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DiDio Dishes “Convergence” Details, Talks “Multiversity” Connection

by  in Comic News Comment
DiDio Dishes “Convergence” Details, Talks “Multiversity” Connection

This Spring, DC Comics will be taking a break from their normal publishing schedule for “Convergence,” a two-month long event resurrecting characters and status quos from various time periods of the DC Universe.

Beginning with “Convergence” #0, the spine book written by television veteran Jeff King and comic book writer Dan Jurgens, the event sees Brainiac imprisoning in domes various cities from all over the multiverse and DC publishing history, touching on characters from before the New 52 relaunch, “Zero Hour” and the original “Crisis On Infinite Earths” reboot.

DC Debuts “Convergence” #1 Cover, Solicitation Text for Issues #1-4

But “Convergence” isn’t the only big change happening over at DC. March sees the cancellation of multiple ongoing books — including series around since the 2011 relaunch — and a massive company move from New York to DC’s new offices in Burbank, California. Or, as DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio joked over the phone, “The way we figure it, we’re just going to pile into a couple of cars, a couple of minivans, hit the road, make comics along the way!”

Speaking with CBR News about the upcoming event, DiDio laid out the nuts and bolts of “Convergence,” the decisions leading to the creation of the event and the importance of having a multiverse to DC Comics.

CBR News: So “Convergence” is in April and you guys are also moving to the West Coast…

Dan DiDio: One of thing things about “Convergence,” and this is something, we knew the company was going to move over a year ago and we also knew that would interfere with our schedule. So one of the things we were trying to do was find a way to keep our line exciting and still vibrant and still put comics on the shelf on the regular time as we normally do, as we were moving the company cross-country. So we wanted to create an event that really celebrated the DC Universe, celebrated it’s history, and really touched upon everything that made the company great over the years, and try to find a way to bring them all together in a single story that we really felt captured the excitement and energy of the multi-generations of our characters. That’s what the early conceit of “Convergence” was and how it came to be.

To me as a reader, one of the things that feels very DC is how involved the multiverse is, in that many fan-favorite stories are essentially multiverse stories: “Kingdom Come,” “Red Son” or other non-canon tales outside the regular DC Universe. Other than just covering the move, are you trying to put the multiverse front and center, make it more important to both the DC Universe and DC as a publisher?

Oh yeah, absolutely! You got to realize, one of the things that’s been one of the more exciting things about DC is that the multiverse is such a natural aspect of DC’s history. And following “Crisis On Infinite Earths,” where they wanted to get away from the multiverse concept, the reality was the writers enjoyed it so much the aspects of the multiverse kept on leaking back in to the DC Comics storytelling. So when they didn’t have a multiverse they created what was deemed to be an “Elseworlds” line to sell those alternate stories, those alternate versions of our characters, and those continued to expand. So in our minds when we crafted the story we looked at “Elseworlds” as really the continuation of the themes or the spirit of what the multiverse stood for. So it only made sense to start to incorporate them into what we envisioned our multiverse to be.

The Buzzworthy Books of DC’s “Convergence”

Let’s talk about those multiple worlds. The solicits for the two-part “Convergence” minis have been released. and it seems they have a specific period they’re tackling, like the pre-New 52 world or the post-Crisis world. Logistically, does each week of the “Convergence” titles have a specific theme and timeline?

Oh absolutely, yeah! The first week is really set in the pre-“Flashpoint” DC Universe, which is also known as the pre-New 52 DCU. That’s the theme of all ten titles, and the stories of the primary characters of those ten books are all coming from that particular timeline. And then all ten of those books are interacting with three other worlds at the moment, so three other cities, three other timelines. So with those ten books you’ll see them interacting with the “Flashpoint” characters, you’ll see them interacting with the “Extremists” characters and you’ll also see them interacting with the characters from Captain Carrot’s universe! [Laughs] We have a lot of fun personally! The second week is the pre-“Zero Hour” DC Universe, and that interacts with three other worlds; the third week is pre-“Crisis On Infinite Earths,” Earth One, and they interact with three other worlds. But we have one caveat in there, which is we have “Superboy and The Legion Of Super-Heroes,” which captured a city from the 31 Century from pre-“Crisis” where Superboy is Clark Kent one more time.

