Monday, January 19, 2015

DC's April: All Convergence, all month

Usually about this time of the month, DC releases their solicitations for the comics they plan to publish three months hence, and then I write about them in my recurring "Previews Reviewed" feature. This month's a little different, however, as three months hence DC will only be publishing Convergence and Convergence tie-ins.

What is Convergence? Well, from what I gather it seems to be a story about Brainiac having somehow collected bits of DC continuity the way he used to collect cities in bottles, and his son or a usurper or some cosmic villain with a generic name and generic design doing something nefarious, which essentially involves various groups of characters from DC's Multiverse fighting each other.

The promising part of this is the tie-ins, which will be a boatload of two-issue miniseries taking characters from the good old pre-New 52 DCU and giving them their own temporary books, most of which will be created by creators not currently working on New 52 books, and many of them creators strongly associated with those characters.

So it sounds a bit like Countdown: Arena, DC Retroactive and Crisis On Infinite Earths all rolled into one. Could it be terrible? Yes! Yes, it could be terrible. Scott Lobdell is co-writing part of it, after all.

But it could also be awesome. Certainly there is a lot to be excited about, as you'll likely notice as you peruse the solicitations, which are full of the names of characters and creators we haven't seen a whole lot of from DC in...well, in a long-ass time. (We're pretty much just a Norm Breyfogle, Adam Warren and Stephen DeStefano short of a complete assemblage of All Caleb's Favorite Super-Artists Who Are Still Alive here).

There are a lot of questions hanging over the series, including how it will relate to Grant Morrison's ongoing reinvention of The Multiverse in Multiversity (There are versions of Earth-S/Earth-5 and Earth-4 in here that are apparently different from the ones we've seen in Multiversity), and, if they're completely separate, does that mean there's a Multiverse of DC Multiverses...? (Woah), and if DC is ever gonna get around to explaining what the fuck is going on with The New 52 (That is, how Pandora melded the "New Earth" DCU with The WildStorm Universe and "The Vertigo Universe" to create the New 52-iverse, and why; did she really hate the JSA and Titans and costume design that much?).

I'm also a little suspicious of the invasion of characters from different universes premise, as it means what might otherwise be a fun bit of nostalgia will have, I don't know, some dumb character from WildStorm appearing in it, and I don't really need to see Grifter and Maul fighting The Red Bee and Dollman on Earth-X, you know?

For a complete list of all of of the Convergence business, Andrew Wheeler rather painstakingly assembled it all at Comics Alliance. For a less-than-complete list, however, with my own ill-informed commentary, you can stay right here. Now, you may notice some of the images have logos stamped on 'em (like the Entertainment Weekly logo on Ian Reis' cover for Convergence #1 above). This is because DC gave various industry media outlets "exclusive" batches of solicits, which is dumb, because the Internet.

Anyway...


CONVERGENCE #1
Written by JEFF KING and SCOTT LOBDELL
Art by CARLO PAGULAYAN and JASON PAZ
Foldout cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Variant covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES, BRIAN BOLLAND, GREG CAPULLO
This is it! The entire DC Universe, from the dawn of time through The New 52, must fight to survive against a threat that bends the Multiverse to its will. Your favorite characters from every era and every forgotten series are all here! But are you going to say hello again just to say goodbye forever? The stakes have never been higher as the heroes of Crisis, Zero Hour, Elseworlds, and more are brought together for Convergence!

In the first issue of this weekly series, Brainiac has collected cities of doomed and forgotten worlds, who must battle each other—and the losers will be destroyed! But why is he forcing this conflict? Join the refugees from Earth-2 as they unlock the truth behind this world that exists outside time and space and is very much alive! Is Brainiac really in control—or is this planet named Telos an unparalleled force of evil?
This extra-sized issue is packed with twists and turns and appearances you NEVER thought you’d see—including the heroes from the hit series INJUSTICE!


See, sounds a lot like the premise of that Countdown: Arena series no one read...save those who have vowed to pretend they never did, so that, together, we can erase it from history.

I'm...not even sure how this works, as a lot of these alternate worlds can't really be "destroyed forever," even many of the more minor Elseworlds "universes" are wells that DC creators keep returning to. For example, they never do a Multiverse story without a Vampire Batman from the pages of Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, you know?


