Convergence Week One Guide: A ComicsVerse Review and Analysis

Welcome to our recap of the first official week of DC Comics’ massive 2015 Multiverse event. After last week’s Zero Issue provided the slightest of teasers, DC went full-on Convergence this week with the release of the #1 issue of the main series plus the first wave of tie-ins mini-series.

Convergence #1 By Jeff King, Scott Lobdell, Carlos Pagulayan, and Jason Paz

After months of clues, ads, internet videos, creator interviews, and a zero issue building it up, the Convergence series itself gets off to a bit barebones start here. The issue begins in the domed-in and destroyed Gotham City of the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe (Based on the video game and prequel comic of the same name, which featured a despotic Superman battling a rebellious Batman). The pages feature the Injustice versions of Batman and Superman arguing over whether the latter will attempt to help save the city when a booming voice declares that the city and those in it have proven themselves unworthy. Volcanoes suddenly erupt from the ground, seemingly killing everyone except for Superman who’s then crushed by a giant earthen hand that shoots up from the planet’s surface. This opening sequence is incredibly effective, showing alternate universe versions of recognizable characters being easily dispatched by the series’ main villain to set the stakes, and is very reminiscent of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths in that way. However, it’s also the best part of the comic.

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The rest of the issue follows Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Dick Grayson, and Yolanda Montez of Earth 2 (The New 52 version, not the classic Pre-Crisis version) as they are mysteriously transported to Brainiac’s domed-city planet during a battle with Darkseid. Initially, the 6 bicker amongst themselves until they’re attacked and subdued by metal beings from within the planet. The metal beings begin constructing on of the city dome’s around them, which dampens their powers, as it does to all the super-powered residents within any of the domes, explaining how Brainiac successfully entrapped so many super-powered beings from throughout the Multiverse.

It’s then that they’re confronted by Telos, the newly created Big Bad. Telos explains that he his is the embodiment of the planet that Brainiac, whom he refers to as his master, has transported the domed cities to, and has provided them with life-sustaining elements such as air and water. Telos then announces to all the domed cities that he’s choosing to put them into competition with each other, and that the defenders of each city must fight each other until only one city remains. The winner will be allowed a continued existence.

The issue ends with a three-page guide to some of the lesser known cities/universes featured in the Convergence event. Convergence #1 isn’t a bad comic. The writing and artwork are better than average and the characters are pretty well presented, though I do question why DC didn’t bother to put in narration boxes or at least editorial footnotes detailing which universes the characters came from, as a reader unfamiliar with DC lore would have no idea who is from the Injustice or Earth 2 universes.

The biggest issue with the comic is that there’s almost no story progression. We’re introduced to Telos, but even his long, exposition heavy speech gives us no information, except for the fact that he’s going to open up the domes and have the various cities fight each other for survival, which we knew from solicitations and last week’s Zero issue. While I’m not advocating rushing through the story, a person could very easily skip this issue and go from #0 to #2 without missing any important information. Considering the fact that Convergence is supposed to kickstart a new era for the DC Universe and has a lot of new and lapsed readers’ eyes on it, that’s simply not good enough.

Convergence #1 – C+

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In addition to the main series, for each week of the Convergence event I’ll be giving quick spotlights to some of the numerous tie-in mini-series

Convergence: Superman #1 by Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks

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I’ll preface this by saying I’m not a big Superman fan, especially regarding solo titles, but I really enjoyed Convergence Superman #1. Set mainly in the Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City, the issue begins with a de-powered Superman acting as a Batman-like vigilante with Lois Lane talking to him through an earpiece ala’ Oracle. Just as he’s outnumbered by thugs, Telos’ grand pronouncement from Convergence #1 is heard as the dome falls and Superman regains his powers.

After reuniting with a visibly pregnant Lois, Superman ventures outside of Gotham and encounters Cyborg, Abin Sur, and Captain Thunder (Shazam) of the Flashpoint Universe, sent by that Universe’s Batman, Thomas Wayne, to defend their city at all costs. Meanwhile, the Kal El of the Flashpoint Gotham races to the Pre-Flashpoint Gotham and confronts Lois Lane, leaving the issue at a cliffhanger. The issue features a brief history of the version of Superman focused on in the book, and all the other Convergence mini-series do the same for their respective starring characters. Smartly focusing on the Lois and Clark relationship that the New 52 controversially eliminated, this issue is definitely recommended.

