DC CONVERGENCE #1’s [Sunday Stash, Round 1]: Surfeit Games.
You knew it was coming. In the traditional spirit of Villains Month and Future’s End, GHG is back once again doing the damn DC Comic monthly thing. In this very special edition of The Sunday Stash, our cast and crew take a look at the first 10 of the publisher’s 40 new monthly titles during this widespan event, as well as the goods (or bads) on the titular comic.
Just remember, if one Superman isn’t enough for ya, every single version of Supes (and Batman and Wonder Woman and Captain Carrot, etc. etc. etc.) ever is bound to make an appearance in this one! Let us know which Convergence title proved your favorite this week, over @GodHatesGeeks.
Convergence is upon us, and “Cardinal” Brooks has the duty of reviewing the main series– starting off with its zero issue and debut this past week. Convergence #0 focuses on the prisoned-by-Brainac New 52 Superman (read: the guy we know now). As Supes fights to escape a strange world — where Brainiac has captured 40 cities from different universes — he will encounter multiple versions of his ghastly green buddy. What kept this issue, co-written by Jeff King (TV’s White Collar, Continuum) and Dan Jurgens (Booster Gold), strong was an enjoyable depiction of Brainiac as this super intelligence that controls time and space. The Man of Steel, on the other hand, feels a little helpless and underpowered throughout #0. The consensus on this comic so far has been split– but I’m just here for the Ethan Van Sciver (The Flash) art.
This week sees Convergence shift focus towards the heroes of Earth-2 as they encounter Telos– Brainiac’s apostle. If you hadn’t been reading DC’s Earth-2: World’s End saga, confusion may occur if you didn’t take the time to check the recaps in Convergence #0 or wiki info on their fateful battle with the Apokolips and Darkseid. Plain and simple, DC is bringing back many of their long-lost realities, with the possibility of mashing them together to make everyone happy. Yes Marvel is about to do the same thing with Secret Wars. Thing is, Marvel doesn’t have cool video game characters to throw into their Universe…
We catch a glimpse of Injustice‘s war torn Gotham City in issue #1, and — finally — geeks will see what happened after the end of the game. Will another Injustice comic series come out of this, or (with Mortal Kombat X in tow), are they going to bury this world until the video game sequel? As for the core story of Convergence, it’s a battle to end all battles (imagine a cross between Under the Dome and The Hunger Games) to see which of these cities/earths/worlds and heroes survive from their respective realities. As basic and straightforward as it appears, DC is just as content in making this story as convoluted as possible.
As with Convergence #0, the real star of this book is Carlo Pagulayan‘s artwork, including some incredible 2-page spreads. The granduer of the stage is set; the characters, including that of Telos, are imposing and whimsical enough; and, the array of widescreen speed and splash is appreciated for such an event of this magnitude. A different color from Jason Paz would have helped during Telos’ muddled dialogue bubbles, however.
In closing, I’m not sure what to make of Convergence just yet (sorry, I know!). The plot feels a little too familar, despite the possibility that any combination of DC’s near-infinite realties converging with others may wind up great; if only we can ever get past the set-up, which, for some reason, took a whole TWO comics (40 pages at that) to explain. But, hey, if the payoff is as weak as the majority of major comic events are concerned, at least there’s some pretty great art to admire.
***SPECIAL GUEST REVIEWER!***
Well… Riddle me a retconned clusterfuckery of DC comikaze crazy, right down Brainiac’s Toilet Bowl of Oblivion, on this one, son! Convergence: Titans #1 (from Fabien Nicieza… WAIT! Yeah, didn’t thus guy write the GREATEST. COMIC. EVER? Sheettt) did virtually nothing to titillate my nipples into a tizzy. Hey, look! It’s Gotham City. Covered under some kind of cyber dome.. Over here! It’s our heroic trifecta: Donna Troy, Starfire, and Arsenal. Guess what? Nobody has their superpowers anymore. Hey, listen! Do you hear that creepy voice in the sky? Oh, my! The cyber dome is coming down! I…I’ve got…my…superpowers…back now. And so do my friends! And buildings and shit are blowing up down the street! And no other heroes are around… Fade in on: A fistful of rogues: Lord Havok and the Extremists… Gotta go help my friends beat up some bad guys! Only to have the aforementioned comic book cast of creators here, leave us with a stereotypical, clichéd cliffhanger ending! Betcha can’t wait until the sequel! To see what happens!!! Uh…no. I’m good. I’d rather hang brains in front of my open window and wave to my neighbors walking their shih tzu down the block… 2.5/5 Failed Cybernetic Limbs.
