DC's Convergence Week 8

I am registering deep disappointment with the way this event has turned out.

The 40 2-issue mini-series have lived and died according to the talents involved, and this week, Shazam! is once again the high-water mark, just beautiful, while most of the rest have been merely okay despite their strong showing on Week 5. I don't want, or need, to get into it too much. But the main Convergence series, well...

It's really a bad case of missed opportunities. Lame spoilers ahead.

Convergence #8 plays out like this big multiversal Crisis in which Brainiac returns to promise everyone will be returned to their own universes. What he really seems to mean is that they'll return to time lines about to be extinguished. And though a few have to go back to the Crisis on Infinite Earths to give their lives - Flash and Supergirl, of course, but also Parallax and absurdly, pre-Flushpoint Superman with wife and child - to "reset" the Multiverse lest it collapse into a single universe again, there isn't REALLY any kind of visible reset, or reboot, or anything that seems to change the New52 time line. In fact, what the art shows is the original Earths becoming the Earths we see in The Multiversity Handbook.
Which I guess means none of the tweaks offered by DC in "Divergence" (if that name is apt at all) are due to Multiversal retcons*. What appears to be the Earth2 Dr. Fate being born into DC's mainstream Earth, for example, is likely just an Earth-0 (read: New52) version of that character. And if he's not, DC's got some 'plainin' to do. It's also very strange that Convergence seems responsible for the configuration of the Multiverse as it was in The Multiversity when 1) that event was published before this one, and 2) Brainiac specifically has a flashback to Multiversity's Earth-33. But time is all screwed up, so I suppose anything's possible, which a phrase you use when logic has long since flown out the window.

Because I don't think it's accurate to say, as DC seems to have promised, and Newsarama claims in its analysis, that the other timelines are now "open" and "continuing" as alternate Earths (though the spots Morrison left as "?" on his map could have housed them). If that's the intent, it's certainly NOT what the art above seems to imply. "Each world has evolved, but they still all exist." Yes, Earth-1 continuity still exists... AS NEW52 CONTINUITY! Maybe I'm wrong, and one can go back down "hypertime" to former continuity, so what? It's only a symbolic gesture, so long as there are no series to continue those stories. Well, Newsarama says that "in coming months, according to DiDio's statement, readers could see comics about everything from pre-Crisis Earth 2 Justice Society to pre-Flashpoint Question". Sounds like they're jumping to conclusions there, and it's really NOT AS CLEAR AS THEY SAY that those continuities can still be accessed or will. Not at all. The truth is probably that DC will give itself permission to create projects that, like their digital comics, explore older or entirely new continuities (series like Prez and Bat-Mite certainly seem to be outside mainstream continuity), without feeling the need to catalog every Earth. Which is fine by me, but seems absurd after they've had Morrison go to the trouble of doing just that!

The Multiversity is also at the root of another missed opportunity, and that's of seeing Justice Incarnate, the self-appointed guardians of the Multiverse who banded together to take care of any future Crisis at the end of the event. Where are THEY when the Multiverse is threatened with collapse by the Telos planet trying to pierce through to Earth-0?
If anyone had hoped to see any of the characters featured in Convergence again in the upcoming Earth 2: Society series, where survivors will try to build a new world on Telos - and I was one of the hopeful - well, crap. Only the escapees of that series/world, orphaned after Darkseid destroyed their Earth, will appear in Society. In other words, Convergence was merely an Earth 2 mini-series that bridged the end of one series and the start of another. And here was the chance to keep beloved versions of certain characters intact, in continuing roles. Superman and Lois could have raised their baby there. Blue and Gold could have have all of the laughs. The original Earth-2 JSA could have acted as a council of elders. But no, it's going to be the New52 versions of the JSA in even more terrible costumes rebuilding post-Darkseid, because that's not EXACTLY how Earth 2 started three years ago.

