“I must not continuity. Continuity is the mind-killer. Continuity is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face continuity. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the continuity has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Legit Inuit proverb
Continuity is kind of like the ill-gotten heroin of your neighborhood junky. It’s the thing comics inject into themselves to bolster the appearance of importance and illusion of real meaning. I realize that for people who have poured their heart and soul into superhero comics, this is an unpopular opinion to have. It’s an opinion I developed, however, out of having poured my heart and soul into anything with an “X” on the cover during the 90’s. In fact, it was harsh realizations following attempted assimilation by the Phalanx, universe destroying by Xavier’s son, universe destroying at the hands of Onslaught, yet another sentinel extinction program at the hands of Bastion, and whatever crap Magneto was always up to that caused me to realize events were totally meaningless. It didn’t matter if it was Nightcrawler or Angel or Psylocke who died this time, the next event found a way to reset the clock every time. In an effort to imbue the stories with meaning, continuity had the opposite effect: by necessity, continuity must undo itself the sad truth of continuity is that it grinds everything to dust. The continuity of our lives – of M.A.S.H., of Mad Men, of Battlestar Galactica – is that true continuity has to have an end in sight, or at least a true end of something. This flies in the face of the ever-recursive nature of comics, however, that, for good or ill (probably more good than ill I’d say) there must be more X-Men comics; there must be more Superman; by god, there must be more of the goddamn Batman or we’ll all die of existential ennui.
That means the nature of comics continuity must be cyclical, like Hindu time. Which is fine, in theory: if we could all jointly agree that continuity serves a purpose (and that purpose is making the game go on for as long as it can), then it’s fine. However, that’s not the way the big two, especially DC, treats continuity. Especially with the ouroboros of Marvel movies and DC TV (I would totally watch a station called DC TV. But it can only be live feeds of Washington DC at all times) continuities. Continuity for DC is like a dangerous drug. Which Hawkman origin is the right one? Do we keep pretending red and blue Superman(s/en) wasn’t totally ridiculous? To what extent do we acknowledge it? What’s Brainiac’s true nature? Inconsistencies are the reason why DC started creating Crises in the first place. Dan Didio talks about it here. And it’s a shame; with their highly structured multiverse, it’s a perfect system for justifying or explaining any incongruences in the narratives. But the problem is which continuity do we care about? Sure there are fitty two of them, but anything beyond one Batman (maybe one Beyond flavor), a couple Robins, a dash of Nightwing and Red Hood for seasoning, and we stop caring.
Anyways – Convergence is DC saying, “We give up. You want your universes and your Blue Beetles and your Charlestons and your Fawcetts? Then go ahead.” It’s DC, in DiDio’s words, saying, “Y’know what guys? Ain’t give no f*cks about continuity,” but the fact that they do it with a continuity altering/establishing event makes it feel like their donking with us. “You know how we’ll prove to you that continuity doesn’t matter? By making it part of the continuity!” It’s either god-level trolling, or the least aware guy in the room talking about how he’d know it if he was oblivious. O rly, sir, do go on.
The rough outline for Convergence is that, like, Brainiac? (Or some guy named Telos? But that’s not his name?) kidnaps ALL OF THE MULTIVERSE and puts them in bubble containing their cities of choice. So there’s a bubble for the pre-Watchmen’d Charleston character’s version of New York; Mike Mignola’s steampunk style Gotham; pre-Crisis Metropolis… and every other iteration I didn’t mention and can’t possibly think of. All our heroes, all our bubbles because of reasons. Telos, er Brainiac, wants the heroes to fight so that he can have all the winners form the basis of a single continuous city. That bit seems almost like an unaware metaphor for this entire event.
And this is where DC events don’t hook me the same way Marvel events do. This is apparently an event piggy-backing on two other events: a continuous trickle of once-a-week comics-52-countdown style. So maybe (and I use italics because it’s doubtful) if you’d been following all of that, you’d care about the alternate JLA featured in Convergence.
The heroes are alternate versions of JLA regulars: we have Flash with some nice headgear, African-American Superman, Green Lantern that seems more like Swamp Thing, and a few others. I found it hard to care about them and understand why they should be the center of this book instead of the New 52 crowd that have been around for a few years. In general, I found parallel reality versions hard to care about unless they have very specific hooks to them, i.e. Morrison’s BuzzBat Lightyear from Multiversity, or the children of Batman and Superman. I never figured out if there was a reason to care about these specific versions of these characters, or why they were necessary. Again, maybe if I’d been reading the previous two or three events it’d all make sense, but I doubt it. In contrast, Final Crisis is fantastic whether or not you’d been loyally reading Superman.
