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Published on June 1st, 2015 | by Brad

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DC Comics’ Convergence – A Recap

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If you’ve visited your local comic shop in the last eight weeks, it won’t have escaped your notice that DC Comics have been running an event named Convergence. It ran as a combination of an eight-part weekly main series and 40 two-part minis spread over the eight weeks, split into four groups of ten. Though originally designed as a fill-in whilst DC made their big office move, Convergence has proved pretty significant as a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths and 80 years of DC comics, as well as the end of the New 52 branding for DC. I’m going to be taking a gander at DC’s future tomorrow, but for now let’s see if Convergence itself was any good.

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Potted History of DC Comics

As I mentioned, Convergence was originally conceived as a two-month fill-in comic whilst DC made their big office move. Quick bit of history surrounding that – DC started out in 1935 as National Comics, brainchild of a man named Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson (who, along with Martin Goodman, are the two most important people in comics you’ve never heard of) in New York. After the debut of Detective Comics in 1937, National largely became known as DC, albeit it wouldn’t officially change its name until 1977. In 1938, a couple of young Jewish kids from Cleveland, Ohio named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster brought in a comic strip about a costumed crime-fighter with remarkable abilities by the name of Superman and the rest is history. This led to a fella named Bob Kane trying to capitalise on it a year later with his Bat-Man, better developed by Bill Finger, followed by William Moulton Marston’s Wonder Woman in 1940. DC would go on to dominate the superhero comic market for the next 30 years, before a young man named Stanley Leiber, somewhat better known as Stan Lee, made his mark at cross-town rivals Marvel in the 1960s.

In 1967, DC was purchased by the Kinney National Company, who then bought Warner Brothers in 1969. The group as a whole became known as Warner Communications in 1971, which then merged with Time Inc. in 1989 to become the company we know today, Time Warner. This led to the formation of DC Entertainment (DCE), who’ve been based out of Burbank, California since 2010. DCE cover the movies, TV shows and animation over in California, whilst the comics have still been published out of New York. All that finally changed when it was announced in October 2013 that DC Comics would be moving to Burbank in March 2015, after 80 years in New York. We’ve known for a while that regular comics wouldn’t be coming out during the two months it took them to move, with Convergence finally being officially confirmed in November 2014. Spinning out of events from the weekly The New 52: Futures End and Earth 2: World’s End series, the main Convergence title, written by TV screenwriter Jeff King with an assist from Scott Lobdell, would follow the last survivors of Earth-2 as they find themselves on a strange planet where Brainiac has been collecting cities from dying timelines. Each of these cities would come from an iconic period or storyline from DC’s history, with the walls between them opened up and the heroes and villains sent to interact and fight. This would be supplemented with 40 two-part miniseries, divided into four groups of ten, celebrating the DC heroes and villains of the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s and pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, respectively. Some of these were written by regular DC staffers they tend to rely on for this type of thing, your Dan Jurgens and your Fabian Niciezas and what have you, whilst some were written by iconic creators returning to titles they hadn’t written in 20-30 years – Marv Wolfman on the New Teen Titans, Len Wein on Swamp Thing et al. It was a heady brew with quite a bit of promise. It also happened to coincide with the 30th anniversary of that classic Multiversal slug-fest, Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Michael and I went over Crisis quite a bit in our Multiversity reviews, so just a quick recap; a being called the Anti-Monitor is using an anti-matter wave to eliminate the universes of the DC multiverse, so he and his domain are all that remain. The heroes of the multiverse assemble to fight him off, at the cost of the lives of Barry Allen (The Flash) and Kara Zor-El (Supergirl). The remaining universes are combined into one – in a move that could be described as “typical DC”, they celebrated their 50th anniversary by trying to get rid of some of what made them unique. The series was a mega success, and various tropes from it have been reincorporated into various multiversal crises since (red skies, Monitors, Barry Allen’s death, etc.) It’s quite dated these days, but the iconography is still pretty impressive, and it’s influenced some fantastic stories down the years.

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So what happened?

Convergence opened with a #0, co-written by King and Jurgens. Having a #0 for a weekly miniseries seems a bit odd, but it kind of makes sense here – Convergence #0 establishes the locale and premise without having any major bearing on the main plot. Rather, it features the New 52 Superman captured by Brainiac and encountering Telos, the personification of the planet where Brainiac has been bringing the cities, before he’s sent home as Telos prepares for the Great Convergence, where he’s going to force all the cities to fight to the death.

The story proper opens with the last survivors of Earth-2 (Batman (Thomas Wayne), Superman (Val Zod), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Flash (Jay Garrick), Wildcat (Yolanda Montez) and Dick Grayson), plucked from their timeline at the moment of oblivion (no, really. That series ends with Darkseid and his forces destroying the Earth and seemingly killing most of the heroes. It’s brutal) dropping out of the sky and landing on the planet. They’re met by Telos, who is initially nonplussed that they have arrived with no city, before deciding that they must be the ones to judge which city survives. He then unleashes the other cities to fight each other to the death. Which would presumably negate judging, but whatever.

Our heroes escape Telos and set off to try and find a way to stop him. They split up, and Thomas Wayne and Dick Grayson head to a nearby Gotham City in search of supplies from its Batcave. This turns out to be the pre-Flashpoint Gotham, and Thomas Wayne, driven to become Batman by the death of his son, meets Bruce Wayne, driven to become Batman by the death of his father. The entire Convergence event would be entirely worth it just for that scene. The rest of the heroes are searching a ruined city (I think it’s the Gotham from Injustice: Gods Among Us, which we see Telos destroy, but it’s not clear) when they encounter an individual named Deimos. Unbeknownst to them, and me until I did some research for this article, and presumably a large chunk of the readership, Deimos is a supervillain from Mike Grell’s Warlord series from the 1970s.

