This is a two-part story. The first part covers comic book fiction, ‘Final Crisis’, the Overvoid Monitor and ‘Superman Beyond #1’. The second part covers the Thought Robot, ‘Superman Beyond #2’, ‘Final Crisis’ and Superman’s place in the DC multiverse.
For those who have not read, this article contains spoilers on ‘Final Crisis’ and ‘Superman Beyond #1’ and ‘Superman Beyond #2’.
“Faster than a speeding photon!” (‘JLA: Heaven’s Ladder’) “Flexes to shift the tectonic plates!” “Can hear clouds scrape together!” (Kingdom Come #2) “Strong enough to lift Infinity!” (Superman Beyond #1). “Is it a comet? Is it the Ultima Thule? It’s Superman!”
Grant Morrison, The Overvoid Monitor
In the controversial 2008 comic book crossover storyline titled ‘Final Crisis’, famed comic book writer and occultist Grant Morrison, introduces the concept of the Overvoid Monitor in the pages of ‘Superman Beyond #1’.
In the mind of Grant Morrison, the Overvoid Monitor is the blank canvas of artistic creation, where a central concept to the multiverse is created: story! In a 2012 interview to IGN, Grant Morrison said in response to a question:
IGN Comics: So that kind of answers my question, which is that the Monitors all seem like analogs for storytellers. There seems to be this never-ending cycle of the stories affecting the storytellers and the storytellers affecting the stories and on and on.
It’s the notion that the white page itself is a void, and in the context of the DC Universe, well that’s God or The Source. In the white page, or the void, anything can happen, everything is possible. As I dug down closer to the very root of the activity I find myself engaged in as a career, I was thinking “what is the basis of the comic book story? What actually is it?”
In the case of comic book stories, it’s the war between white page and ink. And who’s to say that the page might want that particular story drawn on it? [laughs] What happens if the page is a bit pissed off at the story that’s drawn on it? So I thought of the page as God. The idea being that the Overvoid – as we called it in Final Crisis – of the white page as a space is sort of God. And it’s condensing stories out of itself because it finds inside its own gigantic white space, self-absorbed pristine consciousness, it finds this little stain or mark, this DC Multiverse somebody has ‘drawn’. And it starts investigating, and it’s just shocked with what it sees, with all the crazy activity and signifying going on in there. It then tries to protect itself from the seething contact with ‘story’ and imagines a race of beings, ‘angels’ or ‘monitors’ (another word for angel, of course) to function as an interface between its own giant eternal magnificence and this tiny, weird crawling anthill of life and significance that is the DC Multiverse.
Morrison attempts to explain the process of artistic activity and the concept of comic book fiction. The DC multiverse, in Morrison’s own words, is “[an] anthill of life” that exists within the infinite mind of the Overvoid Monitor. The Overvoid Monitor is in reality, the DC Comics franchise, an Outerversal being whose power is only rivaled by the Writer, who would be in the present case, Grant Morrison.
Morrison explains that the Overvoid Monitor is actually the God of the DC multiverse, displacing in this sense, the Presence. In ‘Final Crisis’, Morrison elaborates a new mythology for the DC multiverse based on meta-fiction and science fiction as opposed to the religious mythology that established at the top of the DC cosmic hierarchy, the Presence.
I wrote on Vocal Media:
“Comic book fiction is a storyboard, imprinted on the blank page, that attempts to create reality; behind illustration, balloons, words, and inking, the process of imagination takes place, through which is granted a window into the real, that which exists, and an insight into its history. Inherently, the comic book is an experience into mythology, it adeptly brings together the pseudo-scientific and the religious, the mystical and the metaphysical in a universe of possibility, a multiverse in fact, that determines the primary law that is the foundation of all existence: all that exists is a story that is created, evolving, and in the process of design. Art transcends the story into the mythical, the mythological, the expression of the will to power hidden in a natural force that seeks to dominate and extend its rule over its environment — the cosmos.”
Superman Beyond #1: Story accounts for the DC multiverse
In ‘Superman Beyond #1’, Grant Morrison establishes the origin of the Monitors woven into the story of Superman. At the beginning, Superman is greeted by the monitor Zillo Valla, as he is in the hospital tending to Lois Lane. Zillo Valla has stopped time, with her ‘chrono-paralyzer’ while Lois hangs between life and death, and only Superman’s ‘infra-red massage’ is keeping her alive. Superman is given the chance of saving Lois’ life.
