This summer, DC and Marvel are making big efforts to get new readers with fresh superhero stories of all genres. The summer crossover event is a familiar rite for the Big Two of the American comics industry. But where a crossover is usually the sort of thing that only makes a superhero setting more confusing for new readers, DC's Convergence and Marvel's Secret Wars are both promising to leave their setting more readable than it was when they started. By the end of the summer, we're going to have a whole host of brand new characters and comics, as well as the return of lots of old fan favorites in stories fit for new readers.
Why does this need explanation?
Because Convergence and Secret Wars are still fairly-to-completely confusing if you've been out of the loop for a while, and especially so if you're just looking to start. And it doesn't help that Marvel and DC's summer events are unusually similar this year. They both have an overarching story where characters from all sorts of different timelines and time periods of one superhero universe are brought into conflict with each other that will be followed up by a significant change in the status of the overall continuity and a line-wide reshuffling of which titles are published.
Nevertheless, there's some great stuff going on in the trenches of Convergence and Secret Wars, it just needs to be brought to light. We're going to start with Convergence for a simple reason: It kicks off first. This week, in fact! Marvel's Secret Wars won't begin in earnest until May, so we have a month to settle in to the rhythms of DC's event.
What is Convergence?
It's a story that's going to affect the entire DC Universe. It's also an old superhero standby: Put some characters in a jar (or a dome, or an island, or the same city street) and shake it until they fight.
Brainiac, one of Superman's most powerful foes, has collected bits and pieces of the DC Universe from various places, time periods and alternate timelines. He's got a lot of domes, is what I'm saying, but it seems like they are all under the control of "the planet incarnate," Telos. Telos is a brand new, unknown character whose name means "an ultimate end" in Greek and appears to have Brainiac's characteristic three-diode symbol on his chest. Telos' intentions are as yet unclear, except that he's brought down the walls that prevented Brainiac's different bits of the DC Universe from interacting with one another. Each of the domes have been trapped for a year of their time on a strange new world, and now their inhabitants are exploring what lies beyond their own setting.
But rather than the machinations of Brainiac and Telos in the main Convergence series, it's the adventures of the folks in those domes that's going to form the majority of the event. And it's the identity of those inhabitants that's been the most exciting news. Not unlike many comics fans themselves, Brainiac has amassed a collection that mixes some of the best parts of the DC Universe that were lost to continuity shakeups of the past with some crazy alternate universes as only comics can provide.
Under Brainiac's domes are bits of Gotham City from just before the New 52 began, from when Bruce Wayne had been paralyzed and his successor went half-crazy and from a universe where all heroes and villains are vampires. He's got bits of Metropolis from the Golden Age of superheroes in the 1950s, from an alternate Earth where familiar heroes are evil and villains are good and from a Metropolis populated by the middle-aged Silver Age heroes of Kingdom Come. He's got domes with the original Teen Titans, 90s Superboy, Parallax/Hal Jordan, the Flash Family and the Captain Marvel Family. He's got a dome where the Justice League is exactly the same but in an Old West setting, and one where everybody is a goofy anthropomorphic animal and Earth's greatest hero goes by Captain Carrot.
Okay, but what does Convergence mean for DC Comics releases for the next two months?
As you may have guessed by now, domes rule everything around Convergence. The bad news: Any DC titles you're currently reading are taking a break. The good news: No annoying tie-in issues.
- Starting next week, every DC Comics title is taking a two month break (except for the few based on a TV or video game series). The company itself will be spending those two months moving DC's main office from New York City to Burbank, California, to be closer to its parent company Warner Bros.
- In the place of their regular lineup, DC will be publishing 40 two-issue miniseries set in Brainiac's domes, with characters from time periods, timelines and places from all over the DC multiverse.
- Each two-issue series will focus on what happens to an individual or small group of characters when Braniac's domes come down and they confront whoever, or whatever, is on the other side.
Some books in Convergence represent a character's first appearance in the DC Universe since the New 52, and many of those characters' Convergence issues are being created by the folks who crafted the definitive versions of them in the first place. In some cases, these artists haven't worked with DC for years, but are back for Convergence. Greg Rucka is returning to Renee Montoya, Gail Simone is writing an Oracle story, Dan Jurgens will be writing a version of Superman from before the New 52 and Len Wein, creator of Swamp Thing, will get another go at the character.
And after April and May are over? We're getting a brand spanking new DC Comics lineup, where almost 50 percent of the books published in June will be brand new #1 issues, many aimed carefully at the new reader. In May every one of DC's June titles, new and old, will get a free eight-page story distributed in print and digitally, so that readers can get a sense of the book before they decide to buy.
But it's not June yet. We've got ten Wednesdays, 40 miniseries, 80 issues and 49 free stories to get through before then. So let's take a look at what issues are out today. Fortunately, this inaugural week of Convergence is simple.
Convergence Week One:
Where do worlds go when they die?
The Earthquakes felt round the Multiverse, Superman's lost days after "Doomed," the World's End — all these points will converge as the history of the DCU is spun from a new perspective, the perspective of a mad god and his arrogant child. The biggest story in DC history ties into literally every DC story ever told — and it all begins here.
Kingdom Come, Red Son, Wild West Justice League, Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew — all the worlds you remember can still be found on Telos. Everything matters. Every story matters.
Don't miss the start of DC's April/May 2015 event with this special issue!
Written by: Jeff King, Dan Jurgens
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver
Cover by: Ethan Van Sciver
This is the beginning of the nine issue series (numbered #0-8) that will tell the overarching story of Convergence with a new issue released every week (rather than every month). Do you need to read it in order to understand DC's numerous Convergence tie ins? Probably not.
Are you a big fan of Dan Jurgens (creator of Booster Gold, Doomsday and contributing writer/artist on many of DC's most famous storylines) or Ethan Van Sciver (long time collaborator with Green Lantern scribe Geoff Johns)? Do you like crazy cosmic superhero stories? Do you really need to know everything about DC canon? Then you should consider picking it up at your local comic shop (you can find one here), or at any digital comics retailer (like Comixology or DC Comics' own site).
But if you're just worried about not being able to appreciate any of Convergence's 40 mini-series, you probably don't need to grab it in order to enjoy, say, Convergence: The Atom #1 next week.
That's it! ... Until next time
Next week we'll dig into the real goings on of Convergence: our first set of those two-issue miniseries. Expect a lot of Batman characters, the Flash Family, and the eternal love of Superman and Lois Lane.