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    The DC3 Presents: The Convergents, Week 2!

    By , and | April 17th, 2015
    Posted in Columns | 2 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 #2
    Written by Jeff King
    Illustrated by Carlo Pagulayan & Jason Paz
    Review by Vince J. Ostrowski

    A few weeks ago, we projected that the events of “Earth 2: World’s End” would bleed over into “Convergence”, but I don’t think any of us predicted just how substantially the Earth 2 heroes’ roles would be. Whether it continues to be this way or not, “Convergence” #1 & 2 are basically “World’s End 2: Multiversal Boogaloo.” If you liked what “World’s End” had to offer, you’ll likely like this. There’s not much difference in tone between the two, which means that Jeff King is doing a good job of making the overarching status quo at DC Comics seamless, but also means that if you’re not invested or interested in these characters already, the main “Convergence” series hasn’t done anything new to get you on-board yet.

    As the Earth 2 heroes explore the world Telos has trapped them in, King takes the opportunity to make nods to other worlds and eras, such as an extremely subtle reference to Stan Lee’s “Just Imagine…” (so subtle that even if you’re familiar with that line of books, you still might miss it). This all would be fun, but it’s extremely surface level. Actual interaction between worlds is at a minimum. More succesful is King’s attempt to unite Grant Morrison’s “Batman Incorporated” era Bruce Wayne with Thomas Wayne of Earth 2. There isn’t much said, and few true parallels to be drawn, but the images of them standing with one another are powerful for invested readers. But the richness and power of that scene only goes to show how spare the rest of the comic is. “Convergence” could be full of these moments, but it’s not.

    Carlo Pagulayan’s art continues to be a terrific choice, as he renders clean, clear depictions of these characters with all of the sometimes subtle (sometimes not so subtle) traits that differentiate one world from another. “Convergence” is, in some ways, a drug trip through DC ephemera. Pagulayan has been a sure-handed spirit guide.

    Final Verdict: 5.5 – It feels like there should be more here, and the strength of the writing in the meeting of Bruce & Thomas Wayne is something that magnifies the other problems of “Convergence.” It could swing for the fences a lot more often than it does.

    Convergence: Aquaman #1
    Written by Tony Bedard
    Illustrated by Cliff Richards
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    Tony Bedard uses the “Covergence” angle to tell a literal fish out of water story. Cut off from all large water bodies, Aquaman has gone a bit kooky in his year under the dome, taking over public aquariums and using his harpoon hand to swing through Metropolis, Spider-Man style. Unfortunately, what begins as a genuinely interesting story gets caught up in the now standard formula we’ve seen in all “Convergence” tie-ins. Deathblow’s scenes are as gratuitous as one would expect, a perfect representation of 90’s comic book excess.

    Cliff Richard’s stiff and photorealistic style is an odd pairing for the issue’s first half, but fits like a glove once Deathblow blasts onto the scene. The world feels fairly sparse, due to a limited and flat color palette, lack of texture, and limited background detail.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – “Aquaman” #1 has a strong start, but squanders much of that goodwill by issues end.

    Convergence: Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1
    Continued below

    Written by Larry Hama
    Illustrated by Philip Tan & Jason Paz
    Review by Vince J. Ostrowski

    Last week, we spent the majority of our time with a pre-Flashpoint era that was exceedingly recent and felt extremely familiar because of it. This week, “Convergence” travels back a little further. In the case of “Shadow of the Bat”, we end in the very specific era of Batman comics where Jean-Paul Valley took up the mantle of “Azrael” and replaced Batman for a bit. Here, we get to see the two Batmen side-by-side again, with Larry Hama doing a good job of highlighting the similarities and differences between the two characters. Actually, Hama weaves a nice (if not overly conventional) Batmen vs. The Whale gangland story. If it weren’t for “Convergence”, this might have been a nifty little visitation to times past. But because the event hangs over every book, and we couldn’t get through a single issue without hearing Telos give his “Convergence” speech, “Shadow of the Bat” goes off the rails near the end. A “theme” month (or two) isn’t a bad thing, but do they have to be so formulaic? Do we need to waste pages on the same material in each issue? The celebration of DC’s past that “Convergence” is supposed to be is dampened by the presence of this overarching narrative that intrudes too much. Yes, there needs to be a backbone to hold the thing together, but isn’t that what “Convergence: The Series” is?

