Review & Spoilers: Convergence #1 By Jeff King & Scott Lobdell, Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, Aspen/MLT’s Jason Starr With Peter Steigerwald

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CONVERGENCE #1 (of 8) Review
“Domesday” (30 pages)
Story by: Jeff King & Scott Lobdell
Pencils by: Carlo Pagulayan
Inks by: Jason Paz
Colors by: Aspen/MLT’s Jason Starr w/ Peter Steigerwald
Letters by: Travis Lanham
Covers by: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Peter Steigerwald; Tony S. Daniel & Mark Morales: Brian Bolland; Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

Ignore the exposition. Emphasize the action. Set the suspense. Begin battle!!

Spoilers follow.

Fans of the wildly successful Injustice: Gods Among Us video game and subsequent comic books will be all-a-flutter upon spotting the protagonists (and antagonist) of “Prime Earth” for the first five pages. The universe’s most terrible tyrant Superman has come back with a vengeance. Literally!! He is pissed that his adopted planet shunned his god-like presence. Batman is even more pissed since Gotham City has been completely decimated no thanks to his former BFF. There’s a very slim chance that these heroes can stand up to an ultra-potent opponent but they carry on. The epic throwdown is interrupted by a booming voice proclaiming an imminent demise. Supes can’t ignore the high-pitch harmonics due to his super-hearing. For a split second, Supes contemplates being a saviour once more but that thought does not come to light since a colossal rock hand squishes him like a bug. This world has just been declared unworthy and eliminated. The voice states that it’s back to the drawing board.

The nitty-gritty is the survivors of Earth 2. PPSSTT: the cover is a dead giveaway 😉 The first to materialize in a new surrounding are Batman (Thomas Wayne) and Dick Grayson. Three more emerge: Flash (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), and Superman (Val-Zod). Looks like in more current times the Flash is equated with humour. I love his casual quip in not recognizing Grayson: “Batman! Guy I’ve never seen before.” At least he has some etiquette. The levity lasts a bit longer as he boasts that two of his best qualities are prudence and luck. That cockiness has him run through some spikes before he removes them. Once again, a nonchalant acknowledgement: “No sweat, Doctor Wayne. New guy also not dead.” Ever the detective, Batman deduces that their current whereabouts are either due to Darkseid’s omega beams or the universe smiling upon them. The ex-pats of Earth 2 are about to find out!

Internal conflict is the ultimate spice in any good story. Grayson has a minor freak-out as he clocks one on Batman. He has lost his whole livelihood no thanks to the supposed heroes. Flash lashes back. He finally recognizes Dick. He sneers at the ordinary citizen’s bystanding and mocks his career: “Did you think you were gonna turn back Parademons with flowery words?” That’s quite a deep cut, speaking as an amateur writer myself. Grayson represents the vox populi. The words are mightier than the heroes, or some such. Flash points out that Dick isn’t insular in his grief and loss.

A head-turning moment occurs when out of the barren landscape a red-headed woman breaks through. I see this as a variation on popping out of a gigantic birthday cake. I actually uttered aloud “Who?” when the woman ID’s herself as Yolanda Montez, the Red Avatar of Earth. I had to do some digging (natch!) on that one. I know that another female by that name was Wildcat pre-Crisis. This incarnation first appeared in EARTH 2 #30. [Note: I stopped reading after #27]. At any rate, Dick is ever the ladies’ man even here. She plants a huge wet one on him when she busts out of the rocky prison. He seems to be the target for humour. Dour Dick is shut down by Yolanda as well. As an avatar of the Red, she communicated with and communed with every single deceased individual.

Batman snaps them back to the business at hand. His astute observation has Alan dismayed. Not being on their native planet has nixed his powers. He’s not going to be very useful in the upcoming fight. The Green is gone. Without warning, the entire planet retaliates like antibodies eliminating a virus. Liquid metal springs up and tries to encase the heroes. Yolanda goes all feral (I see the subtle nod ;-P) with extremely efficient claws. The metal begins to build a barrier. Batman realizes that a dome is being formed. The completion must be prevented at all costs! Flash falters. Green Lantern has got no gas. It’s up to Superman to pull through. He freezes the construction with his super-breath.

Telos makes an enormous entrance. He is miffed at the intruders and perplexed that there is no city in tow. His one-track mind refuses to process the fact that the Earth 2 residents are homeless. He mentions the protocols necessary for ‘guests’. He remains cryptic but obsesses over the error of the Earthers’ appearance. Eventually, he spills the beans and states that he works for Brainiac, the ultimate god machine. Telos is essentially their life-saver thus resistance is futile. There is a giant snag in the master plan. The arrival of the exiles simply does not compute in the collection of cities and their respective worlds. Time to reset everything.

How many philosophers have speculated that life is one cruel, giant joke? or that the universe is but a plaything in the hands of a higher power? or that reality is one infinite experiment? Telos states his directive: the inhabitants of the multiple worlds will be released after they are pitted against each other in mortal combat. Telos displays a ginormous grid, windows to the other worlds, as he addresses them all simultaneously.

