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Convergence #8 [Review]

convergence008Last Stand

Writers: Jeff King and Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Stephen Segovia, Carlo Pagulayan, Eduardo Pansica, Ethan Van Sciver
Inks: Jason Paz, Scott Hanna, Trevor Scott, Stephen Segovia, Ethan Van Sciver
Colros: Peter Stiegerwald
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Andy Kubert, Brad Anderson
Special Thanks: Geoff Johns, Beth Sotelo, Mark Roslan
Asst. Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015

[Please note that I WILL be “spoiling” this issue in this review. If you have not read it yourself and/or do not wish to know how the issue–and Convergence itself in general–conclude, you’ll want to stop reading; though I have about 2 1/2 paragraphs before I truly get to “spoiler” territory.]

I think I left off about six weeks ago–I’m pretty sure I jumped off after #2, never picking up #3 of this series. And though my enthusiasm quickly, almost totally tapered off…I again found myself curious about how this would wrap up, particularly given recent rumors at certain comic sites, and wanting to see/experience it for myself instead of just reading about it.

Of course, that was not truly worth the $4.99 cover price (at this point, that means I’ve bought THREE $4.99 issues and only one $3.99 issue of Convergence proper, which is absolutely disgusting to me). The cover also is quite generic and basic, not impressing me at all.

The story itself is relatively basic, and I certainly lack context of the past few issues. A group of heroes has gathered, to make their last stand. Someone named Deimos has just been killed by Hal/Parallax resulting in the planet becoming unstable, and its destruction threatens the Multiverse itself. A few remaining time-travelers (specifically Booster Gold, his sister, and Waverider) show up…and their solution is to bring Brainiac back. In turn, Brainiac’s solution is to absorb the temporal energy that’s been unleashed and return the heroes home, while having himself restored and the Multiverse fixed. Part of fixing the Multiverse is preventing its total collapse in the “first” Crisis. And fix stuff they do, and all the worlds are restored, the many many worlds of a Multiverse.

I mention that the story is relatively basic, and that’s in the “heroes are gathered, a last-ditch solution arrives, is executed, and we get page after page of “moments” to end the current series/event while not truly capping things off” sense.

Essentially, it seems that in a way, this means that Crisis on Infinite Earths is given a different ending, in which the final five Earths, at least, do not collapse into one single Earth, and generally that anything and everything that has ever happened in a DC comic has a place in the multiverse and is still out there somehow.

[The way I choose to interpret it is that we’re seeing the creation of a divergent branch OF the multiverse with worlds where Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Flashpoint, Infinite Crisis, etc. all happened or will happen existing amidst worlds in which none of those happened, and so on.]

The issue’s art is a mixed thing, with a bunch of pencilers and inkers involved. Fortunately, though seeming much like a “jam piece,” dealing with multiple versions of characters and various Earths and all that, I didn’t honestly consciously “notice” that overly much…I noticed some differences here and there but mentally wrote them off as nature of the story.

While the series didn’t hold me week to week, knowing now how it ends, I do expect I’ll still be interested in a collected volume–I half considered that it’d “only” be 5 issues to fill in my “gap,” but with DC‘s rather reasonable pricing, that $20 for 5 issues will probably be 2/3 or more the price of the inevitable hardcover of all 9 issues, so I expect to try to “hold out” for that.

Unless you’re like me and just want to get the immediate gratification of “experiencing” (reading) this issue and its place in DC History right now, or have already kept up ith the rest of the series…you’re better off waiting, I think.

This isn’t the worst ending of an event, but I wouldn’t consider it great, either as it seems to throw wide the doors on things than it does close them on even this story in itself. It does set up the new Earth 2 for the ongoing “primary”/focal part of the DC Multiverse (formerly The New 52) and leaves the entirety of DC history open such that it seems “possible” that anything/everything that’s ever been at DC is now “available” to be used in DC comics in general. Whether this ultimately proves to be good or bad, I don’t know.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with the issue in and of itself…but I am glad to have gotten to read this immediately, and be given some small “hope” of interesting self-contained stuff down the line. For the immediate present, though, this serves as a jump-off for me.