CONVERGENCE #2
Written by JEFF KING
Art by CARLO PAGULAYAN and JASON PAZ
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Variant covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES, JAE LEE, and DAVID FINCH
As Telos, the Planet Incarnate, easily defeats the survivors of Earth-2, Thomas Wayne and Dick Grayson set off to find help in the pre-Flashpoint Gotham City. The emotional implication of these worlds colliding comes crashing down when Thomas Wayne confronts this world’s Batman, as father meets son!
Plus, Alan Scott’s attempts to connect with The Green yield unexpected results, setting our team on a quest to escape the planet. And the cyborgs of Futures End engage in a battle to the death against the reimagined heroes of the Just Imagine Universe, while the city of Superman Red and Blue takes on the opposing forces from GENERATIONS!

Say, is the "Just Imagine Universe" the one from the various Just Imagine Stan Lee With...Creating... comics...? Because if so, that could be interesting. That was a pretty fascinating project, I thought, and while the results varied, there was no denying how wildly different most of the characters turned out to be from their original versions.


CONVERGENCE #3
Written by JEFF KING
Art by STEPHEN SEGOVIA and JASON PAZ
Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Variant covers by TONY S. DANIEL and MARK MORALES, DAVE McKEAN, and JIM LEE
Death comes calling as an injured Telos takes out his rage on the people of Kandor, while the Earth-2 team endures another brutal casualty. And major plans are set in motion as Green Lantern and the others follow Deimos into the lost city of Skartaris to find Rip Hunter and the missing Time Masters, who could be their only hope of escape from this apocalypse for Infinite Earths!


Okay, I'm getting somewhat alarmed by the fact that all of these refer to the Earth-2 characters, who are terrible.


CONVERGENCE: AQUAMAN #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art by CLIFF RICHARDS
Cover by BECKY CLOONAN
Aquaman has lost his home, his powers, and his hand -- but now he faces his most difficult challenge: a battle to the finish with Deathblow!

Well, on the one hand, it's cool to see Becky Cloonan drawing Aquaman. On the other hand—Oh wait, Aquaman's only got one hand. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! No, seriously, that precise version of Aquaman shown there? He never really existed, did he? That looks like his first, makeshift harpoon hand from directly after he had his hand devoured by piranha he couldn't telepathically control ("lost...his powers"), but that Aquaman should have a bigger and more bad-ass beard.

Like so:
Come on, Cloonan!
Poor Tony Bedard. This is the first of several of these books that  he's writing that he's pretty obviously not the first choice for. Peter David is the guy you'd most want writing your Peter David-era Aquaman comic, right...?


CONVERGENCE: THE ATOM #1
Written by TOM PEYER
Art by STEVE YEOWELL and ANDY OWENS
Cover by STEVE DILLON
There’s a mysterious voice in Ray Palmer’s head! Does that mean The Atom is going mad? To find out what’s really going on, he’ll have to go down a road that will pit him against the ever deadly Deathstroke!


You know what would be fantastic? A Tom Peyer-written comic book starring the DC Universe's greatest super-scientist, superhero/college professor Ray "The Atom" Palmer.


CONVERGENCE: BATGIRL #1
Written by ALISA KWITNEY
Art by RICK LEONARDI and MARK PENNINGTON
Cover by RICK LEONARDI and DAN GREEN
After a year living under the confinement of the dome, Stephanie Brown isn’t sure she wants to be Batgirl again. But when she’s attacked by Catman and Gorilla Grodd from the world of Flashpoint, she’s forced to put on the cape and cowl to fight alongside Red Robin and Cassandra Cain!

Oh man, and to think I used to hate that Batgirl costume and that Red Robin costume! Oh, those were such innocent days, before the New 52, and I saw what New 52 Batgirl and New 52 Red Robin would be wearing (the former has, thankfully, changed clothes since, of course).

Looks like cover artist Rick Leonardi messed up on Red Robin's chest-symbol, though...


CONVERGENCE: CATWOMAN #1
Written by JUSTIN GRAY
Art by RON RANDALL
Cover by CLAIRE WENDLING
A year under the dome can change anyone – even Catwoman. She’s set aside her life of crime to become the protector of Suicide Slum, but when the dome falls she will face her greatest challenge: Kingdom Come Batman!


Sorry, but if it's not Jim Balent, it's not really '90s Catwoman. Too bad too, because Balent just drew a Harley Quinn variant cover for DC, so I would have assumed he was on decent enough terms with them (I'm similarly disappointed that the Shadow of The Bat mini is being drawn by Philip Tan instead of Norm Breyfogle, Vince Giarrano, Bret Blevins or anyone who ever drew Shadow of The Bat).


Please note: Convergence: The Flash #1 will have a Mike Allred cover, as all superhero comics should.


CONVERGENCE: GREEN ARROW #1
Written by CHRISTY MARX
Art by RAGS MORALES and CLAUDE ST-AUBIN
Cover by RAGS MORALES
Don’t miss the first meeting between Oliver Queen and his son, Connor Hawke! Father and son may be united, but is their world about to end?


