• Columns 

    The DC3 Presents: The Convergents, Week 4!

    By , and | May 1st, 2015
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    We at the DC3 have been through a lot together – we’ve seen villains take over our beloved books, we read a month’s worth of “Five Years Later” stories, and we’ve tackled a year of weekly titles, and we’ve come through it all stronger. But here we are, at our most challenging time as a unit: “Convergence.” Calling ourselves the DC3 just wouldn’t cut it anymore. We needed a new name, one that transforms us from boys into men, from civilians into soldiers, from sidekicks into superheroes. For the next two months, the DC3 are no more: long live the Convergents!

    Convergence #4
    Written by Jeff King
    Illustrated by Stephen Segovia
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    The main title continues to be frustrating, in that for every page that has a new character reveal, or some interesting dialogue, so much of it is recap. About 1/3 of #4 is Dick Grayson and Telos talking, and almost nothing Telos says reveals a single Goddamned thing about the story. It reaffirms the idea that he doesn’t’ think he’s the bad guy (few supervillains do), and it shows you that, at one point, he might have been more “human” than he is now. That’s about it – a huge waste of space in a limited series.

    Outside of that, we get the introduction of the Warlord into a DC book for the first time in…honestly, I have no idea when the Warlord was last an actual plot point in a DC book. It is a welcome return, and Segovia does a magnificent job drawing him and his world in a way that is reverent of the past, but embraces the modern era of comics as well.

    Segovia continues to impress on his couple of issues, bringing in a nice mix of solid composition and the unenviable task of having to draw characters from such vastly different worlds clashing together. He doesn’t quite have the clean line that Carlos Paguayan had for the first few issues, but as the story has gotten dirtier and more desperate, and the art reflects that.

    A fascinating part of this issue is that Deimos introduces the concept that, perhaps, Telos has been lied to by Brainiac in some way. King doesn’t delve into what the lie is, but the jump I’ll make is that, perhaps, the worlds aren’t dead – maybe Brainiac plucked the cities from them without destroying the world itself.

    Even more fascinating is the presence of the time travelers assembled here: these men and women represent the best possible solution to the issue of saving ‘dead’ worlds in a way that will feel less like Poochie and more like an actual, thought out ending.

    Final Verdict: 6.8 – Perhaps this will read better as a collection than as a weekly event.

    Convergence: Action Comics #1
    Written by Justin Gray
    Illustrated by Claude St. Aubin
    Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski

    The name of the game this week was “patience”, and the “Action Comics” title exemplifies that idea well. This was a return to the “Married Superman” era of Action Comics, and it brought with it a “lived-in” feel and a story that was automatically thematically deeper than a lot of these “Convergence” titles. They really took time in this issue to breathe with Clark and Lois, giving them some sweet character moments together before getting into the action. It was also one of the few “Convergence” that tried to fully develop both sides of the “A vs. B” story convention. While most stories showed one side of the battle for most of the issue, “Action Comics” spent roughly equal time with the Superman of Metropolis and the Superman of “Red Son.” Including a conflict with Luthor on the “Red Son” side of the aisle raises the stakes for both players, and made for an issue that felt much more substantial than most.

    Claude St. Aubin’s art feels like it comes from a more optimistic time. The way he frames Clark and Lois strolling through the city reflects a time in DC Comics that I feel has passed. A time where characters moved forward, legacies were created, and time marched – no matter how slowly and gradually. For most of the issue, the heroes are drawn in civilian clothes, but their identities and personalities still shine through. St. Aubin’s depictions of the “Red Son” Russia are fun to look at. Aubin and Gray really nailed this issue, and had some fun with a couple of eras that DC fans have been clamoring to go back to.

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: 8.0

    Convergence: Blue Beetle #1
    Written by Scott Lobdell
    Illustrated by Yishan Li
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    DC hasn’t done themselves any favors here.
    After publishing “The Multiversity: Pax Americana” from Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly just a few months ago, they are mining the same characters and territory for this Charlton-centric issue, from the team of Lobdell and Li. Li is not an artist I am all that familiar with, but I know Lobdell, and his reputation precedes him here. And, sadly, he plays right into what you’d expect from him: heavy handed moralism.

    Here, Captain Atom (in his civilian military role of Captain Adam) is the one dimensional destroyer of free spirits and peaceful demonstrators, where Blue Beetle is the brilliant doofus, and the Question doesn’t even attempt to not be Rorschach. These characters have a rich tradition that is, more or less, glossed over for no real reason. Well, there is one reason: DC desperately wants everything to be “Watchmen,” and the easiest thing to turn into “Watchmen” is the source material that Moore and Gibbons drew from.

