A Bruce Wayne Batman meets an alternate-reality Batman who's really his father Thomas Wayne. So much ripe potential in having these different Dark Knights meet up, right? Too bad the comic it happens in, Convergence #2, is terrible.
DC Comics' Convergence crossover event continues this week with another crop of comics engineered to revisit past iterations of their characters and trigger intense nostalgia. Last week, that worked pretty well. This week, I passed on most of the books that came out but couldn't resist the possible drama that could happen when Batman meets his dad. A dad that's also Batman. Turns out I bought it for all the wrong reasons.
Sadly, Convergence #2 is too choked down with pointless plot advancement and flat hero-vs-villain action to pay off on what I'd hoped for. It also glosses over moments of potential thematic redemption. The comic opens with Dick Grayson narrating the last days of his time on his native Earth, where Thomas Wayne became Batman after Bruce's tragic death. Cool, I thought, they will find a way to create tension between a Grayson who was never a superhero and a Thomas Wayne who never had a sidekick. But each interaction they have feels clumsy.
And when Bruce Wayne and Thomas Wayne finally meet, it's on a page choked with bland narration from Dick. This is a moment where you want to hear from the characters themselves, not someone who isn't in the scene.
The grinding deprivations of his origin story and crimefighting campaign have made me -- and millions of other people -- a sucker for Batman. He only comes into existence after watching his parents gunned down in the street in front of him. On top of that, Batman's lost so much more over the years: sidekicks, lovers and trusted allies. So, whenever the plot contrivances of superhero comics afford Batman the opportunity to actually get some of that back, readers await the event with great anticipation. When a comic like this happens, an openness to manipulation is part of the implicit contract between comics readers and the publisher. "Yes, it will be corny if never-cries Batman starts tearing up. But, I don't care. Give me that beat. Make it count." That moment -- or an equally resonant equivalent -- never happens here.
Will Bruce open up? Offer some insight about how lonely, sad or happy he might be in the moment where he sees a dead loved one again?
Batman works because he's wound up being less human while training himself to be more than human. Stories like 1987's Son of the Demon -- where he has something like an actual romance -- work because they give Bruce some of his lost emotional spectrum back. Of course, it gets snatched away in a cruel twist of fate. Again, that's part of the contract, to see how certain creators will execute or re-invent certain tropes. This isn't the first time Batman's met a parent he's been mourning his entire life. But it's one of the worst ones.