DC Comics' Big New Crossover Isn't Off To A Great Start

So it’s here: the beginning of the latest instalment in a long cycle of DC Universe publishing events. Unfortunately, the first issue of Convergence doesn’t hold up the legacy of its best predecessors and might just wind up annoying the fanbase it’s supposed to energise.

Convergence #0 — co-written by Dan Jurgens and Jeff King, with art by Ethan Van Sciver — comes out this week, bringing with it older and alternate versions of DC Comics’ various heroes and villains. Like Marvel’s coming Secret Wars publishing event, the overarching plot will mash up different timelines and universes to create a fresh new gestalt reality where heroes battle each other.

Warning: Spoilers follow for the plot of Convergence #0.

As you can see in the trailer above, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio thematically links Convergence to the mega-crossovers of years past, like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis. This time, bygone eras and voided possibilities will get dusted off and presented to readers in a months-long orgy of could-have-beens. Premised as it is on a superhuman recall of a fictional continuity that stretches back more than 75 years, Convergence is the kind of happening that can simultaneously be the best and worst thing about superhero comics. If you know about all of different Supermen who’ve appeared over the decades, you’ll enjoy how they get used. Even if you don’t know the difference between an Ultraman, a Superboy-Prime or a Kal-L, a good crossover give you just enough to make you curious about these alternate versions of Clark Kent.

But Convergence #0 doesn’t do that job well. This issue doesn’t show or do enough to establish what’s at stake here. It’s narrowly focused on the character of Superman, showing the current iteration of The Man of Steel struggling to escape an intradimensional trap set by archfoe Brainiac.

While Convergence #0 does sprinkle in mentions and visual references to various well-known alternate realities, it largely presumes that the reader knows about DC’s multiversal structure already.

The zero issue lacks the scope of, say, 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 or 2005’s Infinite Crisis #1, the entry points for two of the previous publishing resets DC embarked on. Even the first issue of 1994’s Zero Hour, a crossover event that was largely reviled by the DC faithful, did a better job of setting the stage than Convergence #0.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez, opens with the creation of multiple universes...

then shows one reality getting destroyed by a mysterious cosmic threat...

Here’s the opening of Infinite Crisis #1, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Phil Jimenez. Because of the events of COIE, there’s only one Earth now.

There’s a mysterious narrator who seems to know about the universe he or she is watching.

It’s a reality where Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman aren’t getting along.

And the comic goes on to show that this is the worst possible time for the Justice League’s triumvirate to have problems. Again, there’s a sense of scope. The reader’s getting primed for something momentous.

=Zero Hour #4 — also written by Jurgens, the series had a backwards numbering gimmick — did much the same thing in 1994. Even if you were coming in cold, you knew almost immediately from its first pages that history was going to be re-written.

Then you saw the effects of the chrono-spatial meddling in the down-to-earth setting of Gotham City.

Let’s go back to Convergence #0. It’s a given that it’s going to be an instalment full of set-up since it’s the first part of a rolling event. But it’s just not very good set-up. After the opening pages shown above, the rest of the issue pretty much devolves into extended sequences of Superman yelling, futilely punching Brainiac doppelgangers and acting confused about what the heck’s going on.

The scenes here don’t quite feel like they’re going to have cosmic repercussions; they feel like they could be from any monthly Superman comic.

In that Convergence trailer, DiDio says the following: “And you’ll see ripples from the [two-month Convergence] story moving out in the very next month in some of the new series we’re introducing in June and, more importantly, these stories will be playing out in the months to come.” Because of the vicissitudes of the comics business, we’ve already seen the new costumes and heard about the new titles and creative teams coming to the DC Universe come June. And it looks like the nature of the shifts happening in both new and continuing titles will be more about resetting the tone of certain series and characters than re-writing historical events in a specific way. Thing is, as bad as Convergence #0 is, those coming changes seem interesting and are probably the best hope for recapturing readers who’ve been disenchanted with DC’s editorial of late. So it may not be a great sign that pretty much nothing exciting happens in Convergence #0. It’s going to be followed up by a bunch of miniseries that look into various alternate realities so it’s ultimately a disposable and unnecessary comic.

A shift in tone doesn’t necessarily need the same kind of empty-slate reboot that resulted from, say, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Nor does it need a big line-spanning crossover as DC appears to have concocted with Convergence, be it to cover the company’s move from New York to California or to clear the palate before the shifts in June. No, the introducing of an improved line of comics that put story over continuity — which is what DC is promising for June—is something that can be executed gradually over a series of months or with a change of scenery/creative teams, as was recently done in Batgirl Convergence and its attendant miniseries will probably become irrelevant once the new status quos start falling into place across the DC Universe. If nothing else, Convergence #0 serves as an example of exactly the kind of leaden, joyless comics-making that DC desperately needs to get away from.


Comments

    See I didnt mind it, to me convergence is not meant to be an entry point for new people, its a tip of the hat to your old fans giving a follow up one shot to series that wouldn't sell well today. Nothing from convergence should ever have to dig deep to explain itself, it is just two months of nostalgia that will hopefully be awesome.

      Agreed.

      Unlike the original COIE, which sought to lay the framework for one new multiverse with the destruction of multiple/infinite realities built up over 50 years.

