All the timelines exist, and they all matter!
Now that Convergence is in our rear-view mirror we really need to ask ourselves what that was really all about. The more cynical in the crowd are really just going to point to last month’s numbers where Convergence dominated the list(besides Star Wars hitting the top spot), as well as DC needing the two months to move their offices from New York to Burbank. At the same time, many are arguing that it was a way for them to fragment the New 52 out so that they can get the characters of the past and avoid some limitations. While all of that was certainly at play, that doesn’t really seem to be it.
DC’s Convergence promised to be a multiverse event in the vein of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Final Crisis, but what we got instead was a return to the “team up” cheeseball thunderdome match concept. DC bet big that having forty two-issue miniseries with different popular past versions of the characters would be enough to draw people in, and, in a sense, it was. But this still left to non-continuity nonsense where all their respective cities were caught under a dome, circa The Simpsons Movie. This was a boring and repetitive plot device, and there was not enough there with these different “versions” of the same character to do anything of substance. It is also doubtful that there was enough people that can tell the difference between the pre- post- Flashpoint, New 52, Crisis, etc., versions of characters that this would really mean anything. Instead, it was a story that lacked any depth that we actually do come to expect from much of the DCU, especially with the mythological and societal connections that we usually get with the multiverse. This is especially a let down after Grant Morrison’s brilliant Multiverse miniseries, that we kind of thought would be a direct lead-up to Convergence. It wasn’t.
This miniseries does mark the beginning of a number of new series at DC including the revival of Prez, Bat-Mite, Bizarro, Cyborg, and more. This is reasonably exciting, as are the new arcs of Juistice League, Superman, and Batman, but what does any of this have to do with Convergence?
Convergence did, apparently, accomplish in forcing an infinite multiverse, allowing them to come and go between Elseworlds and other versions at will. This was, of course, still possible by just following the original rules of Elseworld and without undoing Crisis on Infinite Earths, but DC does prefer dramatic choices to rational ones.
What we seem to have here is a big swing and a miss where DC thought that they could bank on their entire character history to create something special. The New 52 reboot was controversial and really hit and miss, especially when looking at the long continuity of Marvel. The reality is that comic book continuity can only last so long because of the high impact events and massive interlocking storylines, so it was inevitable that there would need to cut and run from their timeline at some point. What it seemed like what was about to happen is to fragment the DCU into multiple continuities, a concept that would keep each continuity to just a few interlocking books. This would fundamentally undermine what comic book continuity has been doing for decades, but was an interesting concept and one that seemed like it really could be sustainable for allowing creators to have more creative control rather than being saddled to very detailed continuity. This was suggested by the multiple continuities at play in Convergence, but we have yet to really see this coming. Is this was Batman Beyond is promising us? Is Prez in the maintsream DCU? There are still a lot of questions, but it seems clear that the Convergence event was a way of keeping us adrenalized with superhero Mortal Kombat while they figured out a way of restructuring the universe. This is hopefully going to be a well-intention and executed change, but it is hard to keep holding on when we dropped such a depth of money on an event that literally shut down all of their books.
DC has a lot to do in the next twelve months to keep their line-up fresh. This means establishing their movie universe with Superman v. Batman, getting their superhero universe(s) into working order, and living up to the promises made for Vertigo’s rebranding for 2015. Convergence seems like an attempt to refresh the entire history of DC and show us that all characters and continuities are going to be possible in the future because there will no longer be a central timeline, but that may still be conjecture. What we do know is that the story for Convergence was more than a let down, and, with the exception of a few tie-ins like Shazam and The Question, most of the tie-ins were lackluster. This may be what we have come to expect from Big Two events, but not from multiverse ones. Let’s hope that they can take the multiverse back in the Grant Morrison direction and keep a sense of continuity that will let storytelling take prominence. Otherwise people will keep moving from the capes to places like Image, where they are getting high quality comics that have no holds barred.