Friday, August 5, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #3

Dark Crisis #3 came out this week and was another sort of deliberately paced issue nudging us towards what is supposed to be a multiverse changing storyline. I am still a little befuddled about what exactly is going on here but I suppose there is still time for this series to turn the corner and reveal.

At the recent SDCC, writer Joshua Williamson declared Dark Crisis as the direct sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths, a crossover event I remember fondly. At this point in Crisis (let's say the middle of issue #5 percentage wise) we hadn't even learned about the Anti-Monitor. So if I can let COIE unroll at a certain pace, perhaps I should give this book the benefit of the doubt.

Still, in COIE, there was a feeling of momentum. We knew the threat. We had seen it. We knew what the Monitor was trying to do with his tuning forks. Here, I am still trying to hash that out in my head. This issue sort of helps. But not really. And the same nitpicks I had about last issue are still here in this issue. Why aren't the heroes more organized? Where is the great JL that Jon formed at the end of the first issue? 

One thing that is clear is that Williamson is up on his DC history. He seems to be rolling lots of major crossover plots into this one, making this the ultimate hash. There is obviously COIE. But there are whiffs of Blackest Night, Kingdom Come, Zero HourLegends, and even Forever Evil in this book. 

Daniel Sampere's art remains tremendous throughout. There is a nightmarish splash page near the end which could be a poster. And his fine line brings out the emotion you need for some of the more personal scenes.

We're rounding the corner here. On to the specifics.

We start out with an irate Donna Troy pointing out the obvious.

Last issue a super-powered brawl demolished Titans Tower with Beast Boy nearly killed and Nightwing lucky to escape unharmed.

So Adam asks the question I asked? Why didn't the Justice League show up?

No sign of the League means that people's faith in their heroes is being eroded. And the heroes are losing.

Seriously. Where was the League? Did they know this was happening? 

Here's an idea. Remember that the big bad in this is the 'black thumb' Anti-light from the American Gothic arc in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. In that arc, for the Anti-Light to manifest, people's belief in the supernatural needed to rise. Could this be that it needs people disbelief in their heroes saving them to rise now? Or is this a riff on Legends, where people stopped believing in their heroes?

Perhaps to answer the question of where the League was, we see Black Adam chastising them for their lack of presence and capability. We see one panel shots of the League split into mini-squad missions (like Supergirl and Frankenstein fighting Felix Faust). But these are split missions. We don't see the League out in force. 

And do these skirmishes warrant ignoring the War Zone of the tower? 

I suppose this is Williamson building up the old League so that when they return it will feel more triumphant. But no need to tear down these heroes to build them up.

Adam thinks the League should start killing villains to get the message out they mean business but Jon won't cross the line. So Adam storms off.

With the world in chaos, the current League seems to disband, each member going off to care for their personal issues. (Seriously, aren't the Kents and Lois already in a safe location?)

It truly feels like this League was put together for this story to simply show how inept they are. So it is a bit sad for me that Supergirl was thrust onto the team by editors and not by choice.

With Jon and Wonder Girl wondering their next steps, the JSA descends from the sky like angels ready to help.

Ummm ... so where were they when the Titans Tower was being demolished? Have they been in hiding?

No hiding the feeling of Kingdom Come here. Why not lean into it if this is a DC-history defining book?

But what is the threat?

Well, Deathstroke is being semi-controlled by Pariah. But he looks infected with darkness. 

In a gross scene he seems to vomit the blackness which then possesses the members of his army. Poor Prometheus. He peaked in Morrison's JLA.

I do like the new look of Ravager as she confronts her father to try and stop him. 

We learned last issue that Pariah needs the Earth to near a Crisis so he can manifest there. So is Deathstroke's job to stir the pot? Or is there more to it?

Meanwhile, we get a Blackest Night sort of wrinkle. 

Hal Jordan leads the GL Corps to Sector 666 where Nekron's massive Black Lantern battery has suddenly reappeared. 

Jordan, Kyle, and Jo pierce the skin of the lantern and head into a nightmarish world of the dead. Such a great splash page by Sampere here as the heroes tumble through images of them as Black Lanterns. Creepy and beautiful. 

But the group lands on the world where Pariah is manipulating things. 

He says his plans of bringing back the multiverse, reminding Hal of his own attempt at this in Zero Hour. (I told you Williamson is touching all the bases!)

And then this odd part of the plot. He has set up each of the JL on their own world. We learned from the Superman special that Pariah is trying to capture some essence of each hero. It is interesting that each hero exists alone or is the focal point of these worlds. But what can he get from that? Other than crossover specials for people to buy?

Pariah shunts Hal to a GL world and away we go. 

As for Black Adam, if the world is under duress from Deathstroke and his C-list villains, and the League won't kill them, maybe Adam needs to go to the A-List villains to try and get control of the world. Perhaps these villains can act the part of the hero.

Hmmm ... maybe Evil is Relative???

Maybe I am trying too hard.

Anyways, I still don't really know what the threat is. I still haven't seen the heroes do anything heroic or victorious. But I like how we are really diving into the crossovers and I hope we get somewhere soon.

So what did you all think?

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

Great review. I don’t feel particularly in the dark, we know who the bad guy is and what he wants. Sure, we don’t know how it will end, but it’s probably fair to say none of us guessed CoIE would end with five worlds squished into one.

I’m totally with you on how annoying it is that the heroes are being so ruddy useless, bar the GLs. Surely Josh Williamson could have had the ‘new JL’ do something, they could always have been defeated. Having them talked into non-existence by Black Adam is just lousy.


Sampere's art is killer, let me get this out of the way.

This is not a crisis. Call it literally anything else. Nothing has happened, or at least everything that has happened up until this point should have been dealt with by the halfway point of issue 2. We are almost halfway through this event, and we apparently haven't even reached the real crisis yet. Let's all be honest here; it's not bad, it's just boring as hell.
I came up with some better names for this event than Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths:

-Justice League : Dark Invasion
-Justice League : Final Darkness
-Justice League : Darkness War
-Justice League : Darkness Rises
-Justice League : The Darkness Returns
-Justice League : The Darkness Strikes Again
-Justice League 5G : American Gothic II : Electric Boogaloo
-Dark Crisis or: How Josh Learned To Stop Worrying & Rip-Off Morrison/Moore/Johns
-Crisis : The Cure For Insomnia
-Crisis : Watching Paint Dry
-Good Guy v Bad Guy : Dawn of Justice, Legacy, Hope, Truth, Family, (and whatever other theme Williamson is trying to prop up to make this look important)
-Karma Crisis on Infinite Subreddits (because this is clearly written for them)

Anonymous said...

Yeah this feels like “DC Crises Greatest Hits”. Alas, Deathstroke has never really lived up to his potential, to say nothing of even explaining how a one eyed man has any marksmanship skills to speak of...he has always been a little cringeworthy to me, whether its his “alliance” with Tara back in Teen Titans Days or stabbing Supergirl in the back to harvest some of her DNA, this is a typical Deathstroke “victory”. If he didn’t have Tara or Pariah or whoevs propping him up he’d be sharing a cell with The Calendar Man and he knows it. Devoting so much time to him and his anarchistic rage spasm, is ...boring.
It doesn’t feel like a giant reset is coming off of this one, which is funny because all the news out of DC Comics lately gives me to think that their floppies maybe have a year to live, if even that...and it would be so very very quintessentially DC to expire on a note of repetition and ennui.
But I could be wrong...;)