Multiversal Geography: The Dark Side

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end. All that's left of our tour of the Multiverse as seen through the Grant Morrison's Multiversity map its dark side (Darkseid's). I won't get into the Monitor ships pictured on the right side of the map, but if you're wondering where your favorite version of the DC Universe is, it might well have ended up in one of these things' furnace. They're powered by baby universes. Let's get our bearings:
So taking up from where we left off yesterday now that you know where you are...
Nightmare is directly opposite Dream, but it's really the dark underbelly of things we also saw in Sandman. Morrison's notes mention the Three Witches and the Corinthian's domain, as well as the Goblin Market, and for superhero fans, the Land of Nightshades. But Nightmare isn't the only "opposite" here. There's also an unknown spot directly opposite Wonderworld on the map, that could be the missing 5th Dimension (I think it would be very appropriate to have it astride light and dark at the Chaos end of the pool, and like how it would sit right under Bizarro World), but then why would Morrison, who has used Zrfff in the past, not clearly mark it on the map? And one last symetry: Across from "Nil" (where Monitors are spawned), there's a sort of unmarked soap bubble. What's forming or decomposing there? The Anti-Monitor's anti-matter universe (and Qward) isn't marked on the map; is this where it is or used to be? That seems too far off the beaten track for Sinestro and the Weaponers to cross over so frequently, and I think recent thought on the Anti-Monitor is that he's just a Monitor gone bad so... Is the antimatter universe one of the Earths? Is Qward in the universe we call Earth-3 (JLA: Syndicate Rules said so but is now out of continuity)? Or has Qward been retconned, post-52/Flushpoint into a planet in normal space? (Probably on Earth-3, but that still leaves this spot in the Monitor Sphere something of a mystery.)
Hell is opposite Heaven and represents all those devilish domains that spawned Etrigan, the Dukes of Hell, Blaze and Satanus, Lucifer, Neron, Nekros, Trigon, the Demons Three, Anton Arcane, etc. burn a little too brightly. Pretty straightforward (see the Light Side discussion for more). The liner notes mention "djinn" as well, which is a term that's been associated with Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite. 5th Dimension here?
Pure darkness/evil, or what the map calls the Pit, is taken up by Apokolips, directly opposite New Genesis at the Pinnacle. Again, I discuss the role of the New Gods in the Mutiverse a little more in the Light Side post. It's Friday, take your shoes off and relax
The Underworld is opposite Skyland and represents Pagan underworlds in the same way its reverse on the map represents Pagan pantheons. (Obviously, we could debate the paganism implicit in "Hell" as well.) I'm intrigued that artist Rian Hughes would represent this place as prison with a big padlock, but it makes sense in the context of Morrison's notes which also place the Phantom Zone here. The notes also mention Hades, the realm of Pluto, the Throne of Ereshkigal (that's Mesopotamian) and the Land of No Return (never heard of it; Edit: Spotted in World's Finest Comics #140, in which Green Arrow and Speedy are sent to this realm along with various historical figured who team up to destroy a monster).
And I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the soap bubbles in between each God-world, on each side of the map. Some are surrounded by shooting stars, others by ghosts, so... What are they? Well, seeing as they're on the same "wavelength" as other types of afterlife, it could be that misty dimension where the souls of the recent dead congregate before moving on and from which they can haunt the living. Then again, the Underworld's connection to the similar Phantom Zone might mean we don't need a specific domain for that. In the same way, a lot of what's missing (Skartaris, the Meta-Zone, Mirror World, the Timestream expressed as a "place", Pytharia, the lands of Order and Chaos, Myrra, and smaller extradimensional spaces where you might store a JLA HQ, Baron Winters' mansion or Prometheus' Ghost Zone) can fit at least one of the God worlds identified (usually in Dream or Nightmare, though some are probably just in Limbo). Just because Morrison doesn't mention it doesn't mean it's not there.

