Review: FCBD: DIVERGENCE #1

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FCBD: DIVERGENCE #1
Written by Scott Snyder, Gene Luen Yang, and Geoff Johns
Art by Greg Capullo, John Romita Jr., Jason Fabok, and more
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: May 2, 2015

The course of the three top heroes in the DC Universe gets revealed in today’s Free Comic Book Day offering, cleverly named Divergence. And if Convergence is about DC looking back at where it’s been with a wink and a smile, Divergence is about sailing off into new territory, both in these stories and in their entire line.

And for Batman and Superman, the territory really is uncharted. The creative teams on these books clearly want to tell a new story with characters that have been seen from nearly every conceivable angle over the last 76 years. And whether fans want to admit it or not, that these stories haven’t been told yet is a mistake that needs correcting.

SPOILERS AHOY.

With the All-New Batman hitting the streets of Gotham, Snyder and Capullo are definitely moving into wholly new territory from where they’ve been. Having told a satisfyingly epic tale over the course of Batman #1-40 (one that has a particularly amazing wrap-up), one could easily see how a creative team would be wont to rest on their laurels and go down in history as having told their definitive Batman story. And that’s part of what makes this prologue so fresh-feeling.

James Gordon as a Batman co-sponsored by corporate and governmental interests has a tension to it that just opens so many doors. We have someone with deep honor, deep respect for his predecessor, and a background as a marine that’s never been fully explored taking on a mantle with a lot of strings attached. And we have a Gotham that is in mourning, something I might have expected out of Metropolis (and saw nearly 20 years ago, obviously), but never Gotham. Never Gotham, until now.

The big seller on that front, of course, is Greg Capullo’s opening three pages, a glorious flashlight vigil image dedicated to the sacrifice made by the Dark Knight. It’s worth the price of admission (well, far more, actually, as this comic was free) alone. The glow and the warmth of the sky, contrasted against the cold, deflated faces — it’s just a stunning display by Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia.

Likewise, Romita’s work on the Superman chapter is oddly appropriate for the subject matter, giving a real world, nearly dirty approach to Clark Kent’s on the run existence after being outed to the world as Superman. I’m not generally a fan of Romita’s style, being too scratchy and unfinished for my taste, but here it really works. I’m loving that a story can be so attune to its creators and work, despite my personal preferences.

Of course, the outing of Superman by… hello… Pulitzer prize winning reporter Lois Lane is bound to be the most controversial part of this story launch, and we don’t get to see a lot of that dynamic from new Superman scribe Gene Luen Yang quite yet. The story begins in media res, with Lois’s decision-making happening between the panels in issue #40 and here. I’m not crazy about that, as her rationale is quite possibly the most intriguing part of the story. Her apology, at least from my perspective at this point, is unfounded. But it remains to be seen whether that portion of the narrative is yet to come or being omitted. Hopefully the former.

It wouldn’t be a Free Comic Book Day without a peek inside the future of Justice League, and as before, Geoff Johns delivers a chapter that follows up on last week’s Justice League #40 reveal with some real meat, tying the future of the League into Wonder Woman’s origin in a very substantial way. The scope of these stories that Johns tells is just magnificent. And he’s clearly found the perfect partner in Jason Fabok. It’s as if you can feel the darkness and the royalty and the grace flow off the page. How you couldn’t get excited for where this book is headed is beyond me. It radiates “event” in the most cosmic, awesome sense, and knowing there’s no crazy tie-ins or separate series to focus in on makes it all the better.

A fun primer giving readers who have been holding off a good jumping on point for some truly outrageous stories, Divergence #1 is exactly the kind of storytelling the best of the New 52 has provided. And as only the first of 43 total 8-page original stories fans can get for free in the month of May, this book is a fun start to what will be a fun year, no matter what kind of stories you enjoy.

The Verdict: 9.0/10

 

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