One thing comics fans don’t often think about is that to somebody who didn’t grow up with this, comics can be absurdly intimidating. How are you supposed to read Detective Comics when there’s more than 900 issues? How are you supposed to track all the versions of heroes and alternate realities and callbacks? DC’s solution is to bring them all back in a two-issue miniseries for those interested to sample and learn about, and it’s actually a pretty good idea.
Thanks to a quirk of the mail, I didn’t get DC’s books in time to review them yesterday, but in a way, they’re almost ranking-proof. Every one of these minis is essentially a riff on the same theme; a Gotham from a DC timeline has been trapped in a dome, and focuses on a hero — ranging from the mentally unstable Atom to the Flash and his family — as the dome drops and they have to fight somebody from another timeline.
What stands out, though, is that these are clearly written with new readers in mind. Each book stands alone on its own merit; while you might get a little more out of them if, say, you’ve read the issues they’re based on, the plot is simple and the books are character-focused. New readers can pick it up with only a vague idea of who the Atom or the Teen Titans are and read a pretty solid superhero story. There’s even a little primer about each character and their backstory in the back, complete with reprinted art. It’s also not a huge commitment; two issues per mini, and that’s it. You’re not locked into a six issue arc, and it means these books don’t screw around.
There was a lot of concern when Convergence came along that it’d just be DC appealing to the nerds to sell a few more books set during their favorite reboot. But honestly, this feels a lot more like a bid for new readers to get acquainted with the DC universe and find something in DC’s back catalog or current releases that they want to explore.
There are three in particular I’d recommend for new readers: Convergence: Superman is actually a quite fun Superman story from Dan Jurgens, based on the ’90s superbooks and that has an unusually tense cliffhanger. Convergence: The Atom is the edgiest of a fairly mainstream lot, with a hero who may or may not be suffering a psychotic break and a little more of a central mystery I won’t spoil here. And Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle is a straight action book from Gail Simone that’s a brisk, fun read.
From the looks of things, in general, if you want to get a sense of the history of DC Comics, it’s worth picking up an issue or two and seeing if it’s something you like. Or, you know, wait for the pack of first issues arriving in June.