Convergence Round-Up: Week Eight

convergence roundup 8

Today, Michael leads a discussion about Convergence 8, Action Comics 2, Blue Beetle 2, Booster Gold 2, Crime Syndicate 2, Detective Comics 2, Infinity Inc. 2, Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters 2 and World’s Finest 2.

convergence divMichael: When’s the last time you read a true finale from Marvel or DC? I’m talking final word, last story, completion of a hero’s journey, close-the-book-on-it ending. I could probably only count a handful of those types of finales in the past couple of years; maybe. Like any analysis of the Big Two, it can be seen in two ways: cynically or inspiringly. Cynically, there will never be a “final story.” The Coca-Cola and Pepsi of comic books always leave a door open for potential future stories because they want your money. Inspiringly, we are witnessing the sagas of modern mythology: endless heroic epics. These stories will never come to a true end because their legend continues and the heroes never say die. It can be impossibly cheesy, but the end caption “Never the end” always clutches at my heart strings. After eight weeks, 41 books and 89 issues Convergence has finally met its end. I think there is a strong argument for the inspiring read of “Never the End” present in most of these finales. Conversely, Convergence been criticized as a sales stunt, so the more cynical finale read is just as viable. Two months later what have we learned? For one, nostalgia can be expensive. Continue reading

Convergence: Swamp Thing 1

Alternating Currents: Swamp Thing 1: Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

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Drew: When Steve Carell left The Office, series writer BJ Novak tweeted a series of Michael Scott story ideas that would never be told. Some of those pitches seemed hilarious, but what actually stuck with me about them is that the opportunity to make them had simply stopped. They couldn’t ever become episodes of The Office because Michael Scott was no longer on the show. That kind of context-specific storytelling is constantly turning over in comics, where the monthly grind of continuity requires that no one situation can last too long. You’ve got a great Superior Spider-Man pitch? You’ve missed the boat. A Dick-as-Batman idea? Not gonna happen. A JSA arc? Too late. Convergence has offered one last hurrah for characters from very specific moments in their history, but that “one last hurrah” has often felt more like a eulogy than a celebration. With Convergence: Swamp Thing 1, Len Wein and Kelley Jones take that sense of mourning a step further, as Pre-Crisis Swamp Thing barely clings to life. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 6

ozymandias 6 B4WToday, Michael and Shelby are discussing Ozymandias 6, originally released March 13th, 2013. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Michael: What you don’t show is as important as what you do show. If a story is told well, you can thankfully take this writerly aphorism for granted. We’re free to focus on what we are shown, because it’s gripping and we care about these moments over others. The rest — the implied events — blends into the background. It might be important. It might be necessary we know about it, but it isn’t right in front of us, on the page, and that’s OK. Unless that story is Before Watchman: Ozymandias 6, then it’s not OK. Every grinding gear of a story must be on display. It’s my own fault. I crave the supplemental information and shifts in perspective — I’m just upset when it doesn’t work out.

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Before Watchmen – Dollar Bill

Alternating Currents: Dollar Bill, Drew and ScottToday, Drew and Scott are discussing Dollar Bill, originally released January 30th, 2013. Dollar Bill is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Drew: Before Watchmen: Minutemen was good. It helped that it was one of the least explicitly fleshed-out corners of the Wathcmen universe, but much credit belongs to the unblinking moral greyness Darwyne Cooke imparted to the series. His warts-and-all approach stayed true to the spirit of the original series, but blended it with the sheen of reverence we hold for our golden-age heroes. He gave us compelling takes on many of the Minutemen, most notably Nite Owl, Mothman, and the Silhouette, creating fully-formed characters from the brief snapshots we see in Watchmen. Minutemen didn’t bother much to explore much of Dollar Bill’s back-story, which is unfortunately the only similarity Dollar Bill has to that series. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 5

ozymandias 5 B4WToday, Patrick and Michael are discussing Ozymandias 5, originally released January 30th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: In a sequence that perfectly epitomizes how I feel about the Ozymandias mini-series, Adrian Veidt holds a press conference as his alter ego. He removes the mask and the costume, revealing to the assembled reporters that Ozymandias and Adrian Veidt are one and the same. He says that all non-Doctor-Manhattan heroes have effectively become irrelevant — a sentiment echoed at one point or another by just about everyone in the Watchmen universe. Vedit can accomplish more good as the head of Vedit Industries, which prompts one reporter to ask “So, this is all about the money?” Never mind that this isn’t at all what Vedit was saying, he addresses the question head-on, bluntly saying “In this end… isn’t everything?” That reads as a rather cynical explanation for Before Watchmen, but interestingly, Veidt can’t keep his word about staying out of costume, donning the cape again to fight petty crime during the police strike. The message? It’s all about money… except when superheroes are involved: then it’s about something else.

