By Jarrod Jones. Holy, what th’ — ? A zero issue, huh? Hey, I want the nineties to be back just as much as the next person — if for nothing else than to have this be a thing again — but starting a book off at #0 feels a bit… antiquated, doesn’t it? Much like giving a character thought balloons, or making some poor, arthritic fella letter a superhero comic by hand, tossing a #0 on the cover does little else than to age a book considerably. Or squeeze an extra buck out of an event.
Of course, I’m just kidding. Zero issues aren’t all that rare, and DC has been all about the #0 since Dan Jurgens damn near evaporated their much-beloved Post-Crisis canon in Zero Hour way back in 1994. (That’s Pre-Flashpoint for all you kids late to the game. And, if that’s the case, bear with me. Things are about to get reeeally dorky.) All the savvy comics publishers caught on too, and before long the #0 gimmick spread like wildfire: Wizard Magazine (oof, remember them?) began giving away #0 tie-in issues to major books from the likes of DC, Marvel, and Image, and the Big Three chose to kick off certain brand new series with the ol’ goose egg. (Marvel’s still in the practice, and they’re unveiling Uncanny Inhumans with a #0 this week.)
But the #0 always belonged to DC Comics. Hell, they probably could have secured a patent on it with all the #0s they’ve tossed our way in the years since. (They even dragged the numerical ploy into the New52 on September of 2012 with Zero Month, where every existing book paused to look at the days before their respective issue #1s, and even Futures End saw its genesis with #0.) So it’s really no huge surprise that DC’s next overhaul of their multi/universe, Convergence, would start with a prologue issue. Like Zero Hour before it, Convergence looks to provide a soft reboot of their entire line, and the presence of that #0 shows all of us — especially highly critical DC die-hards like myself — that the publisher is paying homage to its past, while keeping its eye fixed on the future.
That should give any long-time DC reader either reassurance or pause, especially when Convergence #0 has the guiding hand of Dan Jurgens — the man who not only killed Superman, but gave us Zero Hour as well — leading the way alongside co-writer Jeff King, the man taking the reins of Convergence all the way to issue #8, towards the beginning of a bonafide new(ish) DC Universe. Whatever your opinions are concerning Jurgens’ career, or DC editorial’s choice to throw an untested writer at their biggest event since Flashpoint, any and all prejudices will come to the forefront of your experience with this book. And as far as opening salvos go, issue #0 leaves behind more questions in its wake than it does answers.
That might have something to do with its scope. Narratively, it makes perfect sense to place the events of Convergence #0 in the sixty days Superman lost following his own super-saga, Doomed. That gives attentive readers a chance to catch up with both that tale’s villain, Brainiac, and whatever he’s been up to since the Green One got himself tossed into a black hole along with the Man of Steel all those months ago.
But since we’re talking timelines here, that means — in the months following Superman’s return to Earth-0 — Kal-El’s creative team has been twiddling their thumbs instead of slowly building towards this book (which would have made this moment matter more), or worse, they suffered the same ignorance as the Metropolis Marvel. (Once the book’s at an end, we’re given a rather convenient — and predictable — reason as to why Superman wasn’t more proactive once he came home.) Since we all know that the former wasn’t the case, the book would have been better utilized in weaving a wider tapestry within the DCU instead of focusing on Superman’s beef with Brainiac. What we have instead is yet another epilogue to Doomed with yet another tease towards Convergence.
And at whopping five dollar price tag, that’s excusing quite a bit. Especially since this purportedly “crucial” book does so little to further the intrigue of what’s to come. The stakes of Convergence never resonate within this book; sure, we’re told what’s around the corner, and we even get to take a peek into what kind of playing field this event will be dabbling in, but this isn’t a story that wants to delve too deeply into any of that. It merely satisfies the nagging question as to how much time Superman needs to grow himself a beard.
What we get instead is a virtual non-starter, a Superman comic disguised as a DCU event book that finds the hero fighting a fruitless battle with cosmic reason. (Often the hero is seen tossing his head back in exasperation — “Where am I“, “How did I get here“, and “Why am I here” are among many other shrill and ineffective protests.) What aggravates the most is that after thirty pages of story-building lecture, we’re only really one page closer to the “biggest story in DC history.” (Hint: It’s at the very end.)
So why start us off with a prologue book at all? This is all material fit for a toss-away Superman annual, and it would have been a fine one at that. There’s nothing wrong with Ethan van Sciver’s artwork (in fact, it’s his strongest I’ve seen since Flash: Rebirth), and it’s always nice to see Jurgens’ name attached to a Superman story. But the fact that DC felt it necessary to provide this additional narrative padding under the banner of their latest reboot brings up another dilemma.
For all of Dan DiDio’s trumpeting, the truth about Convergence is that it isn’t really for aspiring new readers. It’s an event meant for the old dogs, the people who will need the most coaxing in order to feel confident about the next era of DC Comics. And that’s fine. But the events of this issue offer little in that respect; instead it only adds to the nagging feeling that Convergence just might be the cynical rush job a lot of folks fear it will be. DC is going to toe the line between commerce and art for the next two months (because Burbank is calling) by attempting to make everybody happy, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t succeed. But nothing is more condescending to a faithful reader — especially those that said goodbye to characters they loved years ago — than to tell them, “Well, here. Now everything matters.”
Written by Dan Jurgens and Jeff King.
Art by Ethan van Sciver.
Colored by Marcelo Maiolo.
5 out of 10