    I don’t think it’s looking a gift horse in the mouth to say that “Shadow of the Bat” would be a stronger comic if it were a two-issue story happening in a corner of the multiverse all its own, unaffected by anything else. Just a two-off story that re-visits a specific time in Batman’s life. “Convergence” tries to jam the conceit of the event, the story of a Batman & Azrael team-up, and a Wildstorm vs. ’90s Batman duel into the same comic – and as a consequence none of the stories hold up.

    It’s a shame, because for about 15 pages, Hama and artist Philip Tan had something pretty compelling and faithful to the source material going on here. Tan, in particular, did some of his best work in superhero comics on this issue. Respectfully, Tan has been turning in muddy and sometimes difficult to follow storytelling since ‘The New 52’ began. Here, his storytelling is clear, appropriately tense at times, and acts as a fun representation of the ‘Knightfall’ era of Batman. I guess you throw Wildstorm into the mix to try to “out-’90s” ‘Knightfall’. Maybe this is personal bias showing through, but Wildstorm doesn’t inspire a high enough percentage of fond memories to go toe-to-toe with the main DCU characters, nor do these properties have the history that DC Comics does. They enter the fray with a thud, and bring the true story to a halt.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – They really did have something here, until the mechanics of the event kicked in.

    Catwoman #1
    Written by Justin Gray
    Illustrated by Ron Randall
    Review by Vince J. Ostrowski

    Much like the Convergence issue of “Batman: Shadow of the Bat”, “Convergence: Catwoman” tries to tell a short, straightforward Catwoman story, before getting swept up in the details of the event. “Catwoman” ends up being more successful, because it feels like it’s trying to pack less stuff into one issue. “Catwoman” organically moves its plot along from one rescue (of a very wealthy socialite) to another (an old ally of Selina’s) using Catwoman’s typical set of roguish morals to create intrigue. It works, and feels like a classic Catwoman story without a lot of baggage, even if it also feels very inconsequential in the long run. When the mechanics of “Convergence” kick in towards the end, they happen swiftly and without a direct interruption of the plot. Instead, the plot actually transitions from where it was, to where it’s going.

    Ron Randall’s art is similarly deft in both its style and storytelling. The look of his characters fit the era well and capture the swashbuckling nature of the Catwoman character. At times, Catwoman is Robin Hood – and that’s how Randall depicts her here, in the way she maneuvers around setpieces. One positive aspect of “Convergence” so far is that not every book is dark, violent, and grim. In fact, it’s been roughly a half and half mix of books that feel dark vs. books that embrace the lighthearted ridiculous inevitabilities of the event comic. Randall’s art embraces the fun side of Catwoman’s exploits, and it’s a welcome change for the character, even if her current ongoing title is terrific and gritty.

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – A swashbuckling showing that allows “Convergence” to intrude in only the most minimal, welcome fashion.

    Convergence: Green Arrow #1
    Written by Christy Marx
    Illustrated by Rags Morales
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    One of the more interesting times in Green Arrow’s history was when Connor Hawke assumed the mantle, but Hawke himself has been mostly discarded since Oliver Queen’s return. This issue takes place “before” the two met, and creates a new first encounter for them. I understand that, given the constraints of this event, certain timeframes had to be messed with, but this meeting seems almost entirely pointless.

    Sure, we get to see the father and son team up for the first time, but this is like watching a fast-forwarded version of years of Green Arrow stories: Oliver doesn’t want to be a dad, Connor wants a relationship, they bond over archery. The problem is that, by speeding the timeline up, you lose all nuance and heart that the story once had.

