Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Cameron Stewart)

Even though legally Marvel own the name Captain Marvel (and their character is a woman) and DC’s old Captain Marvel is now called Shazam, I guess DC and Marvel must’ve come to an agreement for this one issue because Billy Batson’s alter ego is called by his original name: Captain Marvel. Which is neat. 

In Thunderworld Adventures #1, the latest instalment of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity, Dr Sivana has mined time from other universes to create a new eighth day of the week: Sivanaday! And on that day… Captain Marvel dies! 

I’ve been reading Multiversity now since the start and I think I’ve figured it out: it’s a smart way of telling dumb stories. Thunderworld Adventures #1 is the average - almost archetypal - superhero story where the villain wants to do Bad Things like take over the world and make tons of money over peoples’ suffering, and the smiling hero stops him and saves the day. All very rote and predictable. 

Reading through this issue, there’s nothing technically wrong with it. Morrison’s script is perfectly serviceable, even slightly entertaining at times, and Cameron Stewart’s art is very pretty - clean lines, interesting visuals, some great splash pages, and plenty of style. 

But the story is so… blah. Here’s the bad guys - they’ve got monsters! Better call the good guy monster squad! The bad guys have a pair of evil sidekicks - call the good guy and his good sidekicks! Everyone fight! It’s so simplistic. 

Maybe that’s the idea? This issue takes place on Earth-5 - I’m not even gonna pretend I know what the various Earths mean in the DCU, but perhaps this is the older comics world where Golden/Silver Age-type comics stories play out all the time. That’s really the audience for this comic: fans of older DC comics. 

And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s an elegance to the structure and an almost innocent tone to the story which is refreshing to see in a mainstream superhero comic today. It’s also good to see Captain Marvel being called Captain Marvel and not Shazam (which was the Wizard’s name anyway), and that final panel is very winning with the heroes flying off with big smiles on their faces. It’s the superhero comic of yesteryear and nostalgia rules this issue. 

It’s just not for me. I’m not saying I need dark and gritty, miserable and angry, which is the stock that DC trades in these days under their New 52 banner. But I do need a more engaging story than this played out, overused template of a superhero comic. 

Once again this issue is only just barely tied in to the series with the appearance of an earlier Multiversity issue being read by the characters. Where did Dr Sivana get that comic in the middle of space? It’s so contrived and silly. 

And even though it’s written a bit artlessly and on the nose, I liked Mary Marvel’s interaction with Sivana Girl. Mary wears a tasteful superhero outfit that’s almost Victorian in comparison to the stripper-esque clothes female superheroes sport these days. When Sivana Girl pushes her balloon tits and micro skirt out to the boys and says “Who needs brains with a body like this?”, Mary rolls her eyes and says “There’s more to me than just how I look”. Is… is this a DC comic?!

I will give Morrison this: it’s not a totally dumb/straightforward comic because his framing story is pretty clever. Sivana’s stealing of time to create a new day and all that is imaginative and the solution is smart too. It’s just a lot of the stuff in the middle that feels pedestrian. 

Thunderworld Adventures #1 is a well executed comic but a bit too clean and whitebread for my tastes and therefore boring. Fans of the classic Captain Marvel though will go bananas over it!

The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1

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