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Convergence – Batman: Shadow of the Bat #2 [Review]

convergence_batmanshadowofthebat002Home is the Sailor

Words: Larry Hama
Pencils: Rick Leonardi
Inks: Dan Green
Colors: Elmer Santos
Lettering: Steve Wands
Cover: Philip Tan, Elmer Santos
Assistant Editors: Holzherr & Kraiger
Editor: Marie Javins
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Batman and Azbats…er…Azrael, vs. Wetworks, for the fate of the city? Yeah, but I don’t even know WHICH city they’re in from this. The previous issue was several weeks ago and this one lacks anything to bring one up to speed. Sure, it’s ONLY the 2nd issue of two, but…really? So the Batmen fight Wetworks while befriending a woman and her son as the notion of getting the Wetworks team to slow down long enough for a teamup to be proposed, to endeavor to save BOTH cities. And while both cities are still around at the end of the issue, there’s no truly definitive ending.

We get the "conclusion" of a story that is NOT a conclusion. At best it’s the first act in a larger arc…but there’s no To Be Continued note, no "continued in Convergence #7," no "for the final fate of BOTH CITIES, check out Convergence #8 on sale in TWO WEEKS!" note, just some ridiculous, cliché stopping point because we’re out of pages.

And I really feel like I should have gone with my initial instinct and left this thing on the shelf. But in a fairly rare instance of it happening, the cover sold me, just by its weird coloring, and the title logo…and the strength of the previous issue’s cover (which I liked SO MUCH that I made it my phone’s lock screen, so have been seeing it several times a day for the past month or so).

I was further sold, again, by Hama‘s name on the cover…though sadly, that (and the interior credits) are the only place I have anything to truly suggest to me that Hama‘s even involved. Nothing about this "feels" like some kind of GI Joe thing, nothing reminds me of 1993-ish Wolverine, and nothing about this otherwise screams "I’m by Larry Hama!" to me.

I blame that not on Hama, but on the lack of room for anything to truly develop. And having soured CONSIDERABLY on Convergence in general since its start, having allowed myself some general enjoyment of Marvel’s version of stuff in Secret Wars, this just pales all the more as an issue.

This felt paced to be the opening of a larger story, and if this were a six-issue arc, it would seem on track to be a good story overall, having spent the first issue (re)introducing us to Zero Hour-era Batman and Azrael and setting up the Wetworks fight; this issue gave us the actual fight and leaves us with the two groups seeming about to team up; leaving several issues to show them interacting and preparing a plan; putting the plan into action and the plan going awry; an issue to refocus or have some significant change to the Batmen at least, and lead into some cataclysmic or miraculous event for one/both of the cities and a possible lead-back into some core event series.

So in a way, this is like a 6-issue mini getting canned after only 2 issues; or checking out a couple episodes of some tv show, being somewhat interested, but then told "oh, no, they just never put any more episodes out" or some such.

I’m irked at the length (technically, the lack thereof); irked at the Deathstroke "preview," that I don’t care about especially for not caring about the title or character, I’m irked at the $3.99 cover price vs. $2.99; and I’m irked that I bought this thing at all as a single issue.

This totally feels like it’s something destined for bargain bins; whether dollar bins or cheaper I don’t know. The entirety of Convergence does, for that matter. I’d bought the Superman #2 issue last week and now this; I’m wrestling with OCD on the STEEL issue as well as the handful of other #2s still pending. Consciously I know I should wait for the bargain bin appearances, but there’s part of me that just HAS TO "experience" what’s happening real-time with some of these ‘key’ issues, that is not content to just sit back and get it second-hand.

