"Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle" #1 is a brilliant example of how creators can make the most from a sprawling corporate event. Gail Simone, Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons deliver the issue that 'shippers have been waiting for with an emotionally resonant story that will work for new readers and old fans alike. Simone's script is incredibly likeable and, while there are some blips in the artwork, the arresting layouts and commanding figure work almost always compensate. "Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle" #1 is that rarest of tie-ins that truly elevates the main event.
Simone takes a narrative risk here and relies heavily on captions from Barbara to tell the story. Most of the pages focus on life under the dome in Gotham City, and Barbara and Dick don't even encounter their adversaries until the last third of the issue. Without a strong character voice, this many narrative captions with this little "Convergence"-related action would have felt choppy and a bit lazy. However, Simone clearly knows and loves these characters, Barbara especially, and her familiarity with their voices is the issue's strongest asset. The narrative captions thereby become a way to ground the story and give it larger meaning. I really started to think about how life changes when you're trapped in one place.
In addition, Simone creates a traceable, compelling emotional arc in just the one issue -- no easy feat, especially if new readers are meant to follow along. Barbara begins the issue in despair at being trapped, fearing that "people like [her]...don't emotionally survive the transition" and worrying that she's begun to "fade" and "disconnect entirely." However, once the Thanagarians arrive, she transforms. Given a foe to fight, she has renewed purpose, and her last line -- "I started fighting them ten minutes ago" -- is an undeniably awesome way to close the issue. (Its predecessor, "I'm Barbara freaking Gordon," is Simone at her most Simone, so you'll either find it amazingly over-the-top or excessively so.)
Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons certainly know how to draw an entrance. When the Thanagarians march in or Nightwing bursts through a window, the arrivals are unfailingly dramatic. This sort of spectacle is a huge part of the fun of superhero comics, and their work adds excitement to the issue. (Nightwing's new costume is also quite neat.) Colorist Wes Dzioba differentiates strongly between the Inferno and Gotham City, and he does a nice job coloring Freeze so that his unnatural pallor looks wasted and weary rather than frightening.
However, some of the faces in this issue are drawn slightly off. Expressions are occasionally overwrought or don't match up with the situation. Dick, in particular, seems to give the team some trouble. His face stays stiff and serious, even when the narration reads, "I need for him to keep smiling his beautiful smile" or he delivers a quip.
As a whole, though, "Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle" #1 is a compelling beginning to its pre-"Flashpoint" fairytale. Dynamic, fun and surprisingly affecting, this may not be the best issue you read this week, but it's a great time with high stakes. It flies far and above expectations and requirements for a tie-in.