Brandon Borzelli’s Geek Goggle Reviews
Multiversity: Pax Americana #1
Morrison, Quitely & Fairbairn
Pax Americana is another issue in the Grant Morrison Multiversity series. This one has Frank Quitely on art duties and is fantastic. The comic steers, for the most part, clear of the larger Multiverse threat as this is the only comic that doesn’t seem to hint at the pending danger. Instead, Morrison uses this issue to play with a couple of ideas, one of which is the circular nature of comic books and storytelling. It’s a deep read, that certainly diverts from conventional front-to-back storytelling and is not one for everyone, but if you are looking for anything that dives into a complex idea or two then you will love this issue.
Basically, the plot is that the president has been assassinated by his own super-powered bodyguard. The other heroes react to this in varying ways, while a back-story is given for some of the key characters. The book has a terrific payoff by reading the comic in page order, but provides more information when read non-sequentially. You’ll see what I mean once you’ve read the conventional way first.
The book takes the idea that stories go on and on in a couple of ways. First, the comic seems to mimic Watchmen heavily. The counter to this is that this comic uses the Charlton characters, the same ones that The Watchmen was created from. There are comic politics that could be in the mix here as Morrison and Moore don’t play nice with each other. Nor does DC play nice with The Watchmen as a creation. Putting that aside, its clear that Morrison wants to show that these characters are timeless and have stories in them regardless of when and by whom they are being told. Charlton character stories keep going whether they are Watchmen, derivatives of Watchmen or Charlton. This is probably the case with all the characters out there, which I think Morrison has shown with his run on Batman.
The other way this comic plays with the theme of the near-ending story is how Captain Atom can be at any point in time whenever he wants. This means he can provide future visions to past events. This means be can alter any future at any point. Morrison also has other elements that touch this theme, such as a character suffering from dementia and the color spectrum. All of it is good stuff when you dissect it.
The book will have a familiar feel because of the usage of so many familiar characters, such as The Question and Blue Beetle. The comic does mix in some mystery here and there and doesn’t resolve them in any obvious way. Morrison wants the reader to work for the answers and that can be frustrating but rewarding.
Quitely’s art is outstanding. The pencils don’t seem to contain the same detail of inks over them that you might find in All-Star Superman, but they are as sharp as ever. The comic’s storytelling is exceptional as Quitely uses some interesting panel layouts to push the story forward. Several double pages contain sixteen or more panels. The final few pages are stunning and chilling and sit at the visual storytelling pinnacle that very few artists can achieve. It’s a beautiful looking book.
Morrison is making history with this series and this might be the best issue yet because the reader has to work for the results. This is not for everyone, but give it a try and be prepared to read the comic three times and in various page order. You will not be disappointed.
5 out of 5 Geek Goggles