« The Just | Main | Thunderworld »

November 24, 2014


Charles Hatfield

Just read Pax Americana. Question: how do you see this comic "end[ing] with the validation of the superhero"? I find the storytelling so elliptical that I really can't tell what is being validated, or criticized.


With the revelations that the Peacemaker is working in concert with his apparent victim, that Harley has arranged for Adam's eventual return, that (in his words) only a superhero can redeem the ultimate villain (by which Harley means himself, the superhero-killer) and restore symmetry to a broken world. And, typically for Morrison, the suggestion that superhero comics offer both a structure for apprehending the universe and a moral template for living in it. The comic teases a Watchmen-style critique of superheroes before returning to Morrison's customary affirmation.

Jones, one of the Jones boys

I agree, Marc, that the superhero is a-OK by the end of the book...although it is striking that we never see a hint of whether Harley's plan succeeds, or even how that success is supposed to occur. The biggest clue comes when (Governor) Harley tells Adam "only a super-hero can bring the president back to life", but there's no elaboration of what the hell is supposed to happen then, and how that's supposed to bring on peace for all time (or how it relates to Major Max Meets Janus the Everyday Man). On the other hand, that's at least no less ridiculous than Ozymandias' giant telepathic squid (or the Friend's plans for world-unification in 20th Century Boys). Maybe it will become clearer in the final issue of the series.

Is it just me, or is there an art error in the panel with "Major Max"? It seems like those speech bubbles should be coming from Harley, but they're pointed at Adam.

Stephen Frug


I'm a Morrison fan, but haven't read most of his recent DC stuff. (The stuff I've read has been pretty isolated from the main DC universe - Six Soldiers, All Star Superman, that sort of thing.) Mostly I've read his independent work - stuff you cover in the book, less the JLA.

In particular, I haven't read his Batman run (not counting Arkham Asylum, I presume), Final Crisis, or any of the other Crises he seems to have precipiated recently (frankly, I can hardly keep track of them).

So: can I read any of these comics? I am in particular interested in the Watchmen... parody? Prequel? Rebuttal? Whatever. It sounds like it might be comprehensible. But I'm not sure.

Long question short: how much & what background does this, & the multiversity comics generally, require?

Kevin J. Maroney

I'm not sure there's enough information in the issue to know with certainty whether Atom will return to resurrect Quinn. Chronologically, the last parts of the story feature Senator/VP/President Eden celebrating the destruction of the superhero as a thing whose time is past. There's at least one reader (http://multiversitycomics.com/annotations/multiversity-explores-the-multiversity-4-in-which-we-burn/) who thinks that Eden has managed to subvert Quinn's plan, but I am not convinced. Certainly the fact that Atom has read Ultra Comics indicates that the Gentry are at work on Earth-4; since their goal seems to be the corruption and dissolution of the superheroic ideal, it would make sense that if they had corrupted Atom, ruining Quinn's plan would be the strongest possible blow against that ideal.

(Eden is s definitely not a good man--he ruined Eve's mother, which is the strongest reason beyond pastiche for that scene. And he's depicted as a Two-Faced Man in the first of the torture scenes. The strongest argument that Eden doesn't know what's going on is his apparent complete bewilderment at Peacemaker's actions; but he would have to act that way, wouldn't he?)


Wow, you leave for a few days and an honest-to-God discussion breaks out!

Kevin, we don't know with any certainty that Adam will return, but given Morrison's tendencies I think some sort of redemptive reappearance (not necessarily in the same narrative world he departed) is pretty likely. Nor do I think we necessarily need to assume that Eden is specifically working to sabotage President Harley (Quinn's?) plans--he could have independent motives for everything he does, whether it's the destruction of Captain Adam, the burying of the superhero myth, his personal political ascent, or even more venal and petty goals. (There's a line about Harley using Adam to harness black hole energy "so we don't have to rely on oil." How much Dick Cheney would you like in your Dick Cheney?) Morrison likes to overdetermine his stories so it's possible that he could also be a pawn of the Gentry, but everything Eden does works on its own internally consistent level, independent from the larger crossover. This is one of the great assets of Pax Americana.

I think you and Jones are speaking to the same point, which is that Morrison doesn't fully wrap up the plot he sets up in Pax Americana. That could have been as crippling as the lack of resolution in The Just, except that Morrison is saved by his own plot structure: because the main thrust of the narrative is moving backwards in time, he can still produce a satisfyingly complete story (culminating in the revelations about Harley's past and his motives) without tying up all the loose ends in the present. Once again, he's left a lot of work for that final issue to do, but taken on its own terms Pax Americana works brilliantly.


Stephen, I would say that Pax Americana is perfectly comprehensible as long as you have a decent familiarity with Watchmen and are willing to puzzle out the formal games. (Knowledge of the Charlton characters will provide some added bonuses but is not essential.)

Multiversity as a whole has been too bound up in spot-the-reference games... it's not that a familiarity with DC continuity is required, it's just that the first couple issues didn't reward anything else. I did enjoy The Just, which reached beyond those parochial concerns, but don't expect a complete story.


Am I the only one that understood that Harley manages to survive his own death by Adam causing time to reverse itself in the very form of the comic itself? The comic is a mobius strip, designed by Adam, through which Harley gets to live forever.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 03/2004