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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Week Two of our special Convergence feature, where we look at what DC Comics trade paperbacks and collections lead in to the various Convergence miniseries that DC has announced this week.

Last week focused on titles that ended immediately preceding Flashpoint (and saw those characters battling the Flashpoint characters); this week offers Zero Hour-era characters fighting Kingdom Come characters (with Kingdom Come having come out just a couple years after Zero Hour). (It's 40 miniseries, if I'm not mistaken, of which we already know 20 titles. Seems to me we should expect Crisis on Infinite Earths-era titles next, and then maybe Silver Age? Elseworlds?)

Something interesting I'm coming to find in writing up these lists is that it illuminates how well or spottily each era of DC Comics has been collected. Pre-Flashpoint, we see most series have extensive collections; pre-Zero Hour, titles like Green Arrow, Aquaman, Steel, and Superboy all lack significant collections. If DC were to turn next to just-post-Crisis on Infinite Earth titles (like Legends-era John Byrne Superman, Year One Batman, George Perez Wonder Woman, all of which would be really cool), we'll see a lot of collections for the offering; if the era is just-pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, those collection numbers drop considerably.

We'll start off with a little background:

Kingdom Come
Kingdom

Everything you need to know about Kingdom Come you can find within Mark Waid and Alex Ross's imaginative generational tale of the DC Universe's future. I maintain there's some nice character beats in DC's Ross-less sequel ("Kathy?"), though it's not universally well-regarded and my guess is that Convergence will stick with Kingdom Come proper. And now on to this week's titles ...

• Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Larry Hama)

What to read:
Batman: Sword of Azrael
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 3

Shadow of the Bat was a 1990s in-continuity Batman series, but built from smaller multi-part arcs that were often darker or more psychological than the regular Bat-fare. (The series was to some extent replaced after No Man's Land by Gotham Knight, which served something of the same function with an emphasis on the Bat-family.) Convergence: Shadow of the Bat seems to take place firmly in the Knightfall era of Shadow, roughly issues #16-30, though the first issues of the series are collected in the unrelated Batman: The Last Arkham collection.

For interactions specifically between Batmans Bruce Wayne and Jean-Paul Valley as covered in Convergence: Shadow of the Bat, one will want to consult the Knightfall books or Batman: Sword of Azrael that introduced Jean-Paul Valley.

• Suicide Squad (Frank Tieri)

What to read:
Suicide Squad: Trial by Fire

This iteration of the Suicide Squad ended a couple years before the Zero Hour era of this week's Convergence books, and what it's related to will probably be largely based on what villains are involved when this book comes out. However, there is one collection of the classic 1980s-1990s Suicide Squad series by John Ostrander that would pre-date Convergence: Suicide Squad; Ostrander also penned a Suicide Squad miniseries many years later, Suicide Squad: From the Ashes.

• Green Arrow (Christy Marx)

What to read:
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time
Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse

Little of the Zero Hour-era Green Arrow material is collected; DC has recently begun collecting the early issues of this series by Mike Grell, but not those by Chuck Dixon and especially not the stories of Green Arrow Oliver Queen's son Connor Hawke. Queen plays a pivotal-enough role in Zero Hour itself that I've included it; the closest other collected issue of this time is Green Arrow #101 in the multi-era Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse collection, which took place about ten issues after Zero Hour but did involve Hawke.

• Catwoman (Justin Gray)

What to read:
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 3
Catwoman: The Catfile

The Jim Balent era of Catwoman (written by a number of writers but drawn by Balent) is also largely uncollected. For specifically pre-Zero Hour material, one would have to look again to the Catwoman issues within the Knightfall books, specifically the second and third volumes. The stories in Catwoman: The Catfile took place right after Zero Hour (Catwoman's involvement in Zero Hour was tertiary at best).

Post-Zero Hour, issues of this specific Catwoman series can be found in the Batman crossover books, Contagion, Legacy, Cataclysm, and No Man's Land.

• Superboy (Fabian Nicieza)
• Superman: Man of Steel (Louise Simonson)

What to read:
Superman: Death and Return of Superman Omnibus

Neither the Superboy or Steel series that emerged post-Zero Hour have been collected, so for both of these characters a reader's only resource is their appearances in the "Return of Superman" storyline. Note the Convergence: Superboy solicitation contains an anachronism in that Superboy wouldn't be called "Kon-El" until many years later.

• Justice League International (Ron Marz)

What to read:
Justice League International Vol. 1
Justice League International Vol. 2
Justice League International Vol. 3
Justice League International Vol. 4
Justice League International Vol. 5
Justice League International Vol. 6

The Keith Giffen/JM Dematteis/Kevin Maguire "bwa-ha-ha" era of Justice League ended well before Zero Hour, so this, too, seems like something of an anachronism; as well, Red Tornado was not appearing regularly during that time and wouldn't be until the Primal Force series after Zero Hour. But, those wanting to catch up with the pre-Zero Hour adventures of this Justice League can do so (and have a good time, to boot) in DC's Justice League International collections from a couple years back (sadly never completed).

• Supergirl: Matrix (Keith Giffen)

What to read:
Superman: Panic in the Sky
Superman: They Saved Luthor's Brain

DC hasn't yet collected the original John Byrne Superman issues that introduced the "Matrix" iteration of Supergirl (almost, but not quite), but she does figure prominently into the classic Superman trades Panic in the Sky and They Saved Luthor's Brain prior to Zero Hour. Some time after Zero Hour, this Supergirl (modified again) had her own series by Peter David, of which the first issues are collected in Supergirl and the very last issues are collected in Supergirl: Many Happy Returns.

• Aquaman (Tony Bedard)

What to read:
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time

In keeping with the theme, there are no collections of the Peter David-written Aquaman series. Another anachronism, Aquaman is shown in the solicitation image with his hook hand, but he actually didn't get it until after Zero Hour. A reader's best bet is just the Zero Hour collection, which includes minor appearances by a hand-less Aquaman.

• Green Lantern/Parallax (Tony Bedard)

What to read:
Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight/New Dawn
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time

What with Ron Marz's involvement elsewhere in Convergence, it seems rather a shame DC doesn't have him writing Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax, which takes place right smack in the middle of Marz's Green Lantern run. Irrespective, Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight: New Dawn chronicles the fall of Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the rise of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, leading right in to Zero Hour, where both Hal and Kyle factor prominently (here, too, exactly how the Convergence events fit in with Zero Hour and Hal and Kyle's first meeting should be interesting). Another major Hal/Kyle storyline, well after Zero Hour, is Final Night.

Check out my previous weeks' Convergence Reading Guide features, and check back here next week for my run-down of the books to come.

Week One
Week Three
Week Four
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1 comment:

  1. If you want to get a handle on Connor Hawke and Kyle Rayner, the "Emerald Allies" trade is pretty great. It collects three stories: "Bad Blood" (GA 104, their first meeting), "Hard-Traveling Heroes The Next Generation" (GL 76-77, GA 110-111), and "Hate Crimes" (GA 125-126, GL 92). The opener is pretty basic but "Hard-Travelling Heroes 2" sets up their friendship and "Hate Crimes" has one of the most gloriously out-there villain plots I've ever read. It's out of print but still readily available for about $5 on eBay and Amazon.

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