Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Sarah Register is reading….
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Cully Hamner
Colored by Dave McCaig
Lettered by Corey Breen
“It’s an interesting question: When you’re living in a cage…what’s there worth living for anyway?”
Convergence is a big messy event that randomly tosses some of DC’s universes into a blender, yet is surprisingly easy to follow since the main schtick in these spin off miniseries is simply to bracket off fan-favorite characters and have them fight. My personal favorite DC “universe” is the Gotham that existed in the early 2000s and was penned by Greg Rucka. Low and behold, we are blessed the extremely anticipated (at least in my case) reemergence of Renee Montoya, and there’s even a No Man’s Land reference on the first page of this comic. It’s good to be home. Rucka revisits the complicated relationship between Renee and Harvey “Two-Face” Dent in a Gotham that’s been cut off from the rest of the world, with both the city and its people beginning to deteriorate as many different worlds face potential annihilation.
Cully Hamner’s illustrations are beautifully gritty in this issue, and yet characters remain consistent from panel to panel. His decision making with Two-Face’s placement in a frame works in tandem with Rucka’s exploration of his inner turmoil. When Two-Face drives off a group of looters from a pharmacy, he’s drawn from the front or with his more intimidating scarred side exposed, however when Renee shows up, he faces her with his “Harvey” side as much as possible. Rucka has always been one of my favorite character writers in comics, and after all these years, I’m pleased that he continues to explore Harvey as a damaged man who tries, and often fails, to be good for the sake of a woman who can’t (for oh so many reasons) love him back.
While Harvey Dent is quite compelling in this issue, the main event, of course, is Renee Montoya’s more or less official return. When Greg Rucka bebopped out of DC after a bad breakup with Batwoman, I was afraid it was for good. However, this miniseries offered him the opportunity to write his own signature universe with a gaggle of female characters he’s largely responsible for fleshing out, and the story does not disappoint. I have to admit, I’m generally unexcited about the Convergence event because it feels a little bit like DC attempting to atone for a few mistakes with the New 52, however I’ll withhold some of my complaints considering characters like Renee and Cassandra Cain are granted life once again.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Tom Peyer
Art by Steve Yeowell (pencils) and Andy Owens (inks)
Colored by Hi-Fi
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
“Aww, no. The Atom.”
For a year, Gotham City has been plucked from the (pre-Flashpoint) Earth and deposited on a barren world, covered in an unbreakable energy dome. All of the superheroes of the city have been de-powered and are largely absent, except one, The Atom. No one really wants his help. Ray Palmer’s in bad shape: his size-changing powers have gone haywire so the only thing that he can alter the size of anymore is his right hand. Also, there’s a voice in his head that’s he constantly talking to, so most everyone assumes he’s crazy, and that’s part of what makes this comic so much fun. Tom Peyer gives this book a gleam of Silver Age insanity that’s been missing from the DC Universe for a long time. Ray Palmer doesn’t know what’s going on or what to do on this strange world, but he knows he’s a hero so he’s going to help people dammit, even if they largely cringe when they see him coming. Towards the end of the book, the city’s jailer, Telos, reveals himself and announces that a champion of the city must battle another’s for Gotham to survive. Soon Ray is facing off against one of Lord Havok’s Extremists (think if a Dr. Doom analog formed his own anti-Avengers in the nineties). Amidst the battle, Ray discovers the secret of the voice in his head, and we’re left with a lot of questions going into next month’s finale.
Steve Yeowell’s art is a perfect pairing for the story Peyer is telling. While he easily matches the Silver Age vibe that is being laid down, a lot of this book is pure dialog. Yeowell keeps everything moving and the characters are all very expressive, so much so that he’s able to do a lot of the emotional heavy lifting of the story without everyone having to just state how they’re feeling for the reader.
Convergence is an odd event, bringing back characters and creators that haven’t been around the DC Universe much lately. I really hope they look at what Peyer and Yeowell are doing here and allow them to carry over, if not these characters, then a book that has this same vibe once the event is over.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Ron Marz
Art by Denys Cowan (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks)
Colored by Chris Sotomayor
Lettered by Rob Leigh
“Of all the things I learned from you… how to be a father is not one of them.”
Convergence, as an event, is so weird. It’s weird because its premise and timing are extremely close to Secret Wars over at Marvel. It’s weird because it’s a major event that doesn’t seem to involve any core characters, but rather alternate and discarded versions of them. It’s weird because it operates on an explicitly meta level, outside of the current DC Universe’s Multiverse and chronology. In general, it’s an excuse to explore and homage a bunch of very specific books and eras in DC’s history, which I like a lot.
Batman and Robin is a book looking at elements of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman, but with a very keen eye towards Damian Wayne, Jason Todd, and their relationships with their literal or figurative father, Bruce Wayne. Under this dome, Batman and Robin have fought the criminal element mostly alone, until Jason Todd, in his superhero-themed Red Hood iteration with his sidekick Scarlet, resurfaces. This issue doesn’t explore life under the dome quite as much as some of the other books, as it keeps its eye squarely on the three leads. But there have always been a lot of different forces at play in these characters’ relationships, so what we lack in worldbuilding we get back in pathos. Bruce still just wants to be a good father to both of them, one protégé he failed and another he’s trying not to. The Extremists, at the end, don’t seem like the kind of threat some of the other domes are facing, so I expect this book will be much more about its own characters than clashes and crossovers.
All in all, this was sort of middle of the pack out of the Convergence books I read this week, above Batgirl but below Nightwing/Oracle. Still, I’m excited to see how it goes, as well as the general promise of Convergence, which is quick snapshots of bygone classics (before some Flashpoint characters show up to kill everyone).
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!