Convergence: Wonder Woman is essentially a story about the power and essence of religion. That isn’t because Diana Prince is a religious figure. This is the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman, a hero who certainly had connections with the Greek gods but who had not yet ascended to divine status herself, as has happened in the present world of the DCU. Rather, it is because the situation in which the characters find themselves calls forth the intense, primal urges from which formal religion arises, the need for worship and comfort and hope, the need to believe in a reason and pattern and purpose to the universe and the events that unfold within it. The story also speaks to the demands of religion, which are the demands of duty and belief, and, at least within the context of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the demands of sacrifice.
In Convergence: Wonder Woman #1 Larry Hama showed us a desperate, hungry, yearning world trapped beneath the dome. It was a city in which people turned to prophecy for hope, only to have that belief and need betrayed when the beings who appear in the wake of the dome’s disappearance are not the angels they had expected, but the vampiric Joker and his cohorts from the Red Rain universe. In Convergence: Wonder Woman #2 Diana must now save the desperate city, but the sacrifice she must make to accomplish this is heart-rending. But underneath the tale of sorrow and bittersweet triumph is another story, the harsh demands of law and justice, demands we usually think of these days as part of a secular order but which have their ultimate moral foundation in a religious sense, if not in formal religious doctrine. Diana must take the harsh actions that have to be taken for the safety of the city, actions that others have avoided. Hama touches very lightly on the ever-fraught subject of heroes and their obligations to enact mercy or destruction, and whether the longing for honor and purity betray the greater needs of society and the social order. But for all the light treatment, the theme is there, quietly informing Diana’s decisions. True, the fact she is dealing with the undead robs the moral quandary of some of its energy. But it does not completely resolve the dilemma. Diana must do that for herself. That she takes no joy in doing so speaks both to her character, and to the costs of her victory.
Unfortunately, this issue suffers from the absence of Joshua Middleton’s art. Middleton created a city grown thin from deprivation and stretched taut with emotional and social tension. It was a world in which the deep longings and desperate strivings of the characters, even the driving hunger of the vampires, made complete sense. They arose from the underlying order of a brutalized cage. Aaron Lopresti, Matt Banning, and Tanya and Richard Horie do a perfectly serviceable job with pencils, inks, and colors, respectively. But the intense human feel of Gotham is gone from their images. The world they show is a gothic funhouse, to be sure an appropriate milieu for a vampire Joker, but one without the gut-level impact of Middleton’s gasping, grasping realm.
Overall, this is a powerful conclusion, even a memorable one, but it fails to follow through on all the promise of the first issue. The shift from the desires of religion to the needs of duty is understandable, but a fuller exploration of the original themes would have been more original and more insightful. It was a given that Diana would emerge as a hero, the question was only what kind of hero. The Wonder Woman we see here is admirable and honorable, but not the deeply relatable, almost subconsciously resonant, figure that we saw in the first issue. Hama has told a strong story, but he missed the chance to tell a great one.