Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Convergence #0

Time for some repressed memories, Superman!

I have a confession to make: I'm not a very good comic book fan. I read how angry and disappointed fans have been of DC Comics and their New 52 and I realize that I don't share their passion for these characters. I can point out how horribly a character is currently being written and can generally point out where the writer has failed, but I definitely don't have the passion to declare that the character is forever ruined and that only one specific writer can ever do justice to that character. Perhaps it's just my age. I've been around since Crisis on Infinite Earths so I know how these things work. People fall in love with the first version of the character they read. And then things inevitably change because writers change and editors have stupid ideas but mostly just because comic books aren't about telling stories about characters whose lives will finally culminate in an ending that gives justice to their origin and their middle adventures. Comic books are about characters in stasis. They, generally, have a solid beginning and then that's about it for them. The rest of their stories are based on and around that origin. Batman continues to do what he does because he saw his parents murdered in an alley. Peter Parker does what he does because he failed his Uncle Ben. Superman does what is right because his parents were overly nice farmers without a hateful bone in their bodies.

Man, just think if Ma and Pa Kent had been racist! Sorry, I'm digressing! Back to the point!

The main reason I can't be completely passionate about comic books and their characters is because they are not living any kind of typical arc you find in literature. Their story will never have an ending. There will be no lesson learned, no happily ever after, no return home after a lengthy journey. It is all simply journey and journey and more journey. And because of this lack of ending, their middle parts (which is everything in comic books) can only play off of where they've been with just a hint of a shadow of where their current (and current (and current)) actions may eventually lead them. Nothing is ever going to be wrapped up in a nice little bow so every character will eventually disappoint their fans. Maybe it will be because the writer doesn't understand the character's basic motivations that have been in existence for over fifty years. Perhaps the problem will be that the writer has just simply come up with an idea that doesn't quite work. Although a lot of the time, a writer just sucks fucking balls. Sometimes a company needs to find a way to modernize their heroes. Or they pull something like The New 52. It's all pretty much the same thing. Comic book characters stay the same age but times change around them. Finding a way to keep them relevant while staying loyal to their roots is something with which comic book companies must continuously struggle. And no matter what they do, a passionate fan base is going to be angry with them.

I'm not a good fan because I, apparently, look forward to the big changes instead of being angry that my familiar world has been rent asunder (with the exception of making Amanda Waller a deadly fighter and skinny. Fuck that shit, assholes!). I first really got into comic books when I heard about Crisis on Infinite Earths. Big changes and exciting times. I then eventually left comics for about eight years before returning for The New 52. Taking a chance like this was an exciting idea. And, of course, it was a gimmick. But the only people still complaining about comic book gimmicks are probably people new to the fandom. Gimmicks are a staple. Death and resurrection is a staple. New writers and artists and attempted (often aborted) retcons to add excitement to old characters is a staple. Change is a fucking staple of this industry. If you can't handle constant change, you should probably not be a comic book fan (or a Star Wars fan!). You should probably read Lord of the Rings because that isn't changing at all. Although I guess those fans have had quite a time bitching about the movies, amirite?!

And now Convergence. Whatever the hell this is, I know one thing about it! It's change in a big way. Maybe. Oh, how the fuck should I know? I don't read solicits or interviews so the only thing I really know about this series is that DC is moving to the West Coast (change!) and so they needed time to recover and to slap a new face on The New 52 (change!). And it all starts here with Superman and Brainiac and a shared moment in a black hole a few months back.

Technically, Brainiac, "universe" and "timeline" are synonyms for the same thing. And when I said "Brainiac" I wasn't calling him by name. That was an insult!

Brainiac lets Superman know that this has all been a test. Vril Dox (who was just an extension of this Brainiac) wanted to "break Superman's famous resolve" by getting Superman to kill him. It apparently worked although Superman is shocked to hear that he killed somebody. I mean, sure, he killed Doomsday just before Vril Dox came to Earth but does that really count? And even if Superman did kill Vril Dox, didn't Brainiac just point out that every Brainiac is just an extension of Outside of Time and Space Brainiac? So nobody was really killed by Superman at all, right?

Obviously I mean besides Doomsday.

Judging by Superman's sudden five o'clock shadow and that he's now chained to a huge machine, I take it Superman passed out from the shock of hearing he killed somebody. Brainiac continues to explain his reasons for luring Superman into his black hole. He's simply a huge fan, and a bit of a stalker, and pretty decent voyeur. He has watched every Superman in every timeline across the vast, infinite multiverse and he's reached a conclusion: Superman loves to sacrifice himself for other people. But he never seems to do it when Brainiac is the antagonist. So I think Brainiac is a little bit butthurt. But he's going to change that this time! Or all times? Or this no time?