    All of that is of no fault of Rags Morales, who does some truly nice work here. His work is detailed and full of life, and masks some of the more absurd bits of dialogue that Marx sneaks in here. She tries to cram so much into this issue that it all feels slight. Morales deserves a better script than this, and both Green Arrows deserve a better showcase, especially Hawke.

    Final Verdict: 4.5 – An overstuffed, undercooked, useless tie-in.

    Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax #1
    Written by Tony Bedard
    Illustrated by Ron Wagner
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    “Green Lantern/Parallax” is Tony Bedard’s second book of the week, and as with “Aquaman” the writer makes great use of both the “Convergence” rules and the particular point in history that the story is set. As Brainiac’s dome sealing off this world soon after Hal’s transformation to Parallax, but before his sacrifice in “Final Night,” we have a situation where Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan coexist. However, as a side effect of the dome, both are powerless. This leaves both characters in extremely interesting places; Jordan, wracked with guilt do to his regained sanity and Rayner, dealing with the loss of Alex and a severely truncated career as Green Lantern. In light of all this the two have managed to become friends, with Kyle visiting his would be mentor in his self imposed imprisonment. There’s no mention of a yellow fear bug, no Ion, and none of the tropes that have dominated the Lantern franchise for the past decade. This makes for a very refreshing study of these two characters at crucial points in their careers.

    However, just as in “Aquaman,” the dome must drop and the intriguing premise must end. That said, “Green Lantern/Parallax” fairs much better, as Hal’s return to the Parallax persona creates a conflict far more compelling than the competing cities. This has the potential to become a great alternate redemption story for the fallen Green Lantern, as well as a chance to see Kyle Rayner shine.

    Artistically, Ron Wagner does a terrific job of emulating the look and feel of a 90’s era book without feeling dated. There’s also a fun Kirby-esque vibe in his rendition of the Electopolis forces. The aesthetic comes together in a fun Bruce Timm-esque style that is both fun and complementary to the story.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – “Green Lantern/Parallax” #1 returns to a pre-Geoff Johns “Green Lantern” and tells a genuinely compelling story.

    Convergence: Justice League International #1
    Written by Ron Marz
    Illustrated by Mike Manley
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    This is a rather run of the mill “Convergence” tie-in, with a group of heroes dealing with the changes brought on by the dome. While most of the classic International team is present, the focus is set on Blue Beetle. There’s an interesting dynamic in that dome has stripped the rest of the team of their powers, setting them on an equal playing field with Blue Beetle. There’s also an interesting subplot involving resource management under the dome, but this isn’t fully explored. The issue sets up a potentially awesome confrontation between the Justice League International and the “Justice League” of the Kingdom Come universe, but it does so in a very forced and awkward manner. The team roll call isn’t exactly the most threatening introduction. Mike Manley’s art, like the script, is serviceable but not particularly memorable or groundbreaking.

    Continued below

    Final Verdict: 7.0 – While fairly generic, “Justice League International” is a pleasant return to a fan-favorite iteration of DC’s super-team.

    Suicide Squad #1
    Written by Frank Tieri
    Illustrated by Tom Mandrake
    Review by Vince J. Ostrowski

    John Ostrander’s “Suicide Squad” is certainly one of the most critically and popularly revered series in DC Comics’ storied history. It’s no wonder why it keeps showing up in new comics, television series, films, and events like this. But unfortunately, writers never seem to get to write the characters long enough to uncover anything new. Much of the fun with “Suicide Squad” is seeing the unlikely combinations of villains (and sometimes heroes) that end up working for the task force. Unfortunately, at least in recent years, that fun is rarely followed up on. “Convergence: Suicide Squad” suffers the same fate by putting together a classic team with a couple surprises (Hank Henshaw!), but by never allowing them to do anything. But it is comfort food to see the classic Amanda Waller again, so that’s a plus.

