From the start of “Convergence: Blue Beetle” #1, writer Scott Lobdell and artist Yishan Li never quite click. The opening scene involves a standoff between the National Guardsmen (led by Captain Nathaniel Adam) and the Madmen, the multi-colored gang of goofballs from the 1980s “Blue Beetle” series who are re-cast as anarchists in this adventure. Luckily for the readers, Vic Sage is on hand to narrate the scene for W.H.U.B.
Lobdell powers through this issue with a story about the struggle for power in Hub City under the “Convergence” dome, but never really makes any of the characters likeable, as they all have somewhere to be in order for this tale to move forward and fall inline with the “Convergence” requirements. The writer elevates a skirmish with shots fired from each side into a description of “all-out war” by Sage in the course of three panels, but there isn’t enough shown to the reader before a rocket launcher is used to completely decimate the scene.
Further complicating an already mired story, Lobdell sets the tale as being three months into life under the dome, whereas every other “Convergence” crossover I’ve read has clocked in at least a year before the dome cracks. With a pile of bodies resulting from the standoff, Lobdell brings the Question onto the scene as a messenger, which just comes across as forced and goofy.
Li’s art is structurally sound, but her characters are very open, leaving ample opportunity for Dave McCaig to collaborate. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen as often as it should, which preserves the economy of lines in Yi’s work but decreases the impact of the art significantly. As mentioned previously, Li and Lobdell just don’t gel on this comic, especially in scenes wjere Ted Kord calls for his Blue Beetle armor but dresses in the traditional Ted Kord Beetle tights and Captain Atom smashes his way out of Kord’s lab through a wall, despite the ceiling of the lab being wide open. When Adam appears in Kord’s lab, he already has his gun drawn, but at no point does Kord give him reason to use it. Capping this all off, the appearance of Telos takes form in a manner completely unlike any other “Convergence” title, as he alters the setting rather than simply appearing in the sky above his audience.
“Convergence: Blue Beetle” #1 had a chance to be a remarkably fun throwback issue that celebrated the Charlton heroes in a more pure form, relative to their eventual addition to the DC Universe. Unfortunately, this issue completely misses the mark. Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and Question are all gathered together by the end of the issue, offering a touch more hope for the second issue, but it would need a solid infusion of collaboration to put this issue’s woes behind.