Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Multiversity: Mastermen #1 Review (Grant Morrison, Jim Lee)

The Multiversity: Mastermen #1 is a fine Elseworlds one-shot. I’m sure a lot of you have read Mark Millar’s exceptional Superman: Red Son where Millar writes about what would have happened if Kal-El’s pod had landed in Soviet Russia instead of Kansas. Mastermen #1 is basically that but for the Nazis. 

A pod containing a baby invulnerable to bullets lands in Nazi Germany. The Fuhrer utilises his abilities to change the course of the war and, within 17 years, conquer the world. Decades later and the resistance, led by Uncle Sam, begins its fight back against Overman and the Nazi utopia. 

We’re on Earth-10 for those keeping count, and there are references to The Multiversity as a whole in this issue, but mostly it’s a comic you can enjoy by itself without having read any of the series. References like Hitler sitting on the can (ho ho) reading an issue of Superman is a nod to this being another world where Superman is viewed as a comic rather than a reality; the house of eyeballs Overman dreams of is like the container of Multiverses; and a Sivana pops up to supply the rebels with parallel universe weapons to gain a level playing ground against Overman and co. Uncle Sam is also a real person here, a nod to the theme once again of printed art representing alternate realities. 

Grant Morrison and Jim Lee have fun playing with DC history via the Nazi prism, so there’s a panel of Overman in the same pose as Lee’s famous drawing of Superman, there’s the panel referencing Superman holding a dead Supergirl in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the Nazi-fied Justice League have distinctly practical (and silly) German names: Leatherwing (Batman), Underwaterman (guess who), The Martian (duh), and Brunnhilde (Wonder Woman). 

Morrison does ensure that it all seems as non-evil as possible. He makes Overman off-world for three years during which time the Holocaust happened (implying he would’ve stopped it if he was there), and the general tone of society is of normality - this is the status quo and the heroes don’t fight against it, nor see it as something to be overthrown, because they were born within and are a part of it. 

But mostly Mastermen #1 is a fine standalone comic that (and I’m sure Morrison would hate the comparison but it’s unavoidable) Millar already did, and did better, in Red Son. Besides the Multiversity references and the Lee art, it’s basically the same with Superman in charge and a small resistance fighting against him except with a smaller page count making it less effective a story. It’s a decent comic though nothing particularly standout or substantial from this top-tier creative team - but that essentially sums up Multiversity as a whole.

The Multiversity: Mastermen #1

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