While Telos grows frustrated that a number of the heroes are choosing not to fight to the death, Deimos leads the Earth-2 survivors to the core of the planet, where the magical land of Skataris (again, Warlord) is hidden. Thomas and Dick, meanwhile, are confronted by a number of pre-Flashpoint Bat-villains. Thomas takes a number of them out in a suicide bombing (right?), leaving Dick at the mercy of the Joker, before Telos kills Joker and takes Grayson with him.

So while Dick Grayson tries to reason with Telos, Deimos reveals his true plans – he’s going to steal the powers of a group of time travellers Brainiac has captured and use them to bring the planet into the main universe, getting millions killed and using the death magic to remake the multiverse in his own image. The heroes make a stand against him which fails, as he kills Warlord and forces the rest of them to retreat. Anyone who’s still reading, you may have noticed that this is really dense and heavily features some spectacularly obscure characters. Maybe not the wisest approach for the main comic in your line for two months. That was the first five issues. The final three went into full-on, every man and his dog, Crisis on Infinite Earths mode. It’s kind of wild.

So the story transitions to the universe of Earth-0, with the Justice League, Justice League United and a variety of cosmic heroes and villains (including powerhouses like Nix Uotan and Darkseid) observing as the planet, also called Telos, begins pushing through a hole in the fabric of space to enter the multiverse. As they um and ah about what to do, battle lines are drawn on Telos as the heroes and villains of every dead timeline prepare to battle each other, playing into Deimos’ hands. Until word leaks out about his scheme to kill them all and draw power from their deaths, anyway. Then Parallax kills him, causing the time power he absorbed to leak out and start tearing the universe apart.

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Still with me? So the final issue opens with red skies and reality is tearing itself apart. Telos restrains Parallax, but he can’t stop what’s happening. But three more time travellers are coming – Booster Gold, his sister Michelle and Wave Rider, more on whom in a bit. They reveal that the only way to save the day is with Brainiac’s help. And Brainiac – city-stealing sci-fi alien threat – has a crisis of conscience. He gives another potted history of DC’s Crises, specifically how they pertain to the changes in his character over the decades. He tries to use the temporal energy released when Parallax killed Deimos to send everyone back to their original places in time and space, in the hopes that he will be returned to his original form. But it doesn’t work – he’s being blocked by the original Crisis. So they change it. Parallax and post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint Superman go back to the Crisis and prevent the collapse of the multiverse. Every timeline lives. Every story DC have ever published is now officially canon once again. Convergence, originally conceived as a fill-in for logistical reasons, turns out to be one of the most important stories DC have published in the last 30 years.

But is it any good?

Yes and no. Mostly no. It’s really not very well-paced, and Deimos is an awful choice of villain. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about the DC Universe, and I had to look Deimos up. You’re already doing alt-universe versions of the main heroes; going with a super-obscure villain was not the right approach. There were some great moments, though – the meeting of Thomas and Bruce Wayne in issue 2 was worth the price of admission, and seeing the return of the entire multiverse was a delight. However, like their previous multiversal mega-event, Flashpoint, the real strength of Convergence was in the tie-ins.

Convergence tie-ins you should read:

As mentioned before, the tie-ins were a collection of 40 two-part miniseries, celebrating the history of DC Comics, divided up over the eight weeks so you got ten dealing with the DCU of the 2000s, ten for the 1990s, ten for the 1980s, nine pre-Crisis and a Booster Gold (not in a pear tree, however). Some were fillers to make up the numbers, but there are a few I would like to draw your attention to;

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Week 1/5:

So the big deal for the first round was getting to say goodbye to the pre-Flashpoint DCU properly, after the rather abrupt shift in 2011. So these were mainly about seeing these characters get happy endings. Nightwing and Oracle got married, Superman and Lois had a kid, and Roy Harper’s daughter was brought back from the dead. But the big one for me was The Question. Seeing Greg Rucka write Renee Montoya again was just a joy, and the comic is damn good. Probably the best thing to come out of Convergence.

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Week 2/6:

Wasn’t a great fan of 90s superheroes, to be honest, so I didn’t read much from these weeks. There was one which tickled me, though – Supergirl: Matrix. Didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but did feature Keith Giffen writing Ambush Bug, which is always fun.

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Week 3/7:

Don’t want to step on our Swamp Thing’s toes, as I know a review is coming, but Len Wein’s return to Swamp Thing was really good. With that in mind, I’ll look at another legend going back to his old stomping ground – Marv Wolfman on New Teen Titans, still the best run that team has ever had. Seeing them together again was just pure nostalgic bliss.

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Week 4/8:

If you know me and/or my writing, you’ll know those weeks were all about Booster Gold. And it didn’t disappoint, providing a fine ending and new beginning for my favourite superhero of all time. When we’ll next see Booster Gold, of any ilk, is uncertain. Savour these appearances across Futures End and Convergence, they’ve been really good.

DC returns to regular comics this week with its new DC You line. I will be back tomorrow with a preview. See you!

Brad

Brad

Consumer. Scribbler. Occasional drunkard. Nice beard, though...
Brad

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