DC's Convergence Week 2

They were really destroying their core heroes just before Zero Hour, weren't they? That's the continuity that's explored in the second batch of 2-issue mini-series (while the main series continues to focus on New 52 Earth-2), and just look at the state of things. Batman has to share the page with AzBats. Hal Jordan is Parallax. Metropolis is overrun with would-be Supermen. Aquaman has a harpoon hand. Supergirl is an glob of protoplasm in Lex Luthor's service. And the Justice League has seen some better days, having been pulled from a truly horrendous era of the comics. But searching my memories, I can't believe things were THIS bad. It's like the Week 2 writer never read the books and just thought "mid-90s, huh? I think I remember what comics were like back then".

Guys, I know I was fairly positive about Convergence last week, but Week 2 is just at best remedial, at worst offensive. It's pretty much everything you hate about the 1990s. Just look at this punch-up:
The grim and gritty DCU I just described VERSUS Jim Lee's Wildstorm universe which I wish would just DIE DIE DIE already VERSUS Kingdom Come which no one seemed to understand was a CRITIQUE of the 90s, not a stamp of approval VERSUS Electropolis and its morts from the original Crisis (our only non-90s sanctuary, and it's people we don't care about). There's no contrast here. It's all gritted teeth and people getting shot. In every book. If it had been kept to the Suicide Squad issue, at least, but no, it's all over the place. Aquaman might as well have been an Aquaman/Deathblow flip book. Batman looks the other way as AzBats kills everyone in Tobias Whale's entourage. Somebody's devoured by piranha. Toy-Man gets it in the face... On and on.

And if it felt a little forced for everyone to be in Gotham on Week 1, at least the city was primed to be a postapocalyptic hell hole. Metropolis, not so much, and in trying to get all the "replacements" there, they strain willing suspension of disbelief to its limit. And they don't even do it right. Batman may have been back when Zero Hour did its minor retcon, but he needn't have been in Metropolis, leaving the field clear for Azrael; so why are they BOTH here? Conversely, where the hell is Superman? He was also back, but his absence is conspicuous. Superboy should be in Hawaii at this point, etc. There's a definite lack of continuity between Weeks 1 and 2, like the way super-tech is handled (sometimes works, sometimes not), and where Week 1's characters had to walk or fly to the other cities, there's a whole lot of teleportation going on this week. And even within the same city, the continuity is paltry. Catwoman is the queen of Suicide Slum in her series (somehow one of the more upbeat and positive of the batch), but it's also overrun by Tobias Whale's forces in Shadow of the Bat.

Ultimately, the failure is in the writing. The worst books of the lot have characters spending an inordinate amount of time saying what the images clearly tell us, recapping events from a single page ago, or making the characters absolute idiots. Steel pulling his punches against Gen13 because they're just kids, taking way too long to realize they're not just kids, but kids with POWERS, comes to mind. Or how about that horrendous Green Arrow meets Connor Hawke scene? So awful. Even the highlight of the batch, Supergirl Matrix by Keith Giffen is, while humorous, an ANGRY kind of humorous, with people shouting at each other with a rather misogynistic streak.

And I'm not letting the art off the hook either. Behind some rather cool covers lies some pretty dreary art. There are exceptions, like Tom Mandrake, Ron Randall and Timothy Green, but even a charmer like June Brigman gets inked to an inch of her artistic life by smudgy Roy Richardson. It's especially apparent in comics that have the Kingdom Come characters in them. The designs looked gorgeous when Alex Ross created them, but it's always been difficult for standard pencils to capture them. They look so awful in most of these books that it often took me a minute to figure out they weren't some Wildstorm atrocities (and we haven't seen Magog's "Image-ish" heroes). So yeah, pretty bad.

Meanwhile, in the core event book, there are shots of Stan Lee's Just Imaginaverse fighting those ridiculous Futures' End cyborgs and losing... I would have much rather seen the former feature in Week 2 proper.

