Monday, December 1, 2014
I picked up Multiversity- Pax Americana for the very simple reason that I love the old Charlton Action-Heroes and this is as close as we're ever going to get to seeing new adventures featuring those awesome characters.
These characters, created largely under the aegis of editor Dick Giordano were a brief but brilliant attempt to mine the superhero market which blossomed briefly during the Silver Age. Captain Atom and Blue Beetle were dusted off and revamped with new heroes such as Peacemaker, Nightshade, The Question and Judomaster brought along to fill in the ranks.
These characters of course these days are mostly remembered as the inspirations for Alan Moore's iconic Watchmen series and many dismiss them beyond that point. Alas, in this story Grant Morrison, a storyteller with stones, tries to revisit these heroes but clearly through the goggles of the Watchmen variations.
We are invited into a complex story, told by Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, which travels back and forth through time and space with all sorts of visual hijinks, all serving to create some larger mystery and make some larger point. The heroes are not as developed as individuals but merely used as elements of the one-shot story which explores the nature of heroes and justice and how the society can best make use of them.
We get good looks at Captain Atom, a man removed from his fellows by the dint of awesome power and who seems lost inside himself and the universe he sees differently from everyone else. The lovely Nightshade is a very young government agent who seeks to find the right way, but seems out of her depth most of the time. Peacemaker is a man on a mission which makes little sense for most of the story. The Question as always seeks answers regardless, while the Blue Beetle is a loyal government man.
We get glimpses of Sarge Steel and while Judomaster doesn't make the cut, his sidekick Tiger is around for a few pages as a member of a superhero unit which has a lot of vintage fun picking out a sobriquet.
The story even has a reference to Charlton's first superhero, the Golden Age Yellowjacket.
This is a complicated yarn, a mystery which has an answer, but which demands mighty attention from the reader and frankly more than one pass through the material. At five bucks for a copy, I guess I should thank Morrison and Quitely for giving me a comic which demands to be read more than once, since the density makes the entertainment value rise.
This is a book any Charlton Action-Hero fan should read, if only to see some vintage imagery and old rather obscure Charlton references hanging around in various panels.