Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes #1 “Conquerors from the Counter World”
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Chris Sprouse

Be honest, after last month, how many of you were nervous to see my review of this issue? I definitely pissed some people off with my previous review of Multiversity, but what can I say? I call it like it see it. As you can tell, I liked this issue more than the debut. BUT, I would be a fibber if I didn’t say that the debut had some better moments. So why did I score Society of Super-Heroes higher than the debut? Because it was more focused and concise. We’ll just consider this “safe-crazy” Morrison.

Despite lacking the complexities of “House of Heroes,” this issue manages to deliver a stronger, more focused narrative that I found quite enjoyable. This issue appears to take place after the events of “House of Heroes” as Doc Fate references Nix Uotan, in the past tense. There’s also another blatant connection, and that is Multiversity – the comic book featured in the story… And again, it’s referenced as a tool of evil that is haunted.

Like “House of Heroes,” Morrison kicks off this issue in a city to remind us of the similarities and differences that create each world. “Conquerors from the Counter World” takes place on Earth 20, and is told from the perspective of the Immortal Man. I felt this was the perfect character to use as the catalyst for narration. He’s lived long enough that there is an inherent wisdom to him, but he’s not all-powerful, or all-knowing. He’s still very human in the respect that he continues to live with doubts, despite living for more than 4,000 years.

The star of this issue though, is Doc Fate. He’s pulled Immortal Man together along with a group of additional heroes to create a type of Justice League for this Earth, called the Society of Super-Heroes (or S.O.S.). He summons heroes such as Lady Blackhawk, Abin Sur – the Green Lantern, and the Mighty Atom. After winning a war that created peace for the past three years, the heroes are unclear as to why they’ve been summoned. Well, as it turns out, Abin Sur had been notified by a Bleed Space team that a parallel Earth existed to Earth 20, and that the barrier between the worlds was becoming more and more fragile.

The parallel Earth Doc Fate and Abin Sur saw, was Earth 40. The story jumps forward, quickly covering that Earth 20 had been in a war during the past five years with Earth 40, led by Vandal Savage. The story picks up during the climax of this “never ending war,” explaining that Savage had taken the United States due to Earth 40’s advanced and unknown methods (there are some cool elements that made me wish I could read more of this specific Earth). Regardless, the S.O.S. continue to fight the good fight. It’s an entertaining, philosophical, and action packed issue as each S.O.S. member squares off against their Earth 40 counterpart. The wild ride pits Doc Fate against Doctor Faust (who is apparently serving unknown beings much more powerful than Vandal Savage), Lady Blackhawk against Lady Shiva, Mighty Atom against Blockbuster, and Immortal Man vs Vandal Savage in an earth shattering battle with dire consequences.

While I’m unsure how this issue, or any issue of Multiversity, will play out and the grand scheme of things, I recommend picking this up on the simple fact that it’s a solid story with strong, layered, and textured characters, presenting an interesting theme that evil will never die, therefore it can never be beaten. The ending is remotely heartbreaking as well, as Immortal Man closes the issue discovering another disappointing and altering life lesson.

Recommended If:

  • You love the idea of alternate universes, how they’re different, and how they’re connected to one another under a common theme.
  • You find the tragic story of a hero discovering disappointments in life and himself intriguing.
  • Characters like Doctor Fate, Vandal Savage, Lady Blackhawk, Lady Shiva, and Abin Sur strike your fancy!

More details containing spoilers can be found below!

The Art: I really enjoyed the art. I’m not that familiar with Chris Sprouse – and if I’m being honest, as a writer, I never really paid much detail to the art until I started writing reviews – but there were a couple of times where I was forced to stop and just appreciate his artwork. I would love to see more of him with DC. The inks and colors were really good as well. This felt like a dream team between Sprouse, Story, Wong, and McCaig. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing more of this packaged goodness! Would this be an opportune time to contact Mark Doyle, pitch a book(s), and request them?

The Good: I really enjoyed almost everything about this issue. The pacing was great, the characters were complex, and the parallels between the first two issues, though subtle, were well done. After finishing this issue, I can easily say that I wish this was the first of many issues covering the war between these two worlds. I would definitely follow this team, and love to learn the details of the previous five years, how the team got to where they currently are, and what challenges they encountered. I can’t be the only one that wants to see more of these characters from this earth! And zombies!

I also enjoyed the “throw-away comedy” that was in this issue. I laughed when Doc Fate told the Mighty Atom that the Multiversity comic was the most dangerous item in his collection, to which Mighty Atom replied, “What’s wrong Doc? You don’t read comics?” I also got a good chuckle when Lady Shiva mentioned wanting to wear Doc Fate’s balls as earrings. Gruesome, but funny.  And since I’m talking about Shiva, I have to state the fact that it’s nice to read a dangerous interpretation of her in the New 52 – even if it’s an alternate Earth – after the mess they made of her in Red Hood & the Outlaws.

The real highlight for me though, was the drive of Doctor Fate, and the complexity of the Immortal Man. Doc Fate really created an urgency and determination that moved this issue along at a respectable pace. And Immortal Man was the flawed character that everyone will connect with as he struggles to continue to learn after all of these years. He was so well received, but so tormented. He had a clear grasp of reality, the traumas of life, the joys of life, and that no matter his age, he would never stop learning. The fact that he essentially became the epitome of Vandal Savage in the end, and you were able to witness his disgrace and disappointment with himself, was pretty fascinating.

The Bad: The main bad for me, is that I’m not going to get more of this Earth. I really liked these characters, their relationships, how they were presented, and what they stood for. Morrison, when he can focus as he does here, really can add a lot of depth and layers to characters in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, with this being a one-shot issue, and with my uncertainty on how the Multiversity is going to work and tie together as a whole – other than a few themes – I’m still not sure I understand the point.

Overall: While the characters are top notch, and worth reading, Morrison definitely played it a little safe with this issue regarding the plot, but I’m ok with that. If you’re expecting another earth shattering, crazy, intense story like the first issue, you might be disappointed. I found Morrison’s Multiversity debut a manic mess, that was inconsistent and all over the place. This delivery, however, is focused and highlights some of Morrison’s strengths, which will make you wish you could see a little more of these characters and this world every month.

SCORE: 8.5/ 10