And hey, Convergence made a big deal out of Telos' true identity, but then never revealed who he originally was, did it? Groan. Ok, well, at least we'll always have Jeff Parker's Shazam...
*Sneak Peek: Justice League United does refer to "anomalies" caused by the Cosmic Convergence which must be dealt with lest the universe is destroyed, but if that's DC admitting the event DID cause retcons, it's never made clear in the event itself.

31 comments:

American Hawkman said...

I interpreted the ending as, "Parallax did just as he'd always said he'd do, and undid the CRISIS, giving us back INFINITE Earths." But it definitely had the "Poochie died on his way back to his home planet" ending.

Siskoid said...

I can't accept that reading (yet) because of the way the "saved" Multiverse is presented in the art (with the older versions in background, and casts from the Multiversity Handbook in foreground), and because DC JUST gave us diagrams of the 52-Earth Multiverse.

But it wouldn't be the first time they pulled a switch at the last minute, undoing their own plans in some kind of panic. Monarch as Hawk is an early example, Flashpoint came just after a then pointless history of the DCU and announcements for a new Who's Who, and so on.

Thanks for Multiversity, Grant! Now it's all moot! Could happen.

snell said...

4 years ago I predicted that Flushpoint would "undo" the first Crisis. Eventually I was right, sort of, as DC once again takes a haphazard, keep throwing things at the wall until they stick approach to their universe(s). The sad part is, they're just really terrible at deciding what sticks and what doesn't--hence, the panicky attempt to sorta kinda keep Multiversity while at the same time throwing Morrison's work under the bus.

This is, what, the third iteration of "what we did wasn't working, but we're going to keep the guys in charge who were responsible..."?

Martin Gray said...

Yup, the Newsarama stuff doesn't match the comic. I didn't get the impression the Kents and Parallax were off to die in the Crisis, so much as fight. But who the heck knows?

SallyP said...

Shazaam was indeed the high point of this whole thing. The rest? Mainly a colossal waste of time.

And in a couple of years, they will do it all over again.

Anonymous said...

"The sad part is, they're just really terrible at deciding what sticks and what doesn't"

This, exactly. Every time a new DC cartoon starts, they position all the characters so as to be maximally usable; why can't DC do that for their comics? I grant you, there is always bound to be disagreement as to what is the "best" version of a character, but I don't think DC really has any idea. Or if they do, it's fully obscured by their insistence on charging off in new directions.

The number one thing DC should be having each creative team do (editor / writer / penciler) is think about the question: what are three things that should appear in a good story about this character / team? Then be sure to deliver on that.

There ought to be a rule that nobody but Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison is allowed to write Superman, because while they don't always nail it, they have a vastly better track record with DC's top hero than anyone else. Seriously, I remain astonished that nobody can write a good Superman, except apparently for those two.

Siskoid said...

Martin: Could be. But why charge into battle with a newborn baby AT ALL?!

Anon: Well, as a Superman fan from way back, I can't really agree with your assessment of Superman writers past and present, especially since the Superman we have now is a billion miles away from any iteration of the character I've ever liked. So if Morrison and Johns write this character well, it doesn't really matter, because he might as well be someone else. I like Morrison's Action Comics, but have no interest in what Johns is doing whatsoever. A matter of taste I'm sure.

But yes, totally, I frequently reference the Bruce Timm DCU when trashing what the comics are doing wrong. Some characters are made for instability and change, others are icons and straying too far from that iconicity will always be undone down the line, but harms the character when sustained too long.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

So, wait- did I read your analysis right and, after giving the pre-New 52 Superman and Lois a happy ending (where they are actually married) and a child at last, they sent them to DIE in a past timeline? Because if so, DC has managed to make themselves as dead-to-me as Marvel did after One More Day, and I'm going to have to go find some IDW and dark Horse to invest in...

Anonymous said...

I have to be honest, I'm frequently disappointed by Johns's and Morrison's Supermans (Supermen?), but at least I see signs of what I consider the "real" Superman in there. The guy who brings hope, the guy who inspires people to be their best selves, the guy who will move heaven and earth if he knows there's someone in trouble ... Johns and Morrison seem to get that. I'm not sure how many other writers in the DC stable do.

