It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since DC Comics undertook its ill-conceived Convergence event. While it did bridge the publisher’s ailing New 52 brand for its superhero line to the successful Rebirth reboot, Convergence and its “who’d win” approach to character conflict was handled inconsistently and illogically. That being said, the extensive array of two-part spinoff titles, focusing on different characters from different eras of DC’s history, offered some entertainment value. There were so many of them, though, demanding a hefty price ($3.99 US per issue), that there didn’t seem to be any point and trying to collect them all. I picked up a handful, mainly those featuring a few characters and the work of creators that interested me.
Like many comic shops, my local retailer had quite a few leftover Convergence comics lying around. Not long ago, they bundled a bunch of those two-part series together at discounted prices, and a subsequent blowout sale of those marked-down bundles offered me a chance to sample some more of these Convergence titles at pennies on the dollar. As was the case the first time around, I found a mixed bag. Some stories were compelling and novel, while others were scattered and confusing. Here my some thoughts on some of them…
Convergence Detective Comics #s 1 & 2
by Len Wein, Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz
I’m not sure why I didn’t pick up this two-parter when it was initially released in mid-2015, as it features characters from DC’s Earth-2 from the Silver and Bronze ages of comics. Had it been titled Huntress and Robin rather than Detective Comics, I likely would have checked it out. I’m glad I got the opportunity in the end, because this was one of better plotted and illustrated series in the entire Convergence line. Penned by the late Len Wein, the story features the daughter of the Golden Age Batman, Huntress, and the Golden Age Robin, now a grown man, pitted against the overwhelming power of the titular character from Superman: Red Son. But the real conflict here is the Huntress’s emotional and ethical journey. Now I have to admit, I have a great deal of affection for DC’s classic Earth-2 characters, and my familiarity with their history no doubt made this story resonate more for me. But it’s still fairly accessible. Like many other Convergence tie-in titles, the rules of the gladiatorial-like combat are applied inconsistently here, but given the strength of the core story, it was much easier to disregard it.
Wein’s solid script isn’t the only strength to be found in this two-part series. Anytime you get a chance to sample Denys Cowan’s linework, embellished by Bill Sienkiewicz’s inks, is an opportunity that no comics fan should pass up. The artist handle the dingy and depressing backdrop of a Moscow running low on supplies quite well, and their gritty style brings credibility to the gaudier garb Huntress and Robin wear throughout the series. The Silver Age, adult Robin design is really rather ludicrous, but Cowan and Sienkiewicz somehow make it work. I also love their take on the Superman and Batman from the Red Son reality. 8/10
Convergence Flash #s 1 & 2
by Dan Abnett & Federico Dallcchio
When I read these two comics, I knew there was something off about them, a reason I didn’t enjoy them, but I couldn’t put my finger on it right away. After skimming through the pages again, I figured it out. There’s such a melancholy, defeated tone to the story that’s not in keeping with Barry Allen as a character. Even after he gets his speed powers back in the story, he ends up feeling defeated when he encounters a superior opponent. Despite the fact that Flash’s name is in the title of the book, it’s his opponent who provides the solution and resolution to the forced conflict between them. I’m also befuddled why just about every character in these bottled cities in Convergence is located in a version of Gotham or Metropolis. There’s a version of Bruce Wayne in this incarnation of Gotham City, but we’re never told why he doesn’t appear in any respect to help his Justice League teammate in the superhuman conflict. Sure, it’s against the “ rules” of Convergence, but Batman certainly would try to find a way around such a rule.
Federico Dallcchio has a fairly realistic style, and it doesn’t seem well suited to the incredible circumstances of the story and the fantastic nature of the Flash’s powers. The figures throughout this book are surprisingly stiff. The artist certainly conveys the sullenness of the story in the protagonist’s facial expressions. So if a downtrodden atmosphere is what the creative team was aiming for, I’m at a loss to figure out why the colors are so bright. I don’t think those involved crafting this two-part tale really had a strong sense of what it was going to be about, save for the ending. 4/10
Convergence Superboy #s 1 & 2
by Fabian Nicieza, Karl Moline & Jose Marzan Jr.
While I was a little disappointed that writer Karl Kesel — who shepherded the Superboy character through the aftermath of the Death of Superman in the early 1990s and later on in Superboy’s own title — didn’t pen this story, Fabian Nicieza makes it hard to miss him, as he’s crafted a story that’s a very much in keeping with the spirit of Kesel’s work with the character. This story is set early in Superboy’s career, as he’s still trying find his way and learn how to be a hero. As such, pitting him against three elder heroes from the world of Kingdom Come serves the story perfectly. Ultimately, the plot is about the benefit of wisdom over youthful exuberance, and that being a hero doesn’t always mean winning the fight. Nicieza’s script is accessible, despite the convoluted history of the death of Superman and the cloning origin of Superboy. This mini-series was one of the few pleasant surprises in the huge line-up of Convergence tie-ins.
Moline and Marzan deliver some wonderfully traditional super-hero comic art here. They convey the chaos and destruction of the super-powered conflict quite well, which was important because the story relies I’m selling the notion that the fight is as big as a threat as the cosmic ultimatum looming over the domed cities. There’s a simpler tone to the art that’s quite appealing, but the drama inherent in the story is never sacrificed for that lighter look. The artists do an excellent job of depicting the title character’s youth and the Kingdom Come Superman’s greater age. 7/10