The Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures– #1. Grant Morrison- Writer, Cameron Stewart- Artist, Nathan Fairbairn- Colorist.
For anyone who’s wanted and waited for a return of the original Captain Marvel, this issue is for you. The plot, while linked to the overall Multiversity storyline, is a nearly classic form of a Golden Age Captain Marvel adventure. The story opens on the Rock of Eternity as we are introduced to the wizard Shazam. He has come across impending doom as he discovers an additional 8th day being inserted into the week by none other than Captain Marvel’s arch nemesis- Thaddeus Bodog Sivana.
Sivana has discovered an equation to channel the scientific aspect of the power that gives Captain Marvel his powers. Sivana then imbues his children with said power and unleashes them upon Fawcett City. The plan is that on this new day Captain Marvel dies. Billy Batson is reporting on the trouble in the city when he is warned by a time travelling version of himself and shouts the wizard’s name to become the World’s Mightiest Mortal- Captain Marvel. After getting the word out to the rest of the Marvel Family- Jr., Mary and the Lieutenant Marvels including Tawky Tawny, Marvel sends them to face the Sivana siblings as he himself takes the fight directly to Sivana.
Sivana reveals to Captain Marvel that he’s had help from multiversal versions of himself to orchestrate the death of the Big Red Cheese. But alas, it isn’t enough, as the time travelling Billy turns up again from the other perspective to provide the turning point in the fight.
The first sign that this is going to be a fun issue is the cover itself. From the title “Thunderworld Adventures” echoing the Golden Age “Captain Marvel Adventures,” to the depiction of Captain Marvel himself, there is a wonderful feel to the book when you first hold it in your hands. Cameron Stewart captures the look of classic Captain Marvel , as well as Morrison captures the tone. Fiarbairn takes a simplified approach for the color palatte, too eschewing earth tones and blends for a straight forward four-color press look. For the all-ages fun that this book is, there is a clever bit with Captain Marvel, Jr. and Georgia. It clearly suggests a not all-ages line in the story, but it comes across as a meta-message from Morrison. This comes through again when Captain Marvel browses through The Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes. It comments on the lack of fun comics in addition to the fall of Captain Marvel from being the most popular character with the highest circulation of any book to being known as “Shazam” instead of his proper name. “What happened to happy endings?” indeed.
Like all the Multiversity books, this book is a taste of what may never be again. Unlike the other worlds we’ve visited in this series, “Thunderworld” is a place that should feel familiar to readers who’ve been around for a while. This may be even more bitter sweet for some.
As each issue of The Multiversity has offered glimpses of different worlds and genre’s this issue is no different. “Thunderworld” presents a more black and white approach to super-hero comics and a real trip into the past. Capturing the look and feel of Golden Age Captain Marvel comics this issue maintains the fun of comics that Morrison is playing with throughout the series, but this book is a special treat for those fans who have missed the original Captain Marvel. 4 ½ Whiz Stations…I mean Daily Planets.