DC Comics Convergence: Guide to What to Read Before: Week Three

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Welcome to the Week Three of our Convergence coverage, looking at what DC Comics trade paperbacks and collections lead in to the various Convergence miniseries that DC has announced this week.

Last week I theorized that DC would offer pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths stories this week, and that turns out to be the case, though some, especially the Convergence: Wonder Woman miniseries, are much more pre-Crisis (some years earlier) than others. Looking at DC's original Convergence promo image, just about every character group on that image has been used as a hero or villain except Superman: Red Son, an OMACed Justice League (Futures' End?), Justice Riders, Silver Age-ish Justice Society/Infinity, Inc., Crime Syndicate of Earth 2, Charlton characters, Fawcett characters (Captain Marvel family), Quality characters (Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, Plastic Man), and the DC One Million characters.

This suggests to me that next week might spotlight the multiple Earths of DC's Silver Age Justice League "Crisis" stories that pre-dated Crisis on Infinite Earths. That'd be Earth-2 (Justice Society), Earth-3 (Crime Syndicate), Earth-4 (Charlton), Earth-S (Fawcett), and Earth-X (Quality) (the lone Batman in the Convergence image could be the Batman of Earth-5, introduced in Detective Comics #500).

For this week, however, back to the Crisis on Infinite Earths-era titles:

• Batman and the Outsiders (Marc Andreyko)

What to read:
Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders

Both Batman and the Outsiders and Outsiders on their own have a significant post-Crisis on Infinite Earths collections library (roundabouts Infinite Crisis). For pre-Crisis adventures, a reader's only option is the black-and-white Showcase Presents volume, which collects the first 19 issues of the Mike Barr/Jim Aparo series.

• Adventures of Superman (Marv Wolfman)

Marv Wolfman's Convergence: Adventures of Superman visits Superman and Supergirl prior to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, so the final Crisis-era Superman story, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, doesn't really count here since it takes place after Crisis. Nothing really to read to get current here short of maybe Wolfman's own Crisis itself.

• Wonder Woman (Larry Hama)

What to read:
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 1
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 2
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 3
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 4
Tales of the Multiverse: Batman – Vampire

The pre-Crisis "mod" era Wonder Woman Diana Prince, created by Mike Sekowsky, battles creatures from Doug Moench and Kelley Jones's Elseworlds Batman vampire tale. DC has helpfully collected all the Diana Prince stories in four volumes, and collected the three "Red Rain" stories in one volume, though to call this the pre-Crisis-era Wonder Woman is something of a misnomer. Yes, Wonder Woman's Diana Prince stories predated Crisis, but Wonder Woman had well since returned to her original costume as of Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors long before Crisis.

• Flash (Dan Abnett)
• Justice League of America (Fabian Nicieza)

What to read:
Tangent Comics Vol. 1
Tangent Comics Vol. 2
Tangent Comics Vol. 3
Tangent: Superman's Reign Vol. 1
Tangent: Superman's Reign Vol. 2

Tangent was a DC Comics "Fifth Week" event in the late 1990s that gained some traction later on when the characters were made an "official" alternate DC Earth around Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis. The stories themselves, especially the early ones, are enjoyable, positing certain DC heroes created from scratch in an environment of Cold War paranoia; the individual tales are also related in subtle fashions that might remind one of Jack Kirby's Fourth World or Grant Morrison's Seven Soliders of Victory. The solicitation of Convergence: Flash doesn't offer much in the way of continuity notes for Barry Allen, but these books will fill in all a reader needs to know about the Tangent characters.

Similarly there aren't any collections of the "Detroit era" of the Justice League, including Elongated Man, Aquaman, Batman, Steel, Vibe, Vixen, Gypsy, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna, but here again, the Tangent books will catch you up on their Convergence foes.

• Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (Stuart Moore)

Here, too, the solicitation doesn't offer much to signify the exact era for Superboy or the Legion of Super-Heroes. In general Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga is one of the more well-known pre-Crisis Legion stories, written by Paul Levitz.

• Green Lantern Corps (David Gallaher)

What to read:
Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 1
Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 2
Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 3

The stories by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton recently collected in the Green Lantern: Sector 2814 series saw Hal Jordan retiring and John Stewart and Guy Gardner vying for the role of Earth's Green Lanterns, the general premise of Convergence: Green Lantern Corps (the Green Lantern title would become Corps after Crisis). The third volume includes stories that specifically tie in to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

• Swamp Thing (Len Wein)

What to read:
Roots of the Swamp Thing
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 1
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 2
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 3
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 4
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 5
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 6

I'm pretty excited about Convergence: New Teen Titans later in this week's releases, but the double-threat of Convergence: Swamp Thing written by Swamp Thing creator Len Wein and with Kelley Jones's always-spooky art takes the top spot. Wein's first Swamp Thing stories appear in the Roots of the Swamp Thing collection, though if the theme of the day is post-Crisis, the real refresher will be Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing volumes. Saga Vol. 4 is where Swamp Thing intersects with Crisis.

• Hawkman (Jeff Parker)

What to read:
Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth Omnibus Vol. 1
Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth Omnibus Vol. 2

There also aren't any collections of the "Shadow War" era of Hawkman (specifically the 1985 miniseries by Tony Isabella and Richard Howell, Shadow War of Hawkman). That Hawkworld writer/artist Tim Truman provides the art here is welcome, though something of an anachronism since Hawkworld was specifically post-Crisis and contradicted some pre-Crisis Hawkman lore. Hawkman and Hawkgirl meet Kamandi and his anthropomorphic friends in this one, an inspired team-up that should have happened already.

• New Teen Titans (Marv Wolfman)

What to read:
New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1
New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2
New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3
New Teen Titans: Games

Between Titans, Speed Force, and New Teen Titans, DC's definitely giving fans what they want in this event (I wonder if Convergence could become a yearly event, or a regular series in which a writer has free reign to use any DC character currently in limbo). The appearance of both Jericho and Kole puts Convergence: New Teen Titans firmly in the era of the second New Teen Titans series; issues #1-6 of that series are collected in the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3, though Kole wouldn't join the title until issue #9. Wolfman last wrote the Titans in the long-awaited graphic novel New Teen Titans: Games.

Check out my previous weeks' Convergence Reading Guide features, and come back next week as we finish out DC's Convergence announcements.

Week One
Week Two
Week Four
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4 comments:

  1. So we're having pre-Flashpoint DCU for week one, pre/immediately post-Zero Hour DCU for week two and pre-Crisis DCU for week three. I guess that leaves us with the Golden Age for week four, or would they rather devote it to the early Silver Age?

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    1. Looks like early Silver Age (so, when the Justice League was "Earth 1," like now) and no love for the somewhat super-out-of-continuity Golden Age, except as part of the Silver Age Earth 2.

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  2. This just occurred to me: Dan Jurgens is writing at least one Convergence title (Superman)... so why isn't he working on any books that feature the Tangent universe characters? They're the closest he ever came to a creator-owned comics universe.

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    1. Yeah, there's hits and misses (or at least, "I would that would've") in this one, though I'm by no means disappointed. I would've liked to see Dan Jurgens drawing the Booster Gold issues, too, and Jerry Ordway drawing Infinity Inc., among other changes.

      Final part of this recap series will be out on Friday.

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