Despite adhering to a tired template of predictable comic tale tedium, the league of DCU freaks who’ve converged to craft this title have forged a just weapon of feminine fortitude. Convergence Justice League #1 (from Frank Tieri, words; Vincent Cifuentes, images) drops Gothamesque dime, with a one-two punch of superheroine chic– wrapped lycra-tight inside fashionista-manicured fists of iron. Again, our protagonists, our heroines, are in a city of parallel sin; sometimes known as Batman Town. Big, bad Braniac’s got ‘em all domed up! Super powers gone! Impending knuckledusting’s coming on! Why this offering, flayed upon the blood-stained Altar of Convergence, seems to sate the hunger so well has to do with the six points of the Justice League hexagram harkened forth here (delivered by a talented team, who give us humanized characters both vulnerable and strong, existing within visceral urban grit, while awash in saturated spectrum). Uber-estrogen solidarity personified, in the guises of: Zatanna, Vixen, Supergirl, Jesse Quick, Mera, and Jade. A salty dog by the name of Arthur, may not be who he initially seems as he spirits away an aqueous love. A conch-happy henchman, calling forth a Kraken of Watchmen-worldly character. Our just and lethal ladies, re-empowered leagues above the sea, ready to render a reckoning upon a writhing wretch and his many-gilled minions… I’m ready to go all Jacques Cousteau on the next episode of this mako mauler! I’m breaking out my frog suit right now, and I’m hooking up the nitrous and ether canisters; alongside my mixture of oxy-acetylene! Huff on this gas hose, and load your harpoon gun!!! 4/5 Dragon Rolls, with Curry Sauce.
To me, this book is a little bit like somehow hatin’ a recipe but lovin’ the dish. The character of The Question seems like an anachronism, and I don’t think highly of DC’s Convergence arc — another cheap marketing gimmick to inexplicably “mash” things “up” — but I have to say it does allow especially good writers to walk a narrative high-wire, with such characters that might seem out of their own time. And Greg Rucka (Detective Comics, Wolverine) is definitely one of those. All at once the series sets its bearings as a hard-boiled noir thriller in a dystopian urban landscape, as Renee Montoya — taking up Vic Sage’s mysterious mantle — and her girlfriend, The Huntress, and her ex-girlfriend, Batwoman (!!!), join forces with Harvey “Two-Face” to do battle with an intergalactic force they can’t possibly understand. 4.5/5 ?????’s
YAWN — Stakes might be high for Clark Kent and Lois Lane in their Convergence timeline, but most of the “action” of this issue (from Death of Superman scribe Dan Jurgens) is filler — note that I use the term “action” loosely, because just hang on a sec while Supes and Lois spend a whole panel kicking back on their sofa to enjoy the view. I think it all comes off as cheaply expositional, if not totally cheeseball. I mean, OK, the Man of Steel has his powers back, so, cool, now he can use X-ray vision to spoil the surprise of whether or not he and Lois’ unborn child is a boy or a girl? And it turns bullshit local fisticuffs into easy vigilante justice, but it doesn’t make this story arc and dialogue seem any less like a comic book “paint-by-numbers.” Sorry, Superfans. 3/5 Supe Cans.
In truth, I haven’t read enough of DC’s massive catalogue to understand the weight of the greater story here. However, as a comic book lover and with an understanding of the characters, I can confidently say that longtime comic vet Steve Pugh (Animal Man, Hellblazer) delivered a worthwhile story. The best part about this particular book is getting to see everyones favorite anti-heroine, Harley Quinn, continue her constant struggle between good and evil. We find her back to normal (ish) after a robbery gone awry, but that doesn’t last long. Fellow Gotham City Sirens, Poison Ivy and Catwoman, are forced to pull her back into the bad guy fold in order to help save Gotham. Catwoman gets the best line of the book with “You really think it’s the powers that made us special?” But seeing Harley step out into her own and not just being in the shadow of The Joker– is fantastic. 4/5 Bibles.
