with a different storytelling approach and artistic look. Each one is drawn by a different artist, but each of them combine.
DC Comics has always had this idea of the multi-verse, where there are multiple parallel universes that all occupy the same space, but vibrate at different frequencies.
It’s that idea of comic book universes as music. That’s what the vibration is. And when you hear them all vibrating together, it makes the most beautiful music you’ve ever heard, and you can choose what you want that music to be. So, we’re exploring that concept with this book.
They established that, in each of the worlds of the DC multi-verse, they read comic books about the other worlds. In one world, a fictional character can be a real person. So, we chose to make that the basis of this story. Basically, each of the worlds can read the comic book that we just read, the month before, and they’re all facing a gigantic cosmic threat, which is the most terrifying thing that anybody’s ever read in a comic. I don’t do hyperbole, so this is the one. Each of the worlds all connect, and they pass on a message to the next world, that something terrible is happening and something is bringing down the structure of the multi-verse.
The first of the seven books is a kind of Justice League of the multi-verse and how they come together. It features the black Superman that we had in Action Comics #9, Calvin Ellis. He’s the main character in that one. The second one is a pulp universe that’s the 1940′s characters that fit the pulp archetype. It’s set in a world where there’s only two billion people. It’s 2013, but they just had a major world war, and out of that comes a particular set of circumstances. The next one is set on Earth 11. There was this concept of the super-sons, where Superman and Batman had a couple of sons that were real mean bastards when they grew up.
They just weren’t happy about the legacy their fathers had left them. So, the next one is about this world of the children of superheroes and what happens after you’ve turned the world into utopia, so there’s nothing for you to do, but you can punch out mountains. We chose to do it in the style of The Hills, with these really super bland conversations. We wanted something as shallow, flat and on the surface, but with superheroes and the kind of conversations that superheroes would have. You’ll see a lot of the ‘90s characters who have been consigned to the dust bins. They’ve got nothing to do, so they perform battle re-enactments. That’s another book, which I can’t really describe the ambiance of.
Then, we took the storytelling devices of Watchmen and applied them to the Charlton characters that Watchmen was originally inspired by. Instead of Watchmen’s nine-panel grid, we have an eight-panel grid that reflects the musical harmonics that underpin the whole series. It’s based on the number eight, which becomes really important through everything. In 40 pages, we’ve done this thing that is probably the best thing we’ve ever done in superhero comics. After that is a great take on the Captain Marvel stuff, and it’s done as an all-ages book. It has a completely different tone, and it’s a really neat little story that’s self-contained.
After that are the Nazi superheroes that’s set on what used to be Earth X, but it’s not Earth 10. The idea behind it is that the Nazis won World War II and took over the world. It’s like, what if the classic DC world has been played with and Hitler got ahold of the super-baby, and the world emerges from that. We didn’t want to do something dull. This one was meant to feel like a big Shakespeare-style HBO series.
Imagine if you were Superman and for the first 25 years of your life you were working for Hitler, and then you go, “Oh, my god, it’s Hitler! Shit, now I get it! Now I see who the baddie is!” And he cleans up and creates a utopia, but that utopia is based on the Nazi principles that he was indoctrinated with. Everything is wrong, overblown and ready for destruction in this culture, and Superman knows it. He knows that his entire society, even though it looks like utopian, has been built on the bones of the dead and ultimately is wrong and must be destroyed.
To that comes the Freedom Fighter characters led by Uncle Sam, who is the last remnant of the America that was conquered in 1956. He’s gathered all the people that Hitler killed. We’ve recast all the Freedom Fighter characters as Hitler’s enemies. It’s all the people who Hitler persecuted, and it’s the return of the oppressed. It’s a big Game of Thrones, hardcore story about what happens when your entire society is under threat from terrorists who actually embody the good. Worse than that, your leader, Superman, knows that they’re right and that it’s time for this society to die.
Following that, the seventh issue of the book is called Ultra Comics. It’s the one that’s set in this world, where we actually use this technology that will blow your mind. You’ve never had this experience before with a comic book. That’s all that I’m going to say. It’s something you have never seen before, and it’s an actual superhero that we’re going to make, in front of you. In the midst of all of that, there’s a guidebook where we’re going to show you how the multi-verse works, and it will have a narrative element through it as well. And then, it ends with a bookend that completes the story that we started off in #1, and it unites all the strands of the narrative together. This is my magnum opus. This is why I love comics.