Monday, March 2, 2015
Bullet Review: Multiversity: The Mastermen
I have been enjoying Multiversity, Grant Morrison on walkabout through the multiverse. The stand out for me has been Pax Americana, perhaps the finest comic I have read in years. The Secret Society of Super-Heroes and Thunderworld were also very good.
Last week Multiversity:Mastermen came out, a collaboration of mega-stars Grant Morrison and Jim Lee. This is Earth 10, the old Earth X of the pre-Crisis world, a place where the Nazis won World War II and Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters battled them.
Unlike that world though, this new Earth 10 has a Superman. And he is fighting for the Germans.
And there were enough Supergirl (or here, Overgirl) bits to make it worth a brief review.
Now the comic world went mad at the opening of the book, a constipated Hitler reading Superman comics while on the toilet. But for me, that was the most forgettable part of the book, something that seems more in line with a Mark Millar book.
No, for me, this story is about Superman. Crashing in the Sudetenland instead of Kansas, Kal-El (called Karl) becomes the Ubermensch, the Overman, which leads Germany to victory.
But this is a sad story. Because over the decades, as he continues to run the Reich, you can see that Overman is an empty shell. His life is without joy, without love, without meaning. The above moment of victory is fleeting, replaced by a wasted life.
While there is a Nazi-based JLA, the rebels on the planet are growing stronger and somehow winning.
And Overgirl, the Nazi Supergirl, has been killed at the hands of the growing opposition. We see how her death affects Overman. His dreams are nightmares, reliving this moment in a Hellish landscape.
This is another homage to the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.
It isn't the first time we have seen Overgirl die. Way back in 2008, in Final Crisis #3, she came through the bleed and died on Earth-1.
Overgirl's death is recent. There is a memorial dedication to her the next day.
It is the small touches of these different Earths that make me appreciate them. On this Earth, Superman is married to Lena Luthor! This world is completely topsy-turvy from what we are used to. Having 'Karl' married to a Luthor is a perfect way to show us how crazy this place is.
She tells him that he needs to be strong at the memorial.
At the memorial, we hear that Overgirl 'died on a distant world'. Maybe that Final Crisis death is 'in continuity'?
Finally, at this service, we learn that the narrator of the book is this world's Jimmy Olsen. He is close to Superman here, a propagandist, but also someone who knows just how empty Superman is.
But the rebellion doesn't stand by while the enemy mourns.
In a great shot, we see the spirit of Uncle Sam leading the attack while the Human Bomb detonates, ending the memorial sevice.
I will say there are some odd wrinkles to the story as well.
I liked how the death of Overgirl seemed to be weighing on Overman, the last straw which has broken his will. Could this loss make him finally realize that he is in charge of a world he hates?
We then learn that the superhumans that are fighting for the undeground, the Freedom Fighters, were given their power through experiments by Dr. Sivana. I love the fact that Sivana ... all of them from all the universe ... are being set up as the big bad in the story.
And I love the redesigned Phantom Lady costume!
One thing that I have seen in many Elseworlds Superman stories is how his 'goodness', his morality, is inherent. Regardless of where he is raised or how he is treated, the real Superman shows. Here, despite what I am sure was a childhood of indoctrination, we see him mourn as he sees the result of the concentration camps. He was away, on the front, while this genocide occurred.
It is the most chilling scene in the book.
But where other Elseworlds Supermen would change things, make the good rise, this Overman seems to just be crushed by the weight of the world. Instead of shining his light, he just allows the madness to continue around him.
I love Uncle Sam here, extolling the virtues of freedom and the American Way. The issue ends with Overman kneeling amidst the ashes. He is utterly defeated ... but it isn't just physically. He is spiritually defeated.
These Multiversity one-shots are fascinating glimpses into the edges of the new DC multiverse. I would rank this book as one of the better ones, a solidly somber tone to contrast the lighter Thunderworld and pulpier Secret Society.