Writers Dan Jurgens and Jeff King tentatively wade into the bottomless well of the DC Comics multiverse in “Convergence” #0, the warmup issue to DC’s next and self-proclaimed “game-changing event.” The groundwork is laid for the promised multiversal mashups, but the only hero taking the stage during the course of this issue is Superman or, more specifically, the current New 52 incarnation of him. The premise for the upcoming storyline is told via a lengthy chat between Supes and Brainiac or, rather, several versions of Brainiac, some familiar and some less so. These different iterations of the classic Superman foe help artist Ethan Van Sciver put together an attractively staged discourse but, as pretty as the issue looks, it suffers from a number of lapses, the worst among them its overly long exposition and set up where not a whole lot happens.
Van Sciver successfully steps up to the challenge of defining multiple Brainiacs and also gets to stretch out with a couple of sprawling and impressive spreads that tease what’s to come. The first of these is a morbidly delightful collage of Superman’s many deaths over the decades, delivering the kind of continuity-bending mind trip that fans are expecting from the series’ solicitations. In a different kind of mind tripping vein, Van Sciver also constructs a pleasingly Escher-esque quiltwork of familiar DC cityscapes, both modern and classic, that are more symbolic than literal but nonetheless establish the nature of the series’ upcoming threat. The ambiguous and timeless setting is also well played by Van Sciver; the story initially seems to take place in a more or less continuous, non-stop manner, but the gradual growth of whiskers on Superman’s face indicate otherwise. Colorist Marcelo Maiolo ensures that the bright primary colors of Superman’s costume stand out against the muted tones of this limbo-like dimension.
While Van Sciver and Maiolo’s art make an attractive backdrop, the story placed within it is decidedly plain and surprisingly mundane for a premise of such epic scope. Jurgens and King’s script struggles to fill the mammoth space of its thirty pages and resorts to repetition to fill its allotted page count. For instance, Superman mentions that he needs to get back to his world multiple times, a statement that was clear the first time around and is, in fact, pretty obvious even without an overt mention. Brainiac’s incessant insistence that Superman “choose” one of the patchwork cities to live in is not only redundant but outright puzzling. It’s an oddity that’s made even stranger by way of Brainiac ultimately sending Superman away, something that would have made more sense to just simply do in the first place.
Apparent logic errors further plague the story; any villain with the word “brain” prominently featured in his name should know what city Superman is from already without having to ask. The dialogue is stilted in many places throughout the issue, almost painfully so in some instances. All of this leads up to a contrived about-face by Brainiac, who quickly — and unconvincingly — changes his tune regarding his role in these transplanted locales.
The flawed and bloated main story is followed by a useful ten-page who’s-who (or, more precisely, where’s-where) feature that lists the forty or so locales that have been plucked from their eras and locations and are presumably to be featured later in the series. The listing is both an intriguing and seemingly random list that piques interest but also evokes a kind of what-are-they-thinking vibe by resurrecting past and long-forgotten alternate histories like the “Stan Lee Presents” and “Tangent” lines. It draws curiosity, but the kind that’s more along the lines of seeing what happens when one of everything is taken from the refrigerator and pureed in a blender.
“Convergence” #0 is a weak and faulty introduction wrapped up in a pretty package that reads as though it’s cautioning potential readers as much as welcoming them. Even as it tries to sell the idea via broad strokes, the details undermine its own attempt. Readers will have to enter “Convergence” #1 at their own risk.