Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Bullet Review: Dark Crisis #1

I was recently called a Boomer on Twitter which I think makes me sound extremely old. I don't think I count as a boomer by strict definition. But maybe I count as a comic book boomer? I have been reading comics for more than 40 years and that puts a lot of miles behind me. 

It also means I have read a lot of DC company crossovers. A LOT OF THEM. And while some have stuck most of the more recent ones have sort of come and gone and not really stuck in my memory. Heck, I completely skipped Metal.

So when Dark Crisis was announced, I sort of stifled an eye roll. It feels like DC has rewritten their universe on a bi-annual schedule. How often can we reset a timeline before it just melts like butter left on the counter?

That said, I have been pretty impressed with writer Joshua Williamson's writing throughout the DCU. And the approach to this Dark Crisis seems to be tugging at some threads that make this comic boomer happy. It leans heavily into Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Pariah and the idea of a multiverse dying a large part. The main baddie seems to be the 'absence of light', the Dark Thumb from Alan Moore's Swamp Thing #50, a comic which I bought off the rack and wrote a high school religion class paper on. So heavy nostalgia there. And most importantly, Williamson is really leaning into the entire DC history, showcasing images and homages from the entire DC run. He acknowledges the 'big bads' from other Crises but says they were nudged by this ultimate darkness. And there is a feeling of freshness to the proceedings because he eliminated the Justice League out the gate meaning legacy heroes, a staple of DC, have to pick up the ball. I even like how he is making Hal Jordan seem to be a big player. Jordan has been on both sides of light and darkness in prior crossovers.

Daniel Sampere's art is fantastic all around. I love how he grabs those homage pieces by the throat, giving us polished looks at history. I love his crowd scenes and his fight scenes. And there is enough gravitas in some of the bigger moments to make me happy.

This review will look mostly at things from a Supergirl angle with some overall plot points. Overall, this issue seems almost like a prologue to the main story. Perhaps that's why this is a 7 issue mini, not the traditional 6?

On to the book.

The Justice League has died. 

We start with Dick Grayson's eulogy of the team at the Hall of Justice. In that, Nightwing talks of how the League has always been there to cast light onto the darkness. And over that history, there have been new heroes, new sidekicks, new teams.

In that monologue, we get a wonderful two page spread, one George Perez could have designed. Sampere and Williamson sprinkle in lots of DC history, like that take on Action Comics #252, the first appearance of Supergirl. But also the first JSA/JLA crossover, the additions of all the sidekicks, the advent of the Titans.

It was like a quick timeline through DC. And I really liked how the Titans are really prominent given what we see later in the issue and the lack of the big Leaguers.

I also loved this scene where we see the heroes and loved ones gathered, holding candles in tribute.

Nothing says Crisis like a crowd scene. But this is Dark Crisis. This is a funeral. 

And there is Supergirl, giving Lois a shoulder to lean on. 

Interesting that it isn't Jon. But hurray that Supergirl is there, front and center, and mourning with family. But more on this later.

With the League out of the way, all the doomsday cults around the DCU are attacking. Kobra, for example, is trying to storm the capital. Perhaps that is a little bit too close to reality.

But this is the part I truly loved. 

Hal shows up, perhaps the only ex-Big 7 Leaguer still around. With amazing alacrity, he takes out Kobra. But then he has to get caught up on everything.

Wally brings Hal to the Hall where Black Adam relays the battle against the Darkness in which the other Leaguers were turned to ash.

Hal is a cop. He doesn't trust Adam, appropriately so. He chastises Wally for not being like Barry and canvassing the crime scene. For all the heroes know, the Darkness isn't defeated. And Lantern will be there to take out the bad guys.

My thoughts on Hal are mutable depending on the era. But here, as the veteran, his coming in and trying to wrangle some order out of this situation really clicked with me.
Wally then tells Jon that the world needs a team called the Justice League to have hope.

The newly minted Superman sees who he can recruit. 

One of the heroes is Kara. Now remember, she is a late addition to the book, the understudy thrust into Mary Marvel's role

I do like the page of small panels with heroes either accepting or turning down Jon's offer. Here is Supeergirl's. Her just getting back and the prominence of Krypto makes me wonder if Williamson is saying this is post-Woman of Tomorrow. I also wonder why she would almost defer. So what if she just came back from wherever, the world needs a League. She would want to honor Kal. It isn't like she is saying 'I need to watch National City'. I get the feeling she wants to take a break. And that seems off given the chaos we saw before. And it seems off given her prominent place at the funeral. The body language there is sorrow ... not need for a vacation. 

Perhaps worse is Firestorm saying he won't. He says he can't because of ... something. I assume this is a nod to Doomsday Clock when he turned dozens of people to glass. Is Doomsday Clock in continuity?? Firestorm deserves better.

Now my guess is this new League is being set up to be trounced by the heavier hitters in the DCU. Doomsday cults are one thing. But those are just people. When the big guns come calling, I wonder how this team will do.

I like Dr. Light being there, again a callback to COIE. But the rest? Well, it should be interesting. I am glad Supergirl is at least there. I hope she doesn't get trounced to make the villains look tougher. She shouldn't be a yardstick character.

As if to show the League isn't the main threat to villainy, the book ends with an army of villains storming Titans tower and killing a couple of them, including (potentially) one major member. It seems Deathstroke is going to be a player here. I don't get why he is such a big time part of the DCU to be hunting all the heroes.

I love Sampere's art here, heroes striking a signature pose which showcases their personality. Harley's boredom, Damian's back turned, the Blue and Gold chumming around, Frost almost defiant. You know these characters just from the art.

And then, of course, the real threat is the destruction of the multiverse not the overrun of Earth-0.

Pariah has been possessed. And he is going to take it all down.

This issue seemed to want to set up the landscape of the planet before the Crisis happens which gave it that prologue feel. But for me it worked. In particular, and odd for me, I really like Green Lantern in this issue. That alone is a compliment to Josh Williamson. 

So I am more grabbed than I thought I would be. And given my event fatigue that is also high praise.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

It’s great to see you review this one, and even though Kara is a late addition, maybe as time goes on Williamson will write for get rather than Mary Marvel.

I agree, too, about Hal, I hope this is the beginning of a substantive period of him as a proper, old-fashioned hero across the entire line, rather than just in the Grant Morrison GL book - he’s been tainted too long by stupid editorial decisions.

I reckon one Titan is dead at most!

Bostondreams said...

Yeah, given the costume look, pretty sure this IS set after Woman of Tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Just once can’t Supergirl inherit the Mantle of Kal El free and clear in a “Death of Superman” scenario? Just Once? Just so I can get a taste of it, thats all. Frankly at this point, I am of the opinion that DC dreams up jobbers like Jonathan specifically so that Supergirl cannot inherit the Topmost Kryptonian’s Position, such is the breadth and depth of of DC’s institutional hatred of Supergirl. I mean no wonder, in a meta sense she is reluctant to join her feckless cousin’s JLA...(Jobbers League of America), she must know she is gonna get thrown under the bus. Besides as noted above, if she is a last minute understudy for Mary, that pretty much means Mary wasn’t gonna play a big part you say I have “Event Fatigue” as well.


Anj said...

Thanks for early comments.

Hoping Kara isn't jobbed. Would have been cool if she said 'I'm going to watch over Metropolis'.

And kind of bummed that Woman of Tomorrow is entering canon.