Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly single issue review roundup.
DC’s Convergence properly launches this week with 11 books. Are they magical stories of wonderful characters past? Or are they hastily thrown together fill-ins? Or both?
Unlike the hilarious Convergence #0 (“SEND ME HOME,” screams Superman for the fifteenth time…), Convergence #1 isn’t bad. Much like its predecessor, Convergence #1 feels unnecessary. DC has promoted the living daylights out of this event, and it actually sounds like fun. There are so many disparate and superfluous universes in the Multiverse that it makes an insane amount of sense to pit them against one another until only one remains. Unfortunately, DC has already used two issues of their main event series to laboriously explain a conceit that most people would understand with a page of exposition. While Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz contribute beautiful art to this first issue, including three(!) splash pages that show up one after another, the story of Convergence doesn’t actually begin until the very end of the issue, where Brainiac’s creation, Telos (someone’s clearly been reading up on their ancient Greek philosophy), tells the worlds what his plan is.
Jeff King and Scott Lobdell share writing credits. Their script is generally decent, but in a weird move, they decline to tell readers which world various characters come from as they make their first appearances in the book. Therein lies the rub with a book like Convergence. It’s clearly made for fans– people who have a clear and thorough understanding of DC’s history. However, DC (and Marvel) relies on event books to give an artificial boost to their sales numbers. It’s a tried and true tactic, but that begs the question: who are the increased sales numbers coming from? If you discount the speculators, these numbers likely come from new readers who are unfamiliar with Flashpoint, let alone the Pirate Universe or the world of Captain Carrot. These are readers who could easily become enfranchised if books like Convergence catered a little bit more to them. After five years of seriously reading comics, I still don’t know who some of these characters are, and while I and many other readers would love to find out, we’re going to need more than just bread crumbs to do so. –
Convergence Batgirl #1
One of the big problems with Convergence so far is that DC is giving us fantastic story ideas that will never see the light of day. To wit: Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, roomies. I love this so much I don’t even know if reviewing the rest of the issue is necessary.
Stephanie’s narration serves as a great introduction to the character, not just covering her history but giving us a good snapshot of who she is as a person. The fact that she has thrived after giving up the mantle of Batgirl is a nice touch. Cassie’s tough love is great. The fact that Tim Drake aka Red Robin is less of a character in this story and more of a presence is particularly nice, as this isn’t about him. Stephanie may have been created as an extension of Robin, going so far as to take on the role, but she’s her own person now, something that is stressed throughout this issue.
At this point I’m not sue which would be more fun to read, Batgirl/Black Bat as roomies or The Question/Huntress as roomies (as seen in Convergence: The Question), but I’d love the chance to figure that out by actually reading those stories.
– Kyle Garret
Convergence Batman And Robin #1
Every single thing about this comic is off. The plotting is uneven to the point where certain sections feel padded, as if Marz’s original script wasn’t long enough. The addition of Jason Todd seems less like a necessary story point (and a cliche one at that) than an attempt to connect this story to what came before. Bruce Wayne’s dialogue, in particular, doesn’t sound right. I actually didn’t think it was him until it was explicitly stated.
I am a huge fan of both Denys Cowan and Klaus Janson, but combined their work doesn’t have the same dynamic quality as they do on their own. They both have very powerful styles and the combination just seems to muddy their individual talents.
The kicker is that there’s not much about this story that couldn’t take place in the New 52; none of what’s here has been erased. Damien is Robin to Bruce Wayne’s Batman, and Jason Todd is running around as the Red Hood. That might be the best thing about this comic, then: it didn’t make me miss the pre-Flashpoint DCU, because there was nothing particularly pre-Flashpoint about it.
– Kyle Garret
Convergence Harley Quinn #1
Steve Pugh delivers an interesting story in Harley Quinn that can work on a few levels, with ideas that are implied rather than spoken about directly. For instance, there seems to be a scene in which Catwoman outs Harley and Poison Ivy as lovers, which is interesting enough, but it takes on a whole different level when you consider that Harley recovered from her madness and was romantically involved with a man. What does her psychology have to do with her sexuality, and what does that in turn say about the factors that create her, in all her complexity?