As long as you’re not feeling that way, I’d say this issue is totally skippable and inconsequential…to whatever the main story has gotten to and in general. There’s no #3 and no new #1 for Batman: Shadow of the Bat that I am aware of; no new pending title debuting starring Jean-Paul Valley, any incarnation of Azrael, or a Zero Hour era Batman, so…if the cover doesn’t suck you in or some other sentimentality grab you, wait for the bargain bins or an attractive collected volume that includes this.

Convergence – Week of April 8th, 2015

Convergence–the two-month “event” that covers for the absence of the “regular” DC books while the editorial offices are transferred from the East coast to the West–is officially in full swing with this week’s release of the #1 issue of the core mini and nearly a dozen #1s for tie-in 2-issue minis.

convergence001_wraparound_full

I’m not at all impressed with the cover, particularly as it appears just as an issue…but I give DC credit that this is a wraparound cover rather than having the two-panel image be an “interlocking” variant.

Rather than try to cover stuff singly, I decided–for this week, at least–to just do one huge post for the Convergence stuff I bought this week. We’ll see how coming weeks go, in this regard.

Convergence #1

convergence001Somehow, I was expecting a LOT more out of this, especially for the price. $4.99 is an awfully steep price for ANY single-issue–surpassing my hated $3.99 by a full additional 25%–and not delivering a whole lot for the cost. There are 30 story pages but also 4 “backmatter” context-pages detailing some of the “cities” in the issue.

While on some level I “know” that much of the issue involves characters fresh outta Earth 2: World’s End and presumably events of New 52: Futures End…there’s not one note anywhere in THIS issue that caught my attention referencing that. “See Earth 2: World’s End for the grisly details” or “See final few issues of Futures End” or whatever. So these are just characters that show up, and I can wonder what makes THEM so special that they get so much page-time? 

Having the “singular event” of Telos “broadcasting” himself to EVERYONE makes for a good rally-point for the first issues of the various tie-ins…something to tie them all together even if every other detail of the story has nothing to do with it…it roots them in the time-frame.

I was excited and looking forward to this issue, but sorely let-down by what I got. If the entire series was $4.99 I’d CERTAINLY pass…but it DOES drop to $3.99 after this. I’ll “grudgingly” pick up the next issue…but if it feels too much like this first one, I may let it go and wait for a (relatively) cheaper collected volume.

Convergence: Superman #1

convergence_superman001Despite HUGE changes around Infinite Crisis and beyond, I still clung to the notion that the Superman that existed up to the dawn of the New 52 was still somehow at least somewhat “my” Superman. As such, I was looking forward to this chance to revisit the character. 

Finding Superman powerless and in Gotham City was a bit of a surprise, as was learning that the whole city has been “trapped” in a dome for over a year (how “convenient” that Clark, Lois, AND Jimmy were all in Gotham at the time!). Clark’s played secret vigilante, unable to suppress the need to help others. Luckily for him, reaching the “end of the line” conveniently coincides with Telos dropping the domes and his powers returning just in time to repel a hail of bullets.

We learn that Lois is pregnant (presumably something that was able to happen due to Superman’s powers being gone), which seems to be one of the “final steps” that seem to be allowed in anything for Superman–once he has a kid it’s like that’s “it” for his story…so something as brief and temporary as this is–of course–the perfect time to “allow” such a development.

As a two-issue thing, it seems TOO short to be HALFWAY through the story already. That also makes it too short for so much space given to Telos’ bit. While I appreciate and am glad that’s there, I’d be glad for a PANEL of it, tying this to the core story but otherwise let this stand alone OR “assume” that someone has read Convergence #1 (or put the full speech FROM Convergence #1 into the backmatter for those truly curious).

And speaking of the backmatter–the recapping of stuff made me doubt myself, that perhaps this was Superman and Lois shortly after the wedding (circa 1997)…yet there was reference to stuff from the early 2000s as well, making for a very selective over-brief recap of only huge moments.

