The Multiversity – Ultra Comics #1
Written by: Grant Morrison
Art by: Doug Mahnke
Published by: DC Comics
Ultra Comics is unlike anything you’ve ever read before. This is Morrison at his finest! Breaking the fourth wall, being as meta as a comic book can be, and being downright puzzling unless you read the entire story from start to finish. If you’ve been following Morrison’s epic saga of exploring the DC Multiverse as seen in it’s 80-page entirety in Multiversity Guidebook, you’ll see this particular tale is set on Earth 33 otherwise known as “OUR Earth.” Yes! The readers, from all over, are involved in the plot and the threat Ultraman must stop. The issue opens with Ultraman looking fearful and worrisome proclaiming that “We’re back!” not in the, this is a part of a continuation and we’ve finally returned “we’re back!” the true answer lies 38 pages into our future. He warns us, the readers, this ENTIRE book is a trap designed to take over Earth Prime and we can prevent them from taking over lest we don’t read the rest of the book. Like a mindless drone to the Gentry (the mysterious enemy that’s been plaguing all of reality since The Multiversity #1), we turn the page, slaves to the fiction that somehow resonates with us on a personal level.
Ultraman himself is created in a lab similar to how a monster would be in an 80’s science fiction film. The gray hues of the page give it a documentary feel and the large yellow labels exclaiming this is NOT A DREAM, IMAGINARY STORY, OR AN ELSEWORLDS TALE reveal all we need to know about Ultraman. He explodes to life thanks to the talented art of Doug Mahnke and inkers that made the Geoff Johns era of Green Lantern such a vibrant read. The way Ultra becomes self aware of his surroundings is quite a read. He’s not exactly all human, but does have robot tendencies like his speech patterns and look. His superhero behavioral codes adjust from “Golden Age to Modern Inclusive” as a way to adapt to the times we’re set in, and his thought balloons are changed because he doesn’t want to look dated.
The rest of the book details Ultraman’s Quest to save Earth Prime from a threat that’s using a comic book to set off the attack. After fighting yet another twisted and sick version of familiar heroes, we reach the end game and all is not as it should be. Mahnke and company go all out showcasing the trial and tribulation of Ultra. The art especially excels when they’re showing the various emotions that Ultraman and the Kids of Tomorrow show. Their eyes widen with fear and their grins reveal all that you need to know about the scene.
In the penultimate chapter of his saga, Morrison has crafted the best example for self-referential, meta, blend of fiction and realism a comic has seen in a long time. Not since Pax Americana has a comic challenged you to think about what’s happening on the pages and piece together the ties that bind it to the larger scheme of things. With top-notch art, a (literally!) engaging story about comics being portals for invading aliens, and a comic that works as a simple adventure comic. The Multiversity – Ultra Comics #1 transcends all the boundaries of time and space in a single, phenomenal issue.