As the story proceeds, Harley seems to be very happy, content even. Her world has become calm, the voices have relaxed inside her head, but she still fights her psychotic influences. Would she have been more heroic if she had refused to gain her madness back? How much can your friends love you when they force you to become a person that you no longer want to be?
This isn’t a comedy. It’s a horror story. And that horror story resonates.
– Jason Sacks
Convergence Justice League #1
Justice League has always been a big thing to me, I love reading about a group of well-known characters all working together. I didn’t get that with Justice League #1. It turns out I’m ok with that.
From the opening panel of Supergirl flying her friend at top speed so the friend can give birth to simple panels like the two of them talking while her friend is wheeled away at the hospital, the artwork is excellent. Even the dialogue between the two seems natural, which in hero comics is not an easy thing.
Welcome to Convergence, another DC crossover where they mess with continuity. I do think that this issue would have been good even if it wasn’t rolled in with the crossover. Vincente Cifuentes has an eye for detail that a lot of artists are missing. Heroes losing their powers and coping with the loss is a cool concept, the joy they demonstrate when getting them back is even better. An important character is revealed and he is visually horrific. I don’t know who designed him but he needs to be redone.
Excellent book as a standalone or as a part of Convergence. Enjoy, I did.
– Kristopher Reavely
Convergence Nightwing Oracle #1
I love Dick Grayson. From his time in the Teen Titans (especially the Wolfman/Perez run in the 1980s) to his current role as a Spyral agent, his stories have provided me countless hours of fun. I also love Barbara Gordon, who became one of the most interesting and important characters in the DC Universe as the information broker / super-hacker Oracle. They remain one of my favorite romances in all of comics, especially during the period leading up to Infinite Crisis. You’d think that a book that brings these two together would be exactly what I’d want. Unfortunately, Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle suffers from reminding us that it is, in the end an event tie-in.
I can’t really blame writer Gail Simone for my disappointment in this issue, which stems not from her writing, but rather the framework of the Convergence event itself. Each tie-in is only two issues, and must conform to the overdone trope of pitting heroes against heroes. Working within that framework, Simone does an admirable job in giving readers great moments between Dick and Barbara, including adding to long-term readers’ ongoing heartbreak when these two come together.
Simone nails the voices of these characters. Dick retains the playfulness that has made him one of the DC Universe’s true sources of light. Barbara keeps the duo focused on the task at hand while engaging in playful banter. When the issue is focused on these two, it reads like an issue of Birds of Prey or Nightwing circa 2005 (that’s a good thing).
It’s the back half of the issue in which the event catches up to the title. It gets particularly messy when Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkwoman show up. Their inclusion is a reminder that Flashpoint was the darkest and most unpleasant of DC’s attempts to be dark and unpleasant. They are straight-up uncompromising and unlikable. Even worse, they are not remotely interesting as characters. Their presence is solely to fight our protagonists because this is an event and that’s what heroes do in events.
Despite its problems, Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle was far from bad… especially given the closing panels were worthy of fist-pump.
– Daniel Gehen
Convergence Speed Force #1
Damn, I miss Wally. I miss the whole Flash family actually. This is nothing against Barry Allen – he can be the main focus of all the Flash books/shows/movies in the world and I’d be fine with it, but does Wally West really have to completely not exist for that to be effective? I can’t have just one title with the supporting Flash characters in starring roles? (And no, whoever the current character named “Wally West” is in the New 52 doesn’t count.)
Anyway, Wally and his kids, Jai and Iris, are trapped in pre-Flashpoint Gotham. The dome comes down, he gets his powers back, he runs all over DC’s version of Battleworld, seeing cities destroyed and meeting anthropomorphic turtles connected to the Speed Force, and then encounters Flashpoint Wonder Woman.
That’s really the whole issue. It’s all set-up for (presumably) a final, battle-centric concluding issue. It was far from perfect, and seems like a shameless money grab preying on my nostalgia. But it worked. It even got a nice gut-punch in during the closing character summary with one of the concluding panels of Flash: Rebirth showcasing the “Flash family” and what I thought was going to be the new status quo (which lasted all of about 8 months.)
– Luke Miller
Convergence Superman #1
When I first opened up Superman #1 I was full of hope. With a story written by Dan “I killed Superman” Jurgens and art by Lee Weeks I thought there was a chance that the tale would be well drawn and make some sense. I can say that it was artistically appealing, but there are a few points that make little to no sense.
