Convergence: Batman and Robin #2

Members of the pre-"Flashpoint" Bat-family face off against one particular incarnation of the Extremists in Ron Marz and Denys Cowan's "Convergence Batman and Robin" #2. A good part of that backstory isn't shared with readers, at least with those who didn't read the previous issue. Though there are few who would likely pick up this issue without the benefit of the background provided in issue #1, and fewer still who aren't reading the main "Convergence" series, the issue doesn't attempt to tell readers much of what's going on or the reasons for it.

Casual readers may not know who Batman, Robin, Red Hood and Scarlet are fighting. For that matter, some devoted fans probably don't know either, as this version of the Extremists -- a team name that's never mentioned in this issue -- isn't even the same one shown on the "fight card" of last issue's inside front cover. As the issue kicks off, it appears as though the Bat-types are fighting minions of the Toyman, Dollmaker or perhaps even the Joker before their true maker is revealed. More curiously, though, it's a battle that begins exactly one page after Batman's first line of dialogue: "We don't fight." One would think a retreat is in order, but it doesn't happen, so -- as executed -- it reads as though Cowan drew from a different script than the one Marz wrote.

After a much tighter looking issue last month, Cowan and inkers Klaus Janson and Joe Rubinstein turn in a very crude and rushed set of pages this time, to the point where many almost look unfinished. It's a very disappointing effort from such a talented roster of veteran artists, made more so by the significant decline in quality from last issue. Save for one scene transition, which -- as sequenced -- appears as though Batman is looking down at himself from a rooftop, Cowan at least delivers some strong layouts, even if the final draft diminishes their impact. One dynamically structured panel ends up looking like Robin and Red Hood are hanging in midair, for example. The mismatch between art and script is an annoyance that's sprinkled throughout the issue.

Although the weak scripting and unwelcoming feel are the biggest flaws in Marz's story, there are other transgressions. The issue's title, "Father & Sons," is an aptly named theme for the story but, as if to hammer this theme home, Marz goes for a sappy and woefully uncharacteristic moment between Bruce and Damian near the story's end. The inclusion of Scarlet in the story seems to be for no other reason than to make it a four-on-four matchup, as her presence doesn't fit into the issue at all and, at times, it seems even Marz forgets that she's part of the story. Batman and company save Gotham, sure, but neither he nor anyone else on his side seems concerned with the fate of the city represented by their vanquished foes, although that fate conveniently goes unmentioned in this issue.

"Convergence: Batman and Robin" #2 is sloppily assembled. It's been said many times that every comic book could be someone's first, so it's probably a good thing that this wasn't intended to be such a comic, for -- if it were -- it may also be their last.

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