    Tom Mandrake applies a really interesting style to the book. Some panels (usually the larger ones) look gorgeous and unlike anything DC puts out anymore. A lot of other panels look like a mess, including, unfortunately, the final page reveal. For a second, I thought Vincent D’Onofrio had crossed over into the DC Universe from Marvel. Mandrake’s style makes the comic look like a ’70s crime film at times, which was an incredibly fitting aesthetic. Unfortunately, the execution was sometimes rather wonky.

    Final Verdict: 6.0 – The writing sounds period-accurate and the art has its moments, but the end result feels thin and uneventful.

    Convergence: Superboy #1
    Written by Fabian Nicieza
    Illustrated by Karl Moline
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    This issue is nearly the Platonic ideal of what a “Convergence” tie-in should be. It drops us in a familiar place with a beloved iteration of a character, brings some depth and growth to the character, and throws in a secondary universe that we actually want to see.

    Karl Moline is the perfect fit for this story, as he is honoring the roots of the era, and yet he manages to make the Kingdom Come characters seem at home, even though, stylistically, they couldn’t be any further apart. The sheer joy he shows, through both the composition of the panels and the facial expression on Kon, once his powers return, is the perfect encapsulation of teenage exuberance. This issue was a pleasure to read.

    Kudos must also be given to Fabian Nicieza, who doesn’t bog down the proceedings with too much unnecessary exposition (although the early scenes do drag a little bit), but who also finds the tone of the Kingdom Come characters almost instantly Wally and Dick, the best of friends from their teenage years on, talk like teammates who know each other inside and out, and Superman appears just as misguided as you remember him. The idea of Kon having to prove that he’s Superman – not Superboy, the moniker he vehemently rejected in this era – is the perfect motivation for the character.

    Final Verdict: 9.0 – An incredibly fun romp through the early 90’s of DC.

    Convergence: Supergirl: Matrix #1
    Written by Keith Giffen
    Illustrated by Timothy Green II
    Reviewed by Zach Wilkerson

    With a quirky writer and a fun artist on board, I had high hopes for “Supergirl: Matrix” #1. This character is one of the biggest odd-balls in a slew of interesting creative choices that defined 90’s era Superman, and Giffen’s trademark brand of bwa-ha-ha seemed like a great fit. The promise of him returning to Ambush Bug was enough to get me interested. Unfortunately, most of the book’s gags fall flat as the plot and dialogue devolves into a cyclical mess. Timothy Green’s art is bright, bombastic, and a ton of fun, but it’s not enough to save this one.

    Final Verdict: 4.0 – This issue is as obtuse as the bizarre piece of comic history that spawned it.

    Continued below

    Convergence: Superman: Man of Steel #1
    Written by Louise Simonson
    Illustrated by June Brigman
    Reviewed by Brian Salvatore

    Of all of the books this week, this one felt the most like an authentic mining of the pre-Zero Hour DCU. Brigman’s art is directly out of the era – in fact, throw this on inferior paper stock, and there’s almost nothing about this book that looks later than, perhaps, 1996. She has a nice grasp on Steel’s armor, and handles the WildC.A.T.S. with aplomb as well, even if they have never been drawn this timidly before (not that they are holding flowers and listening to early Belle and Sebastian, they just aren’t falling out of their tops, muscles bulging distractingly, all while holding guns the size of Steel’s hammer.

    This issue doesn’t suffer from the curse of so many “Convergence” tie-ins, where the writer feels the need to catch everyone up on the most minor of details. Here, Simonson (one of Steel’s co-creators) just writes, and allows the reader to figure out how everyone knows each other. You know, the way everyone who ever read a comic before the internet figured out what was going on.

    Simonson also adds some real stakes to the story, beyond the “all cities must face each other” stakes. We see familial relationships tested, alongside internal struggles – we get a sense of who these people are, and what they care about, beyond just being stuck in the dome.

    Final Verdict: 8.0 – A solid reminder of the early 90s Super-status quo.

    Vince’s Thoughts:

    You may remember that week 1, for me, was perhaps the peak of my investment in DC Comics. That “Streets of Gotham” era of Batman was my jam, and I was reading more books from one publisher than I ever have. I had stock in nearly all of those characters and considering it wasn’t that long ago, I also had vivid memories of how all those stories “ended” (they mostly never did).

