This past week I discovered a new level of procrastination that I had never felt before. Yesterday was my last day of class—after ten years of college—and at eleven the night beforehand, I still had two projects to finish, including my final. Naturally, instead of working my ass off, like I should have, I found a fan comic. I then read this comic—all 873 pages—in one go. I found myself so enraptured by the story and my lack of willpower to do anything else that it wasn’t until ten in the morning the next day that I realized “fuck! I have homework!”
Everything worked out for the best, though. I got an extension until Monday.
But seriously, after being a full-time student with two jobs and an internship, Dragon Ball Multiverse was exactly what I needed to help me get away for a few hours. It might be a fan comic—which is never as good as the actual thing—but if I hadn’t known that before going into the story, I would have thought otherwise. Dragon Ball Multiverse is thought out, true to the characters and to the original art style, and it keeps up with the original theme of the original narrative. That is, it has lots of fighting, explosions, and an abundance of Super Saiyans.
Yeah, I was hooked.
DB Multiverse is about exactly what you might think it’s about. Our characters fight in a tournament against themselves and all their previous foes from alternate dimensions. In one version, Goku never hit his head as a child, and now as Kakarot, he’s allies with Vegeta, Nappa, and Raditz. In another universe, Frieza is alive. In yet another, Nail merged with every Namek in his dimension to form a giant Super Namek. There’s even a universe where Bra cares more about training than shopping, and as such, she’s now one of that universe’s strongest fighters. And in my favorite dimension, there is a Saiyan princess named Mary Sue. And she is exactly what you think she is.
Essentially, Multiverse is like a collection of smaller fanfics that all come together into one large fanfiction. And it is large. Right now, there are only 873 pages, but it doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. What I really like about it, however, is that it’s incredibly self-aware and pokes fun of its own narrative and other fan ideas—as evidenced by the parody that is Mary Sue.
That said, it has a pretty consistent plot and it also takes the time to develop the non-parody alternate dimensions. Because of this, we can see multiple versions of each character, and they’re all pretty likeable. Additionally, as someone who used to watch DBZ almost religiously as a child, Multiverse has a nice nostalgic value to it, because we get to be reintroduced to characters who died—and stayed dead—or haven’t been in the show for a while.
However, it has been a while since I’ve seen Dragon Ball Z, and I stopped watching around the Buu Saga. As such, there are plenty of characters in this comic that I am unfamiliar with. Overall I was happy with most of the characters, at least the ones I recognized—Vegeta and Goku are always entertaining—and it was really awesome to see Bra being a BAMF. I also found myself growing attached to a lot of characters that I didn’t recognize as well. One thing that I’ve always liked about DBZ are the female characters. The original narrative doesn’t have a lot of them—Bulma and Chichi are the two most prominent for a while, and neither of them are ever responsible for saving the world. I don’t dislike that they aren’t as physically strong as the male characters and that they need to be rescued a lot—being rescued is something that happens for any character not named “Goku”—especially because they are both well rounded and resourceful. Later sagas, however, finally introduced some other female characters who are physically stronger and can keep up with the guys. Eighteen is one such character, and as I have a soft spot for reformed villains, she has always been one of my favorites.
It should come as no surprise, however, that DBZ has never really been much for minority representation. And the original narrative does play on a lot of offensive stereotypes—Chichi and Bulma are both “nags”, I guess you could say—but at the very least, the female characters I’m familiar with can break out of those stereotypes. As Multiverse does a good job reflecting the original source material, that is true here as well. Unfortunately, DBZ has still never really been much for minority representation. And sometimes the stereotypes it uses are a little offensive.
In Multiverse, we are introduced to around four female characters I’m completely unfamiliar with, and whom I hope to stay completely unfamiliar with. They are entirely unmemorable—I cannot even recall their names—and I half hope that they are original characters for the fan comic and not characters from the source material, though I know that’s probably wishful thinking. I was immediately put off by these girls because of how stereotyped they are. The first one to fight in the tournament faces off against Kakarot. She fights him with pheromones. This causes Kakarot, evil Saiyan that he is, to beat her up maliciously for talking—since he wants her as a mate, and therefore her place is beneath him—and then almost force himself upon her in the arena in front of everyone. And though one of the Vegeta’s thankfully puts a stop to it, it left a rancid taste in my mouth. That’s how most of these girls’ fights go. They use some clichéd “girl” ability, and it backfires.
Thankfully, they’re not in the story all that much, and most of Multiverse’s other flaws are forgivable. You’re more likely to find nostalgic value in the story than be overwhelmed by offensive themes. If you are a DB fan, I totally recommend this comic. It’s entertaining, nostalgic, and if you need something with which to procrastinate, it will keep you busy for hours. Check it out here.