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Saturday, May 02, 2015

My articles on DC Comics' "Convergence"

Here are some article I wrote concerning DC Comics' event "Convergence".  I plan to write more about in the future.

A Primer for DC Comics’ Convergence
By John Pannozzi
A tradition among comic book publishers is having at least one big crossover event each year, often in the summer or spring. These events typically involve all the company’s different characters forced to fight one another and/or uniting to face a trans-dimensional threat.  DC Comics’s big event for this spring is called Convergence.  It, like rival publisher Marvel’s upcoming Secret Wars, involves a world made up of the remains of alternate universes and parallel dimensions from their respective company’s past, with the remaining inhabitants forced to battle one another for survival. 
The path to DC’s Convergence is a somewhat complicated one.  Ever since the 1950s, the comics of DC have told stories about different universes.  Their multiverse became so vast and complicated, that to celebrate their 50th anniversary in 1985, DC decided to streamline it.  The event Crisis on Infinite Earths involved an epic fight with a villain called the Anti-Monitor, which resulted in the five main universes being combined into one.  This provided an excuse for DC to retell the origins of its most famous characters (in stories like John Byrne’s Superman: The Man of Steel, and Frank Miller & David Mazzucchelli’s excellent Batman: Year One).  The 1994’s Zero Hour and 2005’s Infinite Crisis altered the continuity even further. In 2006, 52 featured the recreation of the multiverse, and in 2008, Final Crisis finished the Crisis trilogy.  Then, in the finale of 2011’s Flashpoint, Barry Allen (the current Flash) merged the DC Universe with the worlds of DC’s imprints Vertigo and WildStorm, creating the universe of the New 52.   The New 52 has proven to be highly polarizing among fans.  Whereas the Batman and Green Lantern-related titles in particular acknowledged much of the previous continuity’s events, others, most notably Superman and Wonder Woman, started from scratch.   Currently, The Multiversity, written by fan-favorite Grant Morrison, tells the adventure of the inhabitants of the New 52-era multiverse.  And then we come to Convergence, which was conceived to ease DC’s editors as their offices moved from New York City to Burbank, California. 
The premise of the series is that Brainiac, one of Superman’s iconic foes, has been capturing cities and people from different universes at the moment of their destruction, depowering the superheroes, and placing them in domes on a limbo planet.  In Convergence #0, Brainiac goes away to attempt to collect the New 52 Earth, leaving the captured New 52 Superman with Telos, Brainiac’s servant and the living embodiment of the planet.  Telos, who appears to Superman in the form of past incarnations of Brainiac, lets Superman go back to his home (with his memory erased) when Brainac fails to retrieve the New 52 Earth.   Telos then decides to only let the strong survive.  At the start of Convergence #1, Telos destroys the Gotham City from the Injustice: Gods Among Us series, deeming its quarreling inhabitants and their world a failed experiment.  Then, the surviving heroes of Earth 2 arrive, but without their own city.  Telos takes this as a sign to finally decide which cities are worthy of surviving by removing the domes and making their respective residents fight each other.  In the process, Telos reveals himself to the residents of all the cities at once, saying that only one city will survive, and he will destroy anyone who refuses to fight.

While at least some knowledge of DC Comics history is required to fully comprehend and enjoy it, Convergence is nonetheless a dream come true for those who have always wanted to see what became of their favorite versions of the company’s legendary superheroes.  If you like any of DC’s characters, then I strongly suggest picking up the main Convergence series (consisting of #0 and 1-8) and whichever of the forty 2-issue tie-in miniseries that seem appealing to you.  Also, don’t forget the new Secret Wars from Marvel.  Now is definitely an exciting time to be a fan of superhero comic books!

