This week, DC Comics kicked off their Convergence event. What is that, you may ask? In short, it’s an effort by DC to simplify their increasingly complicated continuity by bringing characters from different series and different universes together, making them fight one another because of Reasons, and making publisher-wide storyline changes along the way. (If you want a more detailed explanation, I’d recommend a great rundown by Polygon’s Susana Polo.)
This week, I basically started a two-month sabbatical from DC Comics (with the exception of a bunch of April issues that are on the way), because while Convergence is happening, that’s DC’s sole focus. And to be blunt, I just don’t give a shit about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the outcome of Convergence: a brand new DC lineup, with 25 pre-Convergence titles continuing (presumably with a handful of continuity changes from the event), and 24 brand-new series, all starting at issue #1. It should be a great point for newcomers to jump into the DC universe, not to mention a welcome reprieve from the convoluted DC continuity.
Which brings me to Convergence itself, and my complete lack of care for it. This obsession with continuity has long been a problem in comics, and it needs to go. There’s this idea that there’s a real, ongoing series of events, that are all real and happening to the characters we know and love, and can’t simply be undone. Barbara Gordon getting shot and paralyzed by the Joker 30 years ago is, apparently, a very real thing that actually happened, and every subsequent story starring Babs needs to take this into consideration. (Until someone really needs to abandon a continuity detail – in which case, create a parallel universe for it to happen in!)
I can see the point here: it’s about creating a believable universe, so you can’t just go around retconning canon left, right, and centre. But, in practice, it doesn’t work. It just creates the kind of convoluted storylines that create a need for events like Convergence to tidy things up. And more to the point, a believable universe is created by the writing and art, not a strict adherence to canon.
I think comics need to abandon this idea of an overarching continuity, and just let each creative’s run on a given title be its own thing. If someone wants to write a story about Barbara Gordon being Batgirl, let them – Killing Joke be damned. If someone wants to write an Oracle series, let them do that as well. Hell, have them running side-by-side. This idea that every series needs to fit together neatly into one continuity is ridiculous, and at worst, it stifles the creative opportunities for some of our most beloved pop culture icons.
So, I won’t be reading Convergence. I have about as much interest in the event’s story itself as I do in cricket (which is a nice, round 0), and we shouldn’t need something like this to shake up series’ canon. I’ll be back in May, when the regularly-scheduled programming – complete with a bunch of exciting new titles – returns.
And I’ll be doing what I’ve always done: reading each book as its own self-contained entity, with crossover appearances nothing more than fan service.