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Subj: Convergence #1 - All Along the Watchtower.
Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 at 05:16:23 pm EDT (Viewed 971 times)
One of the modern problems with superhero comicbook readers like You and I is that having followed these genre books for a number of years the output begins to feel... how shall I put it... familiar.
There are arguably only so many plots in fiction, but in comics this point of supposition becomes something like fact where the pressures and demands of commercialism come to form direct and intense competition. DC Comics and Marvel Comics are the two biggest publishers of Comicbooks, both vieing for an increasingly limited audience and this war of attrition brings with it increasingly desperate measures, and not a little crassness either.
At its lowest point the intensity of this rivalry and the level of necessity piled on for a guaranteed sales success leads to such a level of fear (of failure) that the actual product stops being the domain of an editor and his Writer/Artist and becomes the work of a comittee.
I have no idea whether DCs latest big event storyline, Convergence, is an example of the former, but do feel certain that anything of Earth-2 in recent months is the work of 'many-hands', working from up above to direct the work-for-hire present on the book this month... all with the aim of generating the maximum publicity and with the book being the casualty as a result.
But I'm dancing around the subject at hand here aren't I? - Convergence.
Is Convergence even reviewable? That is my problem having read it over the weekend and knowing I should make a report either here, given the heavy Earth-2 content, or over on the DCU board. Convergence is a book that is aimed at a very specific audience, a theoretical audience consisting of flagging old generation DC Comics readers who have stuck with the company but may be feeling a loss of faith in its direction and output. It offers the promise that everything you remember about the DC Comics you read in times gone by still stands in some form, that it still matters. For in its simple basic terms Convergence is not really a series that honours or moves forward the ethos of the 'NEW 52' initiative in any way, shape, or form. No, rather it exists only to appeal to a niche. And rather than spend another 200 words telling you how poor, utterly derivitive, and exploitative it is as a book let us consider for a brief moment the barely disguised debt this latest Dan Didio production owes to its rival publishers latest big event storyline - Secret Wars.
No, not specifically the series initiated by Jonathan Hickman which is due to debut very shortly, but the original Secret Wars, back in 1984.
An omnipotent force and formless voice from above speaks down to the coralled, awed heroes below it about Judgement, worthiness, and survival of the fittest. A World, an arena, somewhere out there formed from a mosaic of kidnapped cities from across the Universe. An experiment from a cruel and indifferent God which may as well be called for what it is - bloodsport, with little hope for survival. The fate of the very cosmos hinges on the outcome, the heroes are powerless other than to play the game and hope for survival... Yes. Here then is the plot for Convergence.
Behind the magnificent cover from DC Comics' go-to-artist Ivan Reis lies glossy but frequently undisciplined artwork from Carlo Pagulayan. Pagulayan picks up where he left off in the just concluded World's End series by illustrating the heroes from Earth-2 as they arrive on the battle world and find themselves given an audience with its living sentience, in the form of the allpowerful Telos. While his figure-work for the book is generally good, his full page layouts are less so. Carlo Pagulayan's chief flaw is that in serial illustration like this artists have a duty to be storytellers in their own right, but Reading Convergence the reader is soon very aware of just how sparse the plot of the book is due to the loose page layouts diluting any chance for suspense to be generated and compounded by a gradual drift into full and double-page splash shots which sap any further depth and feeling from the event unfolding. If one were to break down this debut issues content by means of pagecount then Covergence #1 represents a very poor investment of the consumers money - a heavily padded out series of pages devoted to pointless exposition for what is merely a very basic idea rather than a deep faceted story with some studied character depth.
Convergence is as fine an example of Dan Didio's cyclical management style and vision for DC Comics as you are likely to find. Completely at odds with his previous grand direction for the publisher, squarely aimed for the niche fanbases of nostalgic oldtimers and fight-fan element, hideously oversaturated with an extraordinary level of largely forgotten cast and concepts from yesteryear. And in the end an unoriginal idea recycled from past successes. See Infinite Crisis debt to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and then consider Convergence's debt to the Secret Wars of the same era...
It is Jay Garrick who shows the most indignancy however, as the whining selfishness of newcomer Dick Grayson proves too much.
This scene should be important, it should resonate, yet it doesn't. The problem with it is partly one of the context it takes place in, but more crucially it is due to the artificial nature of Dick Grayson as a creation. Supposed war correspondent and Husband/Father Grayson's arrival into the Earth-2 narrative came amidst the carnage of Evil-Superman and the invasion of Apokolips. With wife Barbara quickly despatched Grayson's role in these events was purely as victim and onlooker, searching for his young son his story was the most forgettable element of Worlds End as it had nothing whatsoever to do with anything, and he had nothing to do with anyone that we, the readers, cared about. As a character he just was. Having now found himself unintentionally in the company of the heroes his appeal has not risen any further, as again there is simply nothing he adds to the main cast and nothing of any interest about him for the reader to ponder over. But as seen so well here the fundamental problem with him as a character is that he has nothing to add to the team in terms of either personality and strength of character and certianly nothing to add physically. He is shallowness personified. A cipher created by comittee...
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