      Unlike Zero Hour, which basically sought to realign the timelines/clean up some of the loose ends of COIE, after 10 years (more or less) of continuity.

      A bit more like IC which just sought to reopen some of the "doorways" so to speak that COIE had closed. 20 years later, of basically post COIE continuity. ie. Batman Year One/Perez Wonder Woman/Byrne's Man Of Steel were the canonical origins. Albeit with tweaks appearing (primarily in Supermans origin) - it was basically more of a celebration of 20 years of damn good, well balanced continuity. With a few nods from some old favourites (the original Earth 2 Superman himself, he WAS turning 70) - and the ultimate upshot we found out One Year Later (After 52 finished) - was that there were 52 realities now. Hey, a lot less than infinite - but 51 more than we'd had for a while.

      And while this was great for us readers, casual Joe Citizen found it all a bit daunting.

      The current DC continuity isn't even 4 years old. New 52 has been great for new readers intimidated by all that continuity. Don't start me on the carryover of pre n52 continuity for Morrison's Batman inc and Johns' Green Lantern (both fantastic runs, fully worth checking out their pre n52 runs, and not too difficult to follow if not, though much richer if you do) - but overall, generally good,with some excellent (and invariably as happens a few poor) runs, and rarely wholesale reboots. Just new stories, with gaps in background/origin being filled in as they went - so as not to antagonise new readers. When series' did start with reboots, as they did with Morrisons Action and Johns' JLA (and to a certain extent Azarello's Wonder Woman) they usually got to the present after a 6 or so issue arc.

      And the new readers arrived. And four years in, they haven't all left. And there's still son more getting on board, because - let's face it - 5 volumes of JL is less intimidating than 25 years of purely post COIE worth.

      But those old classics are there, and some of those new readers don't mum discovering "currently out of continuity" yarns like Killing Joke, Knightfall, Death Of Superman or indeed some previous Crises.

      So Convergence is just a cool little 2 month short story (besides the main 9 issue Convergence linking series, all the different realities series' are two issues) - that isn't trying to reinvent the multiverse, just sort of point out some of the cool eras that have gone before, and give these new readers a chance to have a dip into say pre COIE Barry Allen, or Azrael Batman, or evil post IC Red Hood Jason Todd - without having to punt on a TP.

      It seems Marvel are going completely the other way with Secret Wars and COIEing 50 years of amazing, fluid continuity - but if you've been reading Hickman's last 5 years of FF/Avengers/NewAve - you've got a fair idea of where they're going.

      Convergence should be fun. #0 was a cool issue, if not an all time classic - and a good introduction to a whole bunch of possibilities for readers. It's not trying to be COIE, ZH, IC or even Flashpoint (a comprehensive continuity rewrite in and of its own 4 month lifespan) - its a bunch of realities bumping around (and even then - only the main 9 issue weekly series crosses these realities over, the single books/2issues are generally contained in their own respective continuities),high fiving , then going back to N52 continuity with a "those guys are out there somewhere...". Which for me is welcome, as while n52 has been good - I've missed a bit of that multiverse flavour country. Thankyou Grant Morrison for Multiversity too! No reinventing the cosmic order, just some "remember these guys? Never heard of them? Here's a cool story with them!"

      Now why is Convergence not as verbose as Evan's previous examples of Crises and the like? See the above brief wall of text that is only the most summary/brief version of what I could discuss and find both the figurative and literal answers to that question.

        See here is the thing, I feel sorry for DC and Marvel, they have decades upon decades of good stories that they still want to keep, but need to trim down all the excess; how ever they are besieged on all sides by different parties that want something different. I am not going to touch on Marvel much as I haven't read nearly as much of Marvel as I have of DC, but in DC's case there are three major parties all pulling in different directions.

        You have your old hands that just want golden age/silver age to return and loathe 90% of anything New 52; you have the new guys that love the New 52 as it did a great job of cleaning up a lot of story lines, while at the same time keeping what made the stories great mostly intact and like me aren't a big fan of the pre 52 aesthetic; and finally you have the people that fall between and just kinda hoping that they don't need to start again... AGAIN.

        While I like most of 52 I can see why old timers might dislike its choice of design (IE social media commentary, characters being inconsistent and entire rewrites mid reboot making things sometimes hard to follow). I will say this though, after a friend tried explaining a couple of the B tier Marvel roster to me I reckon they are in dire need of a "New 52" rather than just combining time lines.

        After thought; if anyone knows what happened to New 52's titans can you please explain it to me, because I thought the new series was on a different earth... until the latest issue. I am just so lost. Tldr Red BB > Green BB

    I'm not even into reading comics and I found that first Superman page oddly intriguing.

    DC and Marvel doing big crossover events at the same time... Guess my weekly pull list got greatly reduced!

      DC's Convergence more or less wraps up the same month Marvels Secret Wars kicks off proper.

    This article isn't comparing apples to apples, #0 issues in the new 52 have been preludes to the story beginning with issue #1 rather than an integrated part of the story itself. It has been unfairly compared to #1 or later issues from past events.
    I say reserve judgement on the Convergence event until we at least get an issue #1.

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