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Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 4

ozymandias4B4WToday, Drew and Mogo are discussing Ozymandias 4, originally released November 28th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Drew: I don’t envy Len Wein. The thought of writing a prequel to one of the greatest comic books of all time is daunting enough, but Wein faces the additional task of writing the thoughts of the smartest man on the planet. Super-intelligent characters like Sherlock Holmes are difficult to write realistically — the writer has to come up with problems whose solutions aren’t already apparent to the supporting cast and audience — but Adrian Veidt is an order of magnitude more difficult. This is someone who predicted the end of the world, then devoted years to realize a convoluted plan to divert it. Anything shy of that level of planning and premonition is going to feel like a letdown, and unfortunately, that’s exactly what we get inOzymandias 4. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 3

Alternating Currents: Ozymandias 3, Drew and Shelby B4WToday, Drew and Shelby are discussing Ozymandias 3, originally released September 26th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Drew: Part of what made me so resistant to the idea of a Watchmen prequel series is my immense respect for the  original series. Not that it was a sacred cow — though, arguably, it is — but that anything that failed to meet that very high level of respect for the material would feel inherently disrespectful. I understood that maintaining that level of respect would be incredibly burdensome to creators, narrowing narrative possibilities to a knife’s edge. To my surprise, many titles have not only matched my respect for Watchmen, but have exceeded what I thought would be possible while doing so. Other titles have not fared as well, failing to justify their own existence, or — worse yet — failing to hold the source material in the proper esteem. Ozymandias has managed two issues without falling firmly into either category, and while issue 3 falters a bit, I’m still unsure if it is a success or a failure. Continue reading

Before Watchmen – Curse of the Crimson Corsair 7-13

Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Curse of the Crimson Corsair 7-13, originally released July 18th (in Silk Spectre 2), July 25th (in Comedian 2), August 1st (in Nite Owl 2), August 8th (in Ozymandias 2), August 15th (in Rorschach 1) August 22nd (in Dr. Manhattan 1) and August 29th, 2012 (in Minutemen 3). It is also available for free on DC’s Source Blog. Curse of the Crimson Corsair is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Peter: The question of ‘Why?’ has come up a lot with the Before Watchmen project. The biggest why has got to be around the Crimson Corsair story. The Crimson Corsair is really the oddest duck in the brace of ducks that is Before Watchmen. Unlike the Tales of the Black Freighter, it plays no real role in the storyline as a whole, which is a loss connection anyway, but also it just doesn’t flow like the Black Freighter did. It’s just gets 2 pages stuck on the end of each issue, and is very out of place. It’s also just difficult to keep up with, because of the way it’s published and spread out. It’s to the point for me really, where I just skip it over it.

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Before Watchmen – Ozymandias 2

Alternating Currents: Ozymandias 2, Drew and Peter B4WToday, Drew Patrick and Peter are discussing Ozymandias 2, originally released August 8th, 2012. Ozymandias is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Drew: Patrick: Surprise! It’s actually going to be me taking lead on Ozy today. Drew had both his copy of Ozymandias and his computer stolen today. And that’s enough to make me want to put on an old Halloween costume and take to the streets for some righteous vengeance. And while I don’t plan on that leading to a life of crime fighting, there’s really no saying where life will take me, and which sources I will draw upon for inspiration.  Whatever the case, I just hope it will be consistently rendered in breathtaking beauty (because otherwise, what’s the point?).

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Before Watchmen – Curse of the Crimson Corsair 1-6

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Curse of the Crimson Corsair 1-6, originally released June 6th (in Minutemen 1), June 13 (in Silk Spectre 1), June 20th (in Comedian 1), June 27th (in Nite Owl 1), July 4th (in Ozymandias 1) and July 11th 2012 (in Minutemen 2). It is also available for free on DC’s Source Blog. Curse of the Crimson Corsair is part of DC’s Before Watchmen prequel series. Click here for complete Before Watchmen coverage (including release dates).

Patrick: If there’s one part of the original Watchmen I never quite got behind, it was the whole “Marooned” story. I’ll concede its many virtues: 1) that Moore envisioned what the comic book industry would look like in a world where actual superheroes were common place; 2) that the darkness of the story provided chilling barometer for the global psychology under the threat of nuclear war; 3) that the artist for the books was conscripted to help design Ozy’s squid monster, thus unifying horrors expressed both within the story and the story-within-the-story; and 4) that the protagonist’s decision to sacrifice the bodies of crew to achieve his goals parallels Adrian Veidt’s decision to murder half of New York City to spare the world from nuclear annihilation (with a similar loss of humanity as a result). I CONCEDE ALL THOSE POINTS. Still, I find those portions of Watchmen remarkably dull. Turns out Pirate Comic Loosely Related to Watchmen: The Next Generation” inverts that formula. The results aren’t great.

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