If raising a family wasn’t enough excitement for Superman he will now have to deal with a conflict that spans the DC Multiverse. This new Multiverse story looks to be building off Gran Morrison’s The Multiversity mini-series from that ended back in early 2015. If there is one creative team that should excel at following up on the complexity of a Morrison comic book it is Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Their work on Superman alone has shown how they can place Superman in any situation and create an incredible tale. I expect this new story arc involving the Multiverse to be no different. So with that said let’s see how things turn out with Superman #14.
Writers: Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Artist: Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While driving through the woods of Hamilton County, Clark Kent almost runs over a heavily injured Red Son Superman.
Clark quickly changes into his Superman (who I am going to refer to as Earth-0 Superman for the rest of this review) costume and checks on Red Son Superman, who is on the verge of passing out.
Red Son Superman explains that he was captured and imprisoned by Prophecy and his Gatherers. He goes on to say that he escaped his imprisonment but as he did so he heard that Prophecy is now after Kenan Kong (Super-Man).
Red Son Superman is still groggy from his dimensional trip. Before he can fully recover he is blasted into Earth-0 Superman’s car by an army of Gatherers.
The Gatherers continue to repeat that must not damage “The Lyst,” which Earth-0 Superman is not on. Earth-0 Superman responds by punching one of the Gatherers through the ground.
Earth-0 Superman and Red Son Superman team-up to fight all of the Gatherers. The Gatherers soon overwhelm the Supermen through sheer numbers. Earth-0 Superman asks Red Son Superman if he has heat vision. Red Son Superman says he does and they both proceed to launch a full powered heat blast at all the Gatherers.
With all of the Gatherers knocked out a dimensional portal suddenly opens with the Justice League Incarnate coming out of it.
Earth-0 Superman tells the Justice League Incarnate to explain themselves before he starts another fight.
President Superman (Earth-23 version of the character) says that they are not enemies. Earth-17 Batman tells President Superman to stop wasting time.
President Superman explains that they are the Justice League Incarnate and they are guardians protecting the multiverse from cosmic-level threats. Earth-0 Superman mentions that he is familiar with the multiverse.
Since Earth-0 Superman knows about the multiverse President Superman moves on to introduce the members of the Justice League Incarnate. They include: Earth-5 Mary Marvel, Earth-11 Aquawoman, Earth-36 Red Racer, Earth-20 Green Lantern, Earth-8 Machinehead and Earth-17 Batman.
After the introductions are done President Superman reveals that someone is capturing the Supermen across all the multiverse. Earth-0 Superman mentions that Red Son Superman said the Gatherers are after Kenan Kong. They all decided to team-up to find him.
Over at Yi River, Henan Providence, Super-Man is visiting a location his father told him about. Several Gatherers suddenly appear and tell Super-Man he is on their “Lyst.”
Super-Man charges at the Gatherers and is able to fight them off. Three of the Gatherers take a mysterious black substance from their mouths and throw it at Super-Man. The black substance quickly covers Super-Man’s entire body.
With Super-Man disabled the Gatherers begin to take him through their portal. Earth-0 Superman and the Justice League Incarnate arrive at that moment. Earth-0 Superman tries to save Super-Man but is only able to grab one of the Gatherers before they disappear.
President Superman and Earth-17 Batman reveal that they won’t be able to track Super-Man’s location down as wherever the Gatherers have taken is a place that drops him from the multiverse map.
President Superman says the Justice League Incarnate will need to regroup. Earth-0 Superman says he will go with them to save all of the Supermen.
Elsewhere Super-Man is placed in a prison holding other Supermen from the Multiverse.
A machine takes Captain Carrot from his prison cell and absorbs all of his powers. With all of his powers gone Captain Carrot turns into a normal rabbit.
A mysterious figure grabs Captain Carrot and places him back into his cell without a word. End of issue.
The Good: Even after delivering one fantastic Superman story after another Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason continue to find new ways to put a smile on my face. There has been an unmatched energy to Tomasi and Gleason’s storytelling. This first chapter in the “Multiplicity” storyline is no different.
From the opening page Tomasi and Gleason are able to set the tone that you may think everything is going to business as usual but throws you right into the thick of things without warning. Having Red Son Superman appear first in Superman #14 was the perfect way to set up the story. Unlike other versions of the character, Red Son Superman is not a hero in his universe. So for a villainous version of Superman to appear heavily injured showed us how dangerous Prophecy and the Gatherers are, even before they even show up.
Learning that the Gatherers are collecting all of the multiverse Supermen instantly makes this story feel like we are reading a big event from an ongoing monthly series. That tone is further enhanced by a fantastic action sequence featuring Earth-0 Superman and Red Son Superman teaming up against the army of Gatherers. Seeing how the Gatherers were able to get the upper hand on both characters through sheer numbers furthered how dangerous they are. Their overwhelming numbers also gave us one of the coolest scenes since DC Rebirth started with Earth-0 Superman and Red Son Superman launching full powered heat vision blasts at the same time.
This frenetic action sequence was nicely balanced out by the following exposition heavy scene involving the Justice League Incarnate. What made the exposition we got from President Superman effective was the fact that it did not involve going through everything that happened during The Multiversity mini-series. Tomasi and Gleason simplified the concept of the Justice League Incarnate as a team protecting the multiverse from cosmic-level threats. This explanation makes it easy to understand who this group is without having to worry about knowing their backstory.
This move to simplify the explanation of the Justice League Incarnate’s purpose also works to allow the reader to invest in these characters through the “Multiplicity” storyline. Now Tomasi and Gleason have given themselves room to show us why a President Superman or Earth-11 Aquaman are interesting characters through how they develop them. It’s a much smarter way to promote another story like The Multiversity as you are building natural interest through storytelling rather than making readers feel like they have to read something else to understand what is going on.
This storyline involving the Gatherers collecting Supermen from every universe did a good job at finally bringing in the new Super-Man, Kenan Kong, into the Superman mythos. Since his creation Kenan has been his own thing that has not interacted with Superman or other iconic DC superheroes. This has been understandable as Kenan lives in a different country but eventually there had to be a crossover between the two Supermen of Earth-0.
With Tomasi and Gleason’s “Multiplicity” have opened the door for Superman to interact with his Chinese counterpart. Learning that Super-Man is the version of the character that the Gatherers are after on Earth-0 builds a nice mystery for this story. Because with how from the look of the prison that the Gatherers have created for all the Supermen they are all some version of Clark Kent for the most part.
Is the reason that they weren’t after Superman because he is an anomaly from the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe? And what possible connections do the Gatherers have to do with Mr. Oz and possibly Doctor Manhattan? These are just some questions that Tomasi and Gleason have created with “Multiplicity” that is very exciting to learn about.
Ivan Reis and Joe Prado on Superman #14 made Tomasi and Gleason’s come across as a true big event. Reis and Prado have such a great chemistry when it comes to delivering big action sequences. The battle between Superman, Red Son Superman and the Gatherers was fantastic. The visual of the full powered double heat vision attacked looked incredibly powerful. Their double page splash pages were equally detailed and impressive with how many different characters they had to draw. Marcelo Maiolo also delivered as he helped the artwork pop off the page with vibrant coloring throughout the issue.
The Bad: As strong as the artwork was I did find that President Superman’s hair looked unnatural. His hair looked more like it was attached to his head like a special attachment from an action figure. It was the one flaw in this issue that was a minor annoyance but it did not take away from how enjoyable the story was.
Overall: Superman #14 opened at full speed and never let up. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason continue to work their magic on this series by introducing the multiverse to the readers. This opening chapter of “Multiplicity” did a great job using The Multiversity mini-series as a foundation for the story without ever making things confusing. That foundation made for a strong launching pad for what feels like a big event, which is only made to feel bigger thanks to Ivan Reis and Joe Prado great artwork. If you have yet to pick up Tomasi and Gleason’s Superman comic book this is a great place to start.