Written by Grant Morrison
Drawn by Cameron Stewart
Published by DC Comics
The Multiveristy is a long miniseries written by Grant Morrison, with each issue taking place on a separate parallel universe. The conceit of the series is that in each universe the characters in the other universes are fictional comic-book characters, and so each issue leads into the next by having characters in the book read about what happened in the previous in a comic-book. And it’s all part of some big saga that could lead to the destruction of the Multiverse unless some characters join together, blah, blah, blah. Truthfully, the only reason I’ve ever cared about this series was when I heard about this particular issue. This is the 5th in the series, and while I have gotten the previous four issues, none of them have really jumped out to me, which is why I never bothered reviewing them. But this is the one I want because it takes place on a world where the main heroes are Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family. Captain Marvel has long been my favorite superhero, but DC Comics has never been able to get him right on a consistent basis, in my opinion. Now they’ve given him a new origin and changed his name to SHAZAM, which I think is stupid, but I’ll get to that some other time. At least this one single issue we get back to basics.
In this story, titled THE DAY THAT NEVER WAS, Morrison throws several fantastic concepts at us one after another, in a story that harkens back to classic Silver Age comics. Dr. Sivana has teamed up with a legion of parallel versions of himself from other universes and invaded The Rock of Eternity and imprisoned the wizard Shazam in a scheme to conquer all of time and space. Knowing that Captain Marvel and The Marvel Family will try to stop him, Sivana has found a way to temporarily turn three of his children, Magnificus, George Jr. and Georgina into superhumans, and sends them to Fawcett City, which is already chaotic due to Sivana’s “timequakes,” which is causing dinosaurs and other creatures from the past to appear and run wild. Billy, Mary, and Freddy all change into Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, and Captain Marvel Jr. to save the day, and when the Monster Society of Evil join in the fight, the Lieutenant Marvels arrive as reinforcements. The battle all comes down to a one-on-one confrontation between Captain Marvel and Dr. Sivana, where Sivana has one more trick up his sleeve. No spoilers for the ending, but it’s a good one.
When I finished this issue I was so sad that it was just a one-time thing, I would love if Morrison and Stewart were creating an ongoing Captain Marvel series. Even just a big 12-issue maxi-series, like Morrison’s All-Star Superman. Morrison captures the tone of the story perfectly, making it feel like a perfect blend of retro and modern, with a mix of action, drama, and humor that is missing from so many of today’s superhero comic-books. And Cameron Stewart’s art-style is beautiful. With less than a week left in 2014, I think I can safely declare this to be my favorite single comic-book of the year.
I have not bought any of the Multiveristy issues, but I might pick up this particular one based on your write-up and the various other positive reviews I’ve read online. I cannot say that I am a huge fan of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family. But I certainly did enjoy The Power of Shazam series by Jerry Ordway, Peter Krause & friends. I miss those versions of the characters. Ordway achieved the perfect balance of fun and serious.
I mostly enjoyed Ordway’s Power of Shazam and graphic novel (and plan to get around to reviewing them here eventually), but it still felt like it was missing a certain something that I can’t quite put my finger on. It was a good series, but it could have been better.