Prophecy is one of the most interesting themes an author has in the traditional literary repertoire, and one of the hardest to use effectively. For one thing, there are many different kinds of foretelling. There is the literal prophecy, handed down in cryptic form by a deity and ever subject to ironic misinterpretation. Of such are both religious epics and fantasy series constructed. There is the self-fulfilling prophecy, the engine of many a moral fable, in which the protagonist’s fears and longings shape his fate despite his conscious will. Finally, there is the de-facto prophecy, or maybe this one would be better called the iron hand of destiny. In literary terms, this is when foreshadowing becomes so long and deep that the outcomes for characters seem predestined as surely as if by the decree of a god.
This last seems to be the case with the refugees from Earth 2. In Convergence #2 it appears that Dick Grayson of that world has been set irrevocably on the path to assuming the mantle of Batman upon the coming death of Thomas Wayne. That is not, at first glance, either very surprising or very novel. After all, we have seen Dick Grayson take up the identity of Batman before. The last time wasn’t even all that long ago. However, writer Jeff King manages to give this narrative a refreshing twist by making Grayson the viewpoint character of the story. It is, in many ways, an inspired choice. For one thing, it allows King to use a flashback to retell the story of Dick and his son, Tommy, and their parting in a more effective and efficient way than that we saw in Earth 2: World’s End. But, more importantly, the Grayson of this story is a man uprooted and tossed into chaos by war and loss. He is, as he himself points out, a man without powers in the middle of a group of heroes. Even the Thomas Wayne Batman has his Miraclo-provided abilities to fall back on. Grayson becomes a natural identification point for the reader. This grows a bit heavy at times, as the inner monologue of the character sometimes rests so thickly over the action as to seem stifling, for instance when Grayson and Thomas visit a version of Gotham and the meeting between Thomas and Bruce unfolds purely through Dick’s narration. But, by and large, it proves a natural entry point into the action.
The plot itself features the heroes of Earth 2 breaking free of Telos through the use of Alan Scott’s powers. Scott, separated from his home Earth, can no longer focus the Green, so he calls on the life force of Telos, in effect turning the villain’s own energy against him. It is a fascinating twist, and one that allows Scott to see into the mind of the living world, where he discovers there is something that Telos fears. This knowledge leads the heroes to a ruined city, where they meet a character most unexpected even on this patchwork world — Deimos, the evil wizard who plagued the sword-and-sorcery realm of Skartaris in the 1970s Warlord series.
This issue nicely balances foreshadowing with surprise. Grayson, in his monologue, sometimes recited as if looking back from the future, seems to foretell the death of Thomas Wayne and to heavily hint at his own role as Wayne's successor. Nothing is certain in life or comics save for taxes (death not being applicable to comic-book characters), but would appear to be a very strong bet. On the other hand, of all the villains who might have appeared in Telos' place of fear, Deimos of Skartaris is far down the list most would have expected. The series is now gathering momentum nicely. It still doesn't pay to think too deeply about its premises or implications. But a pleasing ascent to the height of the roller coaster is underway.