Aw man, I really miss Connor Hawke...

And how is it that Chuck Dixon is not writing this?


CONVERGENCE: GREEN LANTERN/PARALLAX #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art RON WAGNER and BILL REINHOLD
Cover by STEVE LIEBER
A powerless Kyle Rayner visits a Metropolis prison to see a devastated Hal Jordan who believes he has murdered the Green Lantern Corps. But if the dome falls and powers are restored, will Parallax return to defend the city or destroy it?


And here's Bedard writing a book one would expect Ron Marz to be writing instead. What's interesting about Bedard's presence on this particular book is that Marz, unlike Peter David, is actually writing a couple of Convergence books (Batman and Robin and Justice League International).

I'm not sure I'll buy this one or not, given how much competition for my dollars and attention there will be in April from DC alone, but I was one DC reader at the time who really, really liked the development of Hal Jordan turning into Parallax (before the Geoff Johns' retcon/reveal that it wasn't actually Jordan being driven mad by grief or—rather reasonably—assuming that if he had the power to alter all of time and space, he might as well do some good with it and un-do horrible atrocities like the destruction of an entire city, but that he was actually possessed by the space-god of fear emotion). I thought Hal Jordan as the Justice League's greatest enemy had a ton of potential that never got explored, because of older fans' possessiveness regarding the character.


CONVERGENCE: HAWKMAN #1
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art by TIM TRUMAN and ENRIQUE ALCATENA
Cover by RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE
Hawkman and Hawkgirl put their Shadow War on hold as they face the might of anthropomorphic rat-men and bat-men in the deadly land of Kamandi!


Oh fuck you, Convergence! I don't even like Hawkman, but then you're gonna put Tim Truman on art and practically force me to buy a Hawkman comic? April is going to be so goddam expensive; here's hoping for a big tax return...


CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE LEAGUE  #1
Written by FRANK TIERI
Art by VICENTE CIFUENTES
Cover by MARK BUCKINGHAM
The Justice League story you never expected to see begins when Supergirl, Zatanna, Vixen and Jade attend Jesse Quick’s baby shower, which quickly turns into a life-and-death struggle with Flashpoint Aquaman!


Well that's a damn random assemblage of super-characters, some of whom are barely even associated with the Justice League. It's been a while since Flashpoint obviously, and that final run on Justice LEague of America was pretty terrible and forgettable, but I do recall Supergirl, Jade and Jesse Quick being on the team. Zatanna and Vixen were long-time members, but I don't recall them in the book at all. And MEra's just a Justice League founder's wife—had she even ever met Jesse...?

Well, whatever, I suppose. For the life of me, I can't remember Jesse being pregnant either, but, like I said, that final run on the series (written by an obviously-from-the-results, heavily-messed-with James Robinson) was pretty forgettable.


CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #1
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA,
Art and cover by CHRISCROSS
With their heavy hitters sidelined, Elongated Man must lead the much-maligned "Detroit Justice League" against the overwhelming power of the heroes from the Tangent Universe!


Well, I like you, Justice League Detroit...


CONVERGENCE: JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL #1
Written by RON MARZ
Art by MIKE MANLEY
Cover by PAUL RENAUD
Ted Kord, Martian Manhunter, Fire and Ice star as the levity of the JLI team collides with the severity of the world of Kingdom Come!


Weird. That's not an artist or a writer I'd associate with either the JLI or Kingdom Come...and the JLI writers are totally working for DC at the moment, too (And one of 'em, Keith Giffen, is writing a Convergence mini). I wouldn't mind seeing what Mike Manley's versions of all those characters look like though...


CONVERGENCE: PLASTIC MAN AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1
Written by SIMON OLIVER
Art by JOHN MCCREA
Cover by HILARY BARTA
Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters are on the gallows in a New York taken over by Nazis, when robot super-heroes attack from Futures End and enemies become allies.


Plastic Man! The Freedom Fighters! Hitman artist John McCrea! And a Hilary Barta cover! That's it, it's official: DC should indefinitely suspend their New 52 line and just publish Convergence specials from now on.


CONVERGENCE: SHAZAM! #1
Written by JEFF PARKER
Art and cover by EVAN 'DOC' SHANER
It’s Shazam versus Steampunk, as the world of Gotham By Gaslight takes on the Captain Marvel family and friends.

What the--? Jeff Parker? Doc Shaner? On Captain Marvel?! My God, could we have another good Captain Marvel comic in 2015, mere months after Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart's Thunderworld...?