While there are many characters like Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain getting their own book — characters fans have recently been very vocal about wanting to see — you also have characters like Matrix Supergirl and Captain Carrot in the mix. What was the criteria for what specific timelines and what specific characters you brought into the “Convergence” event?

These are great questions, because you’re asking questions on which all the conceits of “Convergence” are built. Because we have very clear, distinctive points in time where we have major changes to either continuity or interpretation of characters, we use those as the break points for the main line of the DC Universe, where we would separate out particular cities and interpretations. Then we looked week-by-week for each one of those moments — the pre-Flashpoint world, the pre-Zero Hour world and the Pre-Crisis world — and we went to the storylines that were very unique to those periods. We created a “Batgirl” book because there was a Stephanie Brown Batgirl, not something that carried over to the New 52: very unique to that time period, very much time-stamped for that moment. So that’s how we wound up picking titles. We picked titles that we felt really identified that particular period and time most clearly and distinctly. Certain characters didn’t change dramatically over the years, so in some cases we stayed away from those. The ones that had a real clear distinctive change we went back and revisited the characters that they changed from.

Obviously in March there are also numerous titles ending, and among those are “Earth 2: World’s End,” “The New 52: Futures End” and in April there’s “Multiversity.” Are those three last issues setting up “Convergence” or are story plots and threads carrying over into “Convergence?”

On April first — and it’s not a joke! — there’s four key titles coming out. “Multiversity” #2, the final issue of “Futures End,” the final issue of “World’s End” and “Convergence” #0. All four books are very key, and although they are all individual stories — individually stand very much alone in their own right — there are threads that tie them all together. “Convergence” #0 actually takes moments from the “Superman: Doomed” storyline, takes moments from “Futures End” and takes moments from “World’s End” and brings them all together in a single story that launches the “Convergence” event. Also in “Convergence” #0 we list all the cities that will be appearing in the course of the story. So you actually have a good guideline to see what cities you’ll be coming across for the next two months. Then what happens also, things like “Multiversity” actually play into the “Convergence” spine book, the main weekly series, and you’ll see reflections of “Multiversity” in that book as well — as well as direct ramifications from “World’s End” and “Futures End.”

Dan, you said at the beginning “Convergence” is happening to cover the move. “Multiversity” is a book Grant Morrison has been talking about for years and years before it came into fruition.

Yeah.

So was it coincidence that the two fell in together, or once you and Grant talked about actually publishing “Multiversity,” did you plan it to come out around this event?

You know, it’s so interesting because my history with Grant goes back to 2003, 2004. We’ve always talked about the multiverse; even when there was no multiverse we talked about the multiverse! [Laughs] Grant was one of the real architects of the Hypertime concepts at DC and he even pitched a “Crisis In Hypertime” story, which is something that ultimately became “Final Crisis.” With “Final Crisis” he really wanted to explore the multiverse completely, and his “Final Crisis” story led him to “Multiversity,” which is one of the things that has been fomenting since then.

I’ve always felt that one of the great strengths of DC Comics is the multiple worlds, the multiple sensibilities, just the true cosmic scope of what we do — because if all these things are out there, available to us, it’s great to bring them all together in one grand, epic story. So as “Multiversity” was timing out we started building “Convergence.” Serendipitously, we found a way to really bring them up so one started as the other was coming to a conclusion, because even though they aren’t directly connected in story, they share the same DNA. More importantly, there are aspects of “Multiversity” now that appear in “Convergence” because of how well they fit into the storytelling that is “Convergence.” Did that make sense? When we talk multiverses I feel like I get blank stares from people, but it really all makes sense, I swear! [Laughter]

DiDio Details More of DC’s “Convergence” Event

I will admit I had to make myself a spreadsheet detailing out all 40 titles and timelines for covering this event.

It’s funny; we’ve got a wall covered with every “Convergence” title, every character that appears in it, every city or world that appears in it and ultimately how they interact with other places. We’re tracking this as tightly as possible. It will hold up to a certain level of scrutiny, but I’m sure we’ll have a couple of little bumps along the way and the fans will be happy to point that out to us! [Laughs]

Then you can go back to your, what I imagine, police-style “Convergence” evidence board with strings connecting everything. [Laughter]

You know, I can’t tell you how much people have enjoyed working on this. It’s been a grueling process, but everybody feels the level of importance of this story. And there’s a certain level of reverence when you approach these characters too, because a lot of people are getting a chance to write what they enjoyed reading and made them want to be pros, to get involved in the comic book field. It’s really great for everyone to be able to be involved in this and participate in DC history in a way that’s moving the line forward and getting people excited about the future of DC.