    Li hits more of the tone than you’d expect from the preview pages, particularly nailing the city’s Silver Age architecture, which creates a nice bed upon which the characters can freely exist. That is especially important here, as the Charlton era books aren’t kept in print all that well, and many readers are being introduced to these iterations for the first time.

    Final Verdict: 4.2 – A vapid take on inspired characters

    Convergence: Booster Gold #1
    Written by Dan Jurgens
    Illustrated by Alvaro Martinez
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    “Booster Gold” is thoroughly unique among “Convergence” tie-ins in that it breaks out of the pre-established mold in every way possible. No dome dropping, no Telos speech. Hallelujah. Even without these trappings, this issue is arguably the most important “Convergence” tie-in, expanding on several plot points from the main book. Jurgens is at the top his game when writing “Booster Gold,” with strong characterization and intricate timey-wimey madness. Alvaro Martinez is a terrific fit for the story, matching the tone and style for “Booster” that was set during “52.”

    The “importance” of this issue extends beyond “Convergence,” as this issue continues the meta-narrative that Dan Jurgens and others have been telling across numerous mini-series and one-shots for several years now. With threads stretching back into the pre-New 52 DC universe, Jurgens has crafted an engaging mystery that stretches across space and time.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – “Booster Gold” is a rewarding read for long-time fans and “Convergence” readers alike.

    Convergence: Crime Syndicate #1
    Written by Brian Buccellato
    Illustrated by Phil Winslade
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    Though the Crime Syndicate receives star billing, this issue is just as much about the Justice League Alpha of the 853rd Century, making this one of the few issues to equally split time between the warring factions. Still, the Crime Syndicate is arguably the more interesting of the two, as the depowered criminals take on a Rogues-like tone as they stage a death-row prison break. Like other enjoyable “Convergence” tie-ins, Buccellato uses the advent of the dome to place his characters in a unique situation, creating a compelling character drama amidst the impending battle-royale.

    While Buccellato’s script is enjoyable, Winslade’s artwork is the issue’s highpoint. The artist displays his skill in artistic transition, moving seamlessly from the classic Silver Age Crime Syndicate and the 90’s-esque world of DC One Million. The changes between the two cities are subtle, but they result in a noticeably different tone.

    Final Verdict: 7.0 – One of the weaker issues in a particularly strong week of tie-ins, but one of the more enjoyable of the month’s offerings overall.

    Convergence: Detective Comics #1
    Written by Len Wein
    Illustrated by Denys Cowan
    Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski

    The “Detective Comics” entry of Convergence is a messy comic with moments of absolute brilliance. It purports to pit classic Earth-2 Dick Grayson and Helena Wayne against the “Red Son” city, but not without a few bumps in the road. First of all, the best moments in the issue are in the banter between Dick and Helena. With their history, and the expectations that come packaged with their characters, Wein does a really great job of pulling a few thematic strings to engage the reader. Some humorous, some melancholy, but all of them rich with history that most readers will be somewhat aware of. Less successful is the way that The Red Son world is tied in. Though, like in “Action Comics”, much time is spent with them, it feels like a different world than the one in that book. There’s only one “Red Son”, right? Someone please correct me in the comments section if I’m misreading this.

    Continued below

    Denys Cowan is a breath of fresh air whenever he gets the opportunity to draw a DC title. His crosshatch-heavy, moody style is unmistakably his own. He takes on both Earth-2 and Red Son with aplomb. Red Son looks like the cold, icy product it was always intended to be. Earth-2 looks equally cold and dark, which fits a world that has lost Batman and is now dealing with the coming of Convergence.

    Final Verdict: 7.5

    Convergence: Infinity Inc. #1
    Written by Jerry Ordway
    Illustrated by Ben Caldwell
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    I want to get something out of the way at the beginning. Last week I gave “Batman and the Outsiders” a negative critique because the artwork was very “off-style” for the era it represents. The same is undoubtedly true for “Infinity Inc.” Ben Caldwell’s pencils feel far more modern than the pre-Crisis Earth 2 setting would suggest. However, at the risk of appearing hypocritical, I feel that the style choice works here for a few key reasons.

    “Infinity Inc.,” is a legacy book, focusing on the progeny of the heroes of yesteryear. Unlike similar legacy team “Teen Titans,” Infinity Inc. never really got its due, despite a wonderfully diverse and interesting cast. To see the team back together, under a more youthful and modern approach is both a ton of fun and cue at how DC should be handling their legacy characters these days.

    Surprisingly, the man behind this slightly more millennial friendly take on Infinity Inc. is one of DC’s remaining “old guard” writers, the esteemed Jerry Ordway. While Ordway has done a bit of art in recent years for DC, he’s largely been absent since the start of the New 52. To seem him returning to a team he helped create is a true delight, and gives a sense of continuity that many “Convergence” tie-ins lack. The large cast can be slightly intimidating, especially to those unfamiliar with these characters, but Ordway does a great job of giving each one at least one “defining” moment. We only have one issue left, but I would love to read more “Infinity Inc.” from this team.

