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

Friday, November 14, 2014

In the two-month break in which DC Comics moves their offices from New York to California, they've recently announced they'll publish Convergence, a nine-part miniseries with forty two-part companion miniseries, spanning April and May 2015.

This past Tuesday, DC released details on the first ten of these two-part miniseries, all of which will venture into different parts of DC's publishing history (or "multiverse," as it's often called in-story). The ten announced so far each deal with DC's continuity and characters immediately prior to the Flashpoint event that launched the New 52 reboot.

Each week, this series of posts will look at where we last left these characters, and what trade paperbacks or collections you can pick up to bring you up to speed on them. If, in essence, you wanted to read the character's last published appearance, collection-wise, before you read their Convergence miniseries, this is your guide how to do so.

• Superman (Dan Jurgens)

What to read:
Superman: Grounded Vol. 1
Superman: Grounded Vol. 2

Superman: The Black Ring Vol. 1
Superman: The Black Ring Vol. 2

Superman: Return of Doomsday
Superman: Reign of Doomsday

The Convergence: Superman miniseries, according to solicitations, involves the pre-Flashpoint married Superman and Lois Lane, now expecting their first child. Lois's pregnancy happened "off the page" after we left these characters, but there was some emphasis on Clark and Lois's relationship toward the end of Paul Cornell's Reign of Doomsday and to some extent in Grounded, too.

The absolute last place we saw the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois was in Reign of the Doomsday, but the two-volume Grounded, Black Ring, and Doomsday books make up the larger "last Superman" stories between Blackest Night and Flashpoint (depending on how much you want to read).

The DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline, by the way, lists the reading order for these books as Grounded Vol. 1, Black Ring Vol. 1, Grounded Vol. 2, Return of Doomsday, Black Ring Vol. 2, Reign of Doomsday.

Readers wanting even more can find some consideration of Clark and Lois having children in Geoff Johns's Superman: Last Son.

• Atom (Tom Peyer)

What to read:
All New Atom: My Life in Miniature
All New Atom: Future/Past
All New Atom: The Hunt for Ray Palmer
All New Atom: Small Wonder

Titans: Villains for Hire
Titans: Family Reunion

Writer Tom Peyer has some experience with the Atom Ray Palmer, penning two Atom specials in the 1990s, but unfortunately these aren't collected. Convergence: Atom deals with Palmer learning that his Atom successor Ryan Choi actually isn't dead, and they hunt down his supposed killer, Deathstroke. Readers who just want the bare bones of when Choi died should pick up Titans Vol. 4: Villains for Hire. The All-New Atom books, however, involve Choi and Palmer's first meetings, and Titans Vol. 5: Old Friends sees Palmer chasing Deathstroke to avenge Choi's death. The very final issues of Titans, however, weren't collected.

Note too that Arsenal Roy Harper, featured in Convergence: Titans, was also a character in this latest Titans title; Donna Troy and Starfire, also in Convergence: Titans, were involved in James Robinson's Justice League (see below).

• Batgirl (Alisa Kwitney)

What to read:
Red Robin: The Grail
Red Robin: Collision
Red Robin: Hit List
Red Robin: Seven Days of Death

Batman, Incorporated Vol. 1
Batman: Gates of Gotham

Batgirl: Batgirl Rising
Batgirl: The Flood
Batgirl: The Lesson

In the main Batgirl Stephanie Brown's final pre-Flashpoint appearance was in Batgirl Vol. 3: The Lesson, but if one hasn't read all of Bryan Miller's superlative series, you really should. Red Robin (former Robin) Tim Drake and Black Bat (former Batgirl) Cassandra Cain also both appear in Convergence: Batgirl, and their most recent appearances are above.

The DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline suggests this reading order for Red Robin and Batgirl, which intersect: Red Robin Vol. 1, Batgirl Vol. 1, Red Robin Vol. 2, Batgirl Vol. 2, Red Robin Vol. 3, Batgirl Vol. 3, Red Robin Vol. 4.

• Nightwing/Oracle (Gail Simone)

What to read:
Nightwing: The Great Leap
Batman: The Black Mirror

Birds of Prey: End Run
Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle

Collections of the Nightwing Dick Grayson as Gotham's Batman post-Final Crisis are a bit spotty, but the final-most, and probably best-known, is Scott Snyder's The Black Mirror. Nightwing: Great Leap is the actual end of the pre-Flashpoint Nightwing series, but far from the character's last appearance before Flashpoint.

Birds of Prey relaunched after Brightest Day, and Death of Oracle marks that character's latest pre-Flashpoint appearance.

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle deals with the characters' wedding; Nightwing actually proposed to Oracle in Devin Grayson's Nightwing: Renegade prior to Infinite Crisis, but this was largely ignored as of Nightwing: Brothers in Blood (which involved the pre-Flashpoint "Red Hood" Jason Todd).

