While I knew going into this that the highlight would be on Earth-2 Dick Grayson and Helena Wayne, I was pleasantly surprised to see that half of the issue was dedicated to Earth-30, better known as the Earth of the first Superman graphic novel I ever read (and therefore my favorite) – Superman: Red Son. Seeing Clark Kent’s Soviet counterpart again was a thrill from the very first panel, and of all the match-ups I’ve seen so far, this ranks up there with the most interesting.
Like most of the Convergence issues, Len Wein’s Detective Comics takes a look at how the people of various cities managed to survive beneath their domes. Dick and Helena’s was a more straight-forward experience: despondent villains half-heartedly committing crimes with no real purpose and heroes with little to do than put up a façade, but with a side-story involving Dick’s reluctance to take over the mantle as the Batman of Earth-2. For anyone who has never read the original Earth-2 run, the Batman of that world was killed by a magically-enhanced supervillain long after Robin grew up and became a prominent attorney. While Grayson still moonlit with his superhero alter-ego, never picking up the moniker of Nightwing, he refused to take up the cowl and become Batman. When Convergence is said and done, I would not mind Grayson picking up where Bruce left off and giving Earth-2 their Batman back. Anyone else seeing similarities to the modern Earth 2 run?
The heart and soul of this issue, however, lies in the cold Soviet winter. Our Kryptonian comrade has been stripped of his powers beneath the dome and must partner with his longtime political rival Pyotr Roslov to keep the masses calm. It shows just how fragile the people’s mindset is, even with Superman’s influence. There is one heart-breaking moment that’s ruined by some overtly clunky dialogue – more on that later – but the scenes in Moscow gives this issue an emotional catharsis that so many of the other Convergence issues have lacked. Superman’s maturity and empathy as a leader far outclasses him among many of his multiversal counterparts, and makes him someone worth rooting for…even if he’s a Red Commie.
I’d have to say that both the best and worst moments of this issue come when the dynamic duo of Earth-2 encounter their Soviet opponent. The Dick/Superman interactions were true to character and offered a small light of compromise amid the chaos of the free-for-all melees. Also the campy use of “tovarish” made me smile. But I would say that the initial meeting felt both rushed and melodramatic on the part of Helena. She is by far the weakest part of this issue, presented as rash and, quite frankly, stupid.
While the campiness sometimes comes off like greased cheese, it fits these characters. The original Earth-2 characters were presented as children in adult bodies. Dick retains the Robin name and creates some funky hybrid suit that is somewhere between the original Batman costume and Disco Nightwing. It isn’t a good look. The dialogue also comes across as over-expository and cumbersome. The aforementioned cringe-worthy scene between Superman and Pyotr was the absolute worst. I don’t even want to put it in the spoilers because I don’t know how to properly explain how bad this is. But it’s also the only blemish in this otherwise exceptional story.
Another strong point of this issue would lie in its artwork. Bill Sienkiewicz and Denys Cowan perform to the highest degree, with a mix of strong pencilwork and dark colors to create the gritty streets of a distressed Metropolis and the roiling crises strewn throughout Moscow. It all feels good, like if I rubbed my thumb against the pages I’d come away with pencil marks. Everything from the Batmobile to the characters themselves look as if they belong in a noir detective film or a propaganda poster. It’s some of the best looking artwork I’ve seen in any Convergence book.
- So Helena blows up the Batmobile after firing rockets at Superman and then fleeing. It was absolutely a poor decision and not something I’d expect from the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. Can we talk about how Helena can’t seem to catch a break in literally any timeline?
Favorite Quote: “I thought that was your dome?” “Long story.” – Small child/Superman
- You’re a fan of Superman: Red Son.
- You’re a fan of Dick Grayson.
- You want some excellent artwork.
Overall: Buy this book. It’s a fun story with some touching moments and characters with a depth that you won’t find many other places in this Convergence event. There’s strong artwork and even if you’re a casual fan of any of these heroes, this will be a worthy pickup.