Convergence #0 (June, 2015)
“The God Machine”
Writers – Dan Jurgens & Tom King
Artist – Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist – Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer – Travis Lanham
Editors – Dan Didio & David Pina
Cover Price: $4.99
I feel like we’ve been kicking around ol’ Convergence quite a bit on the blog here… but we have yet to discuss the actual event. Sure, we’ve discussed the fallout… and how the longer the story went, the more clear that it was only created in the first place to fill-in for DC’s cross-country move… but, I don’t think we’ve really discussed the story.
I haven’t read this since it hit shelves almost three years ago (three years already?)… so, let’s give it another look see.
We open with Superman appearing in a vast whiteness… then a crackling… suddenly he finds himself surrounded by all of his memories (this is The New-52! Superman, by the by). Worth mentioning that this takes place right after the Superman: Doomed story arc. He is greeted by… that really gross-looking giant Brainiac from Futures End.
Superman demands he be sent back to Metropolis… which he’ll do several more times throughout the issue. I don’t recall him asking to be sent home all that much before… but, it does play into this story’s “angle”. Brainiac informs Superman that Metropolis is currently “beyond help”… then challenges him with a test of sorts. Superman asks where they are, which brings us to one of my favorite two-page spreads in quite some time!
The Many Deaths of the Superman! We see the iconic bit from Superman #149 (1961) where Lex Luthor has him strapped to a table. There’s the end of Infinite Crisis… and The Kingdom… Red Son… and, of course… Superman’s death from Superman (vol.2) #75 (1993). Such an amazing page! From the sublime to the silly… Brainiac then begins to reveal his agenda… he’s seeking information on the many cities of the many worlds. Yawn.
Then… he vanishes! Superman, who has (all the while?) been strapped to a machine, struggles and finally breaks free. He finds himself in a desert-like environment where he is surrounded by millions of miles of… nothing.
After stopping for a drink of… we’ll call it water, I guess… he is addressed by… Brainiac… again! This isn’t the same gross-looking giant, however… this is a decidedly Silver-Age take on the fella. He’s looking for information on… his city.
After taunting the Man of Steel for a bit, telling him that he already has several Metropolises (Metropoli?) in his “collection”, he changes into a more Bronze-Age Super Powers-y looking version of himself… and takes us to yet another a-freaking-mazing two-page spread. This time we see a sort of amalgamation of all the different versions of Metropolis in his possession… it’s really quite a sight!
Superman rushes toward the ‘bot to attack, when suddenly it changes into its Pulsar Stargrave form! Feel like we don’t see this version nearly enough.
He doesn’t stick around all that long this time either, sadly… before long he’s changed into the Brainiac from Superman: The Animated Series… then into his more modern look.
Superman finally strikes… and Brainiac finally decides to fill him in on his angle. The Master (that big nasty-looking Brainiac) has created a planet called Telos, where he delivers cities hailing from doomed timelines. This isn’t entirely different from the Mosaic Oa from Green Lantern: Mosaic… but Brainy’s going to take it one step further. He doesn’t want to see if these disparate peoples can co-exist… he plans to pit them against one another to test their merit.
Superman appears to understand… then Brainiac begins buggin’ out! It’s pretty cool, actually… we get to see all of the different takes on the character throughout the ages. A sign that “everything happened” and “everything matters”… which, at the time, really scratched me where I itch.
Suddenly Superman and the Brainiacs (great band name) are back in the vast desert… and the former’s attention is directed to the arrival of a new dome-covered city. Our man ain’t exactly pleased, considering all of the inhabitants are now prisoners of “The Master”.
The Brainiacs insist that this is for the best… and, in their imprisonment, they have also been saved. Superman still ain’t buyin’ it… and a fight is on! It’s a very short fight, though… which ends when the Brainiacs realize that this Superman has no place on Telos. He has no city here… and thus, is jettisoned.
We wrap up with an appearance by the guy we’ll soon know as Telos. He’s arrived to do his best Apocalypse impression, and promises to let only the strong survive. In the distance, we can see a Bat-Signal illuminate the skies of the domed city. Whodathunk it… looks like we got a Gotham City!
