DC's current big crossover ends today, and we're finally getting a sense of the effects that Convergence will have on the publisher's fictional reality. There is a lot of new stuff to digest. You might even call it a reverse-Crisis.
(Spoilers follow. Hover over the top left of each image and click on the magnifying glass icon to expand it.)
It's not 100% clear what DC is doing, but we can glean a lot about the changes to DC Comics' collection of realities from the publisher's latest batch of free preview books. Other hints come from the last issue of Convergence, which is out today, leading into DC's June line-wide refresh. In the final Convergence, the landscape of the new multiverse is revealed. In Convergence #8, series villain Brainiac says that the first Crisis — published as Crisis on Infinite Earths — needs to be changed.
The pages that follow say that the gambit worked. From the glance that we get of the new multiverse, it appears that it matches the geography laid out by Grant Morrison in his recent Multiversity series. But the subtext of the pages hints that the new multiverse is taking cues from some pre-New 52 alt-Earths, too.
So, as of right now, the broader view of the DC Multiverse looks like the company wants to to repurpose as much of their publishing history as possible, making for a much more expansive potential range of stories. It also seems like vastly divergent versions of characters are fair game now if a creator's pitch is good enough. But the four-year-old New 52 timeline is still the canonical one and, as seen previously, it's going to be seeing its own dramatic changes. Let's run down the bigger ones.
Superman Basically Has No Friends Anymore
In the new Truth storyline starting next month, the whole world learns that Superman and Clark Kent are the same person, just as he's grappling with being weaker than he's been in a long time. And it seems that when Kal-El loses most of his powers, he becomes extremely irritable. That's the Flash he's punching up there, in case you couldn't tell. In the preview for Superman/Wonder Woman, we get a glimpse of a super-desperate Man of Steel. The Superman/Wonder Woman preview shows Clark teleporting to the the Justice League satellite with the hopes of dealing with his lessened abilities. Is he going to ask one of his friends for help? Of course not. He's going to steal a shuttle so he can fly it into the sun, recharge and get his laser eyes and flying back! This is why Bruce Wayne — R.I.P., buddy — was the strategist on the team.
This is not a good plan. Wonder Woman — showing up in her new costume — knows this. She stops her boyfriend's underpowered self from dying in the vacuum of space. He's not terribly grateful, though.
Pretty harsh, Clark. Melodramatic as it all seems, every look we've gotten at the status quo changes coming to Superman have interested me. His closest superhero friend — who he would have turned to for help — is presumably dead, and the replacement Batman hasn't been friendly. Now it looks like the power-couple relationship between Clark and Diana might be headed for rocky times. Superman's lost his powers before, but he's never felt as desperate as he does here. It's a given that Superman will eventually get his core power-set back. What I'm hoping for is a long run of good stories that come out of that.
Batman Is Now a Cop in a Robot Suit. And the New Robins Are Probably Breaking the Law.
Recent events in the main Batman title have made it seem like Bruce Wayne is dead. Again. The Batman patrolling Gotham will be police commissioner James Gordon, wearing corporate-created power armour. Similarly radical changes will be happening to the Robin identity.
In this week's preview of the upcoming ongoing series We Are Robin, we meet a bunch of teens who don customised variations of the Boy Wonder's costume. They fight crime in a networked, crowdsourced fashion. They're essentially breaking the law, which will doubtlessly put them at odds with Gordon-as-Batman.
The New Mainline DC Universe Is Going to Be Messed Up. On Purpose.
Another of this week's previews reveals that Convergence will have repercussions on DC's primary reality. In the Justice League United short story, we see heroes from every corner of the DC Universe getting recruited. Everyone from the Demon to Firestorm says that they will help. The problem that needs fixing? Lingering anomalies from the "cosmic convergence."
This looks like it will be a task-force-style operation, pulling members as needed for cosmic-scale threats. The most intriguing thing here is seeing versions of characters from previous iterations such as Guy Gardner as a Green Lantern and Wonder Woman in her old outfit. These could be examples of artistic licence or hints that this book may be the way that readers will get a tour of the new multiverse.
Wonder Woman's Getting an Evil Doppelganger
The biggest change to the Wonder Woman status quo won't be happening in her own book. The upcoming Darkseid War storyline will introduce a new villain called Grail — born on the same night as Princess Diana — who'll take on the entire Justice League. Based on the utility belt, power rings and trident she's shown with, the secret daughter of Apokolips' ruler might have already won this fight.
There's a New Earth 2 and It's Really Different
It used to be that Earth 2 was the repository for the oldest versions of Superman, Batman and other DC characters. It was a historical preserve where the iterations of the characters who fought in World War II got old and passed on their legacies. A new Earth 2 series debuted during the New 52 a little while ago. That one featured reinvented versions of Green Lantern, Flash and Hawkgirl; the names and powers were mostly the same but the history was different. The Earth 2 preview out this week shows even more changes. Dick Grayson's become Batman here, and Power Girl only has Kryptonian powers for half a day, thanks to a binary solar system with both yellow and red suns.
The big hook here is that this reality's heroes disagree about how to start their new lives on a verdant, empty planet. This isn't anything like the everybody-gets-along super-team that fought Hitler.
Some of the goals of DC's latest bid at reinvention are transparent, seen in the increased diversity of characters and storytelling approaches being teased out for the coming months. It's hard to imagine next month's Black Canary title — a garage-band-inflected take featuring the long-running character as the lead singer of a rock group — being approved by the DC of even just three years ago.
DC's trying to get people excited again, in some very different ways. They're rolling the dice on noteworthy status quo shifts for their biggest characters, mucking with the fabric of their multiverse and — most significantly — letting creators veer away from standard superhero fare if they want. Will it work? We'll see next month.
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