Review: MULTIVERSITY: THUNDERWORLD ADVENTURES #1

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MULTIVERSITY: THUNDERWORLD ADVENTURES #1
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Cameron Stewart and Nathan Fairbain
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: December 17, 2014

Earth 5 (or is it –S?) has a singular super-genius in Thaddeus Bodog Sivana. But what if — ALL the Sivanas of the Multiverse teamed up to defeat that Big Red Cheese, Captain Marvel?

What if?

When Grant Morrison set out to define the Multiverse, he certainly didn’t spare any expense. It’s one thing to populate worlds with different characters and circumstances, but quite another to infuse into the DNA of each Earth its own style and genre feel. Thus, with Earth 5, the Thunderworld, we get a very familiar, but utterly distinct, representation of heroism.

The Shazam Family has a bit of a rocky past, due in part to its hobbling at the knee of Superman, and subsequent integration into the DC Universe as a whole. With rare exception, they’ve never quite fit the mold of a modern, mainstream super-hero book, unless thoroughly rejiggered in the process.

What we experience with Thunderworld Adventures, however, is the absolute purest version of the classic Fawcett characters that we’ve seen since C.C. Beck himself was at the helm. And it doesn’t come at the expense of a broader universe of heroes or villains. That’s the beauty behind Multiversity. Every world has its own rules — its own pace of life and rationalizations. They flourish for their differences, not their homogeneity.

With this title, we also get the most all-ages style adventure I can ever remember seeing from Morrison, a story complete in itself — the most resolved of any of the Multiversity one-shots, in fact. The villain is defeated. The heroes are satisfied. Everyone is saved. No one is hurt. The physics of the story 100% reflect the origin of its players, and the era from which they rose. Just as Pax Americana reflect the post-Cold War belief system of the Charlton heroes, so too does Thunderworld Adventures reflect the pre-war optimism of those original Fawcett heroes. Such is the beauty of the Multiverse as Morrison imagines it.

Cameron Stewart adopts this vision profoundly, delivering a world that doesn’t just feel like an all-ages version of our world, but one that has different make-up right out of the box. The science of Earth 5 is big and bulky and electrical, a world where mad scientists are still in vogue and a genuine threat. Magic is also electric — more flash and bang than smoke and mirror. And you really can believe through the pencils that magic and science are indeed two sides of the same coin.

Stewart’s Captain Marvel manages to be heroic without looking particularly dated, but still would be almost like a Disney cartoon character dancing across the Mary Poppins set, if introduced to any other world of the Multiverse. That dichotomy is really pleasant here, and makes for a cohesive, but very self-contained world, so when we do see outliers (like the Hannibal-esque Sivana of a darker Earth), they feel momentous and appropriately dangerous by comparison.

A fun romp you could put into the hands of any kid or adult, that doesn’t skimp on the talent and creative brains, Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures #1 is probably the contribution to this series that I most want to see an ongoing spin-off from. I love my New 52 Shazam — truly I do. But this world is so much more than a single character or concept. It’s magic, like lightning, all in itself.

The Verdict: 9.0/10

 

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