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The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1 (released on September 17, 2014)
The Multiversity: The Just #1 (released on October 22, 2014)
The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 (released on November 19, 2014)
The Multiversity: Thunderworld #1 (released on December 17, 2014)
The Multiversity Guidebook #1 (to be released on January 21, 2015)
The Multiversity: Mastermen #1 (to be released on February 18, 2015)
The Multiversity Director's Cut #1 (The Multiversity #1 with full-size poster of the multiverse map and new bonus material; to be released on February 25, 2015)
The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 (to be released on March 18, 2015)
The Multiversity #2 (to be released on April 1, 2015)
This limited series contains examples of:
Adaptation Expansion: Grant Morrison is featuring an ongoing theme of presenting Batman counterparts on each Earth who were all inspired by something besides a bat, as a reference to a short story by Martin Pasko from Batman #256. Morrison seeks to pose the question of how far the character can be stretched before they're no longer Batman.
Two of the Batman counterparts from #256 have been confirmed already, with Iron Knight (inspired by a suit of medieval armor to become a literal knight) on Earth-36 and Scorpion (inspired by a scorpion) on Earth-41.
A God I Am: In Pax Americana #1, Captain Adam of Earth-4 veers into this territory, but he also has plenty of humanity left to realize in horror when his actions cross the line, and opts to have himself put on heavier medication to limit himself.
All Myths Are True: Well, the The DCU basically assumes this anyway, but the map of the Multiverse puts it up front, with Dream (the home of the Endless), Heaven, New Genesis, Skyland (the home of the various pantheons), Nightmare, Hell, Apokolips and the Underworld (also known as the Phantom Zone) all co-existing in the Sphere of the Gods. On another level, many of the Earths have heroes that are fictional in each other's worlds.
All There in the Manual: The multiverse guidebook contains both information on the multiverse and a Multiversity story.
While work on the series began a while before it was released, since then, Jonathan Hickman's New Avengers began, which deals with the collision of alternate Earths and the seemingly unstoppable death of the Multiverse.
Earth-7 is already destroyed upon the arrival of Nix Uotan, but appears to have been a Marvel pastiche like Earth-8, below. However, pastiches of DC characters can be seen among the dead, so it's likely this Earth was a mix-up in homage to the many DC and Marvel crossover stories.
Earth-13, home to a dark, magical Justice League including Superdemon, Hellblazer and Fate.
Earth-17, an Earth ravaged by atomic destruction. Humanity lives in domed cities on the moon, and the Atomic Knights remain on Earth.
Earth-18, a Western-style world featuring the Justice Riders, who ride on Steam Punk horses.
Earth-19, a world currently in the era of Victorian England.
Earth-23, home of President Superman, where the world's greatest heroes are black (which can mean that they're black in the main DCU, as with Steel and Vixen; that a black holder of the legacy in the main DCU is Earth-23's primary holder, as seems to be the case with Green Lantern; that they're black versions of the hero, as with Superman; or that they're completely unique).
Earth-42, home to imp-like versions of the Justice League known as the Li'l Leaguers.
Earth-43, which has a Vampire League and is home to the Batman Vampire Elseworlds trilogy.
Earth-44, an Earth home to a robotic version of the Justice League.
Earth-45, an Earth where Superman as a concept became perverted and corrupted by mass marketing and turned into the hyper-edgy Superdoomsday, whom later went on a homicidal rampage killing the Supermen of other Earths before being stopped by the Superman of Earth-0 in Grant Morrisons Action Comics.
Earth-47, described as a world where The Sixties never ended.
Earth-48, the new home to Lady Quark and Lord Volt.
The guidebook is set to cover 45 of the Earths, leaving 7 over for other writers to develop: 14, 24, 25, 27, 28, 46 and 49.
An unidentified Earth is home to the Thrillkiller series and the Twilight miniseries by Howard Chaykin. In Countdown Arena, Earth-37 was distinguished as the Thrillkiller universe, but it is unknown if this is still true.