So that's it! At least until Multiversity actually comes out. I'd still like to end this series with a few random thoughts that have been mentioned out there on the Internet about some of this stuff, thoughts I've only now come in contact with:
-Earth-8's DC bullet also looks like the Fantastic Four emblem, so making it a Marvel analogue seems more certain.
-The Crisis on Infinite Earths Online game agrees with attributions like 13(Arcane), 17(Atomic Knights), 19(Gaslight) and 43(Nightmare/Vampire), so it right about Earth-44(Mecha)? Could be an in for Ame-Comi Girls.
-Having the Speed Force surrounded the Earths links the Crises to the Flash in an interesting way. Both the original Crisis and Flashpoint had him breaking the wall, so to speak, and causing damage/turmoil to the Multiverse. His return to life happened in Final Crisis.
-The darker state of the New52 (and each Earth is said to have gone through its own "New52") is apparently due to the lack of Monitor oversight post-Final Crisis. They used to "edit" continuity aberrations.
-Morrison has said his guide book to Multiversity will explain how the map changed over time, from Crisis to Crisis, and across Hypertime.
-In an interview, Morrison mentioned a gay Flash analogue called Red Racer of Earth-36 (a world we've linked to the Super-Friends in these pages; still no closer to a real answer).
-The same interview identifies Dino-Cop as a resident of Earth-44 (I had thought the antediluvian Earth-32).
-Is the Source Wall rainbowy because it's where the various Lanterns take their power?
-The central position of the Rock of Eternity could mark it as a focusing lens for magic, and through it, magic becomes possible on various (if not all) Earths. If this is true, the "House of Heroes" could be another prism through which super-powers are distributed across the Multiverse, and might even be the reason the same heroes appear in various forms over and over again.
-Dan DiDio apparently said on Facebook on March 28th that the Earth-One graphic novels shared a concept, but not a continuity. If it's not the Earth-1 on the map, how about a Golden Age Earth à la original Earth-2? It is literally gold in color. Some have said it might be an as-yet unborn Earth, a universe still only of energy, perhaps awakened followed New Earth's move to Prime position. All-Star Superman is another possibility, but this would seem indulgent.

That went on for a while, didn't it? Just trying to be thorough. Your turn!


Siskoid said...

More on this subject over at Deep Space Transmissions!

Part 1:

Part 2:

John Nor said...

Brilliant blogging on this map, and I will add some thoughts to what you've already said.

Earth-17, "there's no reason to believe Morrison would make a change" (from issue #52 of 52) you say, but I think actually Earth-51 is probably the one and only "Kamandi Earth" now.

Whether it was Final Crisis or Flashpoint that's the in-story reason for The New 52 "remix" of 52 Earths, not sure, but the Earths now have a reason to diverge from issue #52 of 52. (Such as Earth-3, though it's broadly similar. Earth-2 is a better example as it is completely changed.)

Yeah, the big question is "what's up with the Antimatter Earth?"

Reading Final Crisis, it seems that Ultraman is an Antimatter version of Earth-0's Superman, (unless the Earth-4 "Superman" is being metaphorical when mentioning antimatter).

Also, the Monitor and Anti-Monitor are given a significant mention during the "creation myth" of Final Crisis, as the Monitor probe sent by the Monitor-mind split into two.

So, "logically", there should be both the Earth-3 of the regular-matter 52-Earth multiverse, and an Earth of the antimatter universe, (a universe of the Anti-Monitor).

Possibly, as this is The New 52 and things are New, Earth-3 is antimatter?

The idea that the "Monitor-mind" is beyond the Source Wall - this emphasises that the Monitors are avatars, emissaries, of whatever "Monitor-mind" ~is~.

(During that "creation myth" of Final Crisis, that white page could be read then as what is beyond the limits of the story-universe.)

You say "I'm willing to bet we readers are part of that Monitor-mind", and that seems an entirely reasonable reading - I would add that the writer or writers are part of that Monitor-mind too.

Morrison's "original sketch of the multiverse" (part of EW dot com's Popwatch article) includes this text:


So, it's another double-meaning with "source" meaning artistic creation.

Regarding Animal Man (in Morrison's issues of that monthly) going beyond Limbo, (and beyond the Source Wall of this map) that strengthens my comments on what Monitor-mind could be read as.

One odd thing about the map's left-hand-side text regarding the "Monitor Sphere" is its seeming difference from the current status created by Final Crisis, (and another is the mention of "countless" Monitors rather than the two of Crisis On Infinite Earths).

How it seemingly differs from Final Crisis can be understood by reading the final issue of that series, (I won't say as some may not have read it), but then again, "52 Monitors that remained after the CRISIS event were each tasked" is spoken of as a past thing.

Last thought of this comment - I believe Dungeons & Dragons was influenced by Michael Moorcock's cosmology, and any similarities of this map to D&D are probably because of Moorcock's influence on Morrison.

Siskoid said...

17: You're right.

Anti-matter: There's a theory a released map might have an anti-matter universe on the flip side. Cute, but I'm not expecting it.

Final Crisis: I've read, but not re-read it (it's a matter of finding it in a recent mess... an ill-spent summer).

Moorcock: You're right of course. I never thought for an instant Morrison poached it from D&D, a lot of multiversal models would look the same, especially in a world where Chaos and Order are canonical forces.

jdh417 said...

Siskoid, like everyone, I applaud your scholarship. Well done.

As to the cosmology itself, this is the biggest piece of fan-wanking I've ever seen in my life. Grant Morrison, congratulations for paid for doing something so geeky, so introverted, that it's completely impenetrable and alienating to nearly everyone else.

The only consolation I take is that this structure, like the previous ones, will likely be as long-lasting as a sandcastle.

Siskoid said...

As a veteran castle builder (how many people go back more than few pages when discovering a blog like mine?), I can only admire the towers and spires before the tide comes in.


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