Monday, December 26, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #7

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 came out last week, the final issue of a mega and meta event that frankly never quite grabbed me. Maybe I am just getting too old. Maybe I am just finally truly fatigued around events. This was supposed to be a monumental game changer. There were supposed to be universal stakes. But in the end, it just never really gelled into something solid for me.

I understand that writer Joshua Williamson was trying to incorporate all the DC event comics into this title as a sort of metatextual treatise on things. The fact that Pariah was the big-bad and had all the big-bads from prior events as his lackeys said that this was going to be the one event to rule them all. Through in the metaphysical Darkness from Alan Moore's American Gothic storyline (which ran concurrently with the original Crisis on Infinite Earths) and I felt like Williamson wanted to write a sort of love letter to DC event history. 

What I ended up reading was a sort of plot-jumbled omelet of a title. I don't know if it all made 100% sense. Pariah's plot, his link to the Darkness, the phony worlds the JLA live on,  the Earth heroes' plans to foil the plot, the over-heavy dose of Deathstroke, even how everything was solved ... it never seemed solid. You had to just take it in and move on. 

I also wonder if Williamson had scenes in his head he wanted to have happen and then wrote the story around it. There are moments which are powerful but they seem to come out of nowhere and with little continuity to prop them up. The character beats for some here also seem to come out of left field. 

In the end, we are back to infinite earths built on a foundation of the known multiversity. DC gets to have Grant Morrison's 52 Earth cake and eat it too! I suppose that those of us who have lamented the original conceit that COIE was built on ... that a multiverse was too confusing .. should be happy. 

The art here continues to be spectacular. Daniel Sampere really channels George Perez here with glorious battle scenes with innumerable characters everywhere. He also settles in for some of the more personal moments too. It is a stunning book to look at, no doubt. Add to that the multiple covers we got for this last issue, in particular the Dan Mora two-character spotlight covers, and this is a visual delight.

Still, I don't know it this is one I will go back to reread  that often. We got to a finish line DC wanted us to get to. Everything old is new again.

On to the specifics.

The book starts with  Deathstroke telling Dick Grayson that all the light the heroes try to cast on the world is meaningless in the reality of a dark universe. Nothing the heroes can do can stop what he is planning. He is going to use the power of the Great Darkness to destroy everything so that the pain that comes with living can be gone completely.

This conversation is a sort of mental battle of wits between Deathstroke and Robin. Within the blackness of Slade's mind he talks about his regrets about his children and the pain they have suffered. I have read many subtle iterations of Deathstroke but the deadbeat dad turned universal annihilator is an odd turn. Also, how or why does this internal conversation with him and Dick even happen? I suppose that Williamson wanted there to be some face-off between the two characters and their outlook on life. But a mental conversation seems impossible especially when the physical carnage is happening around them. I suppose it is a moment.

But look at this Sampere panel and you see why Perez-esque is a good adjective. Jam packed and gorgeous.

The heroes have a plan though. 

Dr. Light has absorbed the 'light of creation' and can use it to purge the darkness. But it won't work alone. She'll need the entirety of the Flash Family and the omni-tool power of the Speed Force as well.

First off, I suppose I can chalk up the Speed Force reliance on vibrations or frequencies or something. But it is used as a crutch sometimes in plots.

I will say that I like that Dr. Light plays a huge role in this Crisis. I never felt like she lived up to the buildup she got there. So hearing her state that this was the actual reason the Monitor created her was a nice callback.

And then, this obviously metatextual statement from the Flash. Every day the infinite earths have been gone, 'they' have been losing. No more. Perhaps that is a commentary on DC. Have things really been downhill since the COIE? 

Here is another one of those plot points that seems to be built more on being cool than making sense.

Black Adam faces off against Deathstroke. In the midst of the fight, he yells his name, calling down the magic lightning which turns him human again. But somehow he is able to 'give a little bit of himself' to all the heroes, energizing them.

Cool moment? Yes.

Make any sense in the context of everything we know about decades of Black Adam history? No. 

The energized heroes overrun the darkened villains. 

Meanwhile, outside the universes (I guess), the Flash family runs real fast while Dr. Light casts the light of creation, burning away the Darkness. 

How Mr. Terrific can sense this? I don't know. And 'our multiverse powers the infinite' is a way to maintain the map Grant Morrison made as well as return the infinite Earths concept.

But I don't know if I can explain what the threat was or how this worked to stop it.

I feel like Williamson likes Black Adam a lot because he is really a key figure throughout this title.

Meanwhile, the conversation between Deathstroke and Nightwing is over. The Darkness has left Slade and is now in Dick. 

But Dick realizes that hope is always present. New heroes arise and walk side by side the old.

With that positivity, Dick is able to sublimate the Darkness into something positive. And this change is what helps the Flash and Dr. Light save everything.

Just like that, it's over.

The universe resets itself. And we get a 9 panel grid showing us what has changed or reverted.

The heroes rejoice.

Dr. Light explores space. 

The JSA is back. JLA Incarnate is back. The Spectre and the Quintessence are back. Darkseid is back on Apokolips. Luthor is back scheming.

