A Thought on Multiversity #1
By Weird Beard
Grant Morrison’s Multiversity finally arrived this week, and everyone in the comic news/analysis business is talking about it. You may have seen that we reblogged Comicsalliance annotations of it, and that we posted this video already to help anyone new to Morrison and the comic understand it more easily. Morrison’s work has a reputation of being dense and hard to understand, but Multiversity is probably one of his most-straightforward and easily understood first issues in a while. It’s still filled with Morrison’s trademark blend of science, magic, cultural references, and superhero lore, which means there’s plenty to examine in this first issue. Here is a thought I had in examining the bad guys.
So, as said in the video, the multiverse exists in the fifth dimension, which was revealed to be imagination by Bat-Mite in Morrison’s Batman R.I.P. This means that Mr. Mxyptlk and his kind exist beyond even Monitor space. Considering the Gentry’s power to battle and defeat a god and then a Monitor, it would seem to suggest that the Gentry are Fifth Dimensional intelligences/organisms. I think this is also true because Thunderer states that they are from behind the Invisible Rainbow, which I take to mean the white space of the Source where all colors become invisible when they are one, since when white light is refracted it becomes a rainbow. Unified as white light, the individual colors are impossible to see, but refracted through the multiverse, the colors are visible.
If this is true, then it would seem that the stories most relevant to Multiversity from Morrison’s bibliography would be JLA: Crisis Times Five and his recent run on Action Comics. In each story, the primary villain is a denizen of the Fifth Dimension. The Gentry mentions that there is only one rule they follow. I suspect this rule is the need for invitation/permission to operate inside the multiverse, because in both of the previously mentioned stories the power of the bad guy may have been omnipotent but they needed to be anchored in the world by a human host. This would be most similar to the concept of familiars, which relates back to the power of the Fifth dimensional beings described as magic (rather than technology) and Morrison’s habit of adding multiple meanings to create his own meaning out of this kaleidoscopic perspective he applies to his writing.
If the Gentry are Fifth Dimensional creatures, then we get the haunted element talked about in the promotional material and in the comic Nix Uotan was reading, from the fact that the Gentry are imaginary creatures interacting with both the fictional (to us) world of superheroes and the mysterious narration boxes that question who’s voice is in your head as you read them. Ghosts are often described as ignorance combined with figments of our imagination in our more scientifically advanced world. What was once a part of our collective perception of concrete reality has been moved to our imagination, but as Morrison is showing, the imagination is moving back into our world. We are thus being haunted by negative, personified avatars of our imagination, and Morrison is just channeling this interaction through narrative to create an experience that blurs the line between concrete and abstract reality. Anyone familiar enough with Morrison’s personal beliefs and thoughts on fiction may interpret Multiversity not as a story Morrison is telling, but as an experience he had and is processing on a number of personal levels by using narrative as external memory, proof, and catharsis. Morison doesn’t just write superheroes, he’s seen them save the world.
But, all of this is dependent upon what is revealed in future issues, so we shall see if I’m right about the Gentry’s origin. Until then, share your thoughts on what you think the Gentry are with us.