Sadly, Morrison is usually more interested in doing Something Very Meta than writing a straight Superman story, and Johns tends to make his heroes secondary to whatever larger story he's trying to tell.

Johns's most recent Superman arc was about an extradimensional Superman-like character (yawn) who, it turns out, had an evil agenda. BOR-ing. But at least there was a scene in there where Superman tried to convince the citizens of Metropolis that there is no perfect world out there, all we've got is each other and we need to build a better world together. Then, in the issue after that, Superman was temporarily powerless but he still talked a gunman into surrendering without hurting anyone, by showing respect and helping the gunman find a better way. That may well not be enough to make a person buy a Johns comic, but I think it shows that Johns at least gets Superman.

Siskoid said...

Well, Andrew, you should do that anyway, but I can't quite accuse DC of this because it's not clear that this is what happens. And it's not ambiguous. It's just BADLY WRITTEN.

The fact that everyone is coming out of this comic thinking a different thing happened is a BIG problem. If you're doing an event that has an IMPACT, then we need to know what that impact is. If it's just a couple of months of fluff with no real impact, then don't pretend it does!

Between the actual text of the book and DC's PR, it doesn't seem like anyone at DC even knows what really happened or what it means for the Multiverse. Or they're trying to please everyone and the result is pleasing no one. "Yes, your favorites are back, but they're also gone forever, unless you read it to mean they aren't, but we know they are, except when they'll be back again, maybe, but don't quote us on this."

Siskoid said...

Anon: There are plenty of good Superman writers in the recent past. I though Roberson very much understood the appeal of the character in the way he rescued and subverted JMS' horrid napkin scripts, for example. And for all the moaning about divesting the Superman books of Superman after the return of Krypton, I thought the New Krypton story line was an excellent exploration of what made Clark human, and how those values clashed with his bio-society.

So I don't believe for a second that Superman is hard to write. It's just that too many people who's handled the character just DIDN'T WANT TO WRITE HIM.

Anonymous said...

Is Roberson still writing for DC? Because I'd trust Superman with him too, but I don't think he's in the picture. And yes, that was a Herculean effort, salvaging "Grounded".

"So I don't believe for a second that Superman is hard to write. It's just that too many people who's handled the character just DIDN'T WANT TO WRITE HIM."

Amen!

Siskoid said...

He isn't and burned his bridges with them quite publicly. He's not running his own digital comics empire called Monkeybrain, well worth checking out. He publishes a lot of great series and writes a couple of his own (Edison Rex being the most notable, it's the best Lex Luthor story you'll ever read). It seems to have slowed down this year, I don't know what's going on there, but I hope it's just a respite, though I know he also writes novels, so there's probably another project taking up his time.

Dale Bagwell said...

I can't really add too much more here, as I did on my own blog:http://dbsuniverse.blogspot.com/2015/05/so-who-would-win-incredible-hulk-vs.html
to what's already been said without sounding repetitve, but yeah I resoundingly echo a lot the thoughts and sentiments expressed so far.

I don't know why, but I continually find myself amazed that Dan Didiot still has a job after al this. Seriosuly, he has to be eithe rbe blowing or black-mailing, or both a lot of serious higher-ups @ Time Warner, because anywhere else, in any other medium, if you mess up that frequently and cause this much confusion, you're as gets pink-slipped. And yet here we are, and he's still employed.

The ending unfortuantely answered my main question about where Morrison's Multiversity stands in all this. "It does if you want it to? seems to how DC's handling it. Its a damn shame really. we waited all that time just to see it finally printed and then Convergence happens right along side it to pretty much cock-block it on every level.
I mean, they had the opportunity as many of you have already pointed out, to simply place the survivors in those 7 unmarked Earths, and just didn't do it.
Then they blatantly ignored Multiversity, outside of what they picked and chose to use via his handbook, as well as ignoring the Justice Incarnate in favor of their JLU. You know if you're just going to ignore the man's hardwork, why continue to hire him? Yes, proabbly because he's a guarentee sales-maker, but what's his incentive for doing any more work if its just matter to DC in the overall scheme of things?

