Front Lines - Secret Wars 1 & Convergence Week 5 (Part 1 of 2)

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By Mike Maillaro and Mike Weaver

Front Lines is Critical Blast's weekly look at the "reality changing" events going on in the DC and Marvel universe.  For the first month, we had a little bit of a cushion as we were only talking about Convergence. But now Secret Wars is in full swing too, so May is going to be a VERY busy month for your Front Lines team.

Secret Wars

Check out our review of Secret Wars #1 in our normal Open Mike Night column.  We also did a retro review of the Rom crossover from Secret Wars II, back in the day.

Convergence Week 5

Convergence #5 by Jeff King and Adam Kubert

Summary:  In Skartaris, Deimos has used the power of the Time Masters to summon Brainiac, still trapped in a giant T-Sphere.  Telos demands that Deimos release him. Deimos decides to show Telos the truth about himself.  He was not really a being created by Brainiac.  He was a man with a wife and a family.  But when Brianiac arrived on his world, Telos agreed to become Brainiac's servant if Brainaic saved his people.  

Apparently Telos' secret is that he's a wannabe Silver Surfer.

Dick Grayson realizes that they have a lot in common with Telos, the last survivor of his world.  Though I will say that doesn't quite make sense.  Telos' people seeming survived...which was a lot more than the Earth 2'ers got.  But anyway, Dick Grayson believes that because of this bond, Telos will save them all.

Meanwhile, Warlord and his allies fight to keep Skartaris out of Deimos' clutches.  But, Warlord's wife is killed by Deimos' forces.  Soon after, Machiste tries to attack a distracted Deimos, but Deimos rips his heart out.

The Earth 2 heroes attack Deimos, but he is able to fight them off.  Deimos then banishes Brainaic.  Warlord arrives determined to defeat his arch foe once and for all...but Deimos is able to age him to dust.

Tremors start to rock the castle, which comes crashing down around the heroes and Deimos alike.  Deimos rescues Yolanda.  The heroes decide to start rally the formerly domed cities to work together.  Flash has an idea on how to do that (but we will have to wait until next issue to find out what that plan is).  Dick finds a batarang in the wreckage, and decides to take over as Batman.

Deimos tells Yolanda that  a version of herself was there for the first Crisis, so she can be of use to Deimos.  Deimos calls out across the world and tells the citizens that they don't have to fight anymore.  They will all have a place here, as long as they pledge their lives to Deimos.

Short Review:It was great to see all the Warlord characters again, but damn this comic was ruthless in taking them out one by one.  I did think it was cool to see them get one last chance to shine, but it was still sad to see them killed off.  Hopefully it won't stick.

I did think there was some strange flaws in the logic of this issue.  If Deimos had access to all this power, why was he fleeing Skartaris in the early issues.  And DIck's sudden bond to Telos and the Batman he barely knew both felt like real big contrivances.   Plus, I am not really sure what was going on with Brainiac.  It was just all a little unclear.  It wasn't really a bad issue, but there was definitely a lot of little things that could have been done  better.

I did like the ending though.  I suspect it is because I am such a Warlord fan, but seeing Deimos as a world-dominating badass was just cool to me.  I also think this was the first time in the book that someone actually calls the world Telos.  I had known it was called that from a interview months ago.  

Score: 3.5/5

Convergence: The Atom #2 by Tom Peyer & Steve Yeowell

Summary: Atom is fighting Barracuda of the Extremists.  He’s still being haunted by the dead Ryan Choi.  Ryan reveals that his “spirit” still exists in another plane,  though he insists that there is a science explanation, it’s not heaven.  Barracuda slices off the distracted Ray’s hand.  And Ryan is able to grow that hand into a new body for himself.  Ryan defeats Barracuda. When Ray makes it back to Gotham, Ryan is no where to be seen.  Everyone just assumes Ray saved the day (and is still nuts).  Deathstroke shows up to kill Ray. Ryan reappears in time to stop Deathstroke.  Everyone lives happily every after.

Short Review: WHAT DID I JUST READ HERE??  I am very willing to suspend a lot of disbelief when it comes to comic book science...but Ryan Choi just grew an entirely new body from Ray’s severed hand.  That was a little much.  Especially since the body seemed to look like Ryan.  Clearly, Ryan Choi is secretly a time lord.  We just never knew it.  I also continue to think that the Extremists were used terribly.  They come off as flat characters with no purpose other than to be easily defeated by heroes.    