All in all I’ll be interested enough in the next issue, but I can’t quite “recommend” this in and of itself…either you’re interested in what I believe is immediately-pre-Flashpoint Superman or you’re not. 

Convergence: Batman and Robin #1

convergence_batmanandrobin001This issue picks up on a Gotham City where Batman’s back from being presumed dead/lost in time–it’s Bruce-Batman and Damian-Robin, sometime after Dick’s tenure as the Caped Crusader. Ivy’s largely responsible for the citizens of the city surviving–her control over plans has allowed for quality production of food–and the Penguin wants to threaten that. 

Batman and Robin arrive to spoil his plans, and encounter a Red Hood. Damian is jealous of how Batman seems toward his former Robin, which leads to some definite tension and an eventual having-it-out within the present Bat-family…right before the dome closing them in drops and they hear Telos’ message.

As with the Superman issue, I was glad we had the unifying moment of Telos’ message…but even moreso than in the Superman issue, it felt to me like it took up way too much space in this issue for this only being a two-issue story.

The backmatter was less than impressive to me, though it was more informative than the Superman one–I’m far more familiar with Superman than “later Batman” stuff. I have never liked the Red Hood character, and 11-some years later still have not “embraced” the returned-to-life Jason Todd…and probably never will. Having had a couple days to mull over the reading experience, I’m pretty sure I’ll only pick up #2 because of having bought #1…not for any particular interest in where this issue goes from here.

Given that pre-Flashpoint Batman essentially continued straight into the New 52, this is more like an alternate take splitting off briefly from a specific point more than it is revisiting something that’s been lost…and I do wish I’d chosen to go with the Batgirl issue instead to get Red Robin.

Overall Thoughts This Week

Even though I’m tentatively “buying into” this Convergence thing, the price of the books is a big issue for me. With 2013’s Villains Month and last year’s Futures End month, for my $3.99 and whatever-length story, I was getting that fancy cardboard stock and 3-D image cover…and the issues largely stood alone as functional one-shots. With Convergence, everything is $3.99, and I’m not even getting a slightly better quality coverstock, no fancy image technology…and this is a TWO-MONTH thing. Whatever I buy a #1 of, I’ll likely want to then get the #2…and if something would get my attention with a #2 I’d want to backtrack and also get #1.

Additionally, along with any of the issues I’d pick up, there’s the WEEKLY main/core series itself, so that’s already ONE “slot” taken up for anything extra I would buy. With the higher price point, 2 issues (the main title and a single tie-in) would almost match my buying all 3 weeklies for the last 26 weeks previous…and matching the quantity will be a significant bump beyond.

And since I’m already thinking quite a bit about possibly snagging whatever collected edition format is presented for Convergence as a whole (I’m guessing a hardcover for the core series and 4-8 paperbacks for the tie-ins) I’m already going to be rather heavily “double-dipping,” which is not very appealing to me for this. But…I’m eager enough to revisit some stuff and to read some of these that I don’t want to “just wait” and not read them at all…especially if there are some “surprise” things.

If I’m going to “double dip,” I’ll grudgingly do so on the main series and a handful of tie-ins…but I’m finding myself a LOT more “conservative” on other random books as a result. At the $3.99 “premium price” I am not going to buy half the event just to pay top dollar for collected volumes. Since I don’t even know what titles will be collected how (for example, will we have one or two volumes apiece for a Convergence: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Convergence: Zero Hour, Convergence: Pre-Flashpoint? Or will we get the series collected by “family” with Superman books clustered, Batman books clustered, etc.?)

Given my gripes and concerns…probably the largest reason I find myself looking forward to anything more is the simple notion of getting a couple months of Superman, Superman: Man of Steel, Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics again. There’s also stuff like Shadow of the Bat, which I believe the original ongoing was the first actual continuity Bat-book I got in on at its start, back in 1992 or so. And that I recently listened to the GraphicAudio adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and this strikes me as a sort of 30-year successor to that story.

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