• Speed Force (Tony Bedard)

What to read:
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga

Flash: The Wild Wests
Flash: Rebirth

Convergence: Speed Force involves second Flash Wally West and his super-powered children. Readers wanting to go way back can read Geoff Johns's Flash run, in which Wally's kids are born; in Infinite Crisis, Wally, wife Linda Parks, and the babies disappear into the Speed Force. In Johns and Brad Meltzer's Justice League: Lightning Saga, Wally and family return, with the children now aged to pre-teens.

The Speed Force miniseries looks most similar to Flash: The Wild Wests by Mark Waid; subsequent issues of this series were not collected, before the title relaunched after Brightest Day with Flash Barry Allen in the lead. Wally and his kids also appear in Johns's Flash: Rebirth.

• Titans (Fabian Nicieza)

What to read:
Justice League: Cry for Justice
Justice League: Rise and Fall

Titans: Villains for Hire
Titans: Family Reunion

Justice League of America: Team History
Justice League of America: Dark Things
Justice League: Omega
Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso

REBELS: Sons of Brainiac

Much as I hate to recommend James Robinson's ultra-dark Justice League: Cry for Justice and the books that went with it, Convergence: Titans deals with Arsenal Roy Harper trying to resurrect his late daughter Lian, and Lian died in Cry for Justice; Arsenal's story continued Justice League: Rise and Fall and then into the Titans series (the last issues of which were uncollected before Flashpoint).

Also appearing in Convergence: Titans is Donna Troy, who most recently appeared in Robinson's Justice League, and Starfire, who appeared in Justice League and REBELS (the last issues of REBELS are also uncollected).

• Justice League (Frank Tieri)

What to read:
Justice League of America: Team History
Justice League of America: Dark Things
Justice League: Omega
Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso

One could go as far back as Cry for Justice for this one, but you're probably OK with just the James Robinson/Mark Bagley Justice League trades, which involve Convergence: Justice League's Supergirl, Jade, and Jesse Quick. Quick announced her pregnancy in Rise of Eclipso.

• The Question (Greg Rucka)

What to read:
52 Omnibus

Question: The Five Books of Blood
Final Crisis: Revelations
Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns
Question: Pipeline

Greg Rucka has written the adventures of Renee Montoya for a couple of years, most notably in the Gotham Central series, but the character became the Question in the 52 weekly series co-written by Rucka. Though the Question guest-starred in a number of books like Birds of Prey, her major Rucka-written appearances are Five Books of Blood, the Revelations Final Crisis miniseries, an issue included in Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns, and the backup stories collected in Pipeline. Renee is thought to have died in the line of duty in the New 52.

• Batman and Robin (Ron Marz)

What to read:
Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn
Batman and Robin: Batman vs. Robin
Batman and Robin: Batman and Robin Must Die
Batman and Robin: Dark Knight, White Knight

Batman and Robin was a title that continued mostly unchanged from the pre-Flashpoint to New 52 universes, so my guess is that the continuity emphasis in Convergence: Batman and Robin is on foes the Red Hood and the Extremists. Red Hood Jason Todd was significantly different in the late pre-Flashpoint era, with Grant Morrison portraying him as a semi-crazed caped anti-villain. For that, readers need only pick up Batman Reborn; Judd Winick mitigates this portrayal a little bit toward Todd's more normative Red Hood persona in Dark Knight, White Knight.

The Extremists, traditionally characters from "another Earth" in the DC Universe, are analogues for Marvel characters, who've usually fought the Justice League. There was, as a matter of fact, a Countdown Presents: Lord Havok and the Extremists miniseries collected in a book by the same name, which tied in to the prelude to Final Crisis.

• Harley Quinn (Steve Pugh)

What to read:
Harley Quinn: Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes
Harley Quinn: Night and Day
Harley Quinn: Welcome to Metropolis
Harley Quinn: Vengeance Unlimited

Gotham City Sirens: Union
Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens
Gotham City Sirens: Strange Fruit
Gotham City Sirens: Division

Gotham City Sirens Book One

The promotional art for the Convergence: Harley Quinn miniseries bears a lot of resemblance to the 2000s Harley Quinn series started by Karl Kesel and Terry Dodson. That series remained uncollected for a long time, but is just now being collected with Harley's resurgent popularity.

Catwoman and Poison Ivy's presence in the story, however, suggests a greater tie to Paul Dini and company's Gotham City Sirens series, which ended just before Flashpoint; this series was collected and is currently scheduled to be re-collected in new volumes spanning multiple original trades.

That's what you need to know for this week. Tune in next week for another edition of "Convergence: What to Read Before!" And don't miss the other weeks:

Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
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  1. If there's one thing that makes me not miss the pre-Flashpoint DCU all that much, it's the crap Roy Harper went through in Rise of Arsenal and Eric Wallace's atrocious Titans run, so I'm hoping this Convergence mini will provide a better ending to his story. I'm also glad to see Ryan Choi's death undone and Ruck writing Renee Montoya as the Question again, but I wish they got Miller and Robinson to write Batgirl and Justice League minis respectively.

    1. Let alone if they'd announced Waid/Flash, they'd have broken the internet ...