The multiverse is a concept that has been explored in comics frequently, from DC’s Crisis Crossover events (and the recent ongoing Multiversity) to Marvel’s current Avengers plot about “incursions.” However, for the most part, people tend to stay in the universes they were born in, with a few exceptions who integrate into the “mainstream” world with just a few comments about how things are different.
However, what if one world’s desire for domination lead its people to conquer entire alternate worlds? Imagine, an empire spanning through the multiverse, with each Earth just another outpost of victory. That is where we begin with Parallel Man, written by Jeffery Morris and Fredrick Haugen, with art by Christopher Jones.
Parallel Man begins as our world is invaded by the Ascendancy, AKA “Evil alternate America from the evil universe.” It’s not so much as a full-on invasion as it is “casually appear, kidnap the President, tell him they’re taking over the world, and send him back to prepare a white flag after seeing what they’re capable of.” As this is supposedly set in the world we live in, it uses President Obama, rather than a made-up president like many stories use. (Although since there are an infinite amount of alternate realities, one can safely assume that there’s another conquered Earth where they captured President Romney, or President Oprah, or President Zombie Lincoln.)
However, that sets the stakes, as we soon meet the protagonist, Nick Morgan. In this case, the resistance comes not from the worlds being conquered, but from within the world doing the conquering. Thus begins the chase, as he leaps between worlds to assemble a weapon that can stop the Ascendancy.
However, in addition to the conquest and rebellion plot, it has a nice focus on two versions of one character – the Nick Morgan who travels through worlds, who rises to the call of duty and fights to save worlds, and the Nick Morgan from our world, who plays “Call of Duty” and fights for more frozen pizza.
Also, it features an alternate-universe’s Carl Sagan as the leader of the rebellion. That is pretty awesome.
The story moves at a fine pace, kicking things off nicely, and providing good action in-between the exposition. As the characters jump between multiple worlds, we see a clever assortment of “what-if” realities, including but not limited to a world where dinosaurs never died, and a world overrun by giant fungi. It makes full use of the multiverse it created, while still allowing itself to focus on the characters. The characters themselves are very distinct, even the ones who are alternate versions of each other, providing both a look at how individuals can change based on their upbringing and environment, as well as a strong path for development for everyone.
The artwork by Christopher Jones is very clear, capturing the action and making the characters distinct. The coloring by Zac Atkinson is beautiful, making great use of shades and colors, particularly during sunrise or sunset scenes. Together, they make each world distinctive and unique, as a multiverse should be.
In addition to the comic book mini-series, which will run for 7 issues, Parallel Man also offers a video game for mobile devices, a deck building game, and an animated short film. These help expand the world of the story, and provide more immersion and interactivity to it, although the comic can be enjoyed on its own.
All in all, Parallel Man is a good read, with a strong story and art to back it up. It’s a good take on the idea of a multiverse, flows nicely, and brings up some intriguing concepts. Parallel Man hits stores October 8th, and you can learn more about it on the Future Dude website.