The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: March 25th, 2015
The Multiversity: Ultra Comics is a living comic book. It grabs your attention. It warns you about what is to come. Your mind becomes linked with it and you go on an adventure with it. Ultra Comics is the anti-thesis of comic book fiction and blatantly the driving message behind The Multiversity as a series. This single issue of Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity, feels more like a crazy science experiment gone right. Morrison sets up a well written story delving into the question of the power of fiction in the real world, while Doug Mahnke beautifully illustrates each page with significant detail. Considering this story could not work without precise art, Mahnke’s work compliments Morrison’s story in excellent fashion. As readers following The Multiversity, since the first issue we have had glimpses and warnings about Ultra Comics, the haunted comic book. At it’s core, The Multiversity is a series that shows you a glimpse of the futures that could have been, and alternate timelines as well as dimensions that may have existed in the DC universe. Ultra Comics is said to be taking place on Earth Prime which would make it the first and most important Earth in the New 52 universe. Considering all that this story brings to the table, it makes clear sense that Ultra Comics is presenting the ultimate story template in which all fiction is grounded.
Ultra Comics #1 does something that most comics do not directly do with it’s readers. From the cover page, the comic is telling you not to read it while enticing you to do something you’re being told not to. You flip the cover page over and you are presented with a super hero asking for the readers help as the main character seems to be in dire trouble. Soon, the comic explains what is happening in a Twilight Zone fashion and tells us readers that we are in fact the hero of the story and that since we are reading the book, we are a real life superhero in this story. An origin story is soon presented in which we are shown Ultra Comics to be an entity in the story comprised of black, red, blue and yellow ink. As it is thinking, it can hear itself think through the power of the reader giving Ultra a voice in our heads. Shortly after Ultra explains what he is made of, the ingredients being the same ingredients that when put together formulate a physical comic book (ie. pulp, staples, ink), thus making Ultra Comics the written and drawn representation of the book you are reading yourself. As part of this origin story, the reader is linked to Ultra via a gem that is implanted into his forehead which when read bonds the reader and makes you feel as if you are responsible for Ultra in what happens next. (note: his hair curls the same way as the page curls above).
Ultra Comics is soon released into a apocalyptic world where all ideas and fiction amalgamate. Dropped in the heart of New York City, Ultra ponders the importance of this world and why him and the reader are sent to this place. As a reader, you are wondering along with Ultra as to why this story is being told. As Ultra flies through the sky, we are interrupted with a panel from the character from the early pages warning the readers that if we keep reading we will be led into a trap. This is a particularly fascinating way of storytelling chosen by Grant Morrison in a way that breaks the story but keeps you actively involved as a reader (with some foresight presented to progress the overall story in that particular panel…).
I love when The Multiversity ties in physical comics books in the pages (with variant covers of physical comic books you can purchase featured as well drawn as cover art), and typically uses them to make a comment on comic book culture’s effects on the mind and/or society. In this case, they use it to progress the story and explain the situation at hand. The haunted comic book “Ultra Comics” featured above as well is a nice touch that is a meta touch to remind us of what we are reading in a weird loopy way.
Without spoiling too much, I just wanted to share some beautiful pages, and this last beautiful concept. The last panel has a beautiful connection to the origin of storytelling in which cultures would look to the stars to tell stories through constellations in the night sky. What is the Oblivion Machine you might ask? It’s the fact that stories and ideas are physically real the moment we think of them. In their power of influence among us as media consumers, as well as society. Pick this comics up. There is no other single issue comic that tells a story as compelling, daring, and successful in the attempts of mind bending. 9.52/10.
~ Tyler Head