Saturday, 2 May 2015

FCBD 2015: Divergence #1 Review (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo)


Happy Free Comic Book Day everybody! 

DC’s offering this year was Divergence #1, a collection of three shorts featuring their iconic trinity: Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. And, true to the title, they all showcase a new direction for the titles - though some are more compelling than others, and technically the Wonder Woman one is a Justice League storyline but whatevs! 

If you’ve not been keeping up with Scott Snyder’s Batman in the monthlies, the story in this issue is a spoiler as to how Endgame wrapped, so be warned. 

OK? 

So. The “big news” is that Batman and Joker are “dead” and we all know that superhero deaths are permanent, right? The story here picks up two months after Endgame finished where a number of Gothamites use the most powerful handheld torches in the world to blanket the sky in Bat symbols - but, boo hoo, Batman doesn’t appear! 

A corporation has the answer: Gotham must always have a Batman. So they build a robot Batman suit and give it to Jim Gordon. That’s right - Gordon’s the new “Batman”! 

Eh… 

Endgame was, for me, where Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s stellar run came to a screeching halt - but that’s a review for another day. This new direction they’re going in with a Chappie-esque armour (not feeling Capullo’s design unfortunately) and what is basically a rehash of the first Robocop movie, looks terrible. Endgame was poor, this new arc looks to be even worse.

I think at this point Snyder’s simply tapped out of Batman stories and is now crossing things off on his wishlist - “always wanted to write a Robocop comic, now’s my chance!”. But that’s just me, maybe Snyder will turn it around somehow? On a positive note, I’ll say that it’s good that Snyder and DC are continuing to try new things with Batman and it’s worth keeping in mind that some of the best Batman stories have involved taking Bruce Wayne off the table. 

The Superman short was my favourite of the three. I haven’t been following Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr’s Superman run so I don’t know if this is a spoiler or not but Lois Lane has outed Clark Kent as Superman for some reason - though I’m keen to find out why. Clark’s now on the run (but still in Metropolis so something’s keeping him back - mystery!) and this story sets the tone of a fugitive Superman who doesn’t know who he can trust or what his future holds. 

I’m really excited to read more of this series because Gene Luen Yang (author of American Born Chinese, The Eternal Smile, and other great comics) is going to be writing it. One helluva step in the right direction, DC, getting quality indie comics creators in and putting them in charge of the top properties! That said, this isn’t a mind-blowing short but a decent enough one for a free comic and I’m glad John Romita Jr’s sticking around to keep drawing the title. Definitely going to pick up their first issue together next month. 

The final short is a teaser for the upcoming Justice League: Darkseid War, focusing on a new villain: Darkseid’s daughter, Grail. It’s mostly a flashback story with Geoff Johns writing Grail’s life in parallel to Wonder Woman/Diana’s on Themyscira. Like a lot of New 52 Wonder Woman, this one is wreathed in ancient Greek mythology and, like a lot of Greek gods, Grail’s mother slept with Darkseid, one of the New Gods, to create a demi-god in Grail, much like Diana. 

It could turn out to be a good move though I’m hesitant to have high hopes because so much of Johns’ Justice League series has been shaky at best. Wonder Woman doesn’t really have a Joker or Lex Luthor - Grail could be that. But generally this story is the weakest in the issue and, unlike the other two, doesn’t really seem to be doing anything new or different with an icon’s character. Jason Fabok’s art is very cool, there’s a teaser of the upcoming war between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor with the Justice League caught in the middle, which might be a fun arc and it looks awesome visually too.

The shorts themselves aren’t particularly amazing but they do a good job of teasing potentially exciting storylines as well as making DC’s audience aware of what’s going on with their big three characters - which is basically what their FCBD comic should do to draw in the readers! 

Give Divergence #1 a look if you haven’t already popped down to your local comics’ shop, and if you missed FCBD, keep an eye out on Comixology - usually all the FCBD comics are uploaded to the site for free download a week or so later. 

Based on this comic, it could be an interesting summer for DC fans…

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