Anachronic Order: How Pax Americana #1 is told: one plotline follows the consequences of President Harley's assassination, while the other shows How We Got Here in reverse-chronological order.
When he was a child, President Harley accidentally murdered his father thinking he was an intruder.
Nightshade is like this with her father, Vice President Eden, who has no problem dissolving her career and treats her like a naive child. It's not helped that he treated her mother like she was insane.
Biblical Bad Guy: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Vandal Savage of Earth-40 is heavily implied to be Cain, with the meteor that gave him his powers being the rock that he used to kill Abel.
Five years after Final Crisis, Nix Uotan and Captain Carrot are finally back. Harbinger and Lady Quark also return, after vanishing post-Flashpoint, although Lady Quark had apparently been a prisoner of A.R.G.U.S. in the Vibe book.
The 90s version of Doctor Fate, Jared Stevens, appears on the variant cover to Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1.
Grant Morrison's map of the Multiverse includes Wonderworld, a dimension that was featured in his JLA run. News articles have also mentioned that some of his characters from Animal Man would appear on one Earth.
He revisits some concepts he introduced in Final Crisis, such as President Superman and Earth-23, and Overman and Earth-10, and some he introduced in Action Comics, like the mention of Superdoomsday, and Optiman's allies Red Racer and Flashlight.
Earth-10's Batman is called Leatherwing, which was also the name of a pirate version of Batman.
The variant cover to Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1 featured the Batman-esque version of John Constantine called Hellblazer. Morrison created this version in an issue of Doom Patrol, in a dreamworld that had more superheroic versions of the Vertigo-related characters. This world was seen again in the third The Books of Magic annual.
Sasha Norman, a.k.a. Sister Miracle of Earth-16 in The Just #1, was first seen in Seven Soldiers while Shilo Norman was forced to endure alternate lives in the Omega Sanction.
The Thunderer of Earth-7 is based on Wundajin of Earth-8, making him one of The Mighty Thor as well. The differences in design between his world and that of Earth-8, and how the heroes of both worlds shared similar or identical codenames, suggested he was an "Ultimate" version, which was confirmed in The Just.
Celebrity Paradox: At least part of DC's output in the main DCU (Earth-0) is actually inspired by other Earths in The Multiverse; it's no longer limited to just one Earth. Marvel Comics have a DC analogue in Major Comics, with their output being inspired by the heroes of Earth-7 and Earth-8.
Comic Books Are Real: A key concept, according to Grant Morrison: each Earth has comics featuring characters from other Earths, through which the heroes can keep informed about what's going on elsewhere. For example, Mastermen #1 begins with Adolf Hitler reading Action Comics while using the toilet.
Superdemon is what happens when you take the concept of Superman and add Etrigan into it.
Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1':
The Green Lantern of Earth-20 is Abin Sur with a costume heavily based on pre-New 52 Alan Scott's.
The Immortal Man of Earth-20 was once called Anthro, and his origin and powers are altered to be much more similar to those of Vandal Savage, who is now his alternate self from a Mirror Universe.
The Super-Sons in The Just #1 are Chris Kent and Damian Wayne, rather than Clark Kent Jr. and Bruce Wayne Jr. as it was Pre-Crisis.
Black Sivana of Earth-5 is a combination of two of Captain Marvel's deadliest foes.
The Constant: There isn't always a Superman or a Batman equivalent on an alternate Earth, but there's always an Atom-themed character in every issue.
Lady Quark in The Multiversity #1.
Al Pratt the Mighty Atom in the Society of Superheroes.
Ray Palmer in The Just.
Captain Adam in Pax Americana.
Mister Atom in Thunderworld.
Continuity Reboot: For Earths 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 16, 17, 26, 33, 40 and 43, none of which are their original incarnations - whether that's because of a retool, renumbering from the original Pre-Crisis multiverse, or replacing a different universe with the same number.
