Multiversity: Pax Americana #1
By Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely & Nathan Fairbairn
Right on the first page, readers will immediately know the key influence for this one-shot. The epic creative team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (All-Star Superman) pay homage to the quintessential work Watchmen. The president is murdered (a la JFK assassination) by a known super-hero, the Peacemaker. This raises many questions and opens many doors, which the Question pursues…
Many will believe that Pax Americana is ripping off Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons’ masterpiece, but this book should be viewed on its on merit…It is a different universe after all. Morrison takes the characters Moore was originally going to use and frames them within an actually compelling story. What hurts this comic the most is that it is only one issue, granted a double-sized one. Watchmen was originally plotted as six issues, then had to become 12; Grant and Quitely had one. Due to this, there are some plot holes. The first read will probably leave most scratching their heads. The second time, I promise, allows for a deeper appreciation of the narrative.
Frank follows Gibbons’ format very closely. The number of panels on a page, how they are structured, and even recurring visual motifs are all present. The artwork becomes a fascinating case study in how an artist can emulate a fellow artist’s style and form, while staying to their own. There is so much detail in the characters and background, which is what one would expect from Quitely. There are so many powerful panels present throughout that just picking one to discuss would do the comic an injustice. It has to be experienced as a whole.
Also, Nathan Fairbarin implements the revolutionary color palette used by Dave. His transitions between the normal and stylized color schemes seem a little more fluid, which is no small feat. This added touch only furthers to show the research this art team did to depict Watchmen on another Earth.
Again, some will consider this a rip-off, but I strongly challenge readers to leave that bias at the door. This is by no means a perfect book nor does it reinvent the medium or genre, but it does explore ideologies and themes that are relevant to today, just as Watchmen did in the 80s. This is arguably the best installment in Multiversity to date. Absolutely worth the price point!