Convergence: Superman 2

superman 2 conv

Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week.

As Supes fights off the Flashpoint versions of Shazam, Green Lantern, and Cyborg, Flashpoint’s Subject 1 spirits Lois Lane to the Batcave with the hope that Thomas Wayne can help Lois deliver her baby. The battle between Superman and the Flashpoint universe is a great showcase for pre-Flashpoint Superman. Like I mentioned earlier, frankly he was so overpowered by the time Flashpoint occurred that it was becoming increasingly hard to to write interesting stories for him. Luckily, since we’re only seeing him in a small dose, Jurgens doesn’t have to concern himself with narrative longevity and can just let loose. There are few images that made me happier this week than seeing Superman just kick Shazam to the curb without any effort.

Shazam

With the obligatory battle between worlds out of the way, Jurgens turns his focus to the meeting of Subject 1, Thomas Wayne, and Superman in the Batcave. The Flashpoint universe is pretty messed up, but Jurgens really uses the characters at his disposal well. Flashpoint Batman has a tortured origin, but unlike most of the other Flashpoint “heroes,” he’s no monster. Same with Flashpoint Kal-El. He’s broken, yes, but not malicious. So when Superman shows up to rescue Lois, there’s no need for a showdown between Superman and Flashpoint Batman. Thomas Wayne lost the most important thing to him when Bruce was gunned down in his universe, and while he doesn’t deliver Superman and Lois’ baby, in the birthing montage we do see him offer help and guidance.

Miracle of Birth

In yet another example of how basically useless the Convergence framing device is, we don’t really see the fallout from the actual Convergence event. Is the Flashpoint universe destroyed? Probably? But it doesn’t really matter. This is an opportunity for Jurgens to give Superman the ultimate happy ending, so I’m glad to see that none of the pages are wasted on tying up superfluous loose ends.

If this is the last we see of pre-Flashpoint Superman it’s the ending we all wanted for him. Happily ever after with Lois and their new son? Fine by me. How about you, Drew?

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Drew: It’s the ending Superman deserves, but not the one he needs right now? I’m totally with you on this being a great last hurrah for the character, but it’s almost heartbreaking how strongly Jurgens makes the case for this not being his final adventure. That happily ever after ending is incredibly satisfying, but it’s decidedly not where the issue starts. Indeed, the issue opens with the opposite of Superman’s optimism: Flashpoint Batman.

Flashpoint Batman

Never mind that he’s entirely dismissive of the convoluted set-up of Convergence (though I do love that); this image is composed to emphasize the tragedy that surrounds Thomas Wayne. It’s a feat to be more tragic a figure than Bruce Wayne, but Flashpoint Thomas Wayne is definitely it — his son murdered before him, his wife driven mad by the loss. His design — just different enough from the Batman we know and love — is enough to tell that story to those familiar with the character, but artist Norm Rapmund is able to get the whole story in the background for those who don’t; the picture of the conspicuously absent family, and the gun that destroyed them.

The point is, that’s a dark place to start an issue — or, at least, it’s a dark place for the pre-Flashpoint DCU. Murdered children are kind of par for the course in the New 52, which is why this opening so strongly evokes modern DC: Everything is grim, all of the heroes are fighting for some reason, and this is all part of some convoluted plot none of the characters can even pretend to care about. In just the first three pages, Jurgens cuts to the core of what differentiates the pre- and post-Flashpoint universes, cleverly centering it all around the Flashpoint universe itself.

Once all of that ugliness is established, though, Jurgens and Rapmund are quick to show us just how infectious Superman’s optimism can be. He wins over Abin Sur just by avoiding the fight, and Thomas by simply asking for help. Even Subject 1 just wants the best for Lois. Ultimately, though, it’s up to Superman to save the day, even if “save the day” this time happens to mean “deliver his baby in a bat-filled cave.”

He does that just fine — he is, Superman, after all — which leaves the last two pages to simply bask in the afterglow. Every single panel here is perfect: that they name the baby after both Jonathan Kent and Sam Lane, that Thomas imparts some knowing wisdom about protecting a son, even that they wrap the baby up in the cape. I’m particularly enamored with the closing splash page.

And baby makes three...

Accentuating the Rockwellian composition, Rapmund doubly frames the image, with a heavy black, then thinner white gutter, giving the page a decidedly “framed” feel. It freezes the moment in time, cementing the image in our minds as what may be the final adventure of pre-Flashpoint Superman.

But like I said, that optimism is infectious. Based on DC’s solicits, it’s clear that we won’t be returning to this life for Superman any time soon, but I can’t help but wonder if the DCnU will come out of this ordeal with a new place for these heroes — perhaps as a new Justice Society? I’m getting into the area of crazy conjecture, so it might be time for me to pack it in, but I can’t help but feel like this issue in particular demonstrated how much fertile ground pre-Flashpoint Superman (and all of his super-pals) still has. More importantly, it demonstrates how fun those stories are to read. This issue serves as a great reminder that things don’t need to be dark to be good.

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For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

2 comments on “Convergence: Superman 2

  1. There are so many wonderfully observed moments here – Mark posted my favorite: Superman dismissing Captain Thunder with a “we’re done here.” Everyone’s dismissive of Flashpoint!

  2. That last panel planted a big ol’ smile on my face that lasted me the rest of the day.

    I agree, Drew, that there are still plenty of good material to be had in the future pre-Flashpoint Superman canon. The fact that he has a family now should be a goldmine of poignant and rich storytelling options that could serve to only deepen the Supes mythos as it stands. Lemire did great work with Buddy Baker and his family in the new 52 Animal Man, so it shows that compelling narratives can result from a family unit and not serve as an impediment to stories at all (although I will wish for a happier future for Supes’ child(ren) than what Buddy got with his son).

    It’s been said to the point of nausea before, but it does bear repeating: Stories don’t have to be “grim-dark” to be good. Heck, a little bit of fun can go a long way towards making a narrative worthwhile to read–I’m looking at you, Convergence: Shazam, my other favorite Convergence tie-in. Between Con: Superman and Con; Shazam, I’d be happy to pretend that the other titles only exist in a parallel earth publication.

    (Please give Parker and Shaner the reigns to Shazam and the Marvel Family, DC! Let their work extend from their Convergence stuff if you have to!)

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