It begins with Clark Kent acting like Batman in Gotham City. Turns out Superman has lost his powers for almost a year. While disrupting a group of drug dealers Clark engages them in unarmed combat, until one of them pulls out a flame thrower. Since Clark is in Gotham, apparently this is to be expected. The dealer sets Clark on fire, and he’s burning away to reveal that he’s been wearing his old Superman garb under his black clothes (luckily his powers returned at that instant instead of when he was punching the criminals with all of his might). When I say “old garb” I mean the trunks on the outside uniform. This is the part that drove me insane. Why would he be wearing his costume? He has no powers and there was no reason to think he would get them back.
This is the kind of writing that ruins potential stories for me. The rest of the book is full of various characters from the Flashpoint universe, that try to kill Superman because someone told them that they had to or else. I’m hoping that the rest of Convergence is better than this. My hopes are not high after this issue.
– Kristopher Reavely
Convergence The Atom #1
Wow, WTF is this? Is it the story of a man living with crushing depression and schizophrenia, unable to silence the voices that mock him? Is it an oddball, slightly surreal satire of current comics, with the giant hand and earthy hero, or is it a straight story of a heroic man doing his best to remain heroic despite his facing some of the most impossible obstacles both inside and outside of his own head?
Whatever the F this comic is, it’s certainly the oddest of this first week of Convergence and, therefore, the one I enjoyed the most. It’s the only comic in the set in which I had no idea what would happen from page to page, nor what the main character’s main motivations were, nor what was objectively happening. There’s an almost dreamlike logic in Atom, magnified by the static art of Steve Yeowell which is more suited for a scene in which a man and women are sitting on a stoop than on scenes of Ray Palmer fighting a giant talking barracuda.
I dread the second issue of this mini because I fear it will lose most of its delightfully weird charm.
– Jason Sacks
Convergence The Question #1
This was everything I could have hoped for and more. Of all the writers of Convergence titles so far, Rucka manages the crossover aspect the best, letting it happen towards the end, and even then keeping the focus solely on how it will impact the main characters on a personal level. It’s actually easy to see an inverse relationship between amount of focus on the big battle crossover and quality of the story.
And, oh, the characters! Renee Montoya is back and I couldn’t be happier. She’s who I’ve been missing all this time and, even better, Rucka has her mixing it up with Two-Face again, which was one of the best dynamics in comics not too long ago. Added bonus: Renee’s new roommate is the Huntress, another character Rucka excelled in writing. And the addition to the cast at the end? Perfect. I can only assume Rucka was given a blank slate to revisit his little corner of the DCU.
Cully Hamner’s art is absolutely fantastic. I’ve enjoyed his work since Firearm and this might be the best I’ve seen from him. God, I would kill for a Renee Montoya Question book by these two.
God dammit, DC.
– Kyle Garret
Convergence Titans #1
I love the Titans. I love them so much I wrote a three part series covering their entire existence. I also wrote about why they can’t exist in the current DCU, be it the teen version or otherwise. So I was fairly excited to see them get a Convergence book, particularly when it was to be written by Fabian Nicieza, who has long been a favorite of mine. It got even better when the solicits suggested Nicieza would attempt to fix the god awful story that ruined Roy Harper.
The Titans team here consists of three people, the aforementioned Arsenal who narrates the book, Donna Troy, and Starfire. It’s a nice group, even if it would be nice to see a few more. The relationship between Donna and Starfire is perfect, exactly how it’s always been. The changes to Arsenal since DC was Flashpointed are interesting, although his move to basically become another Oracle is a bit weird because, well, Oracle.
The big cliffhanger probably seems awful because it can’t be real. But I’m inclined to give Nicieza the benefit of the doubt here. I think it will be real, even if it’s horribly convenient. I’m okay with that, though, because it’s righting a wrong that needed to be fixed.
While the story isn’t exactly setting the world on fire, the art by Ron Wagner is fantastic. I haven’t seen anything from him in years, but his current style feels a bit like Darwyn Cooke with some Eduardo Barretto mixed in. It’s a departure of sorts from what I remember his art being like. If this is his current style, I really hope he starts getting more work after this.
– Kyle Garret