I imagine they plan on introducing some actual superheroes from the world of Gotham By Gaslight, because otherwise it's just going to be Batman and Jack The Ripper getting beat up by Captain Marvel for like 20 pages.


CONVERGENCE: NEW TEEN TITANS #1
Written by MARV WOLFMAN
Art by NICOLA SCOTT and MARC DEERING
Cover by NICOLA SCOTT
Titans Together! The greatest Titans team of them all takes on the might of the Tangent Universe's Doom Patrol!


"The greatest"...? I don't know; I'm pretty partial to the Teen Titans Go! Titans team at this point.

That there is a pretty perfect pairing of creative team and characters, though. Sure, George Perez would be preferable to Scott—couldn't they at least get him to do the cover?—but Scott has a style that's not completely incompatible with Perez's (Although, that said, I'm not sure anyone other than Perez could draw that particular Nightwing costume and make it look non-terrible).


CONVERGENCE: NIGHTWING/ORACLE #1
Written by GAIL SIMONE
Art by JAN DUURSEMA and DAN PARSONS
Cover by JILL THOMPSON
Just as they’ve finally been reunited, the romance between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon is sentenced to execution by Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkwoman!


I'm really looking forward to seeing Jan Duursema drawing the DC Universe after so many years away working on Dark Horse's various Star Wars comics. She's contributed a bit to Earth 2: Worlds End so far, bu the book is such a mess that it's not exactly a good spotlight for any of the many artists who work on each issue, and it's rarely clear who does what on each issue, exactly. And it's not like New 52 Earth 2 and New 52 Apokolips are what one thinks of when one thinks of "the DC Universe."

More exciting still may be the presence of a cover by Jill Thompson, whose work one only rarely seels outside of her own projects these days. Based on that single image, I'd love to see a Thompson-created Barbara Gordon project, whether its Babs as Batgirl or as Oracle (As much as I loathe the branding and existential issues inherent in the Earth-One line of graphic novels, a Thompson written and drawn Batgirl original graphic novel would be about as close to perfect for the bookstore and library audience as one could get.

I suppose it's also worth noting that this issue is written by Gail Simone, making this a rather rare DC book where the writer, artist and cover artist are all ladies.


CONVERGENCE: THE QUESTION #1
Written by GREG RUCKA
Art and cover by CULLY HAMNER
Two-Face is fighting another world’s Harvey Dent, and it’s up to Renee Montoya as The Question to help him beat the odds!


Rucka returns to DC after a rather long absence, to write two of the pet characters he adopted during his time working with the Bat-office, including Renee Montoya, a supporting character in the Bat-books that Rucka rather radically reinvented during the hundreds of pages he wrote featuring the character (One of 20 or so good reasons DC had to reboot was, I think, what Rucka and company did to Montoya/The Question). I like Rucka's DC writing A-OK, but this one doesn't look all that interesting to me...although I suppose which other world the other Harvey Dent is coming from could certainly make it so.

Without knowing that though, it's the presence of Rucka's former partner Hamner, with whom he created the Montoya back-ups during his run with J.H. Williams III on Detective Comics starring Batwoman, that is most notable about this book. Hamner was good back then, but he's even better now.


CONVERGENCE: SPEED FORCE #1
Written by TONY BEDARD
Art by TOM GRUMMETT and SEAN PARSONS
Cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
The fastest family alive loses its powers as Wally West and his kids face an uncertain future while trapped away from home. Will they be able to outrun the chaos that follows the arrival of Flashpoint Wonder Woman? Plus, don’t miss the most unexpected Zoo Crew character of all!


Because Mark Waid isn't available, it's Tony Bedard! Don't worry, this will look a lot better than that cover suggests, as Tom Grummett is a hell of a pencil artist. And hey, with the variant cover available, you don't even need to get the one drawn by Brett Booth!

Do notice that, despite the awful-looking artwork, The Flash looks better than he has in years with a change back to the old costume. One question though, shouldn't Wally's daughter be Impulse II at this point in DC's timeline...?


CONVERGENCE: SUICIDE SQUAD #1
Written by FRANK TIERI
Art by TOM MANDRAKE
Cover by JOHN PAUL LEON
When Kingdom Come’s floating fortress of New Oa threatens Metropolis, it’s up to Amanda Waller to assemble a team of Metropolis’s deadliest villains to stop it.


Well I have no real memory of New Oa from Kingdom Come (or was that just what Green Lantern called his floating base?), but that's a pretty interesting assemblage of supervillains, and you can't go wrong with Tom Mandrake art.


Damn, check out that Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes cover. Why doesn't Pia Guerra draw everything all the time...?


