The Superman books have been firing on all cylinders since the #Rebirth event rebooted things. With the pre-Flashpoint Lois and Clark headlining the books, there has been a re-invigoration to the proceedings and a rediscovery of the basic tenets of what Superman should be.
Now we are six months into this 'new' universe and it is time to put the pedal down. We know the mystery of Mr. Oz and the human Clark Kent is going to be addressed in just a couple of months. And now we have this opening chapter to Multiplicity, a story which feels like a sequel to Grant Morrison's Multiversity seen through a #Rebirth lens. And I couldn't be more thrilled.
Superman #14 was written by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason with art by the mega-event team of Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. It has two great covers but I prefer this variant by Andrew Robinson which is a riff off of Crisis #7. And the issue is a great opening chapter to this new arc in which there is a multiversal war against all the Supermen that exist. This issue for the most part is a long fight sequence. I suppose my one quibble would be to wonder if the fight could be briefer to give more story. But I suppose the length of the battle was needed to cement the threat level.But enough crumbs and hints were dropped around the fights to grab me. The art is gorgeous. Having Reis and Prado as the artists gave this a sort of summer blockbuster feel. I want to read more now and that is always a good sign.
And I suppose I do have more to read. I think I need to break out the main Multiversity mini-series, the Multiversity Guidebook, and even the Final Crisis: Superman Beyond mini. And that's a lot of Morrison. But I think they may remind me and inform me about some things I might be missing.
On to the book!
The issue starts with the Soviet Superman from the Red Son Earth-30 arriving on Earth 0. He seems to break through a dimensional rift to warn the Superman of the main universe that a threat called Prophecy and his army of Gatherers is coming to get Kenan Kong. Before any more discussion can happen, the Gatherers arrive.
I like the look of these things a mix of lampreys, Parademons, and Guillermo Del Toro monster. And there speech is fascinating. They have a 'lyst' of names, of beings they are meant to capture and consume, and the Soviet Superman and the New Super-Man's names are on it.
They verb 'consume' works well in a creepy way. They don't look at their victims as people or beings. They are commodities to be used.
Right after the Gatherers are defeated, the Justice League Incarnate arrives. You may recall them as the team put together at the end of Multiversity. But just in case, their leader, the Superman from Earth-23, gives a little run down. They respond to cosmic level threats that endanger the multiverse. And the roster is made up of heroes from multiple worlds. And they know that someone is seizing the Supermen from across the Multiverse. It is a war against the Supermen. Now that is an interesting concept.
In a nice moment, the titular Superman says he is aware of the Multiverse. After all, he was in a universe and timeline which disappeared. But that time on the Convergence world certainly informed him of different worlds.
But the immediate threat here is against Kenan Kong. And when the Gatherers arrive, they regurgitate and throw tar-like substance on the New Super-Man, enveloping him. This is a disturbing image.
We do get a one page story page where Kenan mourns the loss of his father. I suppose this storyline is a way to introduce Kenan to the super-readers.
The JL Incarnate arrives too late. Kenan is brought through a portal. And the only thing the Earth-0 Superman can do is grab one of the Gatherers and keep it from escaping.
Unfortunately, the JLI has never been able to track where the Gatherers go to.
My guess is the Gatherer captured here will somehow be leveraged to backtrack.
And I have to give credit to colorist Marcelo Maiolo. The purple splotchy crackle as a background really works in all this scene. In the initial fight, the back ground is a vibrant yellow and orange. It works.
This is the opening salvo for this story and it worked. The Gatherers feel like a legitimate threat and the idea of someone gathering Supermen is a great hook.
But things got better.
We get a quick glimpse at Prophecy's collection. Again, I'll need to break out the Multiversity Guidebook to remind myself of who all these Super-beings are.
But Captain Carrot is removed from his cell ...
Who is this Prophecy? Is it Mr. Oz?
What is he doing with the super-energy he gathers? What is his/her/its goal?
We finally got a Cap'n Carrot I could support only to have him reduced to a plain old bunny. It kind of depresses me.
But the overall issue thrilled me. Can't wait for more. And now, off for some research.
Overall grade: B+