Ya know, for all the grief Convergence gets… it started off pretty damn good!
This was a great issue that will very likely excite any fan of DC Comics and DC history. The premise is… ya know, pretty simple… but it’s so grounded in DC lore that I can’t help but really appreciate it! That is, of course, before I flipped through the Who’s Who/Where’s Where in the Convergence Universe bit (included below), and realized that this was just going to be forty-five flavors of Gotham City.
Why so much Gotham? I mean, sure… everybody knows Gotham… but for a story posing as a sort of love letter to DC history, we’re going to need more. And the Elseworlds… really? Sure, there are some iconic Elseworlds… but, those aren’t the worlds I want to read about (I also feel like they haven’t “earned their place” as a proper DC Earth). When I’m expecting to be able to visit with heroes I hadn’t seen in a half-decade, seeing them trapped in a Gotham City of whatever the hell era isn’t quite going to cut it.
Now before I go off on a total anti-Convergence rant… let me try and rein it in, and discuss only this issue. For what we get here, story-wise… I was very pleased. Even if I’m not completely on-board with the captured-city gimmick, I was still excited to see what was to come. I feel like if the main event book kept to a more “exploring DC lore” take, it would be far more fondly remembered. Or, maybe it would just be far more fondly remembered… by me.
What we’re going to get instead is… the Earth-2 heroes looking for a new home planet? Really? If you remember, in 2015 DC was doing some strange things to facilitate launching new titles. I mean, we sat through almost an entire year of the weekly New-52: Futures End series, in order to launch a… Batman Beyond book?! Really? And here, we have a two-month break in DC’s regular publication schedule… more or less, to facilitate the launch of Earth-2 Society.
I remember all of the chatter on social media at the time… this whole concept was panned, and designated (by many) as a time-killer to smooth DC Editorial’s transition from East to West coast. I didn’t want to believe it… instead, I held on to the idea that this was the start of DC’s return to a pre-Flashpoint sort of status quo.
I had these (foolish) ideas in my head that after this we’d get maybe 4-5 books that took place in the “real” DCU. If you’ll indulge me… I saw Action Comics and Detective Comics (at their legacy numbering) shifting back over… flanked by relaunched JLA, JSA and New Titans titles (maybe with their legacy numbering… but that didn’t matter as much). This, in a pre-Rebirth world, might’ve been enough of a “best of both worlds” scenario… and also might’ve made Convergence stand out as something better than a more recent Millenium-esque flop (Hey! It’s like a Millennial Millennium).
Well, I went and did it again… I’m tellin’ ya, it’s so hard to stick to discussing this issue itself! Um… I know, let’s talk art! Ethan Van Sciver turns in some phenomenal work here. I’m usually one to complain about two-page spreads (especially in a book priced at five bucks!), but holy cow… these are beautiful! That Many Deaths of Superman page… that one just sticks with me. Such an amazing spread that really shows the potential this story had. If I were away from comics at the time… all it would have taken was seeing this page, and I’d have plunked my five-dollars down for this issue. That, plus that shot of the amalgamated Metropolis… woo, great stuff!
The various takes on Brainiac were also quite well done. Even if I’m not the biggest Brainiac fan, I gotta say, it was really cool to see all of them. I saw this as the first step in fulfilling the “everything is on the table” promise.
Now… this is both an easy and a hard book to recommend. I’d say it’s worth it for the art alone… there really is some amazing work in here. This issue, despite being part of the Convergence event, is quite different in tone than the rest of the series. What follows, in my opinion, does not live up to the expectations this issue set. I suppose I’ll just have to ride the fence on this one. I can’t, in good conscience, tell ya to rush out and grab this at $4.99 (or with whatever mark-up your local shop might give it once it’s bagged, boarded, and binned. Heck, even digitally… you’re looking at $3.99. If you come across this on the cheap… I’d tell ya not to hesitate. To sum up… this was a great issue, that unfortunately leads to a story that doesn’t quite live up to the expectations it set.
Where’s Where in the Convergence Universe: