2 out of 5
Keee-rist, I am glad we survived Morrison’s take on a line-wide Crisis book. I’m glad he got to put his spin on it, and I’m glad that we’ve come out on the other side of 52s and Final Crises and gave the writer a chance to breathe, and stop tenting up new worlds inbetween every single panel of over-stuffed narratives. This ball – this writing style – got started with 52, and continued on into a messy (but overall enjoyable) Batman run, all gearing up for the can-only-be-read-with-annotations splatter of FC and its spin-offs. Including this one: Superman Beyond, two issues which take place inbetween heartbeats of Lois Lane in Final Crisis.
For what it’s worth, at the core of Superman Beyond is, as ever with Grant, something fun and funky weird, but its execution is so dense with all of the hyper-narrative stuff that he loves, blended with as many DC references as possible, that, to me, it becomes nearly impossible to enjoy as a story. As sensory overload, sure, it works, and we get some fantastic Doug Mahnke art, but this is a type of tale that I think Morrison had done better in Seven Soldiers, or The Filth, or, later, The Multiversity. In Superman Beyond, with Supes traveling into ‘the bleed’ to work an angle on the DCU which has the Monitors as our first storytellers, and the readers as devourers of those stories… which are eternal, as Superman is eternal, and… vampires, and a limbo of forgotten characters, and some potshots at Alan Moore, and kitchen sinks galore. Grant makes the DC multiverse ‘orrery of worlds’ a sort of self-defining tale, and I’d find it a tons more fun if it didn’t feel like we’re following a slightly separate thread of the this thing literally every panel, at least in the first issue. Issue two gets down to a bit more direct business, but the whole project feels like a weird interruption of Final Crises; Morrison needed to give us an origin story for the worlds that are being threatened, and so has it happens in the space of a second as a two-issue, 3D-glasses extravaganza, that returns you back to your regular comic with a sense of… okay? And there that was.
So many ideas. It’s cool to see them bursting off the page, but maybe not so cool to actually try to read them if you’re not looking to glance back and forth at a reference chart of characters and DCU planet numbers.