There’s no greater treasure trove than a kid’s toy box. Mine was full of Star Wars action figures, Jurassic Park dinosaurs and just about any shark I could get my hands on. And you can bet that Han Solo went up against some velociraptors on more than one occasion. Why not? I had access to raptors, I had access to Han Solo, and I was going to utilize them both to the fullest extent of my imagination.
With DC Comics’ latest big event, the recently concluded Convergence, the publisher presented a toy box of literally the entire pantheon of characters throughout all of the DC Multiverse but somehow managed to tell a story less compelling than the time I had Boba Fett ambush a stegosaurus with a lightsaber from inside a dead shark. Due in large part to the confusing decision to leave most of the toys in the box.
It’s no secret that Marvel is winning the comic book movie arms race, but recently they’ve been a leap ahead of DC on the page as well. DC doesn’t have books that can compete with Marvel’s more unique titles like Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel or Chip Zdarsky’s Howard the Duck and it seems that after some introspection DC has concluded the reason for this disparity is that their characters are bogged down by continuity, disabling their writers from telling fresh, new stories. Convergence was designed to within an inch of its life to fix this problem, and while it technically does, I guess, it never quite manages to justify its existence.
Comic book newcomer Jeff King might take some heat for writing Convergence, but there isn’t a writer alive who could have saved this corporate initiative from itself.
Convergence sees a multiversal Braniac collect cities from throughout all of DC’s history and bring them all on to one planet to battle for supremacy. It brings the likes of Red Son Superman and Knightfall Batman and Flashpoint Wonder Woman together with Parallax Hal Jordan, hook-hand Aquaman and Ted Kord Blue Beetle. Like I said, it’s a hell of a toy box.
Problem is, Convergence sees fit to leave a vast majority of those toys alone and play with the cast of DC’s recently concluded Earth 2 book. Sure Red Son Superman is around, but his story is relegated to appearances across forty shockingly formulaic two-issue spin off series churned out to cash in on fans’ nostalgia for old costumes. Convergence itself remains squarely focused on about six characters from the same book. A focal point in a story as massive as Convergence is important, but the camera never zooms out to show us the imaginative potential of the situation these characters find themselves in.
Buried somewhere within its nine issues Convergence hides a compelling story arc for the heroes of Earth 2. In fact, aside from perhaps the final two issues Convergence could have just been called Earth 2, which isn’t inherently bad if you’re an Earth 2 reader, but the corporate mandated status quo shifts the book has to present keep the Earth 2 narrative from achieving any sort of poignancy and the tight focus on Earth 2’s cast stifle the potential of a multiverse-wide event.
And what of DC’s grand plan to free itself of the shackles of continuity? Much like the emotional payoff of the stories focal point, Earth 2’s Dick Grayson, the battle that apparently redefines the entire DC Multiverse literally takes place off the page. It’s decisions like this that make Convergence feel less like a story unaware of its own potential and more like a corporate initiative actively avoiding it.
DC set out to revolutionize its continuity with Convergence, and it certainly did something to it, but I’d be hard pressed to believe that it’ll have any effect whatsoever on DC’s regularly scheduled titles.
If DC wanted to play it more fast and loose with their own continuity in order to tell more interesting, off the beaten path stories, they should have just done it.
Convergence left me wishing they’d explained their new status quo in a press release.