Review: Convergence: Flashpoint Book Two trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Among the return of pre-Flashpoint characters, those of the Convergence tie-in Book One like Superman, the Question, and Nightwing and Oracle were the ones I was more looking forward to reading than the Atom or Harley Quinn. But there were some fun reads in Convergence: Flashpoint Book Two from unexpected directions -- Harley Quinn for one, Titans for two -- that delivered a bit of what I wanted from the Convergence tie-ins. At times this book stretches what my definition of pre-Flashpoint would be, but I enjoyed spending time with these characters nonetheless.

[Review contains spoilers]

Surely I don't mind drama in my superhero comics, and for the most part I expect things are going to go poorly for our heroes more often than they're going to go well. But in the case of the Convergence tie-ins, a victory lap and last look at most of these characters, I'm realizing belatedly that among the things I'm expecting are happy endings. This is predicated by the rather ignominious maiming and then ignoring of a well-known character in Convergence: Flashpoint Book One; I realize I'm looking for these characters to ride off into the sunset in these stories (which in most respects so far they have), not to be brought back only to meet terrible ends.

This is epitomized by Fabian Nicieza's Titans, which -- jumping straight to the end -- resurrects Lian Harper, daughter of Roy Harper who was killed off a little before Flashpoint. Lian's death was an acknowledged nadir in that DC Comics era; her return here is a tad clunky (most things involving DC's Marvel villain analogues the Extremists have some clunk to them), but that's easily dismissible simply for the knowledge that, "in continuity," Lian Harper lives and Roy Harper no longer has to mourn his daughter. Ron Wagner's got some nice, simple line art in Titans, too, reminiscent of Bruce Timm, and the Titan cameos in the conclusion are a thrill (even if I'm not sure Wagner's got Cyborg's pre-Flashpoint appearance quite right).

Happy endings in this book extend to the resurrection, too, of Ryan Choi in Atom, a charmingly quirky story by often-Atom scribe Tom Peyer (we are criminally overdue for a collection of Peyer's Hourman). Best of the book was Steve Pugh and Phil Winslade's Harley Quinn; the ending is bittersweet rather than "happy," which is fine, and Pugh does a nice job with a reformed, "healthy" Harley pressed back into a life of crime. This is the mini-series I thought I'd like least of these, having not been much of a fan of the superpowered pre-Flashpoint Harley's solo adventures, but Pugh's script is affecting, alongside Winslade's sometimes violent art and some faux-dark fake-outs.

My least favorite miniseries here was Batman and Robin. Though I'm glad to see art from Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson, Ron Marz's story is fairly flat, with Robin Damian Wayne throwing a fit simply because Batman Bruce Wayne gives Red Hood Jason Todd the time of day. Much of the second issue is given over to a generic fight scene (made more generic, again, by use of the Extremists). While a meeting of this Batman and Red Hood might be interesting (I believe only Dick Grayson encountered the Grant Morrison Red Hood, not Bruce Wayne), the story is light on actual continuity notes. That extends to the fact that I'm pretty sure Bruce Wayne wears Dick Grayson's costume here, and not the Batman, Inc. costume that he ought be in to represent this era.

Similarly, I'm sure the return of the pre-Flashpoint Wally West is enough for most to give Speed Force a pass in and of itself, but here again we have continuity issues. This is Wally West pre-Final Crisis (at the end of his own series), a good couple years before Flashpoint. Arguably Tony Bedard's story stars the last most recognizable version of Wally, but I'd have been more interested to see Bedard take up the challenges of Wally after Flash: Rebirth (the first one) -- young Iris West as Impulse, Jai West de-powered and resentful -- than this familiar territory.

And I'd venture Bedard significantly misses the flavor of Mark Waid's Flash stories by not having Linda Park miraculously appear in the end; even if constrained by the rules of Convergence, the bedrock of Waid's (and also Geoff Johns's) Flash stories were Wally losing but ultimately regaining Linda, and it's a dissonant note that's not how this ends. (At the same time, Speed Force offers some great Tom Grummett art.)

At the end of Ron Marz's Batman and Robin, Superman appears with Batman, a scene that seems to contradict both Convergence and the Superman miniseries. None of that matters in the thrill of seeing these two pre-Flashpoint characters again, an entirely unexpected and nostalgic moment of the kind I was hoping Convergence would deliver. If imperfect, Convergence: Flashpoint has a lot of these moments, and I'd be happy to see DC come back to this era sometime on its own even as it's seemingly being blended into the New 52 with "Rebirth."

[Includes original covers, biography pages and sketchbook section]
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6 comments:

  1. You must have a whole run dedicated to your trades by now.

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    1. Sorry, Room not Run. I was saying with all the trades you buy they must need a separate room.

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    2. Amazing how many trades will fit in a good-sized longbox. :)

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    3. Huh, I never even considered that. In that case you must have a lot of long boxes.

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  2. I feel about the Extremists like that girl in Mean Girls felt about "fetch." They are never going to happen.

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