In the interest of positivity and keeping to the format established last week (spoilers ahead), let me still attempt 5 Favorite Moments from Convergence Week 2:

5. Bruce Wayne and Flashpoint Earth2 Thomas Wayne meet, leading to some mirrory prose in Convergence #2.
4. Blue Beetle, currently the leader of the Justice League, rips a cast off his arm to go into battle (not the smartest move, but cool).
3. Suicide Slum? It. Is. Defended.
2. Ambush Bug shows up in Supergirl Matrix to ensure I'll pick up the second issue.
1. Deadshot's dead cold reaction to being drafted to the Suicide Squad again.
Did you pick any of these books up? I am the only one who was underwhelmed by DC's take on pre-Zero Hour continuity?


SallyP said...

The JLI was probably the least objectionable. It was nice to see Ted and Bea, and Tora and J'onn again. Oh, and Captain Shinypants was there too. No Guy.

Suicide Squad, I only bought to see old fat Amanda Waller. She was great.

But yeah, these books are insanely underwhelming.

d said...

I am skipping this entire "event". Really Siskoid, why are you even wasting your money?

MichaelT said...

My biggest complaint with these events is that nothing ever happens or darn close to it. The status quo ante remains just that. Any small changes (Batman is Azrael! No, Batman is Dick Grayson! No Batman is Damian! No! No! No!) eventually go back to the original (Batman is Michael Keaton. Wait, that's Birdman...)

Anonymous said...

Speculation: this crossover is intended just to put comics on the racks while DC is doing its big move. That's why so many parts of this are written by the worst writers DC can find (Wolfman, Lobdell, etc).

This is deliberately a crossover whose chapters will have little impact on anything, and DC suspects that it's going to be kind of crappy. The only meaningful parts, if there are any, will happen in the final issue.

Siskoid said...

Sally: I did not like the statement they made by shooting the Wall. If that's indeed what happens.

d: Blog fodder. I make way too many decisions based on what I want/need to put on the blog.

Micheal: That's not a problem for me. It's the nature of comics. How WOULD Dick handle the mantle of the Bat? Pretty darn nicely, as it turns out. It's not about making a change that lasts, but about answering a question and perhaps advancing a character to the next step.

Anon: Not much speculation since that's exactly what DC said Convergence was for, technically. It's really only about seeing some old versions of characters in action again, and possibly cause a minor continuity tweak by letting some characters back into the DCU. If it's "meaningful" to anyone, it's the New52 Earth2 characters who are homeless after the events of the last year's E2 books.

snell said...

Since most of the current DC braintrust has based their careers on disdaining and undoing everything from that era, is it really any surprise that little love ends up being shown for it here?

Andrew said...

Haven't read this, but I was big into the Super-books between the return and King of the World. Pre-Zero Hour Metropolis was a bit of a post-apocalyptic hellhole for a time, destroyed (pretty much everything except the Newstime building) by Lex Luthor "Jr.'s" temper tantrum while temporarily dying from the clone plague.

It was all magically fixed in the #0 issues, and we later learned that wasn't a metaphor thanks to Zatanna, J'onn, and Perry.

Point is, they missed an opportunity for extra grim if that's not when this was set.

LiamKav said...

"My biggest complaint with these events is that nothing ever happens or darn close to it. The status quo ante remains just that. Any small changes (Batman is Azrael! No, Batman is Dick Grayson! No Batman is Damian! No! No! No!) eventually go back to the original (Batman is Michael Keaton. Wait, that's Birdman...)"

I used to feel the same way, but (as Siskoid says) I don't think the point of those stories is for change. Comics aren't quite like other forms of media. There is never going to be a big change to Batman's status quo, so the point of any story isn't the destination, but the journey. Going into Dick-As-Batman expecting that it's going to be a lasting change will just leave you disappointed. Going into it wondering how Dick will cope with being Batman, and how other characters will react, THAT's the point.

(Obviously this rule is less hard and fast when it comes to less A-list characters. You can make more lasting changes to some of those. But still, people get held up on the wrong things. If all you care about is the big changes, you might as well just rid a list of spoiler articles on-line, or the final page of every book that exists. The fun stuff happens in the middle!)

Siskoid said...

Andrew: I guess it's just before that, because Lex Jr. isn't showing signs of clonal decomposition. So DC doesn't even have a good understanding of its own premise. I thought Telos "saved" cities from events like Zero Hour. I guess he forgot to make a back-up just before it happened and the best version was a few months old.

Liam: You said it even better than I did.


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