Friday, September 9, 2022

Review: Dark Crisis #4

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 came out this week, pushing us into the back half of this universe-defining mini-series. 

I can't tell you the number of reboots, soft reboots, and resets of the DC universe I have read since the first Crisis on Infinite Earths. So, in many ways, I would love for this series to be tremendous and to set the DCU up for success in some way. Maybe this continuity will stick for a little longer than a handful of years? 

So I am rooting for this series. 

But so far I feel a little lacking. We are 4 issues in and I feel the entirety of plot that we have been given could have been done in one. Maybe two. But once again, in this issue, we have Pariah cackling about his plans, Deathstroke and his army attacking a group of super-powered beings. The heroes sitting around stroking their chins, wondering what it all means, and then a cliffhanger.

The best thing this series has done is give us pretty powerful moments which nudge the plot but don't necessarily move it. Writer Josh Williamson is leaning into the history of DC here. So we get solid character moments and good set pieces. Last issue we got the ka-pow moment of the JSA return. Here we have really good scenes between Alan Scott and Dick Grayson. We get Hal and Barry. We get a call back to Alan Moore's American Gothic. All really great. But without a plot to hang these moments on ... well that's like saying we got sprinkles and hot fudge sauce but no ice cream. 

Daniel Sampere's art is really wonderful here. He is channeling his inner Perez here giving us big action scenes with big crowds. There is a precision to the work, detailed and fine lined, which works well here.

This is a solid read for sure. For long time DC fans like me, there is enough sizzle to keep me reading. But I want some substance too, especially if this is going to re-define things again.

On to the book.

We start out with Barry saving Hal from the Green Lantern Pariah planet.

Growing up, these two were best friends so it was great to see this sort of easy chemistry between them. From Barry teasing Hal about that coat to their staccato conversation catching each other up, I thought this just sang.

It is interesting to me that such a key moment as Barry's rescue happened completely outside this book. 

This is a Supergirl blog. So you might remember my cautious optimism when Jon had her join the Justice League. 

Well don't blink! Here is her one appearance in the book, a teeny figure in a montage of the JL and JS helping people around the world.

It is nice to see Supergirl and Power Girl chumming around though.

Meanwhile, Dick Grayson is still emotionally recovering from the beatdown the Titans got from Deathstroke. Beast Boy is still comatose. And Dick can't rouse himself from the bedside.

Thankfully Alan Scott is there to try and pick up Dick. With the OG JL out, the new heroes need to fill the void. And they need a star to guide them. And that is Dick. Because he has filled a legacy before.

I don't 100% know if I agree with Dick being this forlorn. He has been through so much in his life and usually knows his role. But I do like this callback to his time as Batman which covered several years in comic time around the time of Final Crisis.

Last issue Black Adam approached the Legion of Doom, looking for a more brutal response to Deathstroke's army. Definitely some fun moments here as the villains bicker.

Earlier in the issue, Mr. Terrific throws out a lot of universal jargon about the injury suffered by the universe due to Perpetua and the Metal event. Here Lex talks about how the Omniverse created an imbalance in the multiverse. All these words kind of washed over me. I haven't been able to follow all the reboots and how they came about so I suppose this is all to let me know that all these reboots are making things shaky.

Grodd doesn't have time for metaphysics. I love his response. 

Alas, Deathstroke shows up setting up a villain vs. villain brawl.

The new Trinity of Dick, Jon, and Yara join Alan Scott to see what the magical heroes are up to. They head down to the JL Dark headquarters. 

Remember, the big bad is the 'Anti-light', the Great Darkness from Alan Moore's Swamp Thing #50. In that book, John Constantine set up a seance with some of the magic users on Earth to help with the battle in Heaven. That seance left a couple of people dead and one crazed.

So I loved this call back. Constantine isn't going 'to try a seance or anything stupid like that ... yet'. Such a nice little call back. This was perhaps my favorite moment of the book. 

Just like in American Gothic, Swamp Thing seems to have a pretty important role in this Dark Crisis. 

The Swamp Things are confused. The original 'Anti-Light' had no motivations ... it just was. So why is this one trying to manipulate super-villains? Why does it care about the multiverse? It shouldn't care.

So the new Swamp Thing wonders if something is manipulating the Great Darkness.

Cue my raised curious eyebrow. In Moore's book, the Great Darkness was the shadow created by the first light, God's shadow! So what could manipulate that???

The brawl between the Legion of Doom and Deathstroke's Dark Army adds to Pariah's energy as does Barry and Hal journeying to the other false worlds the original JL members are living on. It gives him just the power he needs to recreate the multiverse.

You can't have a Crisis without some reference to the Krona hand. Here we see Pariah's hand is that mystical hand now creating many universes rather than one. So this is sort of the reverse Crisis on Infinite Earths moment. We have gone back to a multiverse.

So here we are. Pariah seems victorious. But I don't know if I know how or why or what is going on elegantly yet. And what does this mean to the characters on Earth-0. Will this impact them? Or will we pick up the storylines where we left off next issue.

That said, these small moments are great for long time fans. So there was some stuff to like here.

Maybe I'm just cranky or event fatigued.

Overall grade: B-/C+

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don’t think any of this is gonna stick, because no one seems to know if DC itself will be around a year from now…meanwhile this is turning into a very boring read for me, unless you keep up with the continuity drifts in the prior miniseries and crises, a lot of this comes across as pure drivel.
I just think its faintly embarrassing for the JLA new or old to be jobbed out to a puffed up B lister like Deathstroke, granted, someone IS assisting him, as usual, left to his own devices he’d be robbing liquor stores for his dented can aisle money.