Convergence: The Question #2

"Convergence: The Question" #2 by Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner is that rare creature, an event comic that manages to foreground its own agenda and story instead of being a wallpaper for forgettable fights.

Rucka handles exposition through dialogue, voiceovers and action. He gets to the points quickly and disposes of them in the first three pages. He's efficient but also thorough; readers who skipped the first issue or are avoiding the rest of "Convergence" can still get their bearings. The opening scene also reestablishes the larger framing story and reminds the reader of the emotional stakes raised in the last issue. Unlike most conversational information dumping, the dialogue is believable, as it takes place in a hospital, where a character tells a family member what has gone down while they were unconscious.

Renee's philosophical, wryly humorous voice comes across as she talks, and her thoughts complement the action instead of overlapping with it or blunting it. Few "Convergence" titles have been able to get the reader to take the life and death stakes of the Dome and the battle seriously, but Rucka and Hamner manage it by tapping into the dramatic tension in twin conflicts: Renee's estrangement with her father and Two-Face's estrangement from himself.

Even aside from his history with Renee, Two-Face is an ideal character for "Convergence." He's a symbol of the dangers of binary decision making and a Jekyll-and-Hyde-like split self; of course he would want to fight himself. If the coin can't choose, he needs something else to choose for him. The core of his villainy is that he can't integrate ordinary good and evil into the same self. Two-Face assumes he's the "bad" Harvey Dent, but the climax of "Convergence: The Question" #2 shows him that it's not that simple, and that fatalism is no substitute for striving to "be the better man." Two-Face tries to solve his problems by externalizing them, but the cosmic irony is that the "good" Harvey Dent with the unmarred face is the one who makes the wrong choice.

In the last issue, Rucka asks the readers to buy the premise that the Dome has interfered with the rules of probability. This is a big ask, but Rucka doesn't waste the reader's good will. The result -- that Two-Face will look for another way to have a choice -- follows perfectly. Rucka's themes make use of the "Convergence" framework instead of dodging it, which results in a story about overcoming oneself and learning to live with an imperfect world. The story fulfills the letter of the event requirements but also transcends them.

Renee has no face and Two-Face only has half a face, but Hamner is able to convey emotion through body language and gesture when he can't do it with expressions. His cartoony style is short on fluidity, though, and all the fight scenes feel like still shots strung together. All of the lead up combat feels like a backdrop for banter. There is no suspense about whether Batwoman, Huntress and the Question will be able to make it through the layers of armed lackeys. The blood spilled is a little excessive, but Hamner's style plays that down, and the excess of hand-to-hand combat heightens the contrast with the climax, which is bloodless and far more about words than blows.

During the lead-up, Batwoman, of all people, is a welcome note of comic relief. It's fun to see Kate Kane back in the same room as Renee, but their reunion is more of a reader-pleasing side note than the main action.

The larger framing plot closes the story with an echo of the shared themes in a different context. Love overcomes bigotry for Renee's father, and so Renee is, in turn, freed to choose love over hate. The ending packs a punch. Reexamined, the story is a tad too tidy and morally pat but, within the context of the "Convergence" event and two issues of space, having a story that has any resonance is a feat of skill.

For fans of Renee Montoya as the Question, fans of Two-Face or readers who are simply interested in a good "Convergence" story, this is a must-read.

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