Convergence: Superman—The Man of Steel #1
Written by LOUISE SIMONSON
Art by JUNE BRIGMAN and ROY RICHARDSON
Cover by WALTER SIMONSON
Superman is missing, so now it’s up to Steel to defend Metropolis from the GEN13 kids!


While Steel co-creator Jon Bogdanove would be my first choice for a Steel story written by Louise Simonson, there's absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to a Walter Simonson cover or June Brigman interior art. Funny, I just read a comic by Brigman a few months ago, and was wondering on the blog more recently why we don't see her work more often, as it's pretty damn incredible.

So I'm really rather looking forward to this one—and if Grunge and the Guy Who Definitely Isn't Johnny Storm get hit in their stupid faces with a big-ass hammer, all the better!


Convergence: Swamp Thing #1
Written by LEN WEIN
Art and cover by KELLEY JONES
The dome has cut off all the heroes from their powers – but what happens when Swamp Thing is cut off from his life source in The Green?


Fuck yeah, Kelley Jones! Jones has drawn some of the best goddam Swamp Thing ever, in the pages of 1995's Batman #521 and #522, so I look forward to seeing how he draws Swampy again after almost 20 years of drawing experience.


Convergence: The Titans #1
Written by FABIAN NICIEZA
Art RON WAGNER and JOSE MARZAN, JR.
Cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO
Starfire and Donna Troy track down Arsenal, who had retreated after the loss of his arm and the death of his daughter – but what they find is more terrifying than they ever could have expected!


Because if there's one storyline from the post-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint that needed followed-up on, it was this one:
Justice League: Cry For Justice (including pretty much everything that happened in it or occurred in it's follow-up stories) is another good reason for DC to have rebooted their continuity (Just to be clear, I don't think The New 52-boot was the right way to reboot, but the publisher engaged in an awful lot of really terrible comics from which characters couldn't recover, and Cry and it's follow-ups were among them).

6 comments:

SallyP said...

Okay, your Scott Lobdell comment just cracked me up, much to the consternation of the contractors redoing my kitchen...and then I had to explain...and...and...!

Oh heck, I'm looking forward to all of these. I miss so many of these characters...SO MUCH!

Jer said...

Thanks for the write-ups - some of those books are looking better than I thought they would when the mini-series is taken into account.

I do take issue with this though:

Justice League: Cry For Justice (including pretty much everything that happened in it or occurred in it's follow-up stories) is another good reason for DC to have rebooted their continuity

I disagree - there's never a good reason to reboot continuity. Because it's not just that DC does it poorly - it's that you can't do it right. It's not possible to get a satisfying reboot of long-standing universes - the whole fun of a shared superhero universe is dealing with the crap stories as well as the good ones. And choosing what to ignore as much as what to play up.

The right way to deal with crummy stories is to apologize for writing them and, for continuity purposes, to pretend that they didn't happen and never reference them again. Ignore them and hope they go away. As, for example, everyone agreed to do with Mopee the extradimensional imp that gave the Flash his powers. Or how everyone just agreed to kind of ignore the "Superman is a Dick" stories of him as a "merry prankster" once the 70s and 80s rolled around.

Saint Godard said...

I didn't read all the Rucka Question stuff but enjoyed what little I did get to read of the Montoya-as-Question run... So what went so wrong that you think it mandated a reboot, Caleb?

Caleb said...

Jer,

I agree in the abstract. To NOT reboot is always preferable to rebooting...or, perhaps to reboot ONCE (say, COIE) and then cut that shit out is okay.

That said, I think DC made a lot of fairly terrible decisions that made a lot of characters practically unusuable--Identity Crisis rendered Zatanna, Green Arrow and company as pretty damn villainous for example.

Batman having a son, Clark and Lois adopting and losing a son, the whole Arrow family after Cry...in theory, everyone could just ignore stuff and wait for enough time to pass that we sort of forget what happened (or have Geoff Johns write Rebirth-style retcons), but it would have taken a reeeeaaaalllllly long time to, say, salvage Green Arrow and company.

That said, I think to reboot as big, as wide, as hard and in the way they did was obviously a terrible, terrible mistake which will just inevitably lead to another reboot...I hope to have a post on something about this in the near-ish future.

Caleb said...

I didn't read all the Rucka Question stuff but enjoyed what little I did get to read of the Montoya-as-Question run... So what went so wrong that you think it mandated a reboot, Caleb?

My main objection was simply that it took two good characters, Gotham City Detective Renee Montoya and Vic Sage, The Question, and essentially smooshed them into ONE so-so legacy character that wasn't as interesting as either of them before the smooshing.

Daniel Von Egidy said...

I'm surprised youre going after these with the 3.99 price tag.