Front Lines - Convergence Week 1 - (Part 1 of 2)

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As I was sitting down with my tablet trying to figure out which Convergence titles I wanted to review this week, I suddenly had the idea “LET’S DO THEM ALL!”  This probably was a terrible idea, and speaks to mental illness, but let’s try this!  I am posting this in two parts.  Convergence 0, Convergence 1, and the first five issues today (alphabetically) and the rest tomorrow.

On a whole, these books don’t do a great job explaining what’s going on.  You need to pull bits and pieces from different places and put it together yourself.  It seems that just before Flashpoint, Gotham was yanked by Brainiac and put in a dome on a foreign planet.  All superpowers were taken away from any inhabitants that lived there.   There are a lot of domes all over the plant representing other doomed worlds.  After a year of life in the dome, Brainiac’s servant Telos has decided to make champions from each domed city fight each other.  The winners’ city survives, all other cities will be destroyed.

Pre-New 52 Gotham seems to be in a bracket with Flashpoint Gotham City, El Inferno (a western world), New York City of Angor (not sure what this is, and the issues I read and reviewed didn’t seem inclined to explain), and Follywood (Captain Carrot’s home).  It’s not clear how this works exactly as numerous champions from Pre-New 52 Gotham seem to have been selected.

I will admit, as I started doing this, I was giving low scores just based on the fact that so much of this information you need to put together piece by piece from the various titles.  BUT, since I enjoyed many of the comics that didn’t seem fair.  I am going to give the overall score tomorrow a big hit for this, but not the individual issues.  Not sure if that makes a lot of sense, but that was my decision and I’m sticking to it.

Convergence 0

Convergence 1

Convergence: Batgirl #1 by Alisa Kwitney and Rick Leonardi

When the dome fell over Pre-52 Gotham, Stephanie Brown retired from active duty as Batgirl.  Red Robin and Black Bat still act as heroes.  When the dome comes down and Telos names champions for Gotham, he names Stephanie and not Red Robin and Black Bat.  Even though she is long out of practice, she needs to fight Catman to ensure Gotham’s survival.

I will admit, a big part of my love for this issue was just seeing Pre-52 Tim, Cassandra, and Stephanie back in action.   I liked those characters a lot, and that is one of my biggest complaints about New 52, losing these characters to inferior versions.   I also liked that this issue took a lot of time to show what life was like in the dome for the year it was in place.  Cooking guinea pigs just to get meat was a norm.   I don’t know Alisa Kwitney’s work all that well, but I really liked this book!

Score: 4.5/5

Convergence: Batman and Robin by Ron Marz & Denys Cowan

Batman and Damian are defending Gotham’s food supply (currently maintained by Poison Ivy) from a group of villains including Penguin, Killer Croc, and Mr Freeze.  Killer Croc gives Batman a nasty shoulder wound, and Jason Todd arrives to save the day.  Damian feels a lot of jealousy towards this former Robin, and chases after Red Hood to prove himself.  Telos orders the cities to fight, and the issue ends with Batman, Damian, and Red Hood being attacked by a group called the Extremists.

This issue was a real mixed bag.  The scenes with Damian doubting his role because of Red Hood’s return were really good.  But again, Convergence suffers from lack of explanation.  It seems strange that Batman would be so easily hurt, but this is pretty much right after he came back from the dead and was still rusty.  Also, I only vaguely remember the Extremists.  They were Marvel parodies back from JLI.  I am not sure why they are being given such a big role here, but I would have rather seen just about any other “champions” show up.

Score: 3.5/5

Convergence: Harley Quinn by Steve Pugh & Phil Winslade

Since the dome came down, Harley has almost become reformed.  She’s still a little crazy, but she manages to live a mostly normal live.  But then Telos arrives and selects Harley to be a champion for Pre-52 Gotham.  She is going to have to fight Captain Carrot.  Ivy and Catwoman decide to force Harley to become full blown crazy again, sacrificing the life she’s made for herself just to save Gotham.

I actually liked the second half of this book a lot, but they spent way too many pages in the beginning showing Harley doing a heist before we see what Harley became under the dome.  But, I did like the new version of Harley, and Ivy and Catwoman’s decision to sacrifice their friend’s happiness and sanity because of the greater good.

Score: 3.5/5 (would have been MUCH higher if they trimmed the opening)

Convergence: Justice League by Frank Tieri & Vincente Cifuentes

The Pre-52 Justice League are in Gotham for a baby shower for Jesse Quick when the dome appears.  Mera misses Aquaman, who had just returned from the dead, only to be separated from him once again when the dome came down.  Meanwhile, Flashpoint Aquaman gets murderous whenever someone mentions his wife’s name.  As soon as the domes come down, Aquaman orders an attack on Gotham and kidnaps Pre-52 Mera.

Some great characterization in this one.  I actually have never read any comics with this version of the Justice League, but I am really curious about them now.  Flashpoint Aquaman was always a little scary, and that was carried on well here.  It’s not clear how or why he was attacking Gotham, but it’s a great setup for a story, so I’m willing to go with it.

Score: 4/5

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle by Gail Simone & Jan Duursema

This issue starts on a western world called El Inferno.  The Justice League of that world has just been slaughtered by Hawkman and Hawkgirl from Thanagar to claim victory for their city.  Meanwhile, in Pre-52 Gotham, Nightwing and Oracle are working together to keep Gotham sane.  Dick tries to propose to her, but she hesitates.  And then the Hawks arrive.  They reveal that they want to throw the fight.  They will sacrifice their adopted city and seek refuge in Gotham…BUT…only if Gotham allows them to rule with an iron fist.  Dick wants to fight…Barbara seems to refuse, but in secret she’s already fighting them covertly using her work as Oracle.

Great setup here, probably my favorite of the 7 issues I reviewed here.  I always would have liked Nightwing and Oracle to have a happy ending, and they sort of did here.   I also really liked these badass versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl.  They definitely seem like major contenders in Telos' version of Secret Wars.   Sorry…I mean Convergence.

Score: 4.5/5

More to Come tomorrow!