Monday, November 24, 2014

The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1

Written By: Grant Morrison
Art By: Frank Quitely
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: November 19, 2014

Who Paxes The Pax?

We're back to the weird worlds of Grant Morrison as we take a look at The Multiversity: Pax Americana.  Every month when this comic comes out I swear up and down that Grant's just writing this to fuck with me.  I read this issue on Wednesday and planned on reviewing it then, but then I sat back and had no idea what the hell I was going to write about because this book is all over the place with different stories that appear to just not go anywhere and the main story that goes back and forth throughout time with no indications that we're anywhere different than where we were during the last page.  So I really wanted to take the time and reread the book so I could actually wrap my head around what was going on here and for any of you out there that think this book is easy to understand or straight forward, well go fuck yourself because you're a goddamn liar.  So I'll do my best here to convey what's going on, but I can't promise that I won't miss something because this book is all over the place in a world and story that seems very familiar due to the Watchmen, but takes the original Charlton Comics characters and turns them on their ears as we explore Earth-4 and the end of superheroes.  Let's check it out.

Explain It!:

Our story begins with probably the most gruesome moment in The New 52, where we witness the assassination of President Harley, but what's really strange about this is that we witness it in reverse.  We follow the bullet down to up where President Harley's jaw is ripped off, to it being okay again and the bullet leaving the top of his head and going back up to Peacemaker's rifle as he parachutes down............. You know, reverse.  It really through me off and really echoed the violence we saw in Watchmen, only now we see it with their purer counterparts.  I was left shocked and wondering what the hell I just walked into.

Throughout this comic we jump around in time without any clear idea of where we are unless you happen to pick up on a date a character mentions and can remember where you were before, but really, good luck there.  The whole point of this book seems to be that President Harley had figured out the algorithm to the universe that allowed him to predict things to come and what he discovered with this Algorithm 8, is pretty much the end of the world and that's when President Harley figures out a plan to try and change the outcome, but to do so he'll need to have a god like being on his side.  That's right, I'm talking about Captain Atom........ but really I'm talking about Dr. Manhattan because all these Charlton Comics characters are more like Alan Moore's take on them then their original source material.

All of this stuff stems from President Harley's father being the first superhero in this universe and when he was a boy, he was snooping around his father's drawing room, yeah he was a comic book artist as well, but little President Harley found his father's gun when he was snooping and when his father dressed as his alter ego "Yellow Jacket" came in through the window because he had forgotten his keys........ Well, he shot his father dead.

After years of guilt and staring at his father's grave Captain Atom came to him and told him a plan that would change the future and possibly about Algorithm 8 that would allow him to see what the future holds.  So jump a head in time where President Harley only a Congressman at that point is meeting Captain Atom after the accident that made him and we see that Congressman Harley is laying his plan on Captain Atom.  That's right folks we have a paradox on our hands because who really came up with the grand design to save the future, President Harley or Captain Atom?  Okay so dig this, President Harley tells Cap that he'll need him to bring him back to life because he's going to have Peacemaker kill him as a way I guess to atone for killing his father and to give the American people a miracle to show them all about the era of peace he's ushering in........ I've also read people's theories about it being a way to keep The Gentry out of their world, but I didn't get any of that from this comic, so I guess that's up to you guys out there in interwebs land.

So President Harley introduces the superheroes to the world and calls them The Pax, now jump to President Harley being killed by Peacemaker and the former vice President taking office and this is where the former President's plan goes to hell.  It seems that the new President wants to abolish superheroes and he and a shadow government make sure that President Harley's plan of resurrection to ensure a bright future is completely dashed.  Peacemaker is beaten for his involvement in the President's death, his wife is murdered for her knowledge of Algorithm 8 and the President's plan and Captain Atom is possibly killed when they do an experiment to turn him into a black hole to utilize his energy and then all the scientists on the project are also killed.  So yeah, it doesn't look like Earth-4 has the bright future that President Harley had hoped it would.

In the end or more accurately throughout the comic, Question is trying to figure out who killed Nora O'Rouke who now that I think of it may or may not be Peacemaker's wife, but that's how it came off to me.  So Question is trying to figure out who killed her while trying to tie it to Yellow Jacket's disappearance and well, this plot doesn't really go anywhere.  It's Question playing Rorschach and that's fun, but it just seemed to fizzle out and get back to the main story.  We've got Nightshade and Blue Beetle working for the government and trying to take the Question down and President Harley before he died got Captain Atom addicted to comics and the last one he reads before he apparently dies is the cursed comic from the rest of The Multiversity series.  I can't tell you if this series will have issue #2's to further the story, but goddamn does this one need a little bit more time to show us what the hell is going on.

That's it for Pax Americana and I'm telling you I was dreading reviewing this issue, well I was dreading the Explain It! portion of this review because it's just a monster of a book and I swear that Grant Morrison's writing likes to live right above my head.  For what Grant gave us, it was an interesting story with characters that we don't get to see very often, while paying homage to Alan Moore's Watchmen at the same time.  Add all that up with a story that you have to read a couple of times to half understand and you have something that at least will be talked about for a long long time.  For what it's worth, I really liked the book.  I thought that Frank Quitely's art had a great retro feel for all the characters while still keeping us in the present time.  See you next month as we jump into Thunder World with the Marvel Family, where hopefully I don't consider myself stupid because I can't follow a comic book.  See you then.

Bits and Pieces:

Even though this book feels like it's trying to be overly confusing with it's premise, I still found myself enjoying it and rereading it so that I could wrap my head around what's going on in Earth-4.  If the goal here was simply handing in a story that fans would talk about for a long time and constantly go back through it's pages, then I think that Grant Morrison has himself a hit with this one, but I can't see a casual fan picking this comic up and thinking it's anything but a bit of pretentiousness surrounded by pretty pictures.  This book isn't for everyone and I think that might have been the goal all along, but I still enjoyed what I read.



  1. So, this is better than the 1999 mini-series, The L.A.W.? ;)

  2. I have the vaguest recollection of that mini and from what I remember, I have to say yes. Who knows the Gentry might turn out to be avatar worshipers and this whole Multiversity thing could just be a sequel to The L.A.W.

  3. I was honestly lost at first as well...then when I went back and read it again, I was son interested in it! My only complaint is that they draw too much from watchment(specifically in captain atom, he didnt need to look EXACTLY like doctor manhatten) however I also liked how peacemaker actually was more heroic than his counterpart(the comedian)

    also Morrison said that all of his multiversity titles were oneshots that could be expanded into series*looks at dc*...make pax americana into a miniseries...and have Society of Superheroes a full out series please, k thanks!

  4. I'm hoping that President Superman and his team meet the Watchmen...I mean Charlton characters in a later installment.

  5. This was undoubtedly my favorite comic this year...

  6. When this series was announced I was seriously hoping it would have President Superman as it's main character because his issue of Action Comics was my favorite issue of Grant Morrison's run............. But I never get what I want. What we did get is okay too and I'm just really excited about next month's Thunder World with the Marvel Family.

    1. What about the Ultraa comic? That cursed comic book that weve seen in all the multiversity is actually gonna be published. I'm actually excited for that one!
      ^famous last words