    On the other hand, while I have my favorites from the eras presented this week, I have to say I was less fond of them all around. I have almost no affection for Wildstorm, and mixed feelings about “Knightfall” Batman. On the other hand, the Superman and Green Lantern (Parallax) stories touched on this week have been morbid curiosities of mine for a while. I’m not very emotionally invested in them, but I was interested in them as the curios they are.

    I think the quality of the output similarly took a dip this week, because less of the books matched the quality of their original runs. For the most part, these eras are looked upon fondly, but the reasons why aren’t always reflected in the “Convergence” issues that correspond to them. Maybe some of that is my fault, because for a number of these, I had to google or read the backmatter to trigger my memory of what all these particular eras might have left hanging all those years ago. I couldn’t trace all the threads as flawlessly as I could when reading “Pre-Flashpoint” books from last week.

    “Convergence” remains a worthy experiment, although the repetition is a clear weakness that the editor certainly should have done something about. At some point, massive crossover or not, you have to draw the line on exposition. Almost every issue lets “Convergence” exposition get in the way of some otherwise compelling plots.

    Zach’s Thoughts:

    I’ll admit, I don’t have a huge attachment to this era of comics. My superhero fix in the 90’s consisted of the DC Animated Universe. However, I found myself truly enjoying several of these issues, particular the “Green Lantern/Parallax” issue I reviewed above. That said, my biggest fear for these tie-ins has proven to be well founded. I really does look like this entire month is going to consist of the same formulaic story beats. I can put up with seeing Telos’ speech ten times a week (I just skip over it at this point). However, when the demands of the event get in the way of an otherwise strong story, something I saw several times this week, then there’s a bit of a problem.

    Continued below

    Although, this week did feature “Kingdom Come” characters. That’s a major win in my book.

    All in all, “Convergence” continues to be my favorite “skip month” event that DC has had since the start of the New 52. If I can have this much fun with an era of comics I’m only marginally interested in, I can’t wait to revisit the Silver and Golden Age DCU.

    Brian’s Thoughts:

    As the oldest of the DC3, this era was the period of time when I was at my most fervent point of fandom. I had the entire run of “Damage (still do),” I considered Kyle Rayner the greatest Green Lantern of all time (still do), and I was emotionally destroyed when Superman died. This period of time, when I was 10 or so years old, is still what I think of first when I hear ‘comics.’

    Because of that, and much like Vince said last week, I was probably easier on a lot of these titles than my cohorts would’ve been, because these represent such a place of joy in my comics reading. I thought that almost every issue this week was enjoyable on some level, even if none of them exactly set the world on fire (‘cept for “Superboy,” that was my jam). As Zach said, this is hands down the best of the months DC has created to fill in the gaps of their publishing line.

    I’m sure more than a little bit of that is this 32 year old man’s nostalgia, but I’ll take it.

    Never tell me the odds!

    Pre-Zero Hour Metropolis – 1:9 – This era of DC’s history is full of fan favorite incarnations of characters. The JLI, mullet Superman and the rise of a new generation of heroes make this a pretty compelling contender. However, many of the things that make this era memorable overlap with other versions of the mainstream DCU, such as the pre-Crisis and post-Infinite Crisis, which arguably handle them better.

    Electropolis – 1:20 – Lady Quark’s unique but obscure world has a history of appearing in times of Crisis, only to be snuffed out. Odds are that this trend will continue. However, Quark has a tendency to thwart death, making this a strong underdog pick.

    San Diego, California – 1:9 – The classic “Wildstorm” universe is a wonderfully diverse world that perfectly captures that 90’s magic. However, we all know how well the likes of Stormwatch, Grifter, and Gen13 fare in the DCU.

    Metropolis, Kingdom Come Universe – 4:1 – The “Kingdom Come” universe is the best ever and if it doesn’t win then what’s the point?

    //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.


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