Earth-5's Pre-Crisis analog, Earth-S, was destroyed in the Crisis.
Earth-6's Pre-Crisis analog was a world where America lost the Revolutionary War and a royal family of superheroes protected the Earth. Its sole survivor was Lady Quark.
Earth-8's Pre-Crisis analog was a world home to the heroes who debuted after the first Crisis. After 52 it was designed as a parody of the Ultimate Marvel line of comics and a revision to the Champions of Angor and Extremists. The world still seems to be Marvel-based, but with a team called the Retaliators instead of the Justifiers, for example. The Extremists still exists though.
Earth-10's Pre-Crisis analog, Earth-X, was a world where the Nazis won and the Freedom Fighters were La Résistance, but had no Justice League. It was destroyed in the Crisis. When it was restored in 52 it featured a Nazi version of the Justice League, which hadn't been done before. Conflicting portrayals in Countdown to Final Crisis had a standard generic Nazi League and an America covered in concentration camps. In Countdown Arena a Nazi version of the Ray was chosen as a contestant by Monarch, and it was mentioned the current fuhrer was a woman. Morrison disregarded most of this and reestablished his own version of Earth-10 in Final Crisis.
Earth-16 was classified as the universe home to the Young Justice cartoon, although Morrison has stated he's working on a way that incorporates the TV show with his interpretation of this particular Earth. As of yet, the only incorporation is a one panel reference to the TV show being only a video game on the new Earth 16.
Earth-17 before the Crisis was a world where all superheroes were created by the government, until Overman (Superman) contracted an STD, went insane, and destroyed everything. As part of the 52 Earths, Earth-17 was recreated as a world home to the Atomic Knights, although Morrison has tried expanding on this Earth by describing it as a mix between science and magic, with a version of Etrigan as that world's Superman.
The post-Infinite Crisis Earth-33 was originally a magic-based world home to the League of Shamans, but since that was seen in Countdown to Final Crisis naturally it's been ignored just as everything else from that series was. Earth-33 is now the superhero-less "real world", formerly called Earth-Prime.
Earth-40, once a pulp Spy Fiction world home to "The Justice Files", has been retooled as an Evil Counterpart to Earth 20, which appears to have taken up its mantle.
Earth-43, a universe home to the Batman Vampire trilogy, was originally called Earth-1191 in the first Multiverse before the Crisis.
Earth-C-Minus, the home of the Justa Lotta Animals, is shown to still exist as of Captain Carrot and the Final Ark, though its official designation in regards to the rest of the multiverse is still unknown.
Crapsaccharine World: How Overman views the utopia he built on Earth-10 in Mastermen #1, disliking the fact that it was built on the brutal deaths of so many.
Creepy Good: Abin Sur of Earth-20 from Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1. He keeps his distance from the inhabitants of Earth because he's aware that he resembles the world's interpretation of Satan and doesn't want to freak anyone out. Doc Fate doesn't care what he looks like and considers him an ally.
Cross Through: The threat of the Gentry is felt throughout the books, which can still be enjoyed individually.
Dark Age of Supernames: The members of The Gentry have such colorful monikers as Dame Merciless, Hellmachine, Lord Broken, Demogorgunn and...Intellectron.
This is basically the Multiverse's day in the limelight, and what makes this even more significant is that so far, the main DC Universe (Earth-0) and its heroes are not going to be the saviors as they were in every other Multiverse-related catastrophe. The main fighting force is comprised of heroes from different Earths, and so far none of them have been forced to measure up to their Earth-0 counterparts.
The various one-shots are this for their respective universes, which are given less spotlight in the main Multiversity duology.
Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Doc Fate warns "Atom" Al Pratt away from reading the Ultra comic, citing it as the most dangerous object in his library.
