Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

‘Verge of a Breakdown

Posted by Don MacPherson on April 2nd, 2015

VariantVariantConvergence #0
“The God Machine”
Writers: Dan Jurgens & Jeff King
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover artists: Van Sciver (regular edition)/Tony Daniel & Mark Morales, Patrick Zircher and Adam Hughes (variants)
Editor: Dan DiDio & David PiƱa
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99 US

I’ve been reading DC titles since the late 1970s, and the notion that this new event would bring back so many of the iterations of the DC characters I’ve come to know and enjoy over the decades appealed to me. As we moved closer to Convergence, my interest in it slowly grew. And now that I’ve waded into these waters, my interest has been eliminated altogether. I know DC’s multiverse quite well through my years as a DC reader, and I had no idea what was going on here. Convergence is the latest answer to DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths from 1985, during which the multiverse was done away with. It was meant to simplify a publishing line that really wasn’t all that complicated. Convergence ends up complicating something rather simple.

Superman — from the New 52 reality — awakens after his conflict with Brainiac and his reluctant transformation into a Doomsday creature to find himself restored and trapped on a strange planet. On the barren landscape, he encounters Brainiac once again — but it’s not the Brainiac he knows. It’s a seemingly endless array of alternate Brainiacs, and they tell the Man of Steel of their master and his obsession with watching an infinite number of Supermen dying time and time again. The hero soon discovers slivers of numerous realities are trapped along with him on the mysterious planet, and he’s determined to free them and put an end to an unknown, seemingly omnipotent threat.

Like a lot of comics readers, I really became familiar with the art of Ethan Van Sciver on various Green Lantern comics by Geoff Johns (though I do recall some of his earlier Marvel work as well). I was rather taken with his hyper-detailed style, and it definitely stood out as rather unique. Over the years, though, I’ve found myself less interested in his efforts. It’s rather like how I view David Finch’s art. I rather enjoyed it on various Avengers comics about a decade ago, but as time went on, I started seeing more of the limitations his style rather than the gritty intensity that initially drew me in. that being said, Convergence #0 was far from Van Sciver’s strongest effort. His art here is inconsistent, and the figures look distorted at times. The visuals on this comic definitely look rushed. Some figures are tiny when detail is called for, for example. He also tries to play with some unconventional layouts, but it makes for a confusing double-page spread or two, as the progression of the story and dialogue through those spreads is unclear.

VariantAnother aspect of the book that didn’t sit well with me at all was how it didn’t feel like the opening chapter or even a prologue to a major super-hero event spanning multiple realities. All we really get here are two characters: Superman and a pseudo-Brainiac. While the premise is definitely cosmic in nature, this comic is lacking the colorful and diverse array of characters that one could argue is an integral part of the event genre.

Ultimately, writers Dan Jurgens and Jeff King attempt to make the convoluted premise of different realities competing for our attention something dire and compelling, and the result is something too lofty and needlessly cryptic. It seems like a failed effort to make the concept seem… intellectual or metatextual, and in the process, they sacrifice any sense of fun or adventure. The patchwork planet is a ridiculous concept, so why try to make it seem mature? Furthermore, the script is highly inaccessible. It’s clear the “Doomed” storyline from recent Superman comics is required reading, and it feels like I’m missing a couple of other pieces of the puzzle as well.

While I appreciate that this event is meant in part as a placeholder for a couple of months while DC Corporate makes the big move, this was a major disappointment. In the leadup to Convergence, I actually started to get excited about the concept. I was interested in several of the two-part minis coming out, and it seemed as though this event was opening the door to a more diverse approach to super-hero genre publishing, making room for both nostalgia and modern sensibilities, and everything in between. Maybe that’s still true, but Convergence #0 was by far the worst comic book I’ve read in quite some time. In years. I honestly feel a little bad in saying that, as I don’t want this review to seem like a personal attack on the comics creators (and it’s not). But I can’t recall the last time I had such an awful experience in reading a comic book — any comic, be it professional or amateur, mainstream or independent. Convergence #0 is definitely a low point for DC Comics. I guess the silver lining for the publisher and this event is that the only way to go from here is up. 1/10

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