Same Geek Channel: ‘Convergence’ Week II: Return of the ’90s.

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"No! *I* wanted to kill him!" Copyright DC Comics.
“No! *I* wanted to kill him!”
Copyright DC Comics.

Hi again, folks. Corrina couldn’t join me this go-round, so you’re stuck with me savaging DC’s latest entry in their mega-crossover. Where last week’s focused on the DC Universe as it was right before Flashpoint, the current focus is very much on the early to mid-’90s. This was a very busy period for comics, and the ten titles out this week reflect that. It’s officially a Zero Hour theme, but some of the concepts (like JLI and Suicide Squad) were already ebbing by the time Zero Hour came around (1994).

There are some interesting creative choices here. In at least three cases there are writers strongly identified with that era–but not on the books they are identified with. One writer did, however, return to a character she created, and we’ll see how that went.

So, what was worth getting?

Visual medium, people. SHOW, don't tell! Copyright DC Comics.
Visual medium, people. SHOW, don’t tell! Copyright DC Comics.

Convergence #2
Story by Jeff King; Pencils by Carlo Pagulayan, Inks by Jason Paz
As the main part of a crossover, you’d think this would be a must-read. It’s totally not. The one cute moment is getting to see Earth2 Batman (Thomas Wayne) meet a Bruce Wayne Batman. Except the actual scene is mostly off panel, and what panels we have are absolutely plastered with captions.

That’s what this basically is–hints of things happening off panel and walls of text. We get the Just Imagine universe vs the Future’s End cyborgs, while the Earth2 heroes try to figure a way to stop Telos. Which may or may not be an old Warlord bad guy named Deimos.

Buy it? Nah. Totally ignorable.

Convergence: Suicide Squad #1
Story by Frank Tieri; Art by Tom Mandrake
Every time I see a Suicide Squad comic without John Ostrander as the writer, I sigh a little. Which is usually the same affect seeing Frank Tieri’s name has on me. Except in one case–when he’s writing bad guys. His opening scene with Toyman et al was a perfect example of this. Also, he has my undying thanks for going right to the dome falling on page seven, instead of building up slowly like some of the others.

Perfect tone. Copyright DC Comics.
Perfect tone.
Copyright DC Comics.

In fact, the entire book is well done. Everyone’s motivations feel natural. Nothing feels forced for the sake of the crossover. Even the inclusion of Hank Henshaw works, when you consider who they’re up against. Oracle is used brilliantly here, as is a surprise character, taking the Bronze Tiger slot as “trusted member of the squad.”

And the stunning Tom Mandrake art doesn’t hurt.

Buy it? Yes.

Convergence: Green Lantern: Parallax #1
Story by Tony Bedard; Art by Ron Wagner
I was planning on going into this hating it, and was surprised how much I liked it. The Ron Wagner art was a big part, but I think Bedard really set up a great Hal/Kyle dynamic. This is also the first comic of the set where the threat feels real–the first few exist to set the fight up, but this one has an actual fight. It feels like it matters.

Okay, NOW we're cooking with green flame. Copyright DC Comics.
Okay, NOW we’re cooking with green flame.
Copyright DC Comics.

Buy it? Shockingly, yes.

Convergence: Supergirl/Matrix #1
Story by Keith Giffen; Pencils by Timothy Green, inks by Joseph Silver
How weird is it that Keith Giffen is writing this, but not Justice League? But I’m glad he did. Opening with a Lex Junior (not really) who has already been outed as evil but is still in his young body? Works. The rude banter with Supergirl is gold, even if it does come off a little sexist (it’s okay ’cause he’s evil).

Although it's unclear why Supergirl is playing bodyguard for this jerk. Copyright: DC Comics.
Although it’s unclear why Supergirl is playing bodyguard for this jerk.
Copyright: DC Comics.

The “Lady Quark and Lord Volt are secretly gay” gag was a bit trite, but overall this is actually a pretty darn fun comic, crossover or not. I’m coming back for a second issue for sure.

Buy it? Yep.

Convergence: Aquaman #1
Story by Tony Bedard; Art by Cliff Richards
This story has some timing issues; it is, correctly, set after Aquaman lost his hand, but before he had a real prosthesis (which he gets during the year in the dome, instead). Except Aquaman is mooning after Mera, and by Zero Hour they had been separated for some time.

But beyond my continuity-cop act, how is it? Bedard’s Aquaman is a depressed loner, like in the first few issues of Peter David’s run. Except PAD was doing that to set something up–here Aquaman is just a jerk.

Seriously, what a fish stick. Copyright DC Comics.
Seriously, what a fish stick.
Copyright DC Comics.

With that said, it’s one of the few books that sets up an interesting fight. The Wildstorm character Deathblow breaks into the D.E.O. to get intel on Aquaman before the battle. This may actually be a fun fight.

One final thought: Aquaman can still breath under water. It’s only his telepathic abilities that are gone. If that’s still in place because it’s his “natural ability,” then there are some other characters (like The Martian Manhunter) who should really still be empowered.

Buy it? If you want to see the fight, yes. If it’s for the character? Bleh.

Convergence: Superboy #1
Story by Fabian Nicieza; Art by Karl Moline
This one’s really going to bug the continuity obsessed. Superboy is called Kon-El, a name he wasn’t given until 1998, four years after Zero Hour. He also has vision powers when the dome falls, something he absolutely did not have until much later.

This comic gets points though, for having a decent internal conflict and setting up a decent fight.

