Written by Dan Jurgens and Jeff King
Art by Ethan Van Sciver and Marcelo Maiolo
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by DC Comics
Review by Pierce Lydon
'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
I have a hard time with zero issues. If they’re not supposed to be the true beginning, they’re a sort of false start, more of a declaration of concept than anything else. You don’t have to read a zero issue, right? And if it’s not essential to the story, then what’s the point? (The fact that the only #0 that I remember fondly is Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo Flash #0 proves it’s really the exception rather than the rule.) Case in point: Convergence #0. The hype machine for this series has been building for months, but Dan Jurgens, Jeff King and Ethan Van Sciver’s first glimpse of the story is baffling. It’s not wholly offensive, but its insular nature is an odd way to start an event that is meant to bring readers together and kick off a new era of DC Comics.
By now, you’ve likely parsed out that Brainiac is involved a big way in Convergence. Jurgens and King keep the focus solely on him and Superman for the duration of the issue. But Superman wandering aimlessly through the barren wastelands of an unfamiliar multiverse while Brainiac monologues at him isn’t the best usage of either character. If the issue is meant as a teaser, then it fails because if anything, I’m turned off to the concept that’s presented here. If the issue is meant to lay a foundation, then I suppose it does that, but the groundwork is shaky at best.
Brainiac says he wants to “eliminate [his] master’s mistake” which sounds a little bit like DC admitting (or the writers putting forward the idea) that the New 52 was not a complete success. But we kind of already knew this. Why else would the company be mining every era of its history in order to sell some comics? Surely, not just because Marvel is doing the same. Superman probably isn’t even the best character to use as a stand-in for a reader who has very little knowledge about what’s going on in this issue. It’s been a long time since most DC fans identified with Superman on that level, but it would be odd to pull off such a Brainiac-centric debut with anyone else. DC’s lack of nurturing a stable of relatable characters strikes again, and the insistence to fall back on their Trinity (which never seems to have a stable third piece, or oftentimes even a second piece) doesn’t allow for new characters to grow.
Ethan Van Sciver is still Ethan Van Sciver, though. He’s one of the most consistent artists working for DC these days, and he brings the gravitas necessary to make Convergence feel like a big deal. This is a wordy script though, and Van Sciver does his best to offer up varying shots and keep the book from feeling too talky. Thankfully, there are some moments that allow him to stretch out such as the M.C. Escher-esque double-page spread of Brainiac standing amid Metropolis about halfway through the issue. Van Sciver’s Brainiac design is terrifying, and the way he’s able to seamlessly represent so many different eras of the character is a treat. The action sequences in the script are very manufactured and awkward, but Van Sciver does his best with them. This issue is proof that even a confusingly dull script can be elevated by a good artist. If Convergence continues to look this good, it will garner plenty of readers based on those artistic merits alone.
But after months of build-up, Convergence presents little more than a confused Superman running around punching stuff asking “Why?” I can’t say that it’s the start I hoped for - maybe it’s not even a start at all. It feels like a haphazard attempt at Grant Morrison-esque meta-narrative, but without any of that writer’s trademarks. A lot of people are heading into Convergence because they are excited to see their favorite eras of DC Comics represented, (I’m not the only one stoked for ‘90s Superboy, right?) but this issue doesn’t really add to the hype at all. While an A-list artist elevates the book in terms of execution, at the end of the day, Convergence #0 is still a bizarre proof of concept that might actually fail entirely at setting up what comes next.