A look at “Convergence” #2 and assorted tie-ins
By John Pannozzi
            To continue my look at DC Comics’ multiverse-spanning event “Convergence”, I will be taking brief looks at “Convergence” #2 and assorted tie-ins from the first two official weeks of the event.
            “Convergence” #2 is mostly told from the perspective of the Earth 2 version of Dick Grayson (who in the mainstream DC Universe was the first person to serve as Batman’s ward Robin).  It opens with a flashback of Grayson’s memory of the last moments he spent in his world, having to leave his wife and son, who along with the rest of Earth 2’s population are seemingly killed off by Darkseid’s forces.  Then in present day, the Earth 2 heroes, after fighting Telos, find out that his weak point lies beneath the planet’s surface.  Grayson and the Earth 2 Batman (Thomas Wayne, who is other continuities is the father of Bruce Wayne) go to the Pre-Flashpoint version of Gotham City and sneak their way into the Batcave.  There, the Earth 2 Batman meets the Pre-Flashpoint version of his son, culminating in a touching family reunion.  “Convergence” #2 manages to keep us excited about the unfolding chapter in this epic event.
            And we cover several tie-ins.  First up is “Convergence: Superman: Man of Steel” #1.  This issue features the Pre-Zero Hour version of Steel and his niece and nephew facing both their local villain Parasite as well as the WildStorm Universe’s teenage superhero team, Gen 13.  Being a big fan of Gen 13, I was a touch disappointed that they were given relatively little to do, but I’m happy to see them again nonetheless.  “Convergence: Aquaman” #1 shows what the Pre-Zero Hour incarnation of the Atlantian king has been up to since the arrival of the domed entrapment, and sets up WildStorm’s Deathblow as his multiversal opponent.  Again, the former WildStorm character is not given a big role, but his appearance is still welcome.  “Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax” #1 gives us a different take on Pre-Zero Hour Hal Jordan, who after losing his powers due to the dome mopes about how his slaughtered his fellow Green Lantern Corps members as the power-mad Parallax.  Once the dome is lifted, Hal becomes Parallax and his somber attitude completely washes over, and surviving Green Lantern Kyle Rayner attempts to keep in line.  “Convergence: Speed Force” #1 features the Pre-Flashpoint version of Wally West (the Flash) and his children Iris and Jai.  After travelling all over the planet, they find an ally in the form of Fastback the turtle from the Zoo Crew and a foe in the form of Flashpoint’s Wonder Woman.  All of these issues are fine, but I don’t have much to say about them.
            And then there is “Convergence: Titans” #1, which tells a potent, hug-tugging story, albeit one that requires some back-story expositing.  Shortly before “Flashpoint” and the New 52 continuity reboot, in the much-reviled limited series “Cry for Justice”, Lian Harper, the young daughter of Roy Harper (formerly Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy, now going by the codename “Arsenal”), suffered a horrible death.  Roy was broken by his loss, but since the coming of dome, has found meaning in a more peaceful environment by taking care of displaced families and children.  Things change, however, when the dome comes down, and Roy and his fellow Teen Titans alumni Donna Troy and Starfire face the Extremists, a group of super villains from another world.  One of the Extremists, Dreamslayer, turns things upside when he resurrects Lian by plucking her from a time before her death, and forces Roy to fight his friends to the death so Lian will stay alive.  This issue packs a strong emotional punch and leaves us with the highest stakes imaginable, so I highly await its follow-up.  While not quite as engaging, “Convergence: Nightwing & Oracle” #1 should bring tears to the eyes of many longtime DC fans.  In it, the Pre-Flashpoint Dick Grayson proposes to Barbara Gordon, but Barbara declines.  But there’s no time for Dick to talk it over with her, as the villainous incarnations of Hawkman and Hawkwoman from the Wild West world of El Inferno attempts a hostile takeover.  Once again, the story is captivating and left me wanting more.
            And last but not least are two tie-ins that not only provided superheroics, but also a good amount of humor.  “Convergence: Harley Quinn” #1 centers around the Pre-Flashpoint version of the Joker’s on-and-off-again right hand woman and lover, who first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series.  In the year since the dome emerged, Harley has been rehabilitated into a somewhat sane and normal life.   But Telos’s projection on the dome shows that Harley is slated to fight the lagomorphic hero Captain Carrot, Catwoman and Poison Ivy have to knock the sanity out of her.  A small running joke through this issue is that whenever Harley’s obsession with the Joker is brought up, we see a mental image of Joker looking much like he did in the early Batman comics by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson.  It’s little touches like this that are not only funny, but also acknowledge the rich history of DC Comics.  The lighthearted and comedic nature of “Convergence: Supergirl Matrix” #1 is apparent from its first page, which reads like an affectionate parody of the superhero comics of yesteryear, with a “by popular demand” blurb, and several humorous footnotes.  It features the Pre-Zero Hour Supergirl (who has a confusing origin, basically, instead of being a Kryptonian, she’s actually a shape shifting being called Matrix), who, interestingly enough, has become a bodyguard for Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor.  Supergirl is pitted against the married couple of Lady Quark and Lord Volt from a world called Electropolis.  The snarky back-and-forth between Luthor and Supergirl, as well as Lady Quark and Lord Volt’s bickering proves to very funny.  It’s no surprise that this was written by Keith Giffen, who is most loved for writing superhero stories with a solid sense of humor, including Lobo, Ambush Bug, and several Justice League series (one of the aforementioned makes an appearance here).
            While some of the tie-ins are a lot more interesting than others, on the whole, I am quite pleased with “Convergence” so far, and look forward to future issues and tie-ins.