Insanity.



Toby'c said...

Do you have any thoughts on Dan Jurgen's brief run on Superman in 2012? Just that it's in my Shopping Cart at the moment.

Siskoid said...

Dale: We in the "critical community" point to a lot of DiDio screw-ups, BUT from what I know, the New52 was a sales success. If the higher-ups are just looking at the bottom line, at quantity over quality (and if you're going to hire the team that worked on 90s Marvel, that would seem to be your sole inclination), then DiDio ISN'T a screw-up.

And for all we know, he's only implementing decisions that are coming from above him, and his talent lies in justifying them. I mean, this is a guy that for all his flaws, WANTED to write OMAC and Forever People, sure sales busts. So I'm not entirely sure he's on the team we think he's on. (Which isn't meant to start a debate on his qualifications or intentions, I wouldn't be in it to win it.)

Siskoid said...

Toby: I think he was on the right track - again a writer who understands Superman - he just didn't stay long enough for me to remember it until you mentioned it just now.

Toby'c said...

I have read his work before, mainly the Death and Return of Superman (gotta get around to finishing that), what I want to know is whether that run reads well enough as a trade paperback without needing to continue when Scott Lobdell takes over in volume 3 (a writer I don't have a great impression of thanks to Atop the Fourth Wall).

Siskoid said...

It should. I read the first Lobdell issue and it was a totally different take, with a different supporting cast. It almost felt like there was a piece missing. It was totally unrelated to what had gone before.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Here's where I try to explain things that DC couldn't do themselves. Parallax was sent to reignite the sun in FINAL NIGHT, or not cause ZERO HOUR, or...something. Who knows? Superman & Lois & kid would go back to the pocket universe and the kid would grow up to be Superboy-Prime, because why not? But it would explain why Morrison kept Earth-15 dead on his map and referenced Superboy-Prime. That sort of makes sense to me, as everyone was baffled about why Morrison chose to include that COUNTDOWN event on his map. So...in effect, INFINITE CRISIS happened, Lois would die and old Superman will be killed by his now-son on Mogo. Or something.

I read very few of the minis. And why did nu52 Superman & Supergirl watch from space while the fight on Telos went on?

Siskoid said...

The New52 Supers watching from afar, aside from providing a link to the mainstream universe and revealing there were, indeed, stakes, is one of those ill-considered ideas Convergence had. There's this big Crisis, but we're just gonna watch, thanks. Probably being handled on the planet itself. Maybe we cease to exist tomorrow. Oh well.

It doesn't make sense unless it's some kind of comment on the current Supers' lack of heroism.

Abel M'Vada said...

I really can't follow along with any of this multiverse nonsense - it gives me a blinding headache. Physics textbooks are less confusing and easier to slog through. All I want to know is, what would it take for DC to give Jeff Parker to a regular Shazam! comic? Does Superboy have to punch the universe or something? I'm so very confused.

Siskoid said...

That is probably the best unanswered question of the lot.

Martin Gray said...

I've just had another look at that Superman and Lois and baby scene in Convergence. It's pretty unambiguous that Superman doesn't think he is going to die, and Lois says that he always wins – so I don't think they are running off to their certain deaths. But yes, going back to the Crisis with a newborn baby… dumb dumb dumb.

I'm agin Anon, Superman has had some great writers other than John's and Morrison in the last decade; there's the aforementioned Roberson. Kurt Busiek. Gail Simone. Greg Pak in current Action Comics. Scott Snyder did some good stuff with Superman and Lois in Unchained ...

