For comics fans, Grant Morrison needs no introduction. Since breaking into American comics in the late ’80s, the Glasgow-born Morrison has been one of the medium’s top-tier writers. He recently delivered one of his most popular and ambitious projects, The Multiversity: Deluxe Edition, a collection of one-shots exploring the DC Multiverse. The series’ hardcover edition arrives today, and we spoke with Morrison about, among other things, how the project led him to discover the god of comics. (No, really.)
Where did The Multiversity get started?
The idea came about back in 2008, when I was working on 52. At the end of that, the writing team brought back the DC Multiverse, and we all agreed we’d explore each of the universes. I just kept working on the thing, and ultimately I did what we agreed we’d do all by myself. [Laughs.] Back then, Mark Waid was going to do the Marvel family stuff, for example. I was going to do the Nazi world and the Ultra Comics, and Geoff [Johns] would do the Society of Super-Heroes, and I was left with the notes. I thought they were worth making books out of.
How did that influence writing the books? You go from pulp to ’40s optimism to ’80s grit and back around again.
I wanted each book to seem like it was published in a parallel universe. The sons and daughters book was based on the storytelling style of The Hills, and that was what I loved most. Pax Americana would be “What if everybody wrote comics like Watchmen?” Mastermen was in the style of Mark Millar, using some of Mark’s storytelling techniques there.
Captain Marvel seems like a particularly tough nut to crack…
It was always a problem. People have struggled with the character since the 1940s. A little bit like Wonder Woman, [it’s] based in magic and mythology. They tended to go through a lot of approaches. People were too whimsical or dark, so my idea was to quite simply tell a story that doesn’t talk down to adults or over-egg the darkness.
Mastermen was a particular surprise, full of moral greys. What led you to a more nuanced approach?
I wanted it to be a bit more ambiguous than just a crazy Nazi Superman, that you felt the world was wrong, and this Superman was suffering under the burden of Nazism. That’s what I wanted to explore, especially a world up against a terrorist threat. I wanted to delve into the weird notion that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I set up a lot of complex ambiguities just by reading the news! [Laughs.]
Almost all of these books end on some form of cliffhanger. Will they ever see an issue #2?
I never say never, but I don’t have any plans. When I was a kid, I found single issues and had to fill in the story that came before, and I wanted these books to feel like the pilot episodes of potential series to be developed.
Anything fans missed?
There’s so much to these books that nobody’s noticed yet! Woten and Wodin are the gods of communication, and he gave his name to Wednesday. And Wednesday is New Comic Book Day, so Woden is the god of comics! There’s a lot of cosmology in Pax Americana. Pax has people constantly walking through doors, and Janus is the god of doorways, looking both into the future and the past. There’s much, much more.
The Multiversity: Deluxe Edition is out in comics shops and available digitally today.