Is it bad that I'm not cheering for the title character? Copyright: DC Comics.
Is it bad that I’m not cheering for the title character?
Copyright DC Comics.

The idea of pitting the Kingdom Come Superman against a barely-trained Superboy is actually fun, and something I’m interested in seeing.

Buy it? I’m going to say yes, but with reservations.

Convergence: Green Arrow #1
Story by Christy Marx; Pencils by Rags Morales, inks by Claude St-Aubin
The first meeting of Conner Hawke and Oliver Queen. That’s quite a hook. And, for the most part, it works. It falls apart in some ways–like until the Kevin Smith version, it was established that Ollie never knew Conner existed, but here Oliver apparently did and thought it was a money grab. Conner also looks much older than he should be at this point. Speaking of looks, the art is not up to Rags Morales’s usual standards.

Sorry, but meh. Copyright DC Comics.
Sorry, but meh.
Copyright DC Comics.

But hey, props for Christy Marx having Conner create a safe place against racists. Although the conflict here sure makes it apparent how large Metropolis must be–there are three totally different areas where mob rule has basically taken over. Plus, Oliver is out there active and Conner has no clue till this issue, one year in.

The last page is kinda meh, really. It’s essentially the same last page as Superboy and Catwoman (which I had read before this).

Buy it? If you’re a Green Arrow die-hard.

Convergence: Batman The Shadow of the Bat #1
Story by Larry Hama; Art by Philip Tan
For about twenty pages, this comic sets up an interesting conflict–Bruce Wayne and Jean Paul Valley (aka Azrael, a character who filled in for a wounded Bruce and then went a bit insane) are both undercover, trying to bust the mobster Tobias Whale. Then we get the same dang dome scene, right in the middle of what should be the story’s payoff.

And here’s the weird bit–the guys they’re supposed to fight are already in Metropolis before the wall falls. How, exactly, did that happen? Something called time-slipping. No idea, I never read Wetworks.

This is some darn nice art. Copyright DC Comics.
This is some darn nice art, but “in mufti”? Really?
Copyright DC Comics.

I like Larry Hama, but can’t recommend this. Both Batmen seem “off” (and how does Azrael still have that batsuit?), and the dialogue is stilted. Stunning art, but nothing much else going on.

Buy it? No.

Convergence: Catwoman #1
Story by Justin Gray; Art by Ron Randall
I confess a certain weakness for the purple Catwoman costume (even if Darwyn Cook’s design was superior). There’s just something so delightfully silly about a bright purple cat burglar.

This artist makes the "mistake": of having her costume have *actual fabric*.  Jim Balent's was totally painted on. Copyright DC Comics.
This artist makes the “mistake”: of having her costume have *actual fabric*. Jim Balent’s was totally painted on.
Copyright DC Comics.

After a year under the dome, Catwoman is the protector of Suicide Slum, the broken down bit of Metropolis. Where, it seems, people have been hunting the poor for sport. Intergang is involved in this story, and apparently this version of Ugly Mannheim is not off model–unless you remember that this was set before they changed his look. Not that any of this matters. It’s just a setup so we can see Catwoman fight the Kingdom Come Batman next issue. Because… really? Wow, that’s totally going to compell me to come back next issue.

Buy it? No

Convergence: Justice League International #1
Story by Ron Marz; Art by Mike Manley
First off, I officially want that cover as a poster.

No story can live up to that cover. Copyright DC Comics.
No story can live up to that cover.
Copyright DC Comics.

And that’s about all I want. I loved this version of the Justice League, but here we see it in yet another setup issue. Apparently Blue Beatle has been running The League since the dome fell, and doing a bad job. I mean, we’re told he’s awesome (because he’s the only one used to not having powers), but c’mon–we’ve got a Metropolis where people hunt the poor for sport in one comic, and the League is doing nothing? Oh, and, just like last week, some of the depowering makes no sense. If they’re depowered, J’onn should look like his original Martian form (unless we’re going with the mental block theory from Superboy).

The membership makes little sense for the time period, while we’re at it. The JLI was in flux at the time, sure, but Ice? Ice was dead. We all know that the lineup is supposed to call to mind a fan favorite period for the team. Instead, it calls to mind the actual Zero Hour-era League: a forgettable, generic mess.

Buy it? Not even with someone else’s money.

Convergence: Superman Man of Steel #1
Story by Louise Simonson; Art by June Brigman
It’s really, really great seeing one of Steel’s creators as the writer. Sadly, by the time I get a few pages in, there’s an issue. Like the JLI, Steel is supposed to be one of the few active heroes in the Dome. Like Catwoman, he’s based in Suicide Slum. So how the heck do people get away with the stuff they do in the Catwoman issue?

Gotta respect the metal dreadlocks, though. Copyright DC Comics.
Gotta respect the metal dreadlocks, though.
Copyright DC Comics.

And there’s more. We’ve got an off-model Bibo (a character I and three other people care about), Steel’s nephew and niece fighting crime, and random stuff happening. Oh, and the kids from Gen13 show up and burn Steel badly. I guess I care?

Buy it? Sadly, no. It’s just a mess.

So yeah, that’s Convergence week II. It might be interesting to see what happens when these stories get to a second issue, but for now I continue to be a bit underwhelmed.

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1 thought on “Same Geek Channel: ‘Convergence’ Week II: Return of the ’90s.

  1. What irks me, continuity-wise, is that every Capt. Marvel is called “Shazam.” I noticed it last week and assumed it was an error but it happened again this week with the Kingdom Come Cap, so it’s clearly a thing now.

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