Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you’re a pal and a confidant.
And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew.
You would see the biggest gift would be from me,
and the card attached would say,
‘Thank you for being a friend.’
– Lyrics to the “Golden Girls” theme song, written by Andrew Gold
DC’s summer event “Convergence” was borne out of desperation more than creativity. The comics giant moved from New York to the Left Coast, and the company decided it needed to take two months off its regular business to accommodate staffers during the move. The entire line was effectively suspended while “Convergence” tie-ins filled up comic shops – and probably recycling bins not long after.
Astute readers will notice DC’s “Convergence” bears a striking resemblance to Marvel’s “Battleworld” summer crossover. The premises are so similar – heroes from every incarnation and retcon fighting against one another for survival – one might think the same company was publishing them.
Marvel, under writer Jonathan Hickman, has been building to this summer event for three years across his “Avengers” titles. DC just needed to fill some time while some movers took the slow train to Hollywood. In an industry in which companies routinely rip each other off, this has to be one of the most egregious thefts, all the more appalling for its wretched execution. DC’s “Convergence” was a colossal fill-in, not of a book, but a company’s entire output, and a mediocre one at that.
Each “Convergence” two-parter followed the same dreary formula: Heroes moan about being trapped and powerless under a dome for a year. At the end of the issue, the threat is introduced. In part 2, we finally see some action, and if we’re lucky, a winner is declared. (I still don’t know how the “Crime Syndicate” book turned out. Lazy writing.)
The heroes for “Convergence: Justice Society of America” are culled from a Pre-Crisis Earth-2. Was there some sort of moratorium on using more than four members? This is the Justice Society.
Sure, Flash, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern and Hawkman might be construed by some as this group’s Big Four (I don’t necessarily subscribe to that theory, but I won’t fight anyone on it), but it seems chintzy to deny us more members of the Golden Age super-team – especially when we haven’t seen them in years. Are we to assume that Starman, Wonder Woman, Atom, Sandman, Hourman, among others, were all off-planet?
Sucks to be Old
“Society,” the first chapter and written by Dan Abnett, true to “Convergence’s” choppy formula, finds our foursome Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia – oops, I mean, Jay, Alan, Kent and Carter – powerless. Worse, they’re showing their age. The members look like Keith Richards’ dad or hobbits suffering from anorexia. One sneeze, and you suspect they might explode into dust.
That story point is used effectively here, but I’m irritated that the JSA are the only heroes tethered to reality. They weren’t the only heroes to fight in World War II. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were just three who fought the Axis powers and yet they’ll always be in that sweet spot between 28-32 years of age. While others remain eternally young, the Justice Society heroes are expected to age and wither.
But Flash is connected to the Speed Force; Green Lantern is plugged into the mystical emerald flame of his battery; Dr. Fate is a supernatural being; and Hawkman has certainly been exposed to enough strange radiation that he shouldn’t have to worry about aging.
Also: This is a freakin’ comic book. If we can suspend our collective disbelief to accept super-speedsters and men with magic wishing rings, we can get past a number. The Justice Society’s age is only a problem if it is a problem for the writers, and it has proven to be a horrifying hiccup for some. (I’m gearing up to write about “Zero Hour” soon, and I must warn you, my good friend and reader, that the entry will blister and scar the Internet.)
Kent awakens from a coma, looking like Blanche – that hospital bed sheet is not a fashionable cape, sport – and offers our heroes a choice: He can cast a spell that will return our heroes to their glory days – but at the price of their life forces – in essence, hastening their inevitable demises.
It’s a Faustian bargain, but our heroes don’t blink. Hey, the Justice Society isn’t made up of wusses. You must be thinking of the Chump League of America.
Never the End
Our heroes explode into action in the second chapter, “One Last Time,” and the Justice Society in any formation hasn’t looked this epic in years. Tom Derenick’s pencils, Trevor Scott’s inks and Monica Kubina’s colors make this adventure an absolute delight as the team goes up against a sentient Qwardian battlebot.
The heroes revel in the chance to re-live their own Golden Age. It’s not the pleasure in being young they feel, it’s the vitality and honor they feel in being heroes, in being able to use their talents and powers to save humanity. They fight the good fight, no matter what the odds.
For one shining moment, they are the Justice Society of America again. Let this not be a final curtain call but a prelude to more great adventures.
The gods can’t die. They’re immortal.