Superman Convergence #1: A

 

Convergence: Titans #1 By Fabian Nicieza and Ron Wagner

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Just as I prefaced the Superman blurb, I should preface this one: I’m a huge fan of the Titans. They’re my favorite DC franchise, the one I collect and read most voraciously, and the one I feel was most damaged by the New 52. Therefore, to say I was excited by the concept of the pre-Flashpoint Titans appearing in Convergence is an understatement, and Convergence: Titans #1 doesn’t disappoint for the most part.

Centering on Roy Harper (Arsenal), the comic initially discusses the state of Gotham for the year that it’s been trapped on Brainiac’s planet. Surprisingly, it presents life as rather nice with the lack of super-powered battles and with a need for all residents in the city to rely on each other, leading to a vast reduction in crime. At first, this seems to have helped Roy Harper adapt to life with a prosthetic arm and without his daughter Lian, both of which he lost shortly before the New 52 Reboot. However, once Telos lowers the dome and reactivates meta-human abilities, we learn that Roy has actually kept a fully loaded command center ready for what he sees as the inevitable moment when things take a turn for the worse.

He joins up with re-powered teammates Donna Troy and Starfire to figure out what’s happening, and eventually the three are drawn into a battle with The Extremists. Extremist Dreamslayer makes an offer to Harper to resurrect Lian, claiming the powers of the planet will allow him to do so, but only if Roy kills Donna and Starfire. A conflicted Arsenal seems to fire at his teammates at point blank range, ending part one on a cliffhanger.

The story is at it’s most interesting when exploring the idea that Gotham under the dome has actually become a safer place, however this idea is dropped very quickly, and Roy’s inner-conflict feels a bit underdeveloped. Nicieza’s writing has a very 90’s quality to it, which really shows at certain times, such as the out of place sexist quips made by the villains during the end battle scene. Wagner’s art is hit or miss. The panels depicting Donna and Starfire are beautifully rendered, but at the other times, such as Starfire during the final fight, it looks blocky and uneven. Despite these flaws, Convergence: Titans #1 is a strong comic, especially for fans of the characters.

Convergence: Titans #1: B

 

Convergence: Speed Force #1 By Tony Bedard and Tom Grummett

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Focusing on Pre-Flashpoint Wally West and his two young children, Convergence: Speed Force #1 is packed with strong ideas, but eventually collapses a bit under its own weight. The story begins one year before the dome falls, with Wally bringing his children Iris and Jai along to protect them while on a JLA mission. Flashing forward a year, we learn that Wally has been obsessed with trying to break out of the dome due to guilt from having his children with him, and is ignoring them and everyone around him in the process.

Once Telos announces the competition, lowers the dome and restores everyone’s powers, Wally takes off running to learn more, inadvertently taking Iris and Jay with him due to the speed force connection they share. The three run through several of the cites trapped on the planet, including a run through a city populated by the cartoon-style Zoo Crew of Captain Carrot fame, where the Crew’s speedster duck Fastback joins them.The four end up in the Flashpoint Universe Gotham, and are confronted but that world’s bloodthirsty Wonder Woman, ending part one.

The biggest issue with Speed Force is that it presents several strong concepts but doesn’t spend enough time on any of them to make it memorable. Wally trying to be a good “normal” dad, Wally obsessively trying to break the dome, the Wests running through all the trapped cities, or a light-hearted Captain Carrot/Flash were all teased in the story, and any of them could have worked as the main focus. Instead they’re all brought up and dropped quickly, and we end with an out of nowhere cliffhanger. While it was nice to see Wally in the Flash costume, Convergence: Speed Force #1 isn’t a comic I’d recommend.

Convergence: Speed Force #1: C+

 

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1 By Gail Simone and Juan Duursema

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I was very excited going into Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1, as I’m a big fan of both characters involved and of writer Gail Simone. I’m happy to say the resulting issue exceeded my expectations. The story begins with an alternate universe version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl laying siege to the town of El Inferno (an Old West Elseworlds town featuring Western versions of the Justice League) and murdering its Wally West and Guy Gardener, which ties into The Flash finding the town destroyed in Speed Force #1. The Thanagarians tell Telos’ monitoring robots that they’re ready to move on to their next competition.