They find Deimos – don’t worry if you don’t recognize that name, he’s had maybe three appearances in comics since his creation in the 70s – who they all instantly care about and, more baffling, whose name they know. I don’t know how. Or why.
Then, in the least necessary and most difficult to grasp double-cross in comic’s history, he stabs the team in the back and takes over the planet seductively teasing at the true identity of Telos.
Finally, with two issues left, the New 52 JLA shows up, and then there are events and then the book ends with the two best/worst panels of ever:
The first one is Telos telling us, the reader, and the heroes that, quite literally, everything that just happened is meaningless because it’s about to disappear. I understand this is the end of the story and they need a way to resolve it, but this gets right to the core of what I hate about event books: they end and nothing changes. This goes one step further by lining out that none of this mattered. At least with a Marvel event, you have three months of thinking Wolverine’s dead before there are 35 of him running around.
The second picture is a thumbs up granny. I know right now your brain is prolapsing on itself trying to comprehend that sentence in the context of a comic, but save yourself the herniated gray matter and let me just show you:
There’s at least 3 baffling things about this picture. 1. Who’s she giving this sign too? 2. Why is she looking at us while she’s doing it? 3. Is she having a stroke? Who’s supposed to be watching Grandma??
Overall, the core Convergence story was very disappointing. I know one of the biggest draws of event books are all the peripheral tie-in titles, and most fans (especially DC fans, it seems) prefer the peripheral titles to the central story, but this is probably the most lazily-conceived event book I have ever read. The art wasn’t bad, but at no point did it really stand out, the whole story felt muted, and generally it was hard to care about anything. I think maybe, and I mean *maybe*, if a person had been reading all the Earth 2 and Futures End lead up, this would have been a satisfying conclusion, but I’ve yet to talk to anyone who thought so.
Convergence seems like the absolute worst thing that can happen when continuity is put on such a pedestal. In the attempt to reconcile such irreconcilable difference, the entire universe becomes just a little uninteresting and rushed. The root of the problem, as is the root of almost all problems in the world (including strained relations with China, and whatever the hell it is ISIS is doing), is DC trying to be Marvel. Marvel’s lucky: they can do the unified continuity because they made all the continuity in house in the real world. DC is a patchwork quilt of failed comic companies and licensed characters, most of whom live in cities that aren’t even real. Marvel has purchased very few companies and licenses, and the ones they buy tend to stay relegated to their own universes or eventually get completely dissolved. DC acknowledging that for them to be successful, continuity must be a bit player would be a breath of mountain air, but the fact that the current comics climate mandates you make continuity mean less by making it a part of continuity feels self-defeating.
The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebookand The Joy of Cooking.
A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters
B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.
C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.
D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.
F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.
Pick of the Week:
Runlovekill #1 – A Rain Oshiro is just a girl trying to get out of the highly controlled city Prygat. Runlovekill feels like a more futuristic 1984. “The Origami” controls everything in Prygat, including information; they run the show. Rain has had enough and is looking for a way to get out of town, desperately, but things aren’t going to go the way she wants. The art is outstanding. It looks very much like Aeon Flux, but with more motion to everything. Runlovekill is an intriguing story over a fantastic sci-fi back-drop. I’m really looking forward to the next issue. – Scott
Archie vs. Predator #1 – B+
Oh no, you didn’t read that wrong; good old Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica take on the most dangerous hunter in the universe. The art is classic Archie style and the dialogue is perfect – nothing out of place from any other Archie comic. This one does come with a little twist over the traditional stuff though and that is the inclusion of freaking Predator. The gang wins a trip to a tropical island, Predator’s natural hunting ground. The snooty rich kids show up and are jerks, of course. Well, Predator doesn’t like jerks. After a rough day of infighting, the crew head back home and they don’t know they have an extra passenger. Let’s see how people handle an alien monster hunting down Riverdale’s residents. – Scott
Dark Horse Comics:
Shaper #2 – B Hooray!! Shaper is back this month. Ever since issue #1, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the next installment. This series is so solidly put together. Just check out this string of words: humans shape-shifting into dragons, spaceships, cowboy with lasers, disintegration, space-samurai-hunter-killer… I mean, come-on! You know you want to pick up a copy right now. And you should! The elements of the story are enough to make any nerd excitedly sweaty, but the story and plot is so excellently catered to these elements that we nerds run the risk of having that excite-sweat turn into full on pleasure-panic-attack. That’s a thing right? If not, it will be if Shaper continues to be this good! – Taylor
