If you didn’t already know, on Wednesdays (Aka New Comicbook Day) I work at Richmond Comix on Richmond’s South Side, where they are nice enough to give me a Pick of the Week! I post that pick on Instagram and Twitter, and then review that book/series here on Thursdays! Nick’s Pick this week is Convergence #0 by DC Comics.
Alright. Bare with me on this one, because in order to properly review this book, I have to open the flood gates holding back my thoughts on DC Comics as a whole. This is going to be a long one…
I’ll start with the actual review of Convergence #0, and if you choose to continue to read my thoughts after that I applaud you. If you decide the review is enough for you, I will completely understand.
If you don’t know, Convergence #0 is the lead in to DC Comics’ big event that is supposed to forever change their brand (Again). The story itself revolves around Superman and Braniac. Two characters most of the world are familiar with. The story opens on Superman following the events Of Superman: Doomed storyline. He finds himself a prisoner outside of time and space by a cosmic powered version of Brainiac.
Brainiac talks of how “no matter the universe or timeline” Superman “demands attention”. Superman continues to try to figure out exactly what is happening (as does the reader) as this cosmic Brainiac talks of experiments and testing Superman. In perhaps the most potent pages of the book, the New 52 Superman is shown the death of multiple alternate versions of himself. This includes Infinite Crisis and The Death of Superman in the foreground as the two most powerful iterations.
The book goes on to bounce Brainiac, through perhaps every version of the character from DC history, as Superman continues to try to figure out where he is and how he can escape. He talks with the ever-changing Brainiac, who seems to be the underling of the Cosmic Brainiac, and discovers that they are on a planet remade by Brainiac. It hosts several cities taken from their timeline just before its end. This is why the Cosmic Brainiac has gone after the New 52 Superman’s Metropolis.
This is meant to lead into the 2 month take over of the entire DC line. For all of April and May every book DC puts out will be a short series with stories from all over their canon. Pre-Flashpoint, post-New 52, and from in or near every Crisis. You’ll see Wally West as the Flash speeding through time with his twin children, Bruce Wayne and Thomas Wayne both in costume as Batmen fighting side by side, and the return countless others that didn’t make it to the New 52 Universe.
The book sets up the principles for what is to come in the Convergence event, but for me personally doesn’t build any actual excitement. If you’re a Brainiac fan, the highlight of this issue is probably seeing all the various iterations of the character throughout the book. For me, the only part that was interesting was the two page spread of the ‘Deaths of Supermen’, which was the image most used to hype the book. If someone asked me, I’d say you could not read this book and miss nothing going forward.
Now. The following are my thoughts on DC, and purely opinion and speculation based on my experiences reading DC comics, and talk with friends and patrons in the comic shop I work in. You’ve been disclaimer’d, here we go.
“I think DC Comics has a Problem.”
I think DC Comics has a problem. I think they don’t know what they’re doing anymore. It’s the equivalent of a baseball pitcher in a drought because someone washed his lucky socks, or a guy with a case of the “yips” who’s now gun-shy and lacking confidence when talking to girls because of a bad breakup or rejection.
I’m going to start with the New 52. In 2011, when they launched this grand reboot into the world, no one could say DC wasn’t brave and bold. It wasn’t quite unheard of, but never on such a scale and as blatant as they were doing it. The Entire DC Universe changed. Wildstorm characters were integrated into the main world, classic untouchable characters like Superman were completely revamped, and recently rejuvenated and popular characters like Batman and Green Lantern were hardly changed.
This was going to be blending everything awesome from all aspects of DC together and set up new storytelling for years to come! At least, it was supposed to be. We got some good stories initially. Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Aquaman were surprise titles that captured everyone who read them! Batman: Court of Owls was one of the best Batman stories ever! Fans were excited!
Unfortunately, the good books were few and far between though. Books that had excitement for what they could have been did not live up to the hype. Firestorm, who had gained interest in the pages of Brightest Day took a drastic turn from what had garnered the character attention. Fan favorite characters like Deathstroke and Grifter failed to live up to what the fans wanted. Books like Voodoo and Mister Terrific left fans wondering why they had been written at all. DC had squandered an opportunity to re-ignite their brand.
