DC's Convergence Week 1

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:
1) That only one city per continuity could been saved, which means various heroes have clumsily been shuffled to Gotham City and are out of their normal environment and at least some of their supporting cast (Wally, Superman, the female members of the Justice League, and the Titans).
And 2) they've all been living in a domed city, where their powers do not work, for a year before the action starts, so they've all been changed by this survivalist experience (some have quit the hero business, others have gone mad, or forged new relationships, etc.).

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.

And now for some the spoilery(ish) bit - look away if that matters to you - here are my 5 Favorite Moments from Convergence Week 1:

5. Steph Brown finds it difficult to go to the bathroom in a superhero costume (shows the character's real world charm can't be stopped by event-itis)
4. Harley Quinn's hard-earned recovery (until Convergence screws everything up)
3. Superman waits a beat to enjoy life before he has to go into battle
2. Fastback teams up with the Flash
1. Oracle is such a BADASS!!!
Which ones are you picking up? Let us know and come back next week, because I'm just as likely to binge-read Week 2... I'm doing this FOR YOU, guys!


wriphe said...

Most of the titles I bought this week were chosen by flipping through them and looking for Zoo Crew appearances. (Loved, loved, love seeing Fastback play the Max Mercury role for the real Flash [by which I mean Wally West].)

But to my great surprise, the book I enjoyed the most was THE QUESTION. Of all of them, it was the only one that really felt like an organic extension of its original source material to me.

Siskoid said...

A lot depends on what you would have been reading and enjoying when the Old52 ended. For my part, The Question was one of my least favorite because I never cared for Renée as the Question (as Renée yes, but not in that identity), didn't care for the whole mark of Cain thing, etc. But I can appreciate why you would.

abc said...


Siskoid said...

All things are theoretically skipable.

Skip if you don't care about the continuity plug this will put on the Artist-Formerly-Know-As-The-New52.

Skip if you don't care about any of these characters as they existed in whatever continuity they inhabit (this week, pre-Flushpoint, but next week looks like pre-Zero Hour or pre-Infinite Crisis, I don't know yet).

Skip if your wallet needs a break.

There are many reasons.

If you can only read one, my favorite was Nightwing & Oracle. most skipable from my perspective, Batman & Robin.

Russell said...

I bought or will buy the ones featuring characters I wanted to read about; so this week I got JL, Titans, and Nightwing/Oracle for the Mera, Aqualad/Teen Titans, and Oracle spots. Next week Aquaman, JLA, and Legion.

I agree with you, I think we will end up with an amalgamated universe at the end. I just hope we end up with a Legion and a 2-handed Aquaman.

abc said...

I did care about the pre-flushpoint characters, but I'm not sure I care about them living in a honeycomb-skied world. Or enough to drop $4/issue.

Siskoid said...

At least readers can pick and choose. In no way did I get the sense that any given 2-issue series needed any of the others to work. You can read Oracle or Speed Force without the benefit of even the core Convergence series.


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