Convergence – Catwoman #1 – A I was freaking out the entire time I spent reading this. It’s like Stephen King meets DC Comics! And with Catwoman thrown in the mix? I knew I was in for a good time. I really appreciated that they showed before the dome went up, going about her usual, immoral business in the rich town of Metropolis. It makes the contrast of her robbing and her saving the day that much greater. I also LOVE that SHE was the hero they got. Catwoman— whose entire existence seems to reject the sparkling city— is the one who wound up with Metropolis citizens under her protection. As exposition-y as it came out, I loved the social commentary this concept is making – how humanity would pretty much right itself in the event of something like this, but power would always be the biggest currency. In a world where there’s nothing left for a cat burglar to steal, power and responsibility is all Catwoman has. I really hope she survives the coming war, but man, against Kingdom Come Batman (shown up in the sky on the last spread,) I just don’t know. – Charlotte
Convergence: Suicide Squad #1 – B Amanda Waller has put together a terrifying group of the Rogue’s Gallery, and with the Dome down, it’ll take a lot of power to take down any of the heroes, let alone all of them. The squad is first tasked with taking out Green Latern, whom in this world is more powerful than ever, having absorbed his ring. This time around, the Suicide Squad is adding in Bane, Deathstroke, Black Manta, and Lex Luthor. Luthor packs extra heat with a yellow ring. There’s going to be a big fight with a heavily armored, and fully powered Green Lantern very soon. I’m in. – Scott
Convergence – Aquaman #1 – C I haven’t read anything with Aquaman in it for a while. I also don’t really know what the whole Convergence storyline is about. So imagine my surprise when I see Aquaman swinging from rooftops with a harpoon-grappling hook that is actually his hand! What the hell happened?! Add to that, everyone in Metropolis is trapped under a magical dome (by some unknown person or group). Even with lack of prior context, I found myself enjoying the issue! I hate to say it, but I think the least interesting thing about this issue was Aquaman. The predicament of Metropolis and the numerous other superheroes trapped under the dome (and what’s about to happen next… no spoilers) is incredibly interesting. Aquaman as a focal character – less so, but don’t let that deter you! – Taylor
Convergence #2 – C-
Guys, I’m not sure what the deal with Convergence is. I understand its outline; Brainiac is abducting cities and forcing their occupants to battle — but I don’t quite get why I should care about how the alternate world Batman, Superman et. al struggle against it. Well, in basic comic book terms I get it: because they’re the good guys and Brainiac is the bad guy, but I don’t get why it matters in a larger literary sense, why it’s this iteration of these characters, what makes them worth caring about more than Earth 1’s iteration of these guys, why in a meta universe of hundreds of versions of the same characters are these specific versions the ones best equipped to save the rest. Especially when the glimpses we’re getting of the other multiverses seems maybe a little more compelling (I mean, the book opens up with an invasion of an alternate Earth by Darkseid and a planetary evacuation) than the tale we’re actually reading. The whole point of this book is Batman needing to locate a Gotham so that they can get some help. The climax is very spoiler-laden, but then it doesn’t really seem to amount to anything. Maybe later it will, but in this issue it seems like something that just… happens. Instead, the resolution is Flash finding Deimos. Also, what’s the deal with the four panels of Flash narration just to get a lame Superman pun? Not cool, Convergence, not cool. But, I do want to give a shout out to some of the alternate Earth teams I noticed: Stan Lee’s version of the DCU from his Just Imagine series fighting evil JLA cyborgs; Lex Luthor in his Superman armor from All-Star Superman fought conspicuously red and blue colored Supermans; and I think the other Batman is maybe Tim Burton’s Batman? Hard to tell, because the batmobile is definitely Nolan’s, but the suit looks like it’s from Batman Inc., and Alfred absolutely looks like Alfred from the original animated series. – Montgomery
Transformers #40 – A-
I have been so absurdly and ridiculously in love with Transformers since I was a kid. It’s one of the few loves that doesn’t seem to die out. I have entire twenty minute swaths of dialogue from the original 1986 animated movie memorized, but it’s been awhile since I picked up a TF comic. Not by design, but by… fate… I guess. So the whole Combiner War thing is mostly new to me. The Combiner War story continues (some of the finer points of which are lost on me since I haven’t kept up in awhile) with Prowl discovering Starscream (newly elected ruler of Cybertron, a nice commentary on the futility of politics) has stashed a secret spacebridge, and since no matter what, ain’t no one trust no Starscream, the only possible conclusion is that Starscream’s going to wreck some shit. Rattrap is still his sycophant, which always bothered me a little bit. I felt the inclusion of Beast Wars (which takes place a million