Eldritch Abomination: The Gentry are a group of evil entities that are roaming the multiverse and destroying every world they come across in really horrific ways. Just seeing them from another universe crippled Lord Havok and drove him mad. They're also powerful enough to trap Nix Uotan, the last Monitor, in the panels of the comic book he's appearing inand convert him into one of their own. On top of all that, it's implied that reading the series will let the Gentry into our universe.
In the Sivannas of the Multiverse, there's a Hannibal Lecter-esque version who is far more bloodthirsty and depraved than the rest of them, who travelled back in time and violently murdered his universes' Billy Batson before he became the Wizard's champion, and as a result has become very bored.
Evil Knockoff: Sivana attempts to steal the power of Shazam by...creating a technological version of the Rock of Eternity that is twice the size of the original.
And then he creates his own version of the Marvel Family using his children.
Expy: Grant Morrison designed an Aboriginal version of The Mighty Thor called the Thunderer. This character and his group seem to be a nod to Mike Friedrich's Wandjina and the Champions of Angor, pastiches of Marvel Comics' Avengers. They get something of an updated appearance as "The Retaliators" when President Superman and the team arrive on Earth-8, one dimension shy of Thunderer's homeworld of Earth-7, indicating this world is connected to it in some way. The Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom receive similar treatment, becoming Earth-8's Future Family and Lord Havok respectively.
The Just #1 confirms that the relationship of Earth-7 to Earth-8 mirrors that of the Ultimate Marvel universe to the main Marvel universe, with Earth-7's versions being known as the "Essential" versions.
Face-Heel Turn: The chief antagonist of the series is a former "cosmic defender."
The Fog of Ages: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Immortal Man notes he's forgotten his own name over the ages. It's not stated if his Evil Counterpart, Vandal Savage, has the same problem.
A lot of the captions in issue #1 are threatening warnings along the lines of "You think this is just a comic, but it's bait. You're bait for THEM." In his human identity Nix Uotan is reading the same comic, including scenes from his own life, and that's how he's pulled into the pan-dimensional crisis.
Thunderer claims that The Gentry are "pitiless ones from behind the Invisible Rainbow". Given how he uses rainbows to refer to other universes, there's the implication that the fourth wall is incapable of protecting the comic book characters from The Gentry.
Several pages in Pax Americana #1 seem designed to resemble an eye. The implication is... not promising.
Ultra Comics #1, the Real World Episode of the series, has its hero warning potential readers that their universe will be endangered if this magazine is read.
Franchise Zombie: In-universe, the Gentry use the power of the Anti-Death Equation to keep Nix Uotan alive so they can corrupt him, a likely allusion to companies refusing to let go of concepts they can squeeze profit out of.
Genre Roulette: The series does this deliberately with each issue exhibiting the traits of a particular style of comic genre based on the setting.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In The Just #1, when Damian Wayne complains that his father and the other past heroes did their jobs too well, Alexis Luthor responds "'This Be the Verse'. Best poem ever." It's a Philip Larkin poem whose famous first line is "They fuck you up, your mum and dad."
Hanging Judge: The corrupted Nix Uotan becomes this after his disastrous trip to Earth-7. The Earths that break his rules, well, the lucky ones are merely destroyed. Never mind how involved the Gentry were in the violation of those rules.
Heel Realization: As put by Grant Morrison in one article regarding Mastermen #1, Overman spent years working for Adolf Hitler, then one day he realized "Oh crap it's Hitler!"
Hemisphere Bias: In anticipation of the series, DC Comics released a map of the DC multiverse. Earth-23 is a world where most superheroes are black; the picture of the planet provided is centered on Africa. (Although note that all other signs point to the United States still being the center of attention there.)
Hypocrite: The Question towards Blue Beetle in Pax Americana #1. He chastises Ted for relying too much on technology and cool gimmicks, even though Vic has no problem using technology against Ted and leaving behind calling cards with badass slogans on them.
