So it begins… Putting superhumans on some alien battleground with an excuse to fight it out has been a comic book trope since forever – from my perspective, since a very special episode of Challenge of the Super-Friends, but obviously, perfected in the early 80s in Marvel’s Secret Wars – and has been used for massive events periodically over the past 30 years. Convergence feels most like DC vs. Marvel and is likely to end in a similar way. In that 90s project, two universes were forced to fight by cosmic entities for the survival of their universes; in the end, the heroes rejected judgment and teamed up against the entities, resulting in the Amalgam universe, which borrowed features from both. In Convergence, cities from various Earths and continuities have been collected so their “champions” can fight to be restored to proper continuity, and it’s likely the final effect on continuity will feature various worlds’ characters integrated into DC’s baseline universe. It’s all been done before, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it comes at a time when comics might be a little saturated with this concept. Not only is Marvel’s new Secret Wars event A LOT like this and set to extend through the summer, but DC itself has been pumping out other multiversal battles steadily with The Multiversity and the computer game-related Infinite Crisis: Fight for the Multiverse.
Obviously, Convergence’s major draw is that it brings back DC’s pre-Flashpoint continuity, fans of which have been DC’s most vocal detractors over the past three years (AKA the New52 era), myself included. People who wanted to see Oracle, Steph Brown, Wally West, the married Superman, and other pre-Flashpoint icons will, indeed, get what they wanted. But not entirely… See, the premise requires two things that subvert the return of the pre-Flashpoint universe: That only one city per continuity could be saved, with some clunky shuffling of characters who don’t normally live in Gotham to make that work, and that a year has passed since they were bottled up on Telos and stripped of their powers. They’ve thus been changed by the survivalist experience, have forged new relationships, have gone a little coo-coo, even retired.
So these are not necessarily the heroes you remember. Close, but not exactly. And if you DON’T remember them, there are pre-Flashpoint recaps at the back. And while we may be getting characters we remember, but they’re not necessarily in the type of stories they’re remembered FOR. There’s a war going on and they are all thrust into it (and of course, each book must contain the redundant call to arms from Telos). From these 10 comics, I’m hopeful the books will at least address some dangling plot lines left over after whatever Crisis interrupted them. Was Barbara and Dick’s relationship going somewhere? What was next for Lois and Clark? Will the Atom get revenge on Deathstroke for Ryan Choi’s death? Can Arsenal deal with the death of his daughter? And so on.
Pre-Flashpoint Earth is pretty much the focus of Convergence, to the exclusion of all else. Ambivalence. On the one hand, these are the heroes I’ve been missing for the past three years. On the other, it seems to break the promise made by the back pages in the two Convergence issues to date. Convergence seems intent on showcasing every continuity DC ever published, even one-offs like the Morrison’s Doom Patrol Kirby pastiche (remember that?), as if to say each is represented on the battleground world Telos. But the whole first week has the page reproduced above, which only lists 5 cities, and those fights continue into each tie-in’s second issue, not that those five get equal space. There’s a certain poetic justice in showing pre-Flashpoint and Flashpoint fighting it out, but the Extremists lurk in only a couple books, and the other two really only in one each. As for the rest, they’re in the very deep backgrounds Flash runs through a few of them, leaving the Convergence weekly to really deal with other principal Earths, including the New52 Earth-0 and Earth-2. I take it each week will feature a different area, but that’s still just four in all. Would it have hurt DC to produce a couple of books off the beaten track each month? In this mix, the Question could have been the Charlton Vic Sage, for example.
And while I do think a few of the comics feature rougher art and writers I’ve never heard of, others do showcase talent I enjoy, like Dan Jurgens & Lee Weeks (Superman), Tom Grummett (Speed Force), Gail Simone & Jan Duursema (Nightwing and Oracle), and others.
This week’s Convergence tie-ins include:
Convergence #1 by Jeff King, Scott Lobdell, Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz (should probably be read first; the other books are in no real order)
Convergence – Batgirl #1 by Alisa Kwitney, Rick Leonardi and Mark Pennington (definitely has the charm you remember from Stephanie Brown’s series)
Convergence – Batman and Robin #1 by Ron Marz, Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson (nothing too unexpected)
Convergence – Harley Quinn #1 by Steve Pugh, Phil Winslade and John Dell (Harley’s hard-earned recovery is one of the better elements of this One Year Later)
Convergence – Justice League #1 by Frank Tieri and Vincente Cifuentes (the female Justice Leaguers are a badass bunch)
Convergence – Nightwing and Oracle #1 by Gail Simon, Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons (takes no prisoners; my favorite of the first lot)
Convergence – Speed Force #1 by Tony Bedard, Tom Grummett and Sean Parsons (worth it for the special guest star)
Convergence – Superman #1 by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks (gets into the action quick, but not before giving us some tender Lois/Clark moments)
Convergence – The Atom #1 by Tom Peyer, Steve Yeowell and Andy Owens (a little bit weird, perhaps embracing All-New Atom’s style)
Convergence – The Question #1 by Greg Rucka, Cully Hamner and Dave McCraig (just a touch repetitive, but then I never liked this storyline)
Convergence – The Titans #1 by Fabian Nicieza, Ron Wagner and José Marzan Jr. (playing for some interesting stakes, though these are characters I’d mostly lost sight of)
Which ones are you picking up?
Siskoid has suffered Crisis after Crisis in his life, but thankfully, none with red skies or domed cities.