The Just is easily the best chapter of Multiversity so far. In fact, it's probably the best comic Grant Morrison has written since the second Seaguy miniseries back in 2009.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that it doesn't actually have an ending.
Multiversity was always in danger of becoming Final Crisis shoved into a Seven Soldiers-shaped package--a reference-filled, continuity-obsessed crossover of absolutely no meaning or import, adopting the outward form of a much better comic. This issue steered away from one of those rocks only to founder on the other. Because as much as I loved Seven Soldiers, the lack of closure for some of its component miniseries (and the overstuffed final issue that couldn't do them all justice) was a problem. With this issue, it seems clear that the final chapter of Multiversity is also going to have a lot of clean-up work to do. And with Morrison, it's never safe to assume that work will actually get done.
It's doubly a shame for this issue, since The Just is the first chapter of Multiversity that's actually about something other than other comics. The issue is an incisive diagnosis of narcissism and depression and anhedonia--or maybe depressive hedonia--and all the other ailments afflicting the most fortunate sectors of postmodern, post-millennial society. It approaches these concepts through the lurking horror of an invasive idea, an infection that has disguised itself as a comic (not unlike the comic I feared Multiversity would become). Watching this lazy but vicious predator claim cast member after cast member results in Morrison's creepiest work in years.
The Just approaches these concepts through other comics, and references galore, and yet Morrison's choice of source material is so gaudy and unexpected that it redeems the whole project. He's chosen to populate this world of epicureans and epigones with the children of 1990s comics, and their children--all the novice replacements and gritty photocopies who got expunged from DC continuity in the past decade or so, when a new generation of embarrassed fans took over the company. These are the children nobody loves, and they make the perfect stand-ins for the children with nothing to do. They're all surplus to requirements, as out of work in our world as they are in their own. It's a brilliant choice, steeped in subtext and yet openly contemptuous of nostalgia, and yet the most brilliant thing about it is that it only uses those 90s comics as a vehicle to talk about something else, something far more contemporary and not about comics at all. It's not for nothing that The Just reminds me so much of Seaguy, another Morrison comic about directionless children discovering they don't live after the end of history after all. They're basically the same story, just told in different emotional registers.
If The Just has any other failings beyond its lack of closure, it's the fact that the story (like all of Multiversity thus far) is only concerned with the superheroes and their children. The book always threatens to relapse into the compulsive allusions that limited earlier chapters; taken on its own terms, though, it's a book about post-millennial depression that never looks beyond the ailments of the 1%. Seaguy avoids this same problem through its gleeful flight from realism; it's okay if everyone is a superhero in New Venice, or at least dresses like one, because we understand New Venice was always just a funhouse mirror for us anyway. The Just is too, but it's a mirror on one especially exclusive part of us--the part that lives off their dads' trust funds or trick arrows, the part that can be unemployed but never poor.
Still, it's the most ambitious book Morrison has done in a good long while, and the most truly contemporary one to boot. Unfortunately, I'm not at all certain that the last issue of Multiversity is going to give it a proper resolution, not while it's busy resolving six other storylines too. Which is a depressing realization to have about Morrison's best comic in five years.