I admit I was skeptical about this whole Convergence thing. I anticipated the April schedule the same way I anticipate Marvel’s Age of Ultron: sure, I’ll watch it, but my expectations are low and I likely won’t be queueing up to see it premiere night. No offense to you diehard Marvelites, it’s just not my thing. My point is, I thought reading the Convergence issues was going to be an exercise in dutiful reviewership, with the comics themselves being consigned to the “give away later” pile.

Well guess what? My first outing with Convergence not only didn’t suck, but for the moment, pre-New 52 is gloriously back and it’s like visiting cherished old friends–no—it’s like cherished old dead friends resurrected. I only wish it could last.

So what’s our story? If you’re reading Convergence, you know that Telos has collected all worlds and is pitting them against one another: past, present, future, alternate. If you’ve been following Multiversity, you’re probably on board and ready for the action. A Dome has been dropped over Gotham and Telos is making the worlds fight each other for supremacy.

But what about Renee Montoya and The Question? Montoya is living with Helena. The exact nature of their relationship is a little ambiguous–they are obviously close and work closely together, but I’m not sure they are lovers here. Meanwhile, Harvey Dent is still infatuated with Montoya (as he had been since No Man’s Land), but overall he’s lost his desire to live (or shave) and daily flips his coin in an attempt to end his life. He’s haunted by The Question (who he doesn’t know is Montoya) who he believes is controlling his coin toss to keep him alive against his wishes. When the matched contest begins under the Dome, Dent determines to go find another world’s Two-Face and provoke him into killing him.

ConQuest_01_01

Harvey’s seen better days

One Side of the Coin

Greg Rucka writes the hell out of Harvey Dent and Renee Montoya. I can’t even tell you the last time I read a comic with dialogue this dramatically tight and emotionally “full”. From the opening scene of Dent battling with some street thugs over a pharmaceutical stash worth big money on the black market to the final flip of his coin, this issue is full of interesting reversals. The opening narrative is also just beautiful: bleak and tortured, placing you right into the mindset of the dwindling quality of life for Gotham.

Cully Hamner is the right kind of artist for this: there’s a certain violence about the lines that exactly captures Dent’s madness, the dystopia under the oppression of the Dome, and the shadowy liminal space which The Question occupies.

The hard-scrabble edges and high contrasts also work really well with Dave McCaig’s sallow colors. McCaig seems to specialize in a sour dank palette. His work on Arkham Manor was pitch perfect and here again he captures the rotten core of Gotham at its most sickly with heavy reliance on ochres and grey-greens.

The cover by Hamner and McCaig is very nicely evocative. Given how heavily this reads as a Harvey Dent/Two-Face/Renee Montoya/Question mash-up with heavy backup from Huntress (and soon others!), I like the solitariness of the single figure on the skyline with the Dome in view. It captures the mood of the book without actually giving anything away, which made experiencing this even all the more thrilling.

ConQuest_01_02

She’s mighty sure of that other Harvey’s Innocence

The Reverse Side

Really minor things, but they stood out to me nevertheless:

Harvey’s decision to go chase himself down seemed to have come on rather suddenly. It’s a forgivable leap since we only have so many pages and not a lot of time for characters to process all the intricacies of what these multiple worlds mean, but it did strike me that he came to the resolution suddenly and the logic of it, while sound, felt a tiny bit contrived.

Some of Hamner’s postures are a bit on the weird side. Harvey is crazy, but he’s also a bit of a contortionist. Also, I feel like the rendering of Montoya as The Question could have been more distinguishable. It’s basically Montoya with a hat. Though Harvey says she looks familiar, it doesn’t seem like it would take much to make the connection (especially since you figure he’s a little obsessed with her). More variance in the design would have helped here (might as well have taken advantage since they changed her look from what it was before Brightest Day anyway).

Some Additional Facts

ConQuest_01_03

The editors have done a great job supplying further context in the back pages for anyone who wants to know more about who these characters are in the world they occupy. Just for jolly, here’s a handful of other tidbits:

  • Cully Hamner was the artist for Greg Rucka’s Montoya story backup work in Detective Comics (starting with issue no. 854 when Batwoman was being featured).
  • While The Question has appeared in the New 52 as part of the Trinity of Sin, she was never actually identified as Renee Montoya.
  • Montoya is returning to action in New 52 Detective Comics no. 41 as Harvey Bullock’s partner. We don’t know what details from her previous life might carry over.

Recommended If…

  • Greg Rucka is like a cool glass of water after a long slog through a hot desert to you.
  • You love the grey line between Harvey Dent and Two-Face.
  • You’re an old-timer like me and want to see Renee Montoya, Helena Bertinelli, and Kate Kane like they were in the old days.
  • You just want to read a well-written comic with suspense on every page.

Overall

If you never read a pre-New 52 comic and you’re worried about understanding the characters in these lost dimensions, have no fear! Rucka not only quickly and easily established the “Dome Order” in this book, but sets up the characters in a way that makes them instantly awesome and wholly relatable. The Convergence formula of world vs. world is used to a unique advantage in that it’s not Telos’ invader who is coming to challenge our protagonists for supremacy, but Harvey Dent who’s looking to make trouble in the hopes of putting an end to his disordered life. Buy this and revel in it!

SCORE: 9.5/10