It's All About Me: In The Just #1, Earth-16 is a world where the children of superheroes and supervillains are celebrity darlings since there's no more crime to fight (to the point where the contemporary Justice League roster has done nothing but battle reenactments). The solicits and cover refer to this world as "Earth-Me."
It's All My Fault: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, the Mighty Atom believes he was responsible for the arrival of the Earth-40 villains, citing that their invasion had begun not long after he looked into the cursed comic book Doc Fate warned him not to read.
Just Shoot Him: Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1:
Lady Shiva goes on about how the Blackhawk Squadron will never even realize she's cut them up and butchered them by the time she's done with them, when they decide to just shoot Shiva as she's gloating.
When Doc Fate meets his counterpart Felix Faust, Faust attempts to pull a magical duel. Fate just kicks him in his balls.
Last of His Kind: Nix Uotan is the last of the Monitors. Thunderer is the last survivor of Earth-7.
Monochrome Casting: Heavily, heavily averted for a superhero comic. One review pointed out that the first line of dialogue by a straight white guy is about two-thirds of the way into the first issue.
The Multiverse: Set in the post-New 52 multiverse, featuring characters from all across its expanse, and the creation of its Justice League.
My Death Is Just the Beginning: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Vandal Savage corners Immortal Man and Immortal Man kills Vandal Savage in order to end the war. Then Savage reveals that "spilling immortal blood summons Niczhuotan - Destroyer of Worlds."
My God, What Have I Done?: This is Overman's primary characterization in Mastermen #1, as he's the Superman of a world where the Nazis took over the world, and he feels horrible knowing the utopia he built was founded on the crimes of Adolf Hitler.
Mythology Gag: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Vandal Savage is heavily implied to be Cain, just as he was in that position during Final Crisis.
Never Bring A Knife To A Gunfight: In the end of Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Lady Shiva is facing off against the Blackhawk Squadron, with them having pistols, and her having a Sinister Scimitar. They shoot her dead in a hail of gunfire while she is gloating about how she is going to kill them all.
Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Abin Sur of Earth-20 defeats Count Sinestro of Earth-40 completely off-panel.
Oh, Crap: The wizard Shazam gets a rather darkly funny instance of this when he realizes that he's being overshadowed by Sivana's mechanical Rock of Eternity.
Only Sane Man: One of the alternate Sivannas is much, much more restrained than the others, identifying himself as "a man with personality issues", and is greatly disturbed by his insane and violent (and violently insane) counterparts.
The Justice League of Earth-23 consists of black versions of the mainstream DCU heroes.
In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Doc Fate, the Doctor Fate of Earth-20, is a black gunslinger.
According to one interview, in Mastermen #1, Earth-10's Freedom Fighters will represent ethnic, sexual, and religious minorities targeted by the Nazi Party. The Ray is homosexual, Doll Man is a Jehovah's Witness, Phantom Lady is Romani, and Black Condor is going to be African.
Reality Ensues: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, we have several in the finales of various villains of Earth-40.
Doctor Faustus uses his high grade of magical prowess to make his way through to fight Doc Fate, and prepares himself for a Wizard Duel. Unfortunately for him, that is all he brought to the table, whereas Doc Fate brought his magical prowess, underhanded tactics, and a gun. He manages to hold off the zombies that come at him with the gun, and summarily defeats Faustus with a Groin Attack.
Lady Shiva, upon losing her plane, prepares to fight the Blackhawks with her sword, her close combat skills things of legend. Unluckily for her, the Blackhawks have handguns, and prove that bringing a sword may not have been the best idea.
Recursive Canon: In Issue #1, Nix Uotan is reading The Multiversity comics - specifically, The Multiversity #1 and Ultra Comics #1. Looking closely at the Ultra Comics issue Nix is reading, Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke are residents of The DCU.
Shmuck Bait: Ultra Comics #1. Its cover has the eponymous Ultra warning the reader that only they can save the universe and themselves by not reading this comic. Earth-20's Atom didn't heed the warning in Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors from the Counter-World #1. Will you?
