Convergence coverConvergence is a story written in the language of decades’ worth of DC Comics publishing history. The main series, represented in this collected trade, and the tie-in stories collected in related “Convergence” trades, reference characters and story arcs that only superfans would recall as easily as the story does. Everything good about this book is a result of the reader having at least a fraction of the encyclopedic knowledge necessary to keep all of the names and versions of characters straight. Many of the characters in the main plot of this story come from, and return to, the Earth 2 series, so consider those five volumes, plus the two Earth 2: Worlds End trades, to be the backdrop of this whole event, although there are hints of Convergence’s existence in other DC series, such as Superman: Doomed and Futures End.

Perhaps the clearest through line of the event is the villain’s perspective: the sentient AI known as Brainiac has been scouring the universe, gathering cities as collectible specimens. In a metafictional turn of events, this instance of Brainiac has been a surviving constant throughout each of DC’s franchise-wide reboots, meaning it has collected cities from throughout DC’s history and stored them separately on a desert planet over which it retains total control. Brainiac has left a being named Telos in charge of looking over the cities in its absence, and Telos has determined that now is the time to pair the cities off in combat to prove their worth.

If this sounds at all like a giant toybox shaken out in front of kids who speak their own language, it very much is, and even the reference pages in the back will do little to explain who’s who and what their significance is to the story. For example, there are two Green Lantern characters, one of whom derives his powers from the planet itself and another the evil incarnation of Hal Jordan. For a brief moment, there are red and blue versions of Superman visible. There is a warlock named Deimos who wars with an apparently medieval king named The Warlordwhen Deimos kills The Warlord’s fellow warrior Machiste, or a lizard-man skewers The Warlord’s wife through the gut, there is little emotional impact beyond initial shock value. For the fans who can decipher all of the identities at play, the references and cameos amount to “oh look, it’s that person” moments, but they fail to build up to more than flittering tension. Even the Joker shows up just long enough to shoot someone in the spine“Remember The Killing Joke?” the book asks, before breaking the Joker’s neck and moving along.

The book is not without interesting moments, such as the Batmans of two worlds, Bruce and Thomas Wayne, meeting and probably having the conversation of a lifetime. I say “probably” because most of it happens out of frame. Several heroes, facing the opportunity to go back in time in DC’s history and change the course of events in Crisis On Infinite Earths, seem to do so successfully, leading to the survival of the Multiverse and all the iterations of DC’s characters familiar to readers (or not, as the reading list appendix may prove). Once again, though, the pivotal action isn’t in this wild goose chase of a book. The most reader-relevant revelation seems to be that Brainiac, as a self-aware fictional character, looks outward from the comics page and observes its audience. Can Brainiac see the confused faces looking back?

Convergence
by Jeff King, Scott Lobdell, and Dan Jurgens
Art by Carlo Pagulayan, Stephen Segovia, Andy Kubert, and Ethan Van Sciver
ISBN: 9781401256869
DC, 2015
Publisher Age Rating: N/A

  • Thomas

    | He/Him Teen Services Librarian, Richland Library

    Features Writer

    Thomas is a teen services librarian at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina. While studying for his MLIS at the University of South Carolina, he won an award from Thomas Cooper Library for his curation of the works of “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. He has spoken about manga, graphic novels, teen programming, and podcasting at NashiCon, DragonCon, ColaCon, New York Comic Con, and American Library Association conferences. He has been on on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels For Teens selection committee, written articles for Public Libraries, The Hub, Book Riot, and Library Trends, and reviews for School Library Journal and Kirkus.

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