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Get ready for the references!! In his speech, he makes mention of:

• “I have brought the Convergence upon you.” — The gathering of globes and the meshing of the multiverse.
• “Some of you came to me at a time of Infinite Crisis.” — An undoing of the original Crisis to bring back the multiverse.
• “Others were brought here in the final moments of the Zero Hour.” — An attempted destruction of the timestream which resulted in a reboot eight years after the original Crisis.
• “Whether it was a Flashpoint of a time that never was…” — The birth of the New 52!
• “…or of Kingdoms that will never Come…” — Dystopia at its delectable best!

1. Infinite Crisis 2. Zero Hour 3. Flashpoint 4. Kingdom Come

There is one inevitable outcome: fight or die. The captives are now competitors. Denial and disobedience result in demise. Not only is one the loneliest number but it seems to be a universal constant. I suppose one world is much more manageable than a myriad. Either way, it feels like a copout.

Brainiac’s plan has been set forth and is pre-determined. It is Convergence!!! As Telos stands down from his soapbox, the main event has already unraveled — behind him are various Supermen flying to preserve truth, justice, and the Multiversal way.

This issue is stuffed to the gills with action and exposition. Not having read EARTH 2: WORLD’S END, it is fitting that readers view the fate of The Wonders. Things don’t look any better as they are brutally outmatched. Easter eggs, or rather glimpses of the alternate Earths, satisfy every bona fide fan. Since this is not a typical crossover, one does not need to worry about excessive spending on the forty side-series. There’s a garden’s delight for every reader from three distinct eras: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, and the pre-Flashpoint DCU a.k.a. New Earth continuity.

Jeff King is new to comics. What a pleasant surprise to discover that he is Canadian ^_^ Hail to the True North!! He has a well-established background in television. This is his entry into the world of comics. He shares the story with Scott Lobdell, a veteran and mainstay of the DCU since the New 52. It is difficult for me to discern the distinct voices between the two. Rather, I see cohesiveness and synchronicity in the script. The heroes act accordingly despite some tiffs. Telos is grandiose in his speech and his demeanor. As an extension of the zero issue and the true onset of the eight-part event, the groundwork is laid for this two-month weekly event.

Carlo Pagulayan has done some extraordinary work with the extra-sized amount. Illustrating an additonal ten pages is no small feat. The details he gives to the various universes and its inhabitants convey the epic scope of this storyline. There is a strong sense of urgency in all the pages. The grid is eerily effective with no less than three two-page spreads!

Jason Paz is the primo partner to Mr. Pagulayan’s work. Solid lines lead to an appealing aesthetic that accentuates the gravitas. Telos is akin to a living monolith.

How curious that DC has outsourced the colouring to another company. Jason Starr and Peter Steigerwald use very little shadow, opting to put everything out in the open.

Travis Lanham had no time to idle!! The man’s hand must have fallen off! Telos’ white-lettered speech evokes an unseen omnipotent intervenor that is inherently evil.

Cornucopia:

How many Earths/realities/universes/characters are you able to spot? Need some help? Voilà:
[feel free in correcting me should I prove to be wrong]

• top row: Batgirl (pre-Killing Joke), JLA (Grant Morrison), JSA (Geoff Johns), Dick as Batman, Crime Syndicate (original incarnation), Blue Beetle, Question, Captain Atom (the Charlton Comics heroes), Freedom Fighters (with Plastic Man)

• centre row: Superman & Batman (undetermined era), Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Reverse Flash, Captain Cold (Flashpoint), Batman characters (unknown), Team 7 (Wildstorm universe), Marvel Family, Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes

• bottom row: Ultraman, JLA: Another Nail, Superman, Flash, Atom, Green Lantern (Tangent universe), Jimmy Olsen and friends Chloe Sullivan and Pete Ross (?), JLA from DC One Million, Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew

• There are two snippets of ordinary citizens.
The Daily Planet monument figures prominently in the last panel of the grid.
• A bearded figure unbeknownst to me is just above the Crime Syndicate.
• A blue-clad man whose face is purposely hidden is above the JSA. I surmise that it’s Blue Beetle Dan Garrett.
• A monocle-sporting man is partially seen just before the Tangent characters. It appears that Lex Luthor is standing beside him.

•Supermen spotlighted are: Red Son, Superman-Prime, Kingdom Come, 1980’s and 1990’s versions, One Million and two indistinguishable ones.

Have fun figuring it all out!

P.S. The title is a variation spelling of the word “doomsday“. Plus, it’s a not-so-subtle pun 😉

The first salvo is an adequate intro to a slew of juicier morsels. This is but the entrée to the main course. As such, with 50 worlds vying for top spot, I give this book a 35 (70%).

Earth 35 Multiversity Guidebook