As Zillo Valla states in ‘Superman Beyond #1’:
“In the final moments of a civilization’s catastrophic decline, I embarked upon my desperate mission! To recruit the greatest super-champions of the multiverse!
For if our world dies, all existence dies with us!”
Superman, Captain Marvel, Ubermensch, and other characters such as Captain Adam are recruited by Zillo Valla to fight against “the ultimate threat”. They are promised the “substance of life” should they succeed: The Ultramenstruum. Here, Grant Morrison introduces a fantastic meta-fictional concept as the Ultramenstruum, or the Bleed, the Blood of the Overvoid Monitor which is the connective tissue that connects all of comic book continuity in 4D hyper-space! In its essence, the parallel universes of the DC multiverse bathe in the Blood of the Overvoid Monitor which connects them in a single story: The Thought Robot!
Superman, Captain Marvel and co. travel with Zillo Valla on the Ultima Thule in 4D hyper-space which Zillo Valla and the monitors call “Bleed-storm space”. They are attacked on their way by Ultraman and end up ‘plunging’ through the multiverse, “universe after universe” until Superman is able to stop the Ultima Thule’s free fall. How strong is that? Can you calculate the weight of the Earth’s space station falling at relativistic speeds to Earth through the universe? Astounding!
The Ultima Thule ends up on Limbo. In his interview with IGN, Morrison elaborates on Limbo in response to a question:
IGN Comics: [laughs] That’s fascinating. How does the whole world of “Limbo” from Superman Beyond fit into the idea of the white page as God?
Limbo is what’s been erased, isn’t it? It’s literally the characters that are almost forgotten. Almost whited-out. It’s the characters that have been dumped from the continuity for one reason or another. When I visited the idea in Animal Man back in the eighties, most of those characters were forgotten sixties characters. But now, the place is populated by these nineties Blood Pack and Hero Hotline guys! I’ve just always loved it as a concept. In the case of Superman Beyond, which was like a Yellow Submarine, Jason of the Argonauts tale, I wanted to take my super-Argonauts to that place at the very edge of art where all these forgotten ideas live. The last outpost of the DCU proper before the archetypal Monitor World and the Overvoid.
Limbo is a place where no character ever leaves, where nothing happens and where they ultimately end up forgotten. There, Superman and Captain Marvel encounter MerryMan in an effort to find a way to repair the Ultima Thule’s navigation systems. MerryMan directs them to “the Library of Limbo”. MerryMan discourages Superman and Captain Marvel but Superman’s bravery guides him to the Book of Limbo, the only book on Limbo, that MerryMan claims was written by a monkey.
As Superman states in ‘Superman Beyond #1’:
“A book with an infinite number of pages, all occupying the same space. Of course no-one can read it.”
Superman and Captain Marvel actually lift a book with an infinite number of pages! Can we say feat status of cosmic and multiversal monitor proportions? Bazonkers!
There, Superman and Captain Marvel are introduced to the origin of the monitors and of the DC multiverse.
In its essence, the DC multiverse is a story imprinted on the blank canvas of creation, the Overvoid Monitor that is a “flaw”. As The Overvoid Monitor states in ‘Superman Beyond #1’:
“Then a flaw is found at the heart of monitor perfection.”
The “flaw” that the Overvoid Monitor encounters is the DC multiverse drawn on it, on the white page! Astounding, right? It would be akin to a meta-fictional allegory according to which the DC multiverse is merely art drawn on paper, that takes life and shape on the blank canvas of creation, on the Overvoid Monitor. Essentially, the DC multiverse is a storyboard!
And it is the concept story that explains the DC multiverse. Precisely, the Overvoid Monitor has no concept for story, for a confrontation between opposed principles, for conflict and tragedy, for passion and romance. He fashions a probe, to investigate the concept and from that investigation, is borne the greatest story of the DC multiverse: The Thought Robot!
In my second part of the story, we look at the “Thought Robot” and why Superman is the greatest story.
Source: DC Universe