They tried something ambitious, and it didn’t work. You can’t really fault them for that can you? Everything I read prior to this made it seem like a well thought out, years in the making change. I was optimistic, but at the same time didn’t like the thought of a total reboot. I wrote as much in an article for FreestyleRonin.com called the “Reboot and Progression Freestyle.” I sighted the great job DC had always done in passing on the heritage from hero to hero as they passed.
Barry Allen had a golden lore behind him as I grew up reading Wally West, who had taken the mantle of The Flash, and had continued a great run of heroics. Kyle Rayner and John Stewart continually tried to redeem all the wrongs done by Hal Jordan before he died re-igniting the sun, and return the mantle of Green Lantern to heroic status. These where more than heroic names, they were families of heroes, that as readers, we felt apart of. There was a connection.
“I think I was mostly confused by the reboot.”
When the New 52 started, I think I was mostly confused about the reboot. I’d been reading Batman and Green Lantern before Flashpoint, and now those titles seemed mostly the same. Damien Wayne was still Robin, and there were still Blue Lanterns, Red Lanterns, and so on, but everything I’d invested so much time in reading with the Brightest Day story arc was gone. The new Aqua lad they had introduced, all the changes to Deadman, all the revived characters that were supposed to have critical roles were wiped away.
Was the reboot planned far in advance?
To me, it seems like DC has become more reactionary than revolutionary. Dan Didio was interviewed recently by Newsarama and made some of the following remarks when asked about Convergence;
“When we launched the New 52, it was a rather harsh ending to the current universe. We did the Flashpoint story, which led us into the New 52, but you never got that sense of closure, like you did with other events.”
(But I thought you planned it out so far in advance?)
“What’s going on in the New 52 and the stories right now feed very nicely into the main Convergence storyline.”
(So maybe it should be called Convenience instead?)
“And ultimately, you know, we’re leaving every door open everywhere. We want to see what the reaction is, where the excitement is…”
(So you’re throwing a bunch of ideas at the wall and seeing what fits?)
“What we’re going to do right now is really make a commitment to our stories and characters, to make sure we present our characters in ways that are consistent to people’s beliefs of them, and telling stories that we feel will entertain, excite and surprise them. If that’s something we can do, then we win, because we build a foundation from which we can continue to build stories for years to come.”
(Years to come? So more than one year, but less than the four that the New 52 made it to. Got it.)
“I LOVE Flash on the CW, and that scares me”
I don’t mean to be smarmy or a jackass when I make these snide little comments (well mostly), but it just pains me as a reader to like less DC titles every year. I love the animated movies. I loved the Young Justice and Green Lantern cartoon series that were prematurely cancelled. I LOVE Flash on the CW, and that scares me because it seems everything I love from DC gets rebooted or cancelled.
I want for DC to be awesome. I want to enjoy characters I used to love again. Is Convergence the step in that direction? I’m not convinced it is. What I got out of reading the interview with Dan Didio, is that (Once again) DC is throwing everything to the wind, and now instead of a coherent universe, they’re going to tell a bunch of stories from all over. If it sells, they’ll keep doing it. If not, they’ll scrap it.
Dan says he goes to the Cons and listens to the fans and what they have to say, but I don’t know what he’s really hearing. I work in a comic shop. I read a lot of books. I hear a lot of conversation, I participate in a lot of conversation. I think I head different things from the kids who can’t make it to a Con, and the guys that don’t have the money to travel to an event like that. I hear the guys that like to talk about it in the private confines of their local comic cave. I think I’m more in tune than the heads of DC, and no one is confident in DC.
Am I wrong? Possibly.
I invite anyone who’s taken the time to get to the bottom of this article to add their thoughts either here in the comments section, or on social medial with the hash tag #AreYouListeningDC.
I’ll end my rant here in familiar fashion with my personal tag line.
The World is Ours to Make.