Convergence, besides being DC Comics’ latest Big Event, is what happened when the finales of Earth 2: World’s End and Future’s End smashed into each other and made a frantic love child, and oh by the way in real life DC Comics is moving from New York to California and all of their regular titles are suspended for two months while Convergence erupts.
If you don’t know the premise, Brainiac found the location of Vanishing Point (a place outside of normal space/time) and has been “saving” cities from multiple times and realities just before they would be wiped out… and placing them on Telos, a living planet that is also outside of space/time.
In other words, fragments of previous DC continuities and Elseworlds are scattered around the planet in the form of cities under impenetrable domes that confound those trapped within by the level of advanced, inscrutable science the domes exhibit.
Pre-Crisis (that’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crisis) Metropolis mixes it up with Gotham mixes up with Batman Red Rain mixes it up with the Charleston heroes mixes it up with Jonah Hex’s future timeline mixes it up with Lady Quark and Lord Volt mixes it up with crazy Justice League future evil cyborgs. Crazy and fun, like comics should be.
But oh no, don’t assume Brainiac has done this out of the goodness of his cold computerized heart. It’s an experiment. After a year of living under the dome, the domes drop and each city is suddenly thrust into a life or death competition where their heroes must fight (as in must, if you don’t fight your city dies by default). The winning city earns the right to keep existing. Every other city? Extinction. As Sam Jackson said in Jurassic Park, hold on to your butts.
In real world time, DC’s two month Convergence event is about a week from wrapping up at the end of May.
In my time (let’s call it the Shane Plays universe), it’s halftime.
I’ve read up to issue 4 of the main weekly Convergence series (with 4 left), and I’ve read all 40 (yes *40*) of the #1’s from the side stories, everything from the Seven Soldiers of Victory in World’s Finest to the New Teen Titans to Booster Gold to Swamp Thing to Batman and the Outsiders to Speed Force to The Atom.
Having read all of that, there’s still a huge stack of comics waiting for me as the second half unfolds. Convergence is a lot of issues, baby.
I think I’ve read enough to have a decent understanding of the scope and overall quality of this comics Big Event in what seems to be a unending flow of comics Big Events (ifyadidn’know over at Marvel they’re blowing up their universe and pitting character against character, too).
So do I think Convergence is good? Am I enjoying it? Is it an event of massive proportions and quality storytelling that makes my inner fanboy find his happy place and gibber?
To approach these questions, we need to divide the event into two aspects: the first being the Convergence miniseries itself and the second being the 40 2-issue side stories.
The Convergence Series
I’m a bit biased on the Convergence series seeing as how I got attached to the Earth 2 heroes during the enjoyable yet nerve wracking constant impending doom that was Earth 2: World’s End. I didn’t realize how much I liked them until I felt delighted when they popped up at the very beginning of Convergence and began wailing on Telos (the living planet bad guy that manifests itself as an earthen avatar that looks a lot like Brainiac who by the way Telos works for. Hey, it’s comics.).
Bias aside, Convergence itself is a decent read with solid art and for the most part (unlike several other big event series I can think of over the years) you can follow the story without needing to read all of the side two-issue series. Sure, you’ll miss a lot of flavor but you can follow the story without a lot of gaps.
My only beef story-wise is I don’t really understand how Skartaris and Deimos and the captive time travelers came into it all of a sudden (confused? see?) but I feel like I would know if I had read Future’s End (which I didn’t). Once they do come in, however, the story continues pretty smoothly. Plus, and this is a big plus, having Skartaris also means we get the Warlord. The Warlord rocks. So I’m not complaining too much.
I like it enough that I’m generally interested and look forward to each new issue, rather than feeling obligated to slog through it just because I’ve already started. It’s usually the other way around for me with Big Events. It’s solid and readable… but not reaching comics greatness.
Score thus far for main Convergence series: B-
The City Stories
The thing that attracted me to Convergence in the first place wasn’t the storyline but rather the chance to read comics and characters that have been “wiped out” over the past few decades. Batman and the Outsiders? The New Teen Titans? Blue Beetle? The Detroit era Justice League? All these characters from continuities that editors have destroyed. Really???
I told my comics shop I wanted all of Convergence. “Everything?” they asked. “All of it,” I said, confidently. So they clickety clicked in their computer and the journey began.
And man has my reserve list been fat and my wallet light. I think we’re talking just shy of 90 issues in 8 weeks. Yikes!
As mentioned before, I’m halfway through. And so far the two-issue side stories have been an uneven ride of variable quality… some real dud stuff and some real great stuff and a few cool moments.
But overall? If I had to pick one word: contrived.
Yeah, I know… the premise is all one big contrivance. I get that, I knew that going in. Braniac has put a bunch of crawdads in a jar and he’s shaking it up to make them fight.
I’m talking about the individual stories themselves.
Evidently the only cities worth rescuing in the DC Universe are Gotham and Metropolis. If you are a hero from another city, writing on the level of a barely watchable sitcom shoehorned you into the story with some throwaway excuse. You might not notice it if you are reading just a little Convergence here and there… but if you are reading everything it gets really glaring and noticeable real quick.
So, here’s the basic #1 issue of all of these two-issue stories:
-Hero reminisces about before the dome and reflects on life after the dome. If you are an out of towner, you slip in the excuse / reason as to why you were trapped in a city you don’t live in.
-If they had powers, the hero laments their loss (the domes take away powers) but reflects on how much more time they are spending with their significant other now that they are normal folk.
-The hero reflects on how the city’s citizens have risen to the occasion and adapted.
-Right at the moment when you are finding yourself in the narrative and starting to catch up with the character like an old friend, the dome drops and a big BOOMING VOICE starts telling everyone their captivity is now a contest and the fights are on.
And then the bottle really starts shaking and the crawdads start fighting.
Yeah, I know, that’s the story. What I’m saying is, if you’re reading Convergence to catch up with old beloved characters, that’s about what you are going to get as far as their “normal”.
I’ll repeat again that there are some cool moments and standout issues. There are also some stinkers and duds. Overall, as a total effort from DC, it just feels contrived and a bit… I don’t know, a little sad and missing the mark.
Score thus far for the City Stories: C
Since in my own personal Convergence reading I’m at half time there’s still a lot of story to tell. Perhaps it will improve. Perhaps it will get worse.
I also hope there is some kind of last minute plot twist that lets everyone survive, because otherwise there’s the feeling that you are catching up again with old friends just to watch them wave goodbye and drive dow the road to die in a car wreck.
For the moment, I’ll borrow a phrase from the Young Justice animated series and say I am neither overwhelmed nor underwhelmed with Convergence.
I am merely whelmed.