years or so after G1) confused things a little bit, i.e. why is a robot who’s never visited Earth in the present timeline have an Earth rodent as his alternate? Plus, Beast Wars’ toys were profoundly not fun to play with. Anyway, two things I’ve always admired about IDW’s (and the now-defunct Dreamwave) take on the ‘formers is: 1. How respectable of a story they’ve managed to carve out of a franchise whose only blatantly purpose was, originally, to sell toys. Their stories are complex and the characters are well rounded, even when dealing with D listers that never had a scene in the original cartoon. And; 2. The art. Wow. The TF books is one of the few that has a rotating roster of artists, and all but one or two have the same quality. I can’t stand it when the primary artist on a book takes a break, and his stand-in produces mud. That almost never happens in a TF book. Anyways, God love the ‘formers. Nothing too profound happens, but good art and nostalgia. – Montgomery
The X-Files: Season 10 #23 – B+ We are getting dangerously close to the end of this Season 10 series before we receive a break and then start the Season 11 series leading into the new 6 episode mini series. With this last story arc, we see a grown up Gibson Praise leading a modern version of the syndicate and kidnapping his former friend Mulder for his ultimate plan. We also get little more insight into the crazy factory like place where the Cigarette Smoking Man’s clones are all kept and into why exactly there are so many clones of this one man. This story gives us a whole lot of nostalgia from the series as well as kind of taking those memories of a nice little Gibson Praise and destroying those memories right off the bat. Joe Harris has done an amazing job at writing this series and giving us X-Files fans a better story than whatever happened in Season 9. With only two issues left for this season, people batter latch onto, read and finish this series, as well to get an idea of the direction this new mini-series on Fox may have. – Jacob
October Faction #6 – B+
This time around the focus on the family aspect is what really made this book work. The “October Family” is comprised entirely of orphans, as we found out this issue and instead of killing Dante, or Robot Boy as I’ve been calling him, the welcomed into their clan. I loved that, I’ve felt bad for poor Robot Boy this whole time and it would have been sad to see him die. He is just a kid avenging his father’s death after all. I do wish they would shine more light on his backstory and who his father was and why Frederick killed him, but I’m sure that will come up later. I’m still pretty perplexed about what is going on with Opal and Cope, and whoever the hell their “Momma” is. I feel like if more details had come up I’d be more compelled by their story and actually fear what is to come, but for now it just feels kind of disconnected from the main action. The main plot still feels a little listless, but overall this is definitely still an enjoyable read. – Keriann
Tithe #1 – B Praise the lawd!!! And then take his money!!! That’s essentially the plot of the new Image series, Tithe. Actually there’s a bit more to it. It’s like cops and robbers, but with Jesus and computer hackers mixed in. As it starts out, a rouge band of tech-savvy thieves, known as “The Samaritans,” infiltrates the secret money safe of a wildly popular Church. The Church has been less than honest about what all the generous donations and collections are spent on – like the pastor’s Mercedes (say whaaat?!). The Samaritans, however, do know. And more than just making out with big stacks of dough, they make sure the all the faithful believers are aware of the truth. And they blow up the Mercedes. Hashtag – Jesus whip explosion. Tithe looks like it’ll be a really good “the people” vs. “the man” type of story. Definitely worth checking out! – Taylor
Shutter #11 – B
Even if I couldn’t enjoy this story’s unraveling twists and turns, I feel safe knowing that Leila del Duca’s ridiculously fantastical and refreshingly unique art will carry the story for me. Thankfully, I can follow this story, and I want more!In one of the best parts of the series so far, Alarm Cat reflects on his existence and finally gives himself a name. Meanwhile, Kate and her half-sister are on an adventure to… well it’s just an adventure! Okay, so I don’t really understand what is going on, but I still enjoy the hell out of it. – Sherif
Chrononauts #2 – C+ Dicks with time machines. Mark Millar is excellent at writing completely unlikeable characters. Chrononauts appears to be about two guys with utterly no regard for damaging the timeline of the entire planet. Basically, if the douchiest two frat guys you ever knew solely used time machines to slip through time having sex with every famous woman they could and disrupted every part of history you could think of. They are pissing off everyone around them too, not just the reader. The plus side to Chrononauts is Sean Gordon Murphy’s artwork, it’s absolutely fantastic. – Scott
