Opinion: What’s the deal with Convergence & Secret Wars?

The comic book world is humming with chatter about what Convergence and Secret Wars will bring and, whatever Marvel and DC might currently be saying, Convergence and Secret Wars look for all the world to be reboots*.

*What I mean by that is that I class anything that involves culling multiple titles at once and introducing a number of new titles as a reboot.

Articles have been written elsewhere about the similarities between Secret Wars and Convergence. But rather than the ‘how’s, I’d like to look at the ‘why’s behind these two summer events. In a nutshell, what are Marvel and DC looking to accomplish with Convergence and Secret Wars?

It appears that they’re using the events to play to, or reorganise their companies in order to play to, their strengths. If you’re wondering what those strengths are, the you’ll find a crude summary below.

Let’s look at the top 20 comics of 2014 based on quantity sold:

  1. Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Marvel)
  2. Walking Dead #132 (Image)
  3. Rocket Raccoon #1 (Marvel)
  4. Death Of Wolverine #1 (Marvel)
  5. Death Of Wolverine #4 (Marvel)
  6. Thor #1 (Marvel)
  7. Original Sin #1 (Marvel)
  8. Death Of Wolverine #2 (Marvel)
  9. Death Of Wolverine #3 (Marvel)
  10. Superior Spider-Man #31 (Marvel)
  11. Avengers And X-Men Axis #1 (Marvel)
  12. Amazing Spider-Man #2 (Marvel)
  13. Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Marvel)
  14. Batman #32 (DC)
  15. Batman Futures End #1 (DC)
  16. All-New Captain America #1 (Marvel)
  17. Amazing Spider-Man #4 (Marvel)
  18. Batman #33 (DC)
  19. Batman #35 (DC)
  20. Batman #29 (DC)

It might sound too simplistic but, according to the sales figures, it’s all about the Bat Family for DC and diversity (and, uhh, Spider-Man) over at Marvel.

Marvel (and Minority Superheroes)

all new all different avengers fcbd coverFemale Thor, the new Black Captain America and Pakistani-American Ms. Marvel have backed up a ton of media hype with strong sales figures, even if the latter of the three doesn’t appear in the top 100. While Rocket Raccoon isn’t a minority figure, there’s still potential for his story to deal with how an outsider fits into society.

It is, perhaps, no surprise that somewhere close to half of Marvel’s All-New All-Different Avengers will be made up of minority heroes–Morales, Karmala Khan and Falcon Cap, with female Thor thrown in for good measure. They’re also set to introduce an all female team known as A-Force.

Far from a passing fad, as many accused the introduction of black Spider-Man Miles Morales of being, Marvel has dominated the charts for the past couple of years with the help of minority heroes at the helm. The critics can say what they like, Marvel has proven that diversity is big business.

DC (and The Bat Family)

With Batman and Harley Quinn as two of their heavy hitters, it’s no surprise that DC is using Convergence to spin out several more Bat titles – Batman Beyond, Bat-Mite, Harley Quinn/Power Girl (limited), Red Hood/Arsenal, Robin – Son of Batman and We Are Robin are all set to spin out of Convergence. That’s 6 new Batman titles, plus just shy of 10 continuing titles that involve Batman or Gotham in some way.

There are also those who believe that Convergence is an attempt on DC’s part to reign in The New 52, much of which hasn’t been particularly well received. We already know that some Convergence tie-ins will feature pre-Flashpoint (i.e. Pre-New 52) heroes. But you have to wonder whether trying to gloss over past mistakes and start again again is the answer.

harley quinn convergence poison ivy catwoman

Consequences for Readers

Bad news if you’re not a Batman fan, right? With a slew of Green Lantern titles, among others, headed for the slaughterhouse as a result of Convergence it sure seems like it. Placing so many eggs in one ba(t)sket feels to me like a huge risk and I think it’s fair to say that Convergence could be make or break for DC.

At Marvel, things aren’t quite so simple. With a range of titles revisiting and rehashing past events, even if they do turn out to be limited runs, Marvel seems as eager to embrace their past as they do the future. Cynics would suggest that this is an easy way to make past events relevant again, and boost sales of trade paperbacks, while those who are more forgiving would probably say that they’re trying to offer an accessible entrance to a daunting number of pieces of comics history.

So is that it; are Convergence and Secret Wars all about accessibility? These are awfully big leaps to take unless DC and Marvel have a pretty good idea that that it’s going to improve sales and widen their audiences. With lots of comic book movies coming up in the next few years, plus more and more interest from those who just a few years would have called graphic novels ‘not real books’, it makes sense that Marvel and DC are trying to capture that audience.

It remains to be seen whether or not trying to do so will alienate people who have been comic book fans for years. We’ll see starting next week with the release of Convergence #1 and in May when Secret Wars kicks off!

Pre-Order/Order Convergence @ Forbidden Planet

Pre-Order/Order Secret Wars @ Forbidden Planet

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