Brainiac leaves Superman chained up while he goes to pay Superman's universe a visit (or all of Superman's universes. Convergence!). But Superman, being, you know, super, escapes! Although he doesn't have any clue where he might be. He did fly into a black hole recently.

Ugh, Superman! You didn't see that water before because it's that stranger's urine!

Superman catches up to the mysterious figure. It turns out to be...surprise!...Brainiac! It's the green one with the ineffectual hairnet on top of his bald head. The one with the speedo and the knee-high white Go-Go boots and the riveted belt and the pink shirt with the preppy collar? He's shocked to discover that Superman escaped his master and says, "In every timeline, it always ends with you." Instead of Superman saying "What does that mean?! What are you talking about?! Give me some answers!", he says, "He was heading for my city, my Earth. I need you to take me there." He doesn't even punch him in the face or break any of his bones. Has he learned nothing from Batman?

Since Dan Jurgens is co-writing this story, I wonder if there will be a nuclear threat by a communistic state?

Superman points out that he'd like to go back to Metropolis. That's when Brainiac turns into full robot body Brainiac. You know the one! The one with the Power Action Computer Kick! Robot Brainiac is all, "Metropolis? You want a Metropolis? I got a ton of Metropolises! Pick a Metropolis! Any Metropolis!" And Superman is all, "Do you have the one from Superman XXX? I want to go to that one please."

Next, Superman meets this Brainiac that I don't remember so I'm not going to describe him to you:

Well, he beat him up and helped trick him into a uSphere, I think. Or he stopped him during that trouble with Vyndktvx.

Finally Superman remembers the lessons he learned from Batman and he punches Brainiac in the jaw. That should change Brainiac's attitude!

Actually, Brainiac doesn't even notice. I guess it's like when I punch my computer for being too slow. It just keeps right on being slow and may even get slower due to the damage from the punch. But it doesn't know I've punched it at all! Stop making me feel so impotent, computer!

Brainiac sticks his finger in Superman's USB port and downloads some information. Damn. That sentence just made me horny.

Brainiac points out that this planet had all the right conditions to become Mega-Brainiac's trophy rack. It just needed a few alterations, a paint job, and a new spot along a different wall.

Does it really explain his parlor tricks, Superman? Really?

Brainiac decides to show Superman all of the cities he cares for and Superman gets upset for some reason. He screams, "You're running a zoo!", and then punches Brainiac. Why did that deserve a punch? He's running a conservationist zoo! He already explained that these were cities on the brink of destruction saved by Mega-Brainiac! Superman would rather all of these people died? I don't know why I asked that. Of course he would! Live free or die, right Superman!?

There it is.

I've never been so proud of Superman than at this moment! He's never embodied "The American Way" better! "Do it my way or I'll destroy you!" So proud!

Conveniently, Superman is sent packing by Brainiac in a way that will erase his memory of this place. But only for a certain amount of time! When Planet Brainiac wants him to remember, he will. And then he can come back and have lots and lots of Convergent Adventures with his new friends, The Brainiacs.

After Superman is gone, The Brainiacs merge into Futures End Symbol Brainiac with Penis Forearms. He declares that one of his Master's experiments was a failure (The New 52 Earth-Main-Earth? Or maybe just Earth-2?) and, as such, he needs to fix things. So he's going to make all of the cities fight for their survival. For some reason. Look, I don't think it's totally clear why this Brainiac has suddenly decided that some of the cities in his collection need to be set free. I guess Superman convinced him with his strong logic and stronger punches? Anyway, it's time for DC Multiverse Thunderdome! Two universes enter; one universe leaves!

Next time on Convergence: More stuff happens which I won't be ranking in any appreciable form! I'm just going to point out stuff that I find funny and write enough of a synopsis of each issue so that I can reread it from week to week to remember what's happening before I read the new issues. And I'll probably totally ignore the art.

The end of the issue has a listing of 41 different DC Comic books whose worlds will appear in Convergence. My quick pick for favorite world appearing in Convergence is New York City, Angor, with The Extremists. I'm also interested in WildC.A.T.s but only if it's drawn the way Jim Lee drew it back then. So awful.

Thoughts From My Reviewer Pants: The story being set up is pretty much what I thought it was going to be and begins exactly where I started to wonder what was going on with all of the Pre-Flashpoint images appearing in Doomed. At the time, I surmised that there was a greater Brainiac that didn't just collect worlds but universes. And that's pretty much what's been set up here. Using Superman's experience while he was away in the black hole to set it up fits nicely with the little bit of story that has been established so far. As for the motivation of Planet Brainiac? I reread the ending and I'm unclear as to why he's making the cities fight now. Maybe because his Master hasn't returned and the ultimate plan was to see which cities were "worthy"? Or maybe Superman convinced him that the ones that deserve it should be set free? In the end, I don't really care about the motivation because MULTIVERSE THUNDERDOME BITCHES!

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