Squishy Wizard: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Doctor Faustus proves to be this, concentrating so heavily on his magical skill that he has no defensive abilities whatsoever outside of those, and goes down in a single Groin Attack.
Straight Gay: Red Racer, the Flash of Earth-36, who is apparently in a relationship with his world's Green Lantern, Flashlight.
Stuffed In The Fridge: Discussed in The Just #1, where Kyle Rayner has a traumatic flashback of his girlfriend's death at the hands of Major Disaster (Major Force in the main DC Universe). The issue even begins with Sapphire Mason, a.k.a. Megamorpho, committing suicide.
Symbolism: Of particular note with the Earths on the multiverse map. Earth-10, based on Earth-X, has a red 'X' on it; Earth-11, a Gender Flip of Earth-0, is upside-down relative to the other Earths; Earth-43, home of the Vampire League, is a blood-red shade; Earth-26, an Alternate Tooniverse, has a face; and so on.
The Gentry appear to be manifestations of the stagnation found in mainstream comics. Intellectron, a one-eyed bat-winged creature, in particular is seen as a parody of DC Comics, representing the company's obsession with Batman, a singular vision, and lack of depth perception.
In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Abin Sur's fight with Count Sinestro and Parallax, as well as Abin Sur beating both of them on his own, may be criticism at DC dragging out the emotional entity concept in Green Lantern and how Parallax has become a diminished threat in recent stories. As well, the use of Parallax to power the Transmatter Engine for Doc Fate can be a reference to how Parallax himself has been used as a tool rather than an actual villain in his own right in his stories since the advent of the New 52.
Earth-41's Nimrod Squad is a blatant shot at Youngblood.
Thunderworld #1 feels like a huge shot at how DC has handled the Marvel Family in the last few years, due to the fact that the Billy, Mary, Freddy, and Wizard of Earth-5 are much more wholesome and well-adjusted compared to their main Earth counterparts. There's also the fact that Sivana, who is still a Card-Carrying Villain, is disturbed by an Ax-Crazy counterpart who makes very unsavory comments about what he did to his world's Marvel Family. Said villain feels sadly similar to the villains who've become common in Earth-0's universe.
In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Vandal Savage hoped to spill an immortal's blood to summon Niczhuotan, the Destroyer of Worlds, to Earth-20. Vandal was not picky if he killed Immortal Man, or if Immortal Man killed him.
In Pax Americana #1, President Harley planned to have himself killed and resurrected to rid Earth-4 of the Gentry's curse, simultaneously making him pay for murdering the first superhero and redeeming him for the crime.
That Man Is Dead: In Society of Super-Heroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1, Doc Fate's greatest fear lies in how he fears nothing because his superhero persona has gradually made him more detached and ruthless, replacing the man he originally was.
Took a Level in Jerkass: In The Just #1, the older heroes of Earth-16 have no issue with re-enacting major battles for fun, regardless that some of their closest friends and allies actually died in those battles. For example, they have Red Amazo (the combination of Red Tornado and Amazo) participate in the recreation of the event that actually created him, but pretty much killed the Red Tornado in the process.
Tragic Hero/Villain Protagonist: Overman from Mastermen #1, or he may count as a Tragic Villain depending on your point of view. He began as a Nazi Superman, but he's actually incredibly guilt-ridden over what he did in their name, and realizes the world he created needs to be destroyed.
The aim of Thunderworld is to be this in regards to Shazam.
Earth-7 was this to the Major Comics characters of Earth-8.
Victory Is Boring: The heroes of "earthme" in The Just have so little to do with Superman's army of robots on constant patrol that they do nothing but recreate past victories or throw wild parties.
Wizard Duel: Amusingly subverted in Society of Superheroes: Conquerors of the Counter-World #1. The issue appears to set up a Mirror Match between Doc Fate and Doctor Faust, but when Faust shows up before Fate, Fate just kicks him in the balls and drags him away.