    Final Verdict: 8.5 – Better than any “Teen Titans” issue I’ve read in years.

    Convergence: Justice Society of America #1
    Written by Dan Abnett
    Illustrated by Tom Derenick
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    The Justice Society is one of those comic concepts that, depending on your age, can mean very, very different things to you. For Pre-Crisis fans, this represents the originals, the first super team. And this issue, very touchingly, deals with what that means – it also means that, sooner than later, the originals need to step aside.

    Dan Abnett crafts a story that feels both hopeful and heartbreaking at the same time, and Derenick does a really nice job of matching his tone to the time period and subject matter. He draws four of the classic JSAers – Alan Scott (Green Lantern), Jay Garrick (the Flash), Kent Nelson (Dr. Fate), and Carter Hall (Hawkman) as aged men, with bad knees, wrinkles and liver spots. He doesn’t pull any punches, but there is a little bit of heroism left in them, whether represented by their square jaws, or the glint in their eyes that betray the canvas that surrounds it.

    This, in some ways, has a “one last heist” feel to it, which is absolutely appropriate for the book, and makes their story even more potent.

    Final Verdict: 8.2 – A solid appearance – and potential elegy – for the comics forefathers.

    Convergence: Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters
    Written by Simon Oliver
    Illustrated by John McCrea
    Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski

    Talk about “World-building”! Simon Oliver damn near writes an epic (as far as single issues are concerned) that depicts the Freedom Fighters as they go from anti-Nazi instigators to defeated members of a suffering domed society. Oliver crams characterization into this issue, and shows that actions have unforeseen consequences. As fun as it has been to re-visit some of these characters and stories, this is one of the few issues of “Convergence” so far that feels like it deserves an entire new series spun out of it. “Plastic Man” tracks the freedom fighters from night time raids during a Nazi takeover, to poverty and hopelessness under the Convergence dome. It’s told in a very epic manner, and a lot is crammed into a small amount of space. Even better, it’s compelling (and surprisingly funny) as can be.

    Continued below

    John McCrea was an apt choice to take on the Freedom Fighters as a nazi period piece. McCrea’s forte has always been drawing big idea, counter-culture material. In some small, admittedly conventional ways, “Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters” has a little bit of that in its DNA. For instance, McCrea beautifully depicts the best segment of the issues – the Freedom Fighters taking to the streets at night to thwart the Nazi occupation. This movement causes vandalism of Nazi memorabilia, and general mayhem, all depicted with gravity and humor.

    Final Verdict: 8.5

    Convergence: Shazam #1
    Written by Jeff Parker
    Illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    There is almost nothing I can say about this book that won’t come off like a squee shouted from a mountaintop. This is an absolutely astounding comic, but I am also a gigantic Captain Marvel fanboy, so it is hard for me to say whether or not this would resonate so well for others. Judging the book as a “Convergence” tie-in, it is quite successful, as it doesn’t waste too much time setting the stage, and it manages to tell a story while filling in the reader. Parker’s script hits almost every Captain Marvel feature, and he doesn’t fall into the trap of caring more about writing wholesome instead of writing well – which isn’t to say that it doesn’t have the classic Whiz wholesomeness. He just manages to tell his story in through that lens, instead of making that lens the story.

    Characters are introduced in elegant and simple ways, without much expository nonsense muddying the waters. Doc Shaner does incredible work on each page, but he handles each character’s reveal like it is an applause line in a film, giving each character a small spotlight to grant new readers a peek and let old fans reveal in their glory. Characters like Bulletman, Uncle Dudley, and even the Marvels themselves are given nice moments, but no one is beaten over the head with details.

    This creative team is almost preternaturally matched to this work; having just tackled “Flash Gordon,” this seems like it is perfectly in their wheelhouse. This feels like a perfect amalgam of Whiz-era and DC-era Marvel stories, from Jordie Bellaire’s vibrant but controlled colors, to the dialogue, which feels timeless (unlike some of this week’s other titles, where characters are speaking like a tween on an iPhone). Shaner is one of my favorite artists working today, and he and Parker (and Bellaire) have a synergy that feels absolutely natural.

    Final Verdict: 9.5 – I would buy this comic monthly over just about anything else on the stands. Feed me, DC!