Well, let’s talk about the future of DC. Convergence starts up in April but there are a lot of New 52 titles that are ending in March.

Yeah.

So is there a chance there will be new titles spinning out of “Convergence,” or multiverse books coming out of “Convergence” that will take the place of the cancelled titles?

We have a plan in place for June following our April and May stories, and honestly it just doesn’t take into account what’s coming in “Convergence.” But it really takes into account what we think is the essence of DC Comics, and really positions ourselves for the future. How’s that for being vague? [Laughter]

In that case I’ll ask this: you’re clearly excited about the multiverse and you’ve talked about all the writers being super excited for the multiverse books that they’re writing. For a whole generation of comic book readers — my generation — we’ve grown up in a time where continuity is king; we’re all post-“Crisis” babies, we were all reading stories set in a single continuity DC Universe. Are we now at a time where, for DC Comics and maybe in general, this continuity is no longer that important? That we’re going back to the pre-“Crisis” idea of multiple worlds, with stories set in Earth 2, Earth X and so on?

It’s funny you say that because that’s a really fascinating question. I could argue continuity, when I say it’s important, it’s consistency; consistency of character and behavior so that people feel familiarity to the characters, so when they read the book there’s a certain expectation. It’s our job to excite or surprise people, but there should be a certain consistency in how these characters act and behave from book to book, from character to story. So there’s a familiarity there and a comfort that you get from reading certain books and characters.

But I think there is a looser sense of continuity that is occurring now, so we allow a lot more of the creative freedom, allow our writers to really replenish the pool of ideas that fill our universe and allow them to take characters in new directions. And inspire them and push them to push the boundaries of our characters and not to be constrained too tightly by continuity. Truth be told, one of the great strengths of a shared universe is that sense of continuity, that they all exist in that same world. But, as I look at the DCU right now and I look at the Batman line of books, I see so many interpretations of Batman’s world yet they all are consistent to who he is and they all feel like they fit in together. So they can appeal to so many different people but all sharing the same conceit at the heart of it, so it all still feels it’s shared in that sense.

We touched a lot on the book timelines, so let’s talk about the creative teams for a moment.

Very simply put, where we stand on this is when we knew we were going to be creating a new major event to help the company through the period of time when we’re moving, we turned to the writers we had assembled for “Futures End,” which are Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens. We also reached out to other writers like Scott Snyder and Scott Lobdell, and together we helped create what would ultimately be the infrastructure for what the “Convergence” story is all about: the conceits of the worlds, how it would work and the basic structure for the story too. That way, when we reached out to Jeff King — who is new to comics but an incredibly accomplished writer on his own in television — we could give him these spaces to work from. Jeff, being new to comics, came in with a fresh perspective, a fresh set of eyes and a way to really create a story that can play to all audiences, not just people who have been reading DC for generations, or for a long period of time, but for people who might be just new to comics or new since the New 52. That way we were able to write a story that works for everybody, and that gets us excited because we feel it doesn’t just play to one audience, it plays to all audiences.

To ask about Jeff, who as you said is making his comics debut — why choose him to write “Convergence?” Did you feel there’s a quality of that universality to TV writing that made you want to bring him on to guide the main storyline?

You know what, having worked in TV myself, TV writers are extraordinarily collaborative so he knew how to work with all the other writers moving forward, which is very important because you need that collaborative nature when you’re creating a story of this size. But what was great about Jeff is that — this is interesting, true story! He was taking a tour of the floor and he was in my office talking and he saw all my boards on the wall for what was going to be the structure of “Convergence.” As he was looking at them, he was making suggestions on how to enhance the story. I realized not only was he a fan of DC Comics, but he completely understood the idea of the multiverse and the different timelines and continuums because of series he worked on in the past. Everything he was saying made such sense I just turned to him in the middle of it and said, “Do you have any free time to be able to participate in this?” And he just dived in completely! It’s been a great process. He’s been learning the systems of having to work in comics, but also adding so much what I feel is depth and richness to the characters in the overall story. So it’s not just about events or plots moving forward, you actually care about the characters participating in this story.

