Review: Convergence hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Though touted as an unprecedented pairing of characters from every era of DC Comics lore, the Convergence event has plenty of precedent. Arguably DC is at its best in the Crisis on Infinite Earths/Zero Hour/Infinite Crisis genre, the characters from different continuities in giant crowd scenes or paired up to fight this or that villain. For the most part, DC has done Convergence before and has a model for how to do it right.

That's why, with the stakes as high as they are, it's astounding that Convergence fails to deliver. There are moments to cheer for, but they're few and unfortunately far between. Instead, this is mostly an Earth 2 story, but focused on some particularly late-blossoming characters, and moreover it veers into a surprisingly laborious crossover between Earth 2 and one of DC's more esoteric properties. Confusion abounds as well, from which villain's to blame to what the consequences of all of this are actually meant to be.

[Review contains spoilers]

Again, Convergence focuses on a set of Earth 2 characters left behind on Earth at the end of World's End, including Green Lantern Alan Scott and Flash Jay Garrick, but most notably Yolanda Montez (Wildcat, in another continuity) and the Earth 2 Dick Grayson. Though the focus is on Dick and Yolanda -- less established and less interesting Earth 2 characters -- had this been another part of World's End, I might not balk so much; if, that is, Earth 2 was what I'd come here for. And there's reading order fun in watching these Earth 2 characters migrate from title to title, but not necessarily for them to take spotlight when more popular characters from across the Multiverse are uniquely available.

Further, there is a maddeningly detailed two-or-three issue digression in which the Earth 2 characters visit Warlord's Skartaris, complete with significant appearances by Warlord's allies and enemies. On its own, an Earth 2/Warlord crossover would be weirdly fantastic, but using so much space in Convergence to spotlight Warlord characters seems myopic when there's an entire DC Universe to visit. Again, Warlord is a wild, weird choice, but in something like Convergence I'd much rather see Earth 2's Alan Scott meet the pre-Flashpoint Obsidian than Travis Morgan, Warlord.

But moreover, even when Convergence hits its cues, it seems to miss them. Take for instance a scene in the sixth issue in which the Earth 2 Flash Jay Garrick runs to look for allies. In a two-page spread drawn by Eduardo Pansica, almost all the panels are taken up with Jay running, until finally, in a small final panel, he comes face-to-face with Flash Barry Allen before the scene ends.

Considering Barry's role in the grand scheme of the Multiverse, letting alone that it's the "first" meeting of this Jay Garrick and Barry Allen, Barry's reveal deserves scope akin to the same in Final Crisis. Instead, all the focus is on the lead-up, and Barry himself only makes the page for one panel. Also, Barry, revealing his face, is drawn so generically that he could as easily be Wally or someone else. The beat is right, but the creative team falters in the presentation; as well, it's a shame to think how much time is devoted to Skartaris and how little to Flash meeting Flash (not to mention that we never see Earth 2 Jay meet pre-Flashpoint Jay, though they appear side by side later in the book).

The overemphasis on Skartaris extends to the fact that Warlord bad guy Deimos, and not actually Brainiac or his assistant Telos, is the book's main villain. That's a surprising choice, and again somewhat endearing in its outlandishness, but it also contributes to the sense of Convergence not being as expected. Deimos is far from compelling; he has (perhaps not accidentally) a Ming the Merciless vibe and it's hard to take him or the threat he poses seriously with lines like "The power of death is already circulating through my veins!" Short of the fact of Telos continuing on into his own title, it's not wholly clear why the book even needs all three antagonists, letting alone that it's never clear how Brainiac, who captures Deimos, could then himself be imprisoned by Deimos, or why Deimos has Brainiac trapped either in one of Mr. Terrific's T-spheres or an imprudently drawn prison.

Finally, though I take from the end of Convergence only good things suggested, the high point of the climax is equally muddled. We see a montage of alternate Earths, a la 52, but with for instance a version of Superman standing over an Earth and then confusingly a different one in front of it. Belatedly, we understand those worlds have "evolved" -- so the Earth 2, with the classic Justice Society standing behind it, has "evolved" into the post-Flashpoint Earth 2 -- but the "why" is never clear (nor why the blonde-haired Elseworld's Finest Supergirl, for instance, needs "evolve" to the same character with a different hair color). Similarly, with some re-reading I understand that the pre-Flashpoint Superman can't go home to his universe because it was destroyed by Flashpoint, but why that is true for the DCU post-Flashpoint but not, for instance, the DCU post-Zero Hour or Infinite Crisis, I'm not sure.

My guess, or fervent hope, is that the Convergence miniseries handle some of this, that what interactions and character spotlights do not happen in Convergence proper don't happen here because they take place in the miniseries. Convergence is not without its occasional charms, to be sure -- the absurd high-mindedness of the 1990s Parallax Hal Jordan, some acknowledgment that Yolanda Montez was Wildcat (thought this, too, goes nowhere) -- but it is hardly the Multiversal celebration I anticipated. Maybe the ancillaries will redeem it.
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  1. Convergence is writing by committee at its absolute worst: a soulless, shapeless excuse for an event that's meant to be the culmination of a bunch of equally pointless, editorially driven stories. And just when you think it can't get any worse, it hits you with an ending that makes absolutely no sense, and has yet to be properly explained anywhere to this day.

    I mean, if the original Crisis has been retroactively averted, shouldn't all original universes have been spared and the subsequent reboots erased from history? If their idea was to establish that the inifinite multiverse is back, then Multiversity had already done that in a way by revealing there are other multiverses, so there was no need to muddy the waters even further.

  2. You anticipated this being good? From what I've been hearing this is nothing but trash, which got my expectations down. Since I preordered this I was wondering if I would regret it. Thankfully I really liked it. This may be because I've never read any Crisis storyline, but yeah.....feeling a little ashamed about that. Anyway my full thoughts can be found here if you're interested:

  3. I've read most of the Convergence Mini's - those scene you are hoping for aren't in there. They were mostly a disappointment. Take Nightwing/Oracle as an example. I would have LOVED to just read the Old52 version of those characters running around having adventures. Shit, I would have enjoyed two issues of them just talking. But instead, due to the mandate that they 'fight' someone, most of that book is spent on setting up the antagonist (a Hawk couple) and then on the fight itself. Almost no time was spent on NW and Oracle's relationship. Most of the mini's are like that, and you're going to be bummed out. NOtable exceptions, the Shazam one, JLI, and Blue Beetle. :(

    1. Edited to add, i did not and will not read the main convergence book. I'll read the Mini's. But had no interest in the main book. didn't some of the mini's outsell the main event? OH - Sorry!~ The Question Mini was good too (sorry Rucka)

    2. I've enjoyed most of the Convergence minis I've read, though some of it is a bit shaky, especially when it comes to the villains; the stories need, for instance, the Kingdom Come heroes to be the bad guys, but that doesn't read as a realistic take on the Kingdom Come characters to me. And I really didn't like when, as in Nightwing/Oracle, characters from the different universes are simply made up for the stories; unless I'm really mis-remembering, there's no Hawks in Flashpoint, so I'd as soon have seen that story use established Multiverse characters than "Flashpoint" characters who weren't really such.