The official announcement of DC’s Convergence this week brings to an end months of speculation about what (if anything) the rumored “fill-in event,” and replaces it with the beginning of months of speculation about what (and who) we’ll see in the nine-week long event. Somehow, I can’t work out if I’m actually excited or not.
Don’t get me wrong; in theory, I’m looking forward to Convergence. I’m that brand of DC fan who’s always liked the Multiverse concept, so the chance to see the pre-Crisis Earths 2 and 3 again (Look at the promo image — that’s definitely the original Crime Syndicate in there, and what looks like the original Justice Society of America and Infinity Inc., too) isn’t something that I’m going to complain about. Revisiting the 1990s revamps of the iconic characters — look, that’s Azrael Batman and Steel in there, as well — is something I’m looking forward to, as well, in a strange, queasy nostalgia kind of a way.
That said, there’s something about the sheer scale of it — eighty-nine comics over a two-month period! — that feels overwhelming and slightly off-putting, as a reader. I assume that everything outside of the main nine-issue series won’t be essential reading, because otherwise that’s asking too much of the reader in too short a time, let’s be honest (I can’t even imagine how retailers feel about the plan; it’s essentially the blind ordering of DC’s September stunt months for two months in a row, which feels unfortunate at best unless there’re returnability plans in the works).
And also, there’re a couple of things troubling about the concept as we know it already. One of those things is a simple scheduling issue: Convergence comes so soon after Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity that I worry that it’ll end up seeming like a retread or leftovers simply because of its timing, no matter the quality of the series (It is, however, nice to see that it’s apparently sticking to the map of the Multiverse that was unveiled to promote the Morrison series). The other is that there’s an unmistakable feeling of Countdown: Arena about what little we know to date.
You remember Countdown: Arena, don’t you? A four-part weekly spin-off of Countdown to Final Crisis that ran in 2007, Arena mashed up different versions of familiar DC characters from across the Multiverse, but did so in such a way that the characters were almost interchangeable and any sense of wonder that should have arisen from having three different Batmen together, for example, was ignored in favor of the battle board format of the series. It felt less like a celebration of the potential of the Multiverse as it was a chance to rush different incarnations of characters (back) into print as quickly as possible, just to ensure that readers knew about them.
(That Arena — and Countdown to Final Crisis in general — was also more subtractive than additive when it came to the Multiverse, killing off characters and destroying realities, was also a problem, and one that I really, really hope we don’t see in Convergence. I get it; when you have multiple worlds to tell stories about, laying waste to an entire reality to establish your threat is an amazingly attractive prospect. The problem is that you’ve then destroyed that reality for anyone who follows.)
My concern, I guess, is this: I like the idea of Convergence, but I don’t feel comfortable about it actually happening so soon, and so quickly. One of the reasons The Multiversity appeals is that it’s one comic a month, and all handled by one writer. Throwing, at a rough estimate, thirty-or-so writers at the idea and giving them two months to tell all of their stories? I get nervous.
Done right — and I know that’s not the Internet reaction to things, to look at a best case scenario — what Convergence could be is a couple of months of nostalgia, variety and rediscovery of the potential of forgotten characters (or, perhaps, forgotten takes on familiar faces). And if it’s not to my taste…? Well, judging by all the teasers Marvel has been pushing out for the last three weeks, if I wait a few months, I guess I’ll have the chance to see the House of Ideas’ take on the very same concept for comparison.