    Convergence: Worlds Finest #1
    Written by Paul Levitz
    Illustrated by Jim Fern and Joe Rubenstein
    Reviewed by Vince J Ostrowski

    With “Worlds Finest”, DC historian Paul Levitz really takes the reader on a true journey. He accomplishes this by using the age old tactic of viewing the heroes (in this case, the Seven Soldiers of Victory) through the eyes of the “everyman.” This “everyman” is a Metropolis cartoonist, who believes in the ideals of the “superhero” whole heartedly. From there, we get to see his admiration in full force, and then eventually crumble, as the dome comes over the bustling city and ruins it. This week has been especially good at showing the “before” and “after” of the appearance of the domes, and “Worlds Finest” is no exception. It also does a terrific job of taking the main character on a true story arc. Things get a little muddy at the end when the Seven Soldiers are pitted against their Convergence opponent, but it’s easy to excuse that when the story that came before it is so engrossing.

    Jim Fern and inker Joe Rubenstein play the role of throwback artists, re-creating the Seven Soldiers with clean, classic designs. This looks more like a comic from its era than most, and the superlative effort of the artists is apparent. Some “Convergence” art has seemed like rush work, but Jim Fern very clearly lovingly penciled this one and imbues it with the spirit of classic comics. The cartoonists’ admiration for these classic heroes comes through in the way he reacts to the characters around him (spoiler alert: he’s super devoted to them all), and they’re depicted as symbols of nobility to sell that point.

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: 8.5

    Vince’s Thoughts: For me, this was easily the most successful week of “Convergence.” It was a blast, getting to visit a variety of bygone DC Comics eras, and I don’t think the effort was really phoned it at all. Best of all, most of these books featured a unique visual style (oftentimes much brighter and more humorous than DC’s average modern output). Some creative teams fit the titles, and others didn’t, but I think most of the creators pulled it off.

    I said this last week, but I think the success of this week is derived from the fact that very few of these stories had unfinished baggage that needed to be “resolved.” In prior weeks, baggage like Roy Harper’s struggles pre-Flashpoint were cathartic to revisit and watch them sort of try to “fix” recontextualize certain aspects. Others contained elements that didn’t warrant revisiting. Here, nearly all of these stories were free to be their own thing.

    It will be interesting to see how these resolve next month. I think month 1 was a fun dalliance, but next month will be key to the event’s success. How we’re going to leave this event is far more important to DC’s immediate future (and all of our opinions on it) than the quality of any of these books individually.

    Zach’s Thoughts:

    This is undoubtedly the best week of “Convergence” so far, due to several factors. Several books, such as “Booster Gold” and “Shazam” subvert the expectations set by the previous three weeks of tie-ins. The books I read (unfortunately I haven’t made it through the full line-up yet, due to the rigors of final exams) felt far more inventive and daring in their execution. It also doesn’t hurt that the pre-Crisis era of DC, with its wildly unique multiverse of characters, is one of the most fascinating periods in DC history. This is the first time I found myself not only enjoying an issue as just a tie-in to the event, but as a proper book that can stand on its own. That’s a huge success for the event in my book.

    P.S. I really want an “Infinity Inc.” ongoing.

    Brian’s Thoughts:

    This week, unexpectedly, had maybe the best winning percentage of the event thus far. To my tastes, there were only two truly bad issues – “Blue Beetle” and “Infinity, Inc,” and the rest were all on the fair to great scale. Sure, there were some problems (like Russian Superman appearing totally different in “Detective Comics” and “Action Comics,” or Plastic Man saying the word ‘bitch,’ which goes against the tone of the era in such an incredible way), but “Booster Gold” managed to be valuable not just for “Convergence,” but for the last 4 years of DC comics in general, “Justice Society of America” was touching and beautiful, and “Shazam” is the best comic I’ve read all month.

    This event, if nothing else, has reminded me and, hopefully, thousands of others, just how rich DC’s history is, and that they needn’t be so cavalier with discarding pieces of it. This week, I managed to care about the Warlord, Helena Wayne, and Tawky Tawny, and you know what? I still care just as much about what happened in “Batman” #40. Loving the past doesn’t negate caring about the future – in fact, I would argue that since I’ve been reading Batman books for nearly 30 years, the ending to #40 means more to me than it would to a newer reader. And until DC fully commits to keeping all of their past in play, that new reader will never get the chance to have the full breadth of fandom that I was afforded by being born in the right year. And that’s just not fair.

    //TAGS | The DC3

    Brian Salvatore

    Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).


    Vince Ostrowski

    Dr. Steve Brule once called him "A typical hunk who thinks he knows everything about comics." Twitter: @VJ_Ostrowski


    Zach Wilkerson

    Zach "The Mercenary" Wilkerson may sometimes act like he hates comics, but he generally enjoys them, mostly. Ask him about his encyclopedic knowledge of the Kingdom Hearts series and follow him on twitter @wilkerfox.


  • -->