As for Dan Jurgens' handful of issues, as ever with Jurgens, they were solidly enjoyable. He never puts a foot wrong, but it seems he wasn't allowed to step out in a new direction either - this is holding pattern stuff, waiting for Morrison's Action Comics to set up stuff. Jurgens does some great stuff with Lucy Lane, but she vanished with Lobdell. I'd say buy it for a good run read, but it's not essential to your Joy.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I had hopes for Snyder on "Superman Unchained", and indeed he did give us a couple good character moments. But when all was said and done, I don't feel like Snyder had a vision for Superman. There was a great deal of stuff that happened and Superman's methodology was challenged by W.R.A.I.T.H., but Superman never really formulated a decent rebuttal. In fact, Luthor's study of Superman's activities suggests that even Superman can't justify what he does or doesn't do; everything he tries, fails.

(Contrast with "Zero Year", where Batman's entire methodology was justified, from the theatrics of a bat costume to how not killing foes is more effective.)

Siskoid said...

In concur Martin, but since everyone seems to be returning to universal resets where they will cease to be, it all feels like death to me anyway.

Of course, if DC has its cake and eats it too, then yes, all these continuities keep existing. We'll see if any writers are allowed to progress their stories.

Anon: As for Superman Unchained, I don't know how good the writing was, because the art made it unreadable. I hate Jim Lee's work with the passion of a billion burning suns, it's all unmotivated splash pages and little substance. I didn't get beyond a single issue of that often-late series.

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

@Martin Gray: as I mentioned above to Siskoid, though it makes as much sense as anything else here, and since COIE was mentioned, I really am thinking that the Supes family we are seeing are analogues for the Golden Age Superman, Lois, and unfortunately Superboy-Prime. My reasoning is pretty much because Earth-15 on Morrison's map mentions S-Prime and (I guess) INFINITE CRISIS/52 still exists in the nu52. (We see Mr. Mind's image.)

@siskoid: you are right. The current heroes watch but do nothing. QUESTIONS FOR YOU!!!! Did Brainiac ever tell Telos his real name? What did Justice League United do out in space? And, not that I'm complaining, but what happened to all the nu52/WildStorm characters?

Dale Bagwell said...

Good question @Wayne Allen Sallee. Ever since DC absorbed Wildstorm, they never seemed to know what to do with it other than some half-hearted launches and lip service to any hardcore Wildstorm fans left.

There are some really solid characters there outside of the Midnighter and the awesomeness that used to be the Authority, but not anymore.
I personally think the mistreatment of those Wildstorm characters, many of which were created by Jim Lee is really weird.
They work better as their own thing in their own universe, otherwise they just stand out as bad derivatives of the more well-known and popular DC heroes.

I'm not sure we'll ever know who Telos really was. To me, he felt like a Silver Surfer analogue, but without the true nobility that a character like Norrin Radd possess.
I guess in the end it doesn't matter, much like Didio and DC stopped pretending that Pandora really mattered post-Flashpoint.

Martin Gray said...

Wayne, I read your original note about Clark and Lois and Superboy Prime - too random for me. SP was Kal-El from Krypton, Superman doesn't give birth to a version of himself. Leave that sweet baba alone!

Siskoid said...

Yes, DC's Ouroboros is the Flash, not Superman! ;-)

As for Wildstorm, they were on the Convergence planet, so I guess they returned home, but that would be confusing in the art piece, because that home is now Earth-0 along with the Big Three. So a clear example of No, these worlds DON'T all still exist in an "evolved" state.

But yeah, I don't care about any Wildstorm property. Jim Lee just seems to try and try to push them until they become relevant enough for him to get a lucrative movie deal, but readers never take the bait!

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

@Martin, I agree the characters are different, but the way this book ended, that's the only thing I got out of it, since no compassion was shown for all the other doomed heroes. So I was thinking it was a weird way to "fix" that part of COIE because there is no Golden Age in the nu52. Confusing, right? DC can't handle their past well, maybe there will be an Earth designate that Brainiac sends them to.

 

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