DC Comics’ event series Convergence is finally here, after months and months of build up and fanfare. With this much hype going in to one of these big event series, the only question on my mind is always “can anything live up to it?”, and this one was no different. While I can’t speak for the entire series, obviously, I can speak for Dan Jurgens’, Jeff King’s, and Ethan Van Sciver’s opening chapter. Aside from one aspect, as an introduction to a larger story, it was all a bit of a letdown.
The biggest problem with Convergence #0 is that, even with thirty pages to tell a story, the opening chapter didn’t tell me anything that all the hype machine and build-up by DC hasn’t already done. I knew going into this that an uber-powerful version of Superman’s foe Brainiac was stealing cities from across “doomed” timelines in the DC Multiverse — timelines that had been wiped out by one Crisis or another — and was collecting them on a world outside of space and time. Then that the world itself would become sentient and create its own plan for the various cities being held in captivity. Reading the #0 issue was like going to movie you’ve seen the trailer to a dozen times, only to have the movie tell you nothing that the trailer didn’t already show you. I realize that’s it’s only the zero issue and therefore not the “true” beginning, but it really should have given fans something that they likely didn’t already know, and it didn’t.
For those of you not hooked as much into the DC hype machine, the basic plot of Convergence #0 falls somewhere in the cracks of DC’s last Superman crossover storyline called Doomed, where Kal-El learned that Brainiac was the ultimate villain responsible for his troubles. (I mean, if its not Luthor, its Brainiac. Always. Okay, sometimes it’s Mxyzptlk.) At some point, towards the end of that storyline, Clark gets zapped out of regular space time and this is where we find him in the opening moments of this issue, on a strange world populated by various Brainiacs (Brainiaii?), who inform Superman of their evil plot to collect cities from all around the Multiverse. And that’s pretty much it.
There isn’t much more to the story of the zero issue than that, and not a lot of depth is given to the proceedings. Sadly, the first page gives you an idea of how Superman is written for the rest of the issue, where he just shouts out exposition and feels the need to speak all of his thoughts aloud. It’s moments like this where I miss the now nearly extinct practice of using thought balloons in mainstream comics, because so much of Superman’s dialogue in this issue is him saying things out loud like “Where am I??” or “Have…to….get…home!” The co-writer on this issue is television writer Jeff King, a newbie to comic book writing, but longtime Superman author Dan Jurgens should know how to write the Man of Steel in more interesting ways by now.
If there is anything really good about this issue on which to recommend, it’s definitely the art of Ethan Van Sciver, who sadly doesn’t do interiors on regular monthly books much anymore. (It seems like only yesterday we had his Green Lantern art on a somewhat regular basis. Those were the days.) While much of this issue is Superman shouting at and/or punching versions of Brainiac, it’s still great to see Van Sciver’s renditions of some of the most well known versions of the villainous character. We’ve got the Silver Age version, in his pink shirt, black underwear and white go-go boots; the 1970s “future” Brainiac Pulsar Stargrave; the ’80s H.R. Giger-esque design from the Super Powers toyline; the ’90’s animated series look; and the more recent pre-New 52 Gary Frank version. All look great when Van Sciver renders them, and the uber Brainiac is particularly scary-looking (and would make a great live-action version of the character). Ethan Van Sciver even manages to make me not totally hate the New 52 Superman armor look, which I usually loathe, but he draws it so well and with so much detail that I kind of can’t help but admire it a little.
The back of the comic has a detailed list of the 41 “dead” timelines that Brainiac has collected for his experiment, and what DC Comics titles from the past that they first appeared in. There are some truly obscure worlds being used, like “Earth-A” which appeared once in a 1965 Justice League of America comic, and the world of anthropomorphic animal superheroes Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew. What’s interesting is that many of the worlds shown as being dead timelines were very recently shown as being part of the post New-52 Multiverse in Grant Morrison’s Multiversity series, so if they died on us, that’s a very recent off-panel event.
It’s hard for me to truly recommend Convergence #0 with any enthusiasm (apart from the artwork), and yet I’m still totally on board for the regular series and all its spin-off titles when they arrive. As an old-school DC fan who thinks the company really screwed up by flushing all that great history down the toilet, I remain hopeful for Convergence. But I think its safe to say that you probably won’t need the zero issue to understand what’s going on in the regular title when it arrives next week.