Breaking the multiverse isn’t a rarity when it comes to DC.
Time and time again, the publisher has gone through great lengths to clean house by eliminating universes or wiping the slate clean by creating a newer concise one. In 2011, DC put the multiverse through the ringer with Flashpoint, and when all was said and done, Superman was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, the Justice League was set in the past, and Wonder Woman was no longer made of clay. The New52 didn’t touch Batman or Green Lantern, but the new universe was a jumping-on point for new readers ready and willing to get onboard for the “beginning.”
Less than four years later, DC’s doing it again — a crisis that will shake the New52 so hard, it won’t be called the New52 anymore. One of the reasons DC’s dropping the moniker has to do with the incoming changes as the current multiverse does battle with the multiverses of the past to determine which incarnation will continue as the new universe’s respective heroes and villains.
When Superman’s whisked away from his normal time and space, he comes face to face with Brainiac. But this isn’t simply a version or an inferior aspect — this is Brainiac in his true form, a being who lives outside of the realm of the multiverses. Having seen Superman’s various incarnations throughout the multiverses, Brainiac put together a plan to infect him with the Doomed virus. And now that he’s captured his quarry, Brainiac leaves to bottle up one more of Superman’s “cities.”
After escaping Brainiac’s imprisonment, Supes wanders the desert and runs into the keeper of Brainiac’s cities — a version of Brainiac who’s also the living embodiment of a planet. The keeper shows Superman versions of Metropolis before wiping our hero’s memories and deciding it’s time to pit the various cities against each other to determine which will continue on.
Now, if you haven’t read the comic, go ahead and read the book. After you’re finished, let me know if I’m correct on my interpretation on the story because Convergence #0 is one big convoluted mess of an issue. It would have been one thing to have the scripts narrate every tiny bit and detail, leaving nothing to the art — here, we have an example of the opposite extreme: an unreliable narrative where even the characters themselves seem lost and babbling.
The keeper is the most problematic component. Being a version of Brainiac molded out of an existing planet and created to care for and sustain the “cities” that the master Brainiac bottles up, the keeper is something more than the other aspects yet something unknown to even himself. He knows something of Superman, but after giving Supes a real estate sort of tour of the other Metroplises (Metropoli?), he brushes off Blue and wipes away his memories, opting to create the battle royale to end all royales.
Like, the battle royale with cheese.
Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait for Convergence #1 to get to the good parts as Convergence #0 follows the path of the other New52 #0 books — it’s an origin sort of plot that alludes to what’s to come while containing nothing much in and of itself. Sure, we get to see Brainiac in his true form through Ethan Van Sciver’s art, and we meet planetoid-Brainiac in his multiple forms, but mentally trudging through Dan Jurgens and Jeff King’s scripts feels like an exercise akin to staring at one of those Magic Eye autostereograms. You might figure out what’s happening if you look at it long enough.
From the art’s point of view, things are much better on the line side. Van Sciver’s artwork goes for it with pages and panels that pull back and offer readers a view of the big picture. If the double-page spread of the deaths of Superman don’t get you excited for what’s to come, there’s an Inception-like mishmash of the Metropolis’s (Metropoliseses?) that will play with your brain. And while the art reaches high at points, there seems to be a few inconsistencies. When Superman traverses the desert, the linework starts to look very digital, and the coloring by Marcelo Maiolo gets pretty muddy. That and the articulation and expression seem a little off, and it made me check to make sure I didn’t miss a co-penciler in the credits.
Will a reader who skips this issue feel left out — probably not. While the issue is set up to kickstart Convergence, a synopsis would do far less damage in terms of cohesiveness and time spent. I wish this issue was much better in its pacing and scripting because there was a lot of missed opportunities. I think the mystery could have been kept without the characters spending the issue beating around a bush, and the development on the final pages would have gained a lot more with a lead-in that was far heavier and concerted.
Convergence will run weekly for two months while DC moves its offices from New York to Burbank, California. Even with the move, I know they’ll be keeping track of how the public receives the story.
So far, it’s off on the wrong foot.