68: Bad Sign (One Shot) – F Boo! BOO! This is not one I would recommend to anyone, outside of maybe Steven Segal movie lovers. The dialogue was unbearable, the characters were morns and the only female was nothing more than a glorified sex object. Case in point, she has sex with her partner because “hey, why not?” and then requires his entire protection every time they go out in the field. The whole execution of the idea felt flawed from the get go. The action takes place during the zombie apocalypse which has basically nothing to do with the plot action. Instead it’s the only cops still in action in America investigating and finding a super fucked up serial killer with origins a la Red Dragon and Psycho (aka nothing original) who’s killing women. No offense, but aren’t there bigger concerns for the cops to deal with during the zombie apocalypse? Like yeah this guy is killing a few women, but zombies are kind of killing EVERYONE. The idea is unique, and could have been a good read but the manner in which it played out made this one a total miss. – Keriann
Loki: Agent of Asgard #13 – A- This is the first issue of this series that I’ve liked in a long time. They’ve really cut the melodramatic “woe-is-Loki” crap. Finally, he’s taking matters into his own hands instead of wallowing over himself. While nothing is certain, it seems like Loki is more or less over his whole redemption thing, but he’s also over the whole “I’m-evil-and-I-can’t-escape-it” thing. Instead, he’s decided to change things around and be the “God of Stories” – much better ring to it. It also leaves things up to ambiguity, which is what I’ve always liked best about his character. His morals aren’t stagnant, and his motivations change. His main concern is looking out for himself, but he’s also not totally heartless either. It seems like the new Loki that we’re going to be seeing in the next issue is going to be more of the morally ambiguous nature, which I was missing in the previous issues. I like it when it’s emotionally messy, which hasn’t been done— or at least done well— until now. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new God of Stories Loki develops. He’s got a look in his eye that gives me hope for this comic yet. – Charlotte
Deathlok #7 – B+ The way this comic deals with free will and what effects outside sources have on it is amazing. This does an excellent job of showing the parallels between the mysterious Biotek organization and S.H.I.E.L.D. Both agencies are using the two Deathlok program individuals to get what they want. Both agencies are forcing the other’s hand and in essence, taking away their free will. The two men have no choice but to do what the separate organizations want. Not really. It’s nice to finally see Henry breaking away from the company trying to control him. He first tries to do it by killing himself in front of a truck, showing just how desperate he is to have his own will back. Then, when his daughter is put in danger, he goes charging back to headquarters, vowing to “rip your arms off before you touch her.” Henry’s fatherhood is what draws the whole story and it’s incredibly strong. I can’t wait to see what happens next issue when Seraph and Henry go head to head. – Charlotte
Ms. Marvel #14 – B+
It’s been a while since I’ve read Ms. Marvel, which is a shame since I loved it so much when it came out. I guess the Inhuman element lost my interest for a bit. Well, I have some catching up to do because it’s still the amazing series it was a year ago. The link between real issues and their superhero translations is still very strong, now being focused on Kamala’s crush on Kamran. There’s even some REAL talk when Bruno spills his guts to Aamir about being in love with Kamala. I love this book and I’m willing to overlook the Inhuman aspect to enjoy reading it again. – Sherif
Thor #7 – B Who is this new Thor and what is her connection to the original Thor? We may not find out this issue, but it does give us a look into Roz Solomon before the new Thor became Thor and it sets it up for us to believe she may be Thor now, but nothing definitive is given until next issue. In this issue we do get the story with Roz and how even she is affected by the loss of the original Odinson Thor and how her small crush on him actually meant a lot more than just a crush. In the present time though Thor is in a battle with the Destroyer sent by Odin and getting the snot beat out of her. A third story happens as well where the Odinson Thor and his mother Freyja collect a bunch of Marvel’s best heroines to come and help with the Destroyer and I am sure it also was to dwindle down who the new Thor could be for Odinson and his mother. The creative team for this issue is the same as #6 with Jason Aaron on the writing spectrum and Russell Dauterman as the artist. Both men work together spectacularly and give us one of my personal favorite Thor stories for awhile. The story has been a little dragged on as every month we are led to believe we will know who Thor is, but besides that gimmick this has been an outstanding series and very much worth your time going into Secret Wars as this Thor will likely play a huge role in what happens in that event. – Jacob
Uncanny X-Men #33 – B-
Now that the awful Black Vortex arc is over, I can enjoy the best X-Men title on the stands. Or can I? The crisp art that I used to know is gone, replaced by Kris Anka’s (Wolverines) awkward faces. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great art (especially the scenery he paints), but the faces aren’t recognizable to me; it’s more of an issue of consistency than skill. Anyway, the real selling point in the issue is the banter between an estranged Kitty and Illyana. They play off each other so well. This new mutant is full of surprises, which means I’m ready to get excited about Uncanny again. – Sherif
Panel with the Most Awesomeness:
That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!
All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to all the publishers for putting out great books.