The scene shifts to Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City, where Nightwing is stopping a Mister Freeze museum robbery while bantering with Oracle over his earpiece. Said banter is revealed to be one-sided, as Barbara’s inner-monologue reveals that being trapped in the domed-in Gotham is seriously wearing on her psyche. She’s not the only one, as Nightwing’s brief confrontation with Freeze ends with the villain simply giving up, stating there’s no point to any of what they’re doing.

After some soul searching, including a meeting with former fling Starfire, Dick takes Barbara out on a date and proposes marriage to her. She rejects his offer, and the dome falls before she can explain why. Quickly, the Hawkman and Hawkgirl from earlier storm the city and after briefly wiping the floor with Nightwing in a fight, they offer to abandon their own city and instead fight for Gotham in Telos’ competition.  In return, they will have complete rule over the populace. Nightwing refuses and prepares to do battle with them, while unknown to him, Oracle has her own plan of action as the issue ends.

Nightwing/Oracle is a really strong book almost solely on the back of Gail Simone’s script, as Duursema’s art is no more than passable. In what should come as no surprise to those who know her work, Simone excellently handles the dialogue and interactions between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. She also includes some nice background pieces of information, such as the reveal that Poison Ivy is growing a garden to keep Gotham fed, that shed a bit of light on what life in domed-in Gotham is like. While just a hair under the Superman book for my pick of the week, this is definitely a book I’d recommend.

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1: A-

 

Convergence: Batgirl #1 By Alyssa Kwitney and Rick Leonardi

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Convergence: Batgirl #1 is an odd book. Starring the Pre-Flashpoint Stephanie Brown version of Batgirl, with guest turns from former Batgirl Cassandra Cain and former Robin Tim Drake (in their final Pre-Flashpoint guises as Black Bat and Red Robin respectively) the book sandwiches an effective middle section between two messy framing pieces.

The framing pieces show the three heroes waiting in a desert for a challenger, as Stephanie has been chosen as one of the defenders of Gotham, a fact she learned on a news broadcast. After some inner-monologue of Stephanie doubting herself, the three are confronted and attacked by what seems to be the Flashpoint Universe versions of Cat-Man and Gorilla Grodd. I say “seems” because the art isn’t that consistent with those versions, and they’re never identified in the book.

Once Grodd attacks, the book flashes back to when the dome first fell on Gotham. Stephanie initially wears her Batgirl suit and attempts to keep order with the others, but has trouble handling just how psychologically shattered some residents are from living under the dome, and she gives up being Batgirl. However, she doesn’t give up helping people, becoming an volunteer at a health clinic.

We also learn that Stephanie and Cassandra have moved in together, and we get some entertaining bonding moments between the two before the dome falls and a TV news report identifies Stephanie as one of the city’s chosen champions. After some brief training with Red Robin and Black Bat, the three are transported to the desert outside the city for Stephanie’s battle, and the issue leaves off where it began.

Convergence: Batgirl #1 is mediocre in both story and art. While the middle section does show promise, it’s not enough to save the book’s meandering plot. Artistically, the book is all over the place with no internal consistency to the characters, even Stephanie who appears different on almost every page.

Convergence: Batgirl #1: C-

 

Other Convergence Week One Titles

-The Atom by Tom Peyer and Steve Yeowell

-Batman and Robin By Ron Marz and Dennis Cowan

-Harley Quinn by Steve Pugh and Phil Winslade

-Justice League by Frank Tieri and Vincente Cifuentes

-The Question by Greg Ruck and Cully Hammer

 

Overall:

The first week of Convergence left a lot to be desired. The #1 issue of the main series went nowhere plot-wise and revealed nothing that readers who’d even casually read previews or the zero issue didn’t know. I’m looking forward to the second issue of the series hopefully kicking the plot into high gear.

The mini-series were hit or miss, with the highlights being Convergence: Superman and Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle. However, the minis were severely lacking in internal consistency. For example, all of the five spotlighted above took place in domed-in Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City, yet the city was presented as wildly different in each. The rules of Convergence seemed to differ in each as well, an example being Batgirl summoned as a champion through a TV news report and being transported to a desert for her predetermined battle, something that doesn’t happen in any of the other books.

That being said, I’m personally quite excited for next week’s mini-series as they’re centered around characters and storylines spinning out of DC Comics Zero Hour event, a personal favorite time period of mine. Hopefully they won’t disappoint, but even if they do, I hope you guys will be right back here at Comicsverse to discuss them with me.

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