Convergence: Batgirl #1 “The Love Song of Stephanie Brown”
Written by Alisa Kwitney
Pencils by Rick Leonardi
Inks by Mark Pennington
Colors by Steve Buccellato

Alright! Mortal Kombat is here! I mean, Convergence is here! What? It’s practically the same thing. Fighters from different worlds are coming together to fight for their world on Telos (Outworld), and the winner will essentially save the remaining people of their world… Tell me this isn’t the same concept as Mortal Kombat, give or take some minor details. And in case you’re wondering, I’m actually ok with that. There has to be a reason all of these “worlds” are coming together, so why not?

Essentially, Brainiac has been collecting cities from dying worlds, and he’s storing all of them in domes on Telos. He’s done the same to Earth 2, but he doesn’t capture the city before that Earth is destroyed. The heroes of Earth 2 make it to Telos, but their city doesn’t. Brainiac – or a version or embodiment of him anyway – sees this as an omen that their system is flawed, and turns all of the cities of Telos against each other by selecting champions to represent their world/ time/ city… and only one timeline will walk away and continue to exist.

This brings us to Convergence: Batgirl. Batgirl, Stephanie Brown, has been selected as the champion of her world – which is a shock to her considering she gave up being Batgirl more than a year ago. She’s not the most skilled fighter, and she’s aware that she’s not the best – and most likely not the right – choice to be her world’s champion. And it’s with this self-analysis that I come to the conclusion that I’m going to enjoy this issue. I was worried that this book was going to be a huge mess, and paint Stephanie to be greater than she is. Well guess what, it doesn’t. It does a damn good job of reminding us that she’s not, but at the same time, that she’s completely the right choice to represent her world.

Alisa Kwitney does an amazing job of bringing back the Stephanie that we grew to love. The girl that was full of heart, determination, and the stubbornness to not conform to the expected route, but to do it her way instead. We’re reminded of the experiences Stephanie has been through – Spoiler, her pregnancy, Robin, Batgirl… and in a lot of ways, experiencing this genuinely felt good. We also get a glimpse into Stephanie’s life since being sent to Telos. I won’t give any of this away because there are some nice moments, but she’s doing things now that pay homage to two people very close to her. In a way, it’s as if she’s honoring two people she respects greatly.

To add to my growing interest in this title, Stephanie shares the spotlight with Red Robin and Black Bat… and God I can’t tell you how glad I am to see Cassandra… or a good interpretation of Red Robin for that matter. I LOVED Red Robin prior to the New 52, (if you haven’t read that book, I recommend doing so), and Cassandra is one of my favorite characters of all time. So seeing the two of them embark on this journey with Stephanie, supporting her, training her… it all felt like a homecoming. Tim is as stoic as we left him. Cassandra is still the baddest badass. And the three of them work perfectly together.

Despite all of my personal feelings for these characters, the plot is lacking. Yes, I know I previously said that I’m ok with the Mortal Kombat style set-up – and I am because they could’ve gone with something way more ludicrous to try and “make this work” – but there are still some holes that need to be filled for me. Steph, Tim, and Cass are all essentially just waiting around for someone to attack them… Is that how this works? The champions get pulled from their world and go looking for people to attack, or they wait to be attacked? Steph gets jumped by Catman, and Cassandra is attacked by Gorilla Grodd… so I assume that’s the case. And are there purposely good guys and bad guys representing each world so that they will fight? I know Brainiac threatened to destroy anyone who refused to fight, or that tried to carry out a coup, but still… Ultimately, the set-up just doesn’t give me as solid of a foundation as I would like to support the plot. I’m not sure I can blame Kwitney for that though. In my opinion, she delivered a damn solid story for a super crazy narrative.

Beware, there are spoilers below.

The Art: The art is probably the worst thing about this book. I don’t want to completely slam the art team because I’ve seen much worse (I’m looking at you New Suicide Squad), but it was less than spectacular. The biggest issue I had with it was its inconsistencies. The characters looked different from panel to panel, but surprisingly I wasn’t distracted by the art. Yes, I noticed it, but I didn’t feel like it hindered the story. While it wasn’t as clean as I would like, the emotions were there, and I can accept that.  If I had to guess, I would say that the art team was rushed to deliver a product, and it shows.

Check out the spoiler tag for a sample of some of the internal art.

Spoiler

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The Good:

Tim, Cassandra, and Stephanie. The characters made this issue. I thought each character was represented respectfully, and their voices came through extremely well. Cassandra hasn’t been in the New 52 – aside from a Futures End issue – so she created a grand feeling of nostalgia for me. On top of that, we get better representations of Tim and Steph in this one issue than we have throughout the entire run of the New 52… and that glaringly points out the issues that have plagued the New 52 since its launch: the characterization has been extremely poor.

For those of you that are not familiar with DC Comics prior to the New 52, DC kindly provided this little overview of these characters and their history at the end of the issue.

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Stephanie’s doubt. Stephanie’s lack of confidence in herself immediately endeared me to her… and it’s because we know it’s valid. She’s in the presence of Tim and Cassandra, two people highly more skilled than she is, yet the fate of her world has fallen on her shoulders. She knows she’s not the right person for this. She knows she’s not the best, but she takes what should essentially be her death sentence, and makes the decision that she’s going to do everything in her ability to win. Not for herself, but for everyone else.

 

The Bad:

Guinea Pigs. I already mentioned the plot, so I’m going to let that rest. The scene with guinea pig was weird. I know the point was to show the dire living situation that these people are in now, but everything about it was just odd. People are raising and breeding guinea pigs for food, so it’s this whole survival instinct type of thing. But then it turns into a showcase of how different Stephanie and Cassandra are because Cass is a warrior and has the ability to view things as black and white, while Steph is more caring and lives by her heart… it wasn’t needed. They could’ve just had the tv report about new guinea pig recipes, and it would’ve gotten the point across much better.

Killer Moth. Killer Moth makes a cameo, and upon seeing the first panel with him, I immediately thought that it was going to be a really nice homage to Batgirl Year One. And then instead of getting a cool moment, Steph pretty much just tells him that he’s wearing that mask because he’s “insecure about his looks and not good with people,” then she just walks away… and he stands there defeated… I’m still scratching my head on that one…


Recommended if:

  • You’re curious about Convergence.
  • You’ve missed Cassandra Cain for the past few years.
  • You’ve been annoyed with the interpretations of Stephanie and Tim in the New 52.


Overall:
What Convergence: Batgirl lacks in a strong plot, it makes up for with great characterization. I may be the only one on this boat, but I’d take strong characters in an average plot, over a plot that tries too hard and relies on shock value any day.

 

SCORE: 7.5/10