DC Comics Announces Multiverse- Based “Convergence” Nine-Week Event

I know you were saying that for the other writers on this, many were getting to tackle the timelines that inspired them to be professionals. But you’ve also got creators like Louise Simonson writing “Steel.” How much did you reach out to the original writers for these and how much did you look to the DC stable for writers who were influenced by them?

That’s a great question because we tried to find a way to mix everything up so it wasn’t exactly a pre-existing team going for a character they worked on before. As a matter of fact, Louise Simonson on Steel we liked because we brought in June Brigman. We liked the idea of Louise Simonson working with June Brigman again on a character for DC, and we thought that was the right fit for her — not just that it was Steel but she was working with the Gen13 characters too. There’s several characters they’re getting a chance to interpret. The one that I was very excited about was actually Len Wein working on “Swamp Thing” primarily because I believe this is the first time Len’s written Swamp Thing since he walked off the book in the ’70s. He’s edited the series and he’s been around and involved in the films and animation and anything else, but the reality is he’s never really written the comic again. So this is Len’s return and that’s exciting to me. And naturally there’s an expectation that comes with “New Teen Titans” with Marv Wolfman, and that’s why he’s there.

But for a lot of the other ones, we liked the talents but wanted to give them different opportunities to tell stories from a period of time when they were writing at DC, but not exactly the same character. Plus there’s a lot of new people in, so we tried to mix up every person and team so you can’t have a preconceived notion about every book because there’s something unknown in every mix that can make the book intriguing.

We were talking about the week-to-week timeline themes — though I think we didn’t get a chance to talk week four –and it sounds like you’ve got some of the original creators on different characters in the various DC eras. So are things like Len’s “Swamp Thing” pre-New 52?

He’s actually working on a pre-“Crisis” “Swamp Thing,” the early days of the Alan Moore Swamp Thing, and that’s in the third week. If you look at the weeks as they break down, the first is pre-New 52. Therefore we’re really reexamining the characters and stories that, in some people’s minds, ended rather abruptly when “Flashpoint” occurred and the New-52 launched. When we go to “Zero Hour” we’re looking at the generational characters where the changes took place; the characters who rose in the “Reign of [the] Supermen” when Superman was gone, Azrael Batman when Batman’s back was broken, we see Green Lantern as Parallax, we see that Matrix character of Supergirl. So we see those generational characters in those books. Third week is pre-“Crisis” and we have something that is deemed to be more classic interpretations of the characters, the ones that really resonated in the Silver Age and grew out of the Silver Age of DC Comics. And in the fourth week we see more characters also from pre-Crisis, but because we’re looking at Earth 2 that’s the interpretation of the Golden Age characters, as well as characters from the Fawcett Universe, the Quality Universe, the Charlton Universe, all those worlds that were basically companies acquired by DC that were then amalgamated into the DC Universe. So that’s how each of the weeks breaks down. You’re going backwards in time with each week and get the breadth and scope of each week because we see all the other worlds that encompass the DC Universe.

Now that we’ve touched on the reasons behind the event, the timelines, the books tying into the move and the creators — are there other important details readers should be aware of or keeping an eye on as we lead up to “Convergence?”

I think the most important thing I could say is that “Convergence” the spine book and peripherally the tie-in books of that month are still very integral to the DC Universe. What’s happening in the current storylines feed into “Convergence,” and what comes out of “Convergence” feeds into the DC Universe from June on. I think what you’ll see is a real dedication to character and story and commitment to what we feel are the values that are important to our characters moving forward, and really building them for a new generation.

So, what’s your favorite DC timeline?

You know what? This is a weird one for me because I feel part of week one, naturally, because of all that happened to those characters in that period of time, and I look at week three because that’s probably when I came in and started reading comics too. There’s something fun about everything, and to be able to address all these characters that have been involved in all these stories from things when I was working at DC and prior to working at DC, it’s a once in a lifetime experience. I grew up on comics I’ve been reading them for over forty years — forty-five years! [Laughs] It’s still special to me to be part of something like this.

“Convergence” #0 hits stores April 1.

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