Gotham City. Elsewhere and Elsewhen. Trapped under a dome for just over a year, tensions are running high. Thankfully, the city’s villains are increasingly powerless and more and more of them are giving in to the despair of their bleak situation. Unfortunately so are many of their heroes. Heroes like Barbara Gordon.
The loss of her mobility was not enough to stop Barbara Gordon from fighting crime. She merely changed tactics and identities, trading the cowl of Batgirl for the anonymity of The Oracle. She became a greater force for good than ever before, but she also came to define herself entirely in terms of future challenges. And in a city without a future… what is left for Barabra Gordon to strive for?
It’s a concern that Dick Grayson might sympathize with if Barbara felt the need to unburden her woes upon him. After all, he too changed identities once when he was denied the mantle of Robin and forged a new destiny as Nightwing. But while Babs is a futurist, Dick is a man of the moment. He is also an optimist, who may not know what the future holds but knows that he wants Barbara Gordon to be a part of it.
Unfortunately, any plans for the future – one way or the other – will have to wait. For when the dome drops it will be Nightwing and Oracle who will be called up to fight for their city’s right to survive. And with their challengers being another universe’s evil versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, their futures look to be short indeed!
I had planned on giving Convergence a miss.
The first issue left me feeling unenthusiastic about the event, to put it mildly. I agree with many of the sentiments Gregory Goode expressed in his review. Above all, I agree that the actual story of Convergence is decidedly unclear and that if it weren’t for the press releases describing the series we’d have no idea what is going on! And yet, I wound up picking up three of the tie-in books this week. Harley Quinn, Batgirl and Nightwing/Oracle.
I mention this because these three books share a common theme – a female protagonist who tries to find satisfaction in a world where she isn’t needed. It was disheartening when I realized this! I had been expecting a more cheerful walk through the valleys of nostalgia, only to find existential angst and ennui.
Yes, Harley is still her usual sunny self but there’s something sad about her settling down in a normal life. And while it’s nice to see Stephanie Brown find new purpose as a nurse’s aide, it’s still shocking to think of her giving up heroism after all she had done to prove herself worthy. But Nightwing/Oracle’s vision of a Barbara Gordon who was giving up all hope in the future that proved to be my breaking point.
I have no desire to spoil the story of this issue beyond that. But I can say this much. Simone manages several difficult tasks in this issue, including making two murderous Thanagarians likable villains in a short amount of time. But what Simone does most amazingly is convincingly portray a Barbara Gordon who has seemingly lost all desire to fight.
Considering Simone’s take on Barbara Gordon has always been defined by a stubborn refusal to give up or be dependent on anyone, it is extremely jarring to find ourselves inside the head of a Barbara who is halfway given-over to despair and thanking God that she has Nightwing to lean on. Thankfully, while this may be an unpleasant surprise to some readers, it is not the only twist this issue contains…
Jan Duursema is to be commended for her character designs in this issue. The armor for Hawkman and Hawkwoman proves particularly noteworthy and eye-catching. The action of the issue is well choreographed, with Dan Parsons and Wed Dzioba both doing a masterful job of enhancing and enriching Duursema’s original pencils with their inks and colors.
I’ve moved from mere ambivalence to outright antipathy regarding Convergence as a whole. Yet, I can endorse Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle #1 without reservation. If you miss Simone’s Birds of Prey or Chuck Dixon’s Nightwing, this is definitely one to pick up!