The character of Nightwing has always been an enigma to me. On one hand he appeared no more than a shoddy attempt to make the Robin thing cool, and on the other hand perhaps he’s just a rad character in his own right. In this “chapter” of Convergence, it’s probably more of the former; but that doesn’t really get in the way of an otherwise very compelling storyline. In this corner of the Convergenceverse, Mr. Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon are trying to keep an under the dome Gotham clean by stopping Mr. Freeze from his usual no goodedness, but that soon becomes a moot point when a couple of other worldly winged bad motherfuckas swoop in and start some shit. Oh yeah, and that happens just after Dick and Barbara have themselves some kind of epic moment (cue General Hospital music). So, without giving TOO much away, Nightwing and Oracle are left with an ultimatum from said other worldly winged bastards, which makes for some compelling drama. Gail Simone (Wonder Woman, Secret Six) does a standout job with this issue writing wise, accompanied by some nice art to boot from the trio of Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons and Wes Ozioba. 4.5/5 Bibles.
Writer Ron Marz (Silver Surfer, Batman/Aliens) has whisked us DC comic fans back to our beloved Batman and Robin chronicles! Although it seems like this collection will be fairly close to the Batman comics from the past, it’s a nice reboot of a classic hero (one of my favs– no spoiler here). Marz focuses chiefly on the relationship between Bruce and son Damian with the struggles of them working side by side. Strangely, there isn’t much growth from this teaming that was witnessed during brilliant runs from Peter Tomasi and Grant Morrison. So much for continuity! Yet, despite the risks taken, this debut is still a fully-fledged fun, adventurous read for those looking for an old school time. The artwork provided by skilled Denys Cowan (The Question) and Klaus Janson (um, everything) really hits the tail on the bat. Their beautiful visuals make this tie-in with a spin. 3/5 Bat Bibles.
Being the Batgirl-fangirl that I am — and hyper-jealous of all of the fine work of Sister Croft’s during WonderCon on my favorite superheroine — this Priestess was super-excited to pick up Convergence: Batgirl #1. Then my reading turned to utter disappointment, as the majority of the story felt pushed with too many characters, and I can’t even begin to say how cliche Catman is– but yeah. Having never read Secret Six (badgirl! badgirl!), I couldn’t help but “LOL” when The Goddamn Catman came onto the scene. With the help of Robin and Cassandra Cain, STEPHANIE BROWN fights off Catman and Gorilla Grodd. In this issue, she also questions her own desire to be a superhero. I wanted Batgirl to kick some serious ass, but this series didn’t start out as hoped. With words from stalwart novelist Alisa Kwitney (also editor at Vertigo) and pictures by Mark Pennington (Shade, the Changing Man) and Rick Leonardi (Cloak and Dagger), I expect the thrills to overcome the series many spoils by the next issue. 2/5 Bibles.
In Speed Force #1, we meet up with the pre-Flashpoint and New 52 Wally West, dragging his kids in tow, when the dome comes down rendering him powerless. A year passes, the dome comes down, and we find Wally to be the hero he always was – but is he ready to face Flashpoint’s brutal Wonder Woman? Meanwhile in The Atom #1, the pre-Flashpoint Ray Palmer is dealing with being trapped in a domed Gotham in his own way – by seemingly going quite mad. He, weirdly, is not rendered entirely powerless; it’s just that his power now is to make one hand really big. Only the one hand. We follow Atom as he asks the bigger questions: what is “justice”? And is the voice really in his head?
Tony Bedard (Exiles, Black Canary) and Tom Grummett (Superboy, X-Men Forever) craft an exciting Flash tale, and it’s a treat seeing the old Wally West in Action. Tom Peyer (Hourman) and Steve Yeowell (2000AD, The Invisibles) bring you an off-kilter sci-fi superhero romp with a slightly maddened Ray Palmer cracking under his own guilt and confusion, though no less a hero. DC’s Convergence is equally confusing to begin with, but promises to be filled with nonsensical guilty pleasures. Ahh, comics. Speed Force #1: 4/5 Years in the Wilderness; The Atom #1: 3.5/5 Meek Inheriting the Earth.