Score: 2.5/5

Convergence:  Batgirl #2 by Alisa Kuitney & Rick Leonardi

Summary:  Batgirl was chosen as one of Gotham’s champions, but she had stopped being a hero a while back, so Black Bat and Red Robin hitched a ride with her as she was teleported into the desert to face her opponent, who was Flashpoint Catman.  Though, Grodd from that world seems to have also hitched a ride.  Grodd was being pursued by Catman from that world, as Grodd had killed several of Catman’s friends.   Catman decides that defeating Grodd is more important than fighting the DC heroes, so they team up.  But, Grodd easily overwhelms them.  Batgirl comes up with the solution that Catman needs to throw the fight.  Catman does so, and Grodd is sent back to his home city.  The issue ends with Red Robin and Batgirl getting back together.

Short Review:  I thought there was a lot of cool ideas here, but the execution didn’t quite work for me. I think part of it is that it didn’t really match up with what was happening in the other Convergence books.  It’s not clear why these champions were brought to neutral ground to fight, since that didn’t happen in any of the other Convergence books.  And in no other book were the champions “teleported” back home once the fight ended.   These seemed like big contrivances.   I also didn’t like that Red Robin and Batgirl got back together in the end.  His treatment of her, basically dumping her because she wasn’t Batgirl anymore, seemed awful.  But in the end, she’s a hero again, so all is forgiven. That just sends the wrong message to me.

Score: 3/5

Convergence: Batman & Robin #2 by Ron Marz and Denys Cowan

Summary: Batman, Robin, the Red Hood, and Scarlet fight the Extremists of Angor, a supervillain group from a planet with...some similarities to Marvel Comics.  The focus of the fight is more about the interpersonal relationships between Damian, Bruce, and Jason than it is about the actual fight.  From last issue, Damian had intense jealousy of Jason, and during the combat, begins to bury the hatchet and accept Jason as a member of the Bat-team, somewhat reluctantly.  In the end, Damian saves Jason from falling to his death, and Batman in turn saves both of them.  With the Extremists defeated, Batman muses to Superman about the nature of being a father, and how both Jason and Damian are like sons to him.

Short Review: I got kind of blindsided in this one, because for the first half of the comic, I was intensely bored by the supervillain fight, with Damian constantly being pissy about Jason and Batman continuously trying to tell them to accept each other and Brute of the Extremists continually getting back up and fighting.  Then it suddenly got really emotional when Batman saved the Red Hood and Robin from falling to their deaths…”No one winds up dead in an alley,” a reflection of how Batman’s parents died.  Batman’s musings to Superman about fatherhood and trying to express his emotions to his two proteges was really a nice touch.

Score: 3.5/5

Convergence:  Harley Quinn #2 by Steve Pugh and Phil Winslade

Summary:  This issue is basically an extended fight between Harley and Captain Carrot.  Actually, it was basically a one-sided squash match. Even though Captain Carrot is far more powerful, Harley is able to trick him over and over again.  She keeps bluffing him to think she is far more powerful than she is.  In the end, she basically tricks him into eating a poisoned carrot to defeat him once and for all.  Harley decides to continue being Harley, turning her back on the normal life she had built up under the dome.

Short Review:  What I loved about this issue is that it had the real feel of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  Harley uses her wits and insanity in order to defeat a much stronger opponent.  I also thought the ending was real poignant when she decides she would rather stay Harley than try to go back to the happy life she had under the dome.  My only real issue with this was the ending could have been clearer.  Harley had been lying the whole comic, so when she says the carrots were poisoned, I assumed it was just another lie.  A shot of Captain Carrot falling over or something would have been much clearer.

Score: 4/5

Convergence: Justice League #2 by Frank Tieri and Vicente Cifuentes

Summary: The Justice League is in a pitched battle with Flashpoint Aquaman, who has captured their Mera.  They fight a bunch of sea creatures, and seem defeated. The Aquaman that they thought they were fighting was really Ocean Master.  The actual Aquaman brags about his awesomeness to Mera only to get surprise pasted by Supergirl, who beats him down until he reveals that for some reason he had figured out the whole Kryptonite thing and gotten a bunch of it just on the off chance that he would run into someone and they’d actually be vulnerable to it.  Mera then says that she is ready to accept him, they embrace, and she kills Aquaman.

Short Review: It was a pretty good fight scene, but it ran way too long.  Aquaman’s individual battles with Vixen and Supergirl were interesting, but the Supergirl part had an immense “isn’t that convenient” factor.  I liked the ending, even if it was pretty predictable.  The issue was generally really flat.

Score: 2.5/5