Let’s be brutally honest — company-wide crossover events from the “Big Two” always suck. The last good one was probably Crisis On Infinite Earths and that was, what? Thirty years ago? Since then, what have we gotten from Marvel and DC? War Of The Gods? Zero Hour? Eclipso? Infinity? Axis? Original Sin? Forever Evil?
Of course, all of these “events” were promised to be “game changers” that “forever altered the Marvel/DC Universe,” but whatever “changes” they ushered in were always both purely cosmetic and quickly “retconned” back out of existence. In the end, we invariably find ourselves right back where we started — just 40 of 50 bucks poorer.
Well, with their latest supposed “event,” DC are being even more brazen and shameless than usual, since Convergence is basically just filler material to crank out onto comic shop shelves while their main titles take a two-month “hiatus” as their editorial and publication offices move from New York to Burbank, California. No one in their right mind expected DC to just stop publishing altogether during the move, of course, but to essentially package the “inventory” stories that more or less existed solely to keep their printing presses warm as a “must-have event” by tying them all into some hastily-assembled framework is as naked a hustle as you’re ever likely to find.
At first, I swore I wasn’t going to play along — but, easy “mark” that I am, I eventually caved and decided I’d at least give it at least a little bit of a go. A small handful of the two-issue tie-in series, all of which feature pre- “New 52″ iterations of popular DC characters, sounded interesting, and I figured that I’d better try to follow along with the main weekly Convergence title just for the sake of giving the proceedings in the other books some sort of context. Three issues (consisting of two properly-numbered books and one “zero” issue) in, it’s safe to say that I would have been better off sitting things out.
Don’t get me wrong — the two tie-in books that I’ve bought so far, Convergence : The Question #1 and Convergence : Suicide Squad #1 — have both been great fun, and it’s especially terrific to see the Rene Montoya version of The Question back in action, albeit only briefly, but all these comics have managed to do is to cement a fact that we already knew : namely, that the pre-“reboot” DC Universe was a lot better than the one we’re stuck with now. As for the main Convergence title itself, it’s been a fucking disaster.
The main premise here is that portions of every single since-scrubbed version of DC’s corporate “reality” have been given the Bottle City of Kandor treatment, albeit without the bottle, and preserved on a living planet called Telos (Doctor Who fans will immediately know where they swiped that name from, while the sentient planet premise itself is a direct swipe from Jack Kirby, whose character of Ego, The Living Planet from his legendary 1960s run on Fantastic Four was a pre-Funky Flashman jab at his then-boss, Stan Lee) that was formerly enslaved to Brainiac but is now operating on his/its own and has decided, for whatever goddamn reason, that the thing to do is to have each of his plucked-from-existence-just-before-the-moment-of-their-destruction cities fight to the death to determine which “reality” will survive.
Now, you and I might be thinking that whichever version of reality this Telos guy/thing is operating on and/or in has already won by default, and those other no-longer-realities should probably just up and disappear or something, but then you wouldn’t have nine issues (eight plus the “zero”) to fill up with utterly pointless running around and lead-ups that ultimately go nowhere. So far, that’s exactly what we’re getting.
Far from being the “multiversal mash-up” (which, perhaps interestingly or perhaps not, also appears to be the central conceit behind Marvel’s forthcoming Secret Wars remake) we were promised, to date Convergence has been a decidedly Earth-2-centric piece of business, with a handful of survivors of that doomed world being spirited away right before Darkseid finished their planet off in the pages of the just-concluded Earth 2 : World’s End weekly to act, conveniently enough, as our “eyes and ears” on the ground of Telos. And they’re really not doing jack shit. Jeff King, apparently a buddy of DC “suit” Dan DiDio from their days in television together, is the primary writer on this project, but even with the help of a couple of established veterans right out of the gate (fan favorite Dan Jurgens on the waste-of-time issue #0, which sees Superman end up on Telos after a confrontation with Brainiac and then have his memory of ever having been there at all completely erased, and never-much-of-a-fan-favorite Scott Lobdell on issue #1), the basics of comics plotting seem to elude him — first and foremost among them being the simple fact that a plot and a premise are not the same thing, and that you can’t get much of a story going if all you have is the latter.
As far as the art goes, Ethan Van Sciver handled the chores on #0 in his usual overly-stylized, this-looks-like-a-WildStorm-book-from-10-years-ago fashion, and then the job was handed over to penciller Carlo Pagulayan and inker Jason Paz, who essentially are producing work with no real defining characteristics whatsoever. If you ordered up 20-or-so pages a week of “standard super-hero illustrations” from a factory, this is probably what you’d get. Some of the variant covers (there are way too many to show anything other than a somewhat representative sample of them) have been nice, but the interior pages are the dictionary definition of “unmemorable.”
What the hell — I know I said earlier that I’d follow along with Convergence so that I’d have some inkling as to the general lay of the land as far as the tie-in books were concerned, but I think I’ve seen (and spent — issues 0 and 1 were five bucks apiece, with issue 2 “settling down” to the standard $3.99 price) enough at this point to know that I don’t need to see any more. I’m still sufficently intrigued by the Convergence : Swamp Thing and Convergence : Detective Comics two-parters, and probably a couple of others, to pick them up, but I know all I need to about Convergence “proper” at this point. Nothing much is gonna happen for the next five weeks, then we’ll get an “extra-sized” final issue (also at $4.99) where the cities will finally take up arms against each other and the “New 52″ reality will win out. It’ll be done then — but I’m done right now.