Everything old is new again. Sampere does great work in these small panels. 

As for Deathstroke, the Darkness leaving his body has somehow removed the super-serum which has powered him. Now he is frail, dying, and living in constant pain. The heroes have him sedated as they try to help him. But a figure in shadows turns off the treatment.

Hopefully, there are medical staff who will notice this.

As for the sleeve ... any guesses? 

My immediate thought was Warp. 

There's nothing left but the denouement.

Bruce says that Dick has always been the light of the DCU. That is how he was able to absorb or reject or dissipate the Darkness in him. 

I like how Bruce acknowledges what Dick represents for the world.

But then Bruce says the Justice League will not reform. It's time for the next generation to take over.

I expect Justice League #1 to be on the shelves in September.

Wait! There's more!

There is a sort of preview of some upcoming event. Amanda Waller has the go-ahead from the Council of Light to eradicate all super-heroes.

I haven't been this uninterested in a tease in a long time. Waller has just been overused and for me warped into something unrecognizable from her original character. 

So we are somewhere with the DCU again. After a lot of pages, there is a Multiverse sitting on top of Infinite Earths. But I don't think I could explain this series easily.

And maybe we can pause before we reboot again.

Overall grade: C


Steve said...

I agree on madwoman Waller for sure and I wonder why Doctor Light being a dedicated mother gets no mention as she abandons them.

Anonymous said...

I am glad someone tried to make sense of all this…stuff, frankly its bewildering. Is the multiverse back or not? I can’t tell, maybe DC doesn’t know either.
And its just mad random that Dick Grayson is the Light of the Universe or whatever…why not Uncle Dudley or Lady Blackhawk or Arm-Fall-Off Boy? all equally random choices…
I cannot see this as some big restart for the DCU because the main message seems to be there are still no rules, the creatives can still do whatever they want without any recourse to some nebulous shared universe or what we laughingly call “continuity”.
But…at least Supergirl didn’t get fridged, even if all she was doing here was subbing for an otherwise engaged Mary Marvel.

On to the next debacle I guess…steady as we go, straight into the iceberg.


Martin Gray said...

Thanks for looking at this Anj, even though you’re as baffled as the rest of us, it’s good to feel a sense of community. This whole thing seems to have resulted in a big ol’ No Chase. So once more there are an infinite number if universes we’ll never see, big deal, we had enough already after 52, Infinite Crisis, Convergence and Death Metal.

The side dishes here were definitely better than the supposed main course.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments and for confirming that this was confusing.

I have received a tip on Twitter that the gloved hand is most likely Terra! That makes more sense!

Steve said...

It took all day but I remember (finally) what I had intended to also say! It just took nearly twelve hours.

They've done proclamations of 'no more Justice League' before and to me, it always feels like BS. There's ALWAYS a new JL. Aquaman disbanded the JLA and promptly formed the JLD. The JLD was wiped out and Legends promptly gave us a new team. Lather, rinse, repeat. Even with that mini last year, the one thing I could not buy into was Manhunter's death meant years with no JL. I have problems with MM and have since the 80's but Superman could have been the dead hero and I wouldn't have bought that no one ever formed another group. Hell, we saw even lame groups pick up that name in 52 and Dork Crisis. At least make us believe it with a series called Justice Union or Justice Crew and commit to it for a year and maybe I'll begin to buy the no more JL thing for the first time ever.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you bring up "Metal/Death Metal." Williamson was part of those events, so I've just been so puzzled by "Dark Crisis." I've NEVER been under the impression that the multiple earths that returned waaaaayyyy back at the end of "Infinite Crisis" and the "52" weekly series follow up ever went away. Sure, we had 2011's New52 reboot which Geoff Johns later blamed on Doctor Manhattan, but "Multiversity" by Morrison was published during that period. And then, the way I understood it, "Death Metal" kind of expanded the DCU into the "omniverse" or whatever. Anyway, the whole premise that "Dark Crisis" was built upon - that the multiple earths were back - MADE NO SENSE.
They've been back for like 17 years now. It only worked if you ignored anything DC has published since before "Infinite Crisis."
I think Williamson was trying to do something hopeful/positive/inspiring. If you sort of read between the lines, this wasn't just about good versus bad. I would even hazard to say it was about battling your demons/depression/anxieties and finding the light/hope in life. I don't know much about Deathstroke, but he was written like a guy who has done some ad stuff, can't forgive himself, and wants to literally end it all. Maybe a bit hamfisted at times, but hope is certainly a good message to have in your comics. But I think that same point could have been made if this wasn't about "infinite earths!!!!!!" Replace Pariah with another villain, don't try to make this a sequel to the original "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and it might have been a much better, cleaner read/event.
Lastly, while it's nice to see Dick Grayson get the spotlight, again continuity is being ignored. He filled in for Batman for several months (maybe even a couple years) under Grant Morrison, and, during that time, already lead a Justice League when that book was penned by James Robinson. So this idea that Grayson has NEVER stepped up and been one of the top DCU heroes and is just now given the chance to do so doesn't make